It’s funny how things can turn, almost on a dime. I sat in Deb’s office last night, smiling and happy, and telling her about how much things seem to have changed over the last six weeks, since I started my new job. I’m confident in my work. I’ve had an easy time of making friends with the people who work around me. (A bunch of us are going roller-skating after work in a couple weeks.) I’m out to pretty much everyone, and comfortably so. I’ve fairly well tolerated the inefficiencies and poor co-ordination of some things that go on there. I’ve taken, relatively in stride, the fact that the things I believed to be the reason I was hired, my “expertise” in such things as moving large groups of people and managing all the issues that come with that, had been relatively ignored, due to the timing of my arrival. (We were hip deep in a 60-person move when I started.) I’ve met someone with whom I have a lot of chemistry and genuine, mutual attraction. I’ve been relatively adept at letting the little things slide off my back.
Monday night at dinner with Lil’B, for reasons that are too random and confusing to explain, we began talking about Vincent van Gough and bipolar disorder. One of the activities in the kids menu he still gets was to draw a picture of a character from the menu after they had just visited the Louvre and he decided he wanted me to draw the picture. I’m not really sure how Vinnie came into the conversation, but as I was using one of the only two crayons they gave Lil’B to draw the picture, the yellow one (I held the red crayon in my other hand), I was telling him about my drawing, about the Louvre, and about Vincent van Gough. I drew a living banana, with two twig legs, and a suit coat, with lapels and long sleeves. He had a yellow face, with a protruding nose and he wore a monocle. I told Lil’B about the emotional troubles that Vicente had and how unappreciated he had been because people couldn’t understand how he was so up one minute and so down the next. We discussed the fact that he likely thought himself a terrible artist (something I learned form a little educational documentary I watch called Doctor Who).
The assignment was to draw the character right after they left the museum, so as I was putting the finishing touches on the picture, LIl’B asked me why I had used only the one crayon. Just as I reached the point of telling Lil’B how in one of his fits of deep despair, van Gough had cut off his own ear, I switched to the red crayon and our debonair, snappily dressed, monocled banana-man suddenly gained a bloody gash on the side of the head where, once his little banana ear had been. The boy in Lil’B thought that was pretty cool. The innocent and naive young human being in him, the one who has never been exposed to the kind of emotional turmoil that Vincent van Gough went through said, “so he was crazy.”
As I was trying my best to explain to my young friend how, mental illness does not necessarily mean crazy, that there are plenty of people in the world who experienced these types of mental illness but who would not qualify as being “crazy” and that, in fact, I have struggled with depression, even during the time I have known him, but that I was not crazy, it occurred to me for the first time, that I was not depressed. Not just that it was at bay. Not just that it’s lingering in the shadows waiting to destroy me again. For the first time since I could remember, I did not feel like I was struggling against Depression, working to keep it at bay all the while knowing that it was just over there, just beyond the great barrier waiting for my next moment of weakness, to take over.
I shared this with Deb last night. But I tempered it by telling her, “I’m not dumb enough to say that ‘I’m cured’. I think it’s dangerous to make such claims but right now, things are good.
And then today happened.
Only…. Nothing particularly special or significant happened, just a whole lot of little things. I told a friend t0night, via text message, “I think I’m just having a moment. Several things kinda crumbled (not caved, just crumbled) in on me this evening and I’m just trying to deal.
“I think I need a hug. Well, a hug and some company and some comforting…”
A whole lot of little things piled up on me all at once, right around 5:00. Because I’m now hourly, and didn’t get to work until around 9:00 this morning, I planned to stay until six… I was there until 6:45.
At 5:00 the last two people in the immediate vicinity of my desk (two of the four-person Communications department – a group of people who communicate very effectively… and frequently… and from great distances…) left and I was alone to concentrate on whatever I needed to do. It was then, in the deafening silence, filled only with the sound of the air conditioner kicking on and off, and my own addled thoughts rolling around in my skull, that I realized how much I had been struggling. Not that the work is too hard, or that the people around me aren’t awesome, because it’s not and they really are, which thrills me. It’s that with my particular set of circumstances (I was formally diagnosed with ADD six months ago) it can sometimes be really difficult for me to focus on what I’m trying to do. Suddenly the list of things I needed to accomplish before the day was over was daunting. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that this is not a new predicament. Suddenly, I was distraught, and even a bit angry, with what a mess my very small, very cramped, very not-my-own-private-office-like-I-had-for-8-1/2- years-at-my-last-job desk was. Suddenly, I was upset that I feel like my talents are being wasted, because I spend at least half of most days processing and delivering mail and packages (something that was not discussed as being part of my duties in my interviews or hiring process); all day every day subject to the random whims of our customers who don’t have any means of requesting things other than approaching my boss and me directly and interrupting whatever we happen to be in the middle of; and the other half of most days struggling to concentrate on what I’m doing over the constant bombardment of voices. It’s not that they’re not talking about work, because they generally are. And it’s not that they’re not friendly people, because they definitely are. In fact, it might be easier if they weren’t, because then I wouldn’t want to be part of the conversation and I do. Which makes it a complete distraction.
I sat at my desk, organizing, as best I could and growing more and more frustrated by the limitations that I have in my ability to do my best work and the list of projects that have been asked of me, that I simply can not get to because I’m overwhelmed with the little stuff that in the short term is high priority to people as they request it. I spent half an hour, trying to get some semblance of control over the situation. I got rid of some clutter. I sort out and filed my e-mails so only current and relevant things were in my in-box. I made a to do list for Monday, and I cleared my white board and made three columns on it: one for daily responsibilities, one for short-term projects and one for long-term projects. I put completion percentages next to each project and put a sad face next to the 0% complete for the Emergency Response Team development project that is currently at the very bottom of my list of priorities, even though I would like it to be at the top. Finally, I packed up and walked out for the night, despairing with the knowledge that I must talk to my manager on Monday about finding a way to mitigate some of these issues. I need to ask her for somewhere else for me to sit. A desk that will be quiet enough for me to focus on my work when I’m able to be at my desk doing it and which will take me away from the noisy, but fun Communications group and “the guy”, because I can’t get any work done when they’re around, and knowing fully that there’s a very good chance that there will be no where for me to move.
I drove home thinking about “the guy”. Which, to be fair, is probably overselling it a bit. The truth is there’s been little more than the two of us circling around each other, and around the idea of becoming an us, which I suppose makes him more of “A guy” and not so much “The guy”. I’m frustrated. I know what I want…. I think. But I can’t figure out what he wants. And every time we talk and I just about have him opened up and ready to be forthcoming he dodges and I’m left in the dark again. He’s an expert at avoidance and if I didn’t understand it so well, I’d probably be pretty pissed, but I do, so I’m not. I’m just annoyed that we haven’t managed to work through it yet. I was feeling disappointed about his lack of response to a text message I had sent, and about the fact that, while he acknowledges that there is “unfinished business” between us, he has not made any moves to finish the business, and when I do, he just avoids.
And I realized I was feeling really lonely and low, and that if I could just hang out with somebody and talk about it I might feel better. I reached out to three different people including The Guy via text, just really needing a bit of interaction, period. None of them responded to me. One still hasn’t. One responded within an hour of my text but didn’t offer much in the way of comforting or consolation. And The Guy finally acknowledged my first text hours after I sent it, but disappeared pretty quickly after. All of which is to say that I’m absolutely giving them the benefit of the doubt. It is after all Friday night. Most people have social lives on Friday night. Just because I don’t, doesn’t mean people are obligated to respond. I realized that I’ve only had one person extend an invitation to me in months, while I’ve extended a number of invitations, most of which have been turned down. And now I’m wondering what’s so wrong with me that people only want to be my work acquaintances but not my friends and, apparently, not my boyfriend.
I’ll get over it, like I always do. But still, not exactly the smiling, happy go lucky, better than I’ve been for a while, guy I was last night.
Also, right in the middle of writing this post, and when The Guy finally got around to responding to my texts, my Internet crapped out due to an outage in the area… When it rains it pours…