Saturday, December 18, 2010

Buffer Zone!

Usually when posting entries longer than one or two paragraphs or including more than just a photo update, I try to post them at least a few days apart. However, I was just reading a few of the blogs I follow and I was ecstatic to discover that Frank, of Frank for a Moment, has returned! He's been a very busy guy with his fancy and fantastic new job and just life in general, so I'm very, very happy that he's managed to get in a little blogging.

Reading his latest blog post (after posting my last one), inspired me to come clean: I'm unemployed. I have been since last November, which is sad and pathetic, and shames me to no end. Not because I can't get a job, but because I'm afraid to. When I was working at a local grocery store a few years ago, I started to experience my first real panic attacks. As the months progressed, my depression and anxiety deepened, leading to an increase in the frequency of my suicidal thoughts. I took fewer and fewer shifts, had difficulty making it through an entire eight hours, and basically grew closer and closer to breakdown. Cheery, right?

I quit, after almost a year, and was intensely relieved to go back to focusing on school. Then school ended, I graduated, and I was still unemployed. For a period during the summer, I was involved in a program through a local employment agency (that my sister worked at for years) which was tailored to young people interested in jobs in the arts sector. The first three months were geared toward training and exploring the arts sector in our city. For the last three, each of us was placed in a different arts related job. I went to work at the Arts Council.

At first, the job was a dream. I was getting up and getting to work on time, even early, every day. I was doing my best, going above and beyond what was asked of me (in the fear that doing just what was required would result in being fired, getting in trouble, and/or failing miserably). But the longer I worked, the longer it took to get out of bed in the morning, to get to the office. The longer I spent at the Council, the harder it became to keep the depression and anxiety at bay. I finished out my three months without missing more than two days of work (due to seizure) and left on very good terms. But I was exhausted. The panic attacks had intensified and even after leaving, they hadn't gone away.

Somehow, despite leaving a position or graduating from a school, the anxiety that said environment spawned doesn't dissipate. It follows me wherever I go next. I still worry that somehow, something I did at that grocery store or something I did at the Arts Council will come back to ruin my future. That a missed class or a low grade on a test will invalidate any degrees or diplomas I have earned.

That's crazy, right? Yes, it really is. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so constant (and irrational) worrying is my life. It causes me to perpetually doubt myself and assume that everything I've done and everything I'm doing is wrong. I assume that everything is my fault (which is just as self-centred as it sounds). The saying that "everyone is their own worst critic" is actually quite true. Unfortunately, the combination of anxiety and depression (which is far more common that I thought) make it so that, though I believe I critique myself more harshly than others, I also believe that said others are not far behind.

And that is the main reason why I find working (especially with the public), so terrifying. So exhausting. However, unemployment is also terrifying. I have no income, and I'm not contributing anything to anyone. I'm continually afraid that my family and friends will simply become fed up with me. They'll disown me and throw me out, becoming so sick of my doing nothing that they'd rather just have nothing to do with me. I am paralyzed with the fear that I will never be able to support myself. That I've already failed at living. There is no escape from the fear and the anxiety.

Which really sucks. And so I blog. It keeps me writing, keeps me doing even one thing, at the very least. Writing is one thing that keeps me as close to sane as I've ever been. But I apologize for this post and for getting all emo. You don't really need to know all this. It just eases my mind.

I may end up deleting this post within the next few days, but for now, it's actually a relief.

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