Crossroads.

I feel somewhat at a crossroads right now.

My job is… well, it has been adequate.  It is physical, it is low-paying, I have a great deal of responsibility, and it is high-stress.  And for a long time, holding that job down was a great accomplishment for me.  I’m doing better now, and it’s… well, it’s a menial job paying just barely a living wage, and it’s still high-stress.  It’s not a bad job, but it has no future.  For the first time in a long time I can manage to think far enough in the future to make other plans without it being overwhelming.

And I’m better than this job.

That is a strange thing to say.  It sounds conceited and I have, as I have said before, very little self-esteem.  On my bad days I feel like I can hardly do it, on my good days I find it satisfying, but there’s no challenge.  My coworkers tend to be underachievers or high school drop-outs, the sort of people who are perversely proud of their ignorance., which is something I can’t understand even remotely.

I flunked out of university years ago.

I don’t talk about that.  I don’t admit it to most people.  I’m horribly ashamed of it, actually.  Looking back, I see what happened very clearly.  Overcome with anxiety about my classes, I skipped chronically.  Therefore, I flunked out.  I was an honour roll student in high school, but I failed disastrously in university because I found myself flung into a new environment I had no coping mechanisms for, and reacted by simply not going to class because that was easier than suffering panic attacks halfway across campus.  I failed, they kicked me out.

In retrospect, my planned major was something I would have hated anyway.  Not well thought out.

But now, I feel good enough, most days, that my current job is not enough.  I want more from life, I am ready for more, I am capable of more.  I can think and I can handle myself and can recognise my issues and I am considering going back to school.  Maybe not this fall, I don’t think I’ll be able to get in.  Next fall.  I can keep up my job for another year.  Maybe do one or two classes in the meantime.  I’m looking at aiming for a degree in English.  It seems doable, it’s something I want.  From there, I might get a degree in education and go into teaching high school English.  Maybe.  I would be in my thirties before I had any sort of degree, alas.  Such are the woes of the late bloomer.

Am I overreaching myself?  Can I do this?  I still have bad days.  Today has been a bad day.  Can I possibly manage to pull myself together to do something that I have already failed to do?  Sometimes I feel so screwed up, and so helpful, and like I don’t even have a real excuse for it.  I mean, an anxiety disorder is all well and good, but I’m not struggling with bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, or any number of what seem to me to be far more serious hurdles.

This is something that always gives me pause about this blog.  I wonder if, to the impartial observer (assuming there are any), this simply looks like the moanings of some poor overly emotional girl who blows her small problems out of all proportion.  I know what I go through is a struggle for me.  I know that other people go through worse.  Does that mean it’s petty of me to whine about having difficulty getting through shopping and not backtracking and putting everything back on the shelf, something I do to myself?

I don’t know if I can do this.  I feel so screwed up some days.  I feel so helpless and scattered and unable to cope and I want to die, because I am just tired.  And it passes, but the self-doubt remains.

There’s so much to do to arrange this and it’s a little overwhelming.

But if there’s one thing in the world that I know, it’s books, it’s language, and put like that it seems far more like something achievable.

A short thought.

Florence sent me a text message today, out of the blue.  It made my day.

Hey jess!  I’m just on my way to clinical but I wanted to say I hope you are having a good week and I love you!

Sometimes I think Florence gets this more than a lot of the rest of my family.  In high school she attempted suicide, once, and I think she can grasp the agony that can come out of your own brain better than the rest of them.  Mom knows about anxiety, and she’s had troubles with depression, but not, I don’t think, to the same degree.  To my father, it’s all completely alien; I know he’s trying to understand, but he has acknowledged to me that he and I, for all our similarities, are wired very differently.  It’s nice, though, to have an “I love you”  just out of the blue like that.

I had a very good day, in fact.  I worked, I was left in charge for quite a few hours, I had a few incidents pop up, and I was not consumed with anxiety over dealing with them.  It was a slow day, and my boss took off, and I spent the afternoon with three of the part-time high school boys.

I also had a surprising bit of sympathy from an unexpected source.  It’s not really well-known why I suddenly took three weeks off work out of nowhere, other than that is has something to do with my having a bit of a meltdown.  One of my coworkers, who got off as I started, asked me in tones of genuine interest and concern how I was doing.  This coworker… I am not close to him.  He’s at least ten years older than me, has worked there perhaps not quite as long, and while we’ve always been friendly it’s never been anything more than that.

Half jokingly, I answered, “Pretty good.  I’m on some interesting drugs.  All doctor-prescribed.”  Joking about this is easy for me, and the easiest way for me to deal with it.  I’m not always very comfortable with the idea of brain-chemistry-altering drugs.

“Valium?” he asked.

And I admit to being slightly taken aback.  Valium is a benzodiazepine… as is clonazepam, which I am taking.

“Close, actually, ” I said.

“Prozac?”

And again, a bit of a surprise.  Prozac is an antidepressant often prescribed for anxiety disorders… as is Cipralex, which is what I am taking.

“Still close.  Bit of both, actually,” I think I said.  “Giving me one while I wait for the other to start working.”

“Well,” he said, “as long as you get better.”  And he smiled.

And it was genuine, and it was from a completely unexpected source, and I think he very possibly had put the pieces together without anything being said.  I am sure there are rumours about me going around at work but no one will tell me, so I’m not sure what he might have heard.  It’s strange, though, to suddenly find yourself that transparent.  Was it a lucky guess, just the first drugs to pop into his head?  Is it something he’s gone through?  Someone he knows?  I won’t ever know, possibly, because I can hardly go ask him why he guessed Valium, why he guessed Prozac, why he seemed so completely at ease and understanding about the idea that his coworker was sorting through some personal issues and how he had guessed what those personal issues might be.

“I hope so,” I said.

And I do.