I feel like I have to start with one of the biggest things I don't talk about. Which means I've been thinking of a way to talk about it still without talking about it.
When I first started reading blogs, forever ago, one of the first I ever came across and enjoyed, told a cautionary tale of how she'd been essentially fired from her job for talking about her job. So that, combined with a lot of other things, lead me to make the decision that I would never talk about my work, work place, work environment, etc. etc.
And, that, for the most part, has worked out just fine.
Except now, my work is so very directly affecting my life situation that by never talking about it... I'm not talking at all.
So I'm going to attempt to still be vague, while sharing some key points of what's been going on for me. Kind of.
First thing... I still don't want to talk about what I actually do to earn my wages, so I thought about what jobs I could use as a stand in since saying I'm a spy always just makes me giggle. And with apologies to the career I'm about to use, let's say I'm a librarian.
With large apologies to librarians in case of accidental insultation. (Again, not a word... I bet a real librarian wouldn't make up words)
I didn't grow up wanting to be a librarian but my Dad was a librarian and, well, honestly, that's probably why I didn't want to be a librarian. Who wants to be what their parent is, right? Parents are boring, and just parents, they have no "real" life. But I also love books. And when I got my first university degree, I still had no idea what I was going to do with my life and my Dad suggested I volunteer in his library while I tried to figure it out.
And I loved it. All those books! SO MANY! And yay! Reasons! Librarians are awesome!
So I went back to school and became a librarian and as luck would have it, got hired pretty much right away. So awesome.
But I had no idea how difficult it would be. How draining I would find it. In some ways, I'm very well suited to being a librarian... I love books. And organizing. And quiet. Except it turns out being a librarian is so much more than that. SO MUCH. It's a massive amount of work and really really hard work and on top of that people don't think it's very difficult work.
And people tease you. "Oh, must be nice to sit and read books all day" and "oooh do you wear your hair in a bun and tell people shhhhhh while pointing to no talking signs?"
And I'm a sensitive person, so I was always kind of hurt by the teasing. And the assumption that being a librarian was an easy gig.
And then there was the other stuff. Dealing with all the things I never expected to have to deal with. People yelling in the library. People sleeping in the library. (I'm making this stuff up... mainly from movies and tv shows... sorry real librarians!) People yelling at me because we didn't have the copy of that one book they wanted. People telling me I'm a terrible librarian because other people took out the three copies of the book they thought would be in. People being .... mean about... something or other library-related, oh, plus all that hard work.... it has never been easy for me. I take it all so very personally and I take it hard.
But there is always the books. Which I love. So I've focussed on how much I enjoy being around books and reading and watching other people love books.
But it's hard. Sometimes people wreck books and don't tell us. Or they write in them, or ARGH! dog ear fold the pages. People don't take care of the books and then other people yell at me when they find a book is ruined in some way.
And books are more expensive than they used to be and it's harder to buy them. And now we have more than books and I don't know how I feel about that. Or the digital book lending... or DVDs, or... even the fact that we've moved away from those awesome big file folders you used to have to go to as a kid to find a book.
I don't know how I feel about people coming to a library to use a computer and not reading a book at all. It's not my father's library. It's not even the one of my youth.
So, without me even really realizing it, my job has been chipping away at me for a very long time. For ever really. But it's always been a decent job. And what else would I do anyway. Plus, books. I like books.
In a hindsight is 20-20 kind of way, I remember dating DD, ages ago, and venting to him about something work related... maybe they were trying to change the branch I worked in or something, I don't know, or maybe someone was burning books or had put a squirrel in the return slot (shush, my brain likes to throw in strange things sometimes to keep myself awake!) and DD said, you know, you complain about your job so much, maybe you shouldn't be a librarian.
But I'd not been at it five years at that point and oh, right, my brother also was a librarian, and he told me that the first five years are the hardest and then it gets a bit easier.
So I stuck it out. Because books. And a job. And, well, it's good to be a librarian. You know?
And I had friends I worked with, and we enjoyed working together every day.
But then my best friend and work left and I was miserable.
But then C-Dawg moved to my branch and I was happy. We laugh together every day, it's awesome.
Except I was miserable. But not. Because... books? And a job... and... what else would I do anyway, I'd been a librarian for so long... I wouldn't even know what else to do. And all I have is librarian skills.
And I got less and less tolerant of things. WHO PUT MOTHERBLEEPING GUM UNDER THIS CHAIR? And really for years, going to my job every day was about all I could muster. Events in the evening? Too tired, too drained. Weekend? Maybe... but I'll have to psych myself up for it.
I'm very much an introvert in that after being with people, I need down time to recharge. And with the exception of a few people in my life, I don't want to be around other people after spending day after day after day being nice to people in the library.
Well, why can't I just be a mean librarian? Because I think I'll get fired. I have this major fear that goes something along the line of... someone will either figure out I'm a terrible librarian, or will get mad at something I didn't do right in the library and I'll get fired. And that train of thought leads directly to, I'll be homeless. Jumping right on this train, by the way is the idea that if people who come to the library (or maybe even my boss) figures out certain things about me, like I go to Burning Man, or I have an anonymous blog, or I like sex (WHAT? SHHHH!) I will get fired.
It's all a cluster of things, as these things often are... me not being well suited for the parts of being a librarian I didn't know about and they didn't teach you about in university. Me being sensitive and not having a thick skin or what have you. Me being drained by the day to day, and feeling like I shouldn't be. So many of the other librarians just seem to have no problem and I feel like some kind of failure for not wanting to get up and go to work every day. My Dad always loved going to work.
I must be wrong.
It was at some point about a year ago that I did something at work that both earned me a nickname I hate from Jason and made me really realize I wasn't handling work all that well.
I bundled up all the holiday time I could and took an extra long time off in the Summer and that seemed to help. A bit.
And then I met Max and it felt so wonderful being with and around him and I was so so so amazingly happy that when I came back to work and felt how miserable I was, it was like walking into a brick wall.
I had no idea what to do.
And because I don't talk about work, I didn't talk about work. But it was a significant issue in my life. Fortunately, I could talk about Max for a while, and then the breakup for a while but then all my steam ran out.
My steam ran out because not only was I not feeling well, my body started to get really sick. September was bad, but I had Max as a lovely distraction so I coped, but by October I was sick enough that I couldn't keep ignoring it.
This wasn't just my stomach stuff that I'm used to. This was me being unable to keep food down. Or in me at all. Even when I could eat. Most of the time even the thought of food nauseated me. I forced protein and sustenance on myself when I could but it was awful. Then there was the dizzy spins. Which, perhaps was food related but I think with protein drinks and the like I was doing ok calorie wise, if not perfectly. There was the spins and then the anxiety that I think I maybe mentioned here. Anxiety beyond anything I have ever experienced in my life.
And through all this the not so nice voices in my head got really loud. And in a lot of situations, were unfortunately found out to be true. Like with Max.
I didn't know how to talk to him about any of this and we weren't talking all that often anyway but I think at one point I mentioned to him hey... so if I left my library and came down your way... what... uh, what do you think I could maybe do? And I talked about how I wasn't enjoying being a librarian, but I didn't mention how sick I was. So when, one day, Max texted that he wasn't doing ok, the anxiety and the chorus of voices that work with it screamed at me that he was ending things. That it was over. That this perfect perfection of everything I'd ever wanted in a relationship was going to end and it was my fault. And, as I said, that unfortunately happened. Which reinforced everything the anxiety had ever told me and,well, it was ugly.
At some point, when it was beyond bad and I couldn't eat or sleep or function all that well, my brother stepped in and told me that I really needed to go see my doctor. My brother, by the way, also used to be a librarian. I say it in the past tense because he decided to change careers for his own reasons, but he also has an understanding of how hard the job is that a non librarian might not have. And he was worried.
I went in to see my doctor. She was worried.
Stress-induced blah blah blah was diagnosed with a heaping side order of Acute Depression and Panic Disorder. Her words, not mine. Mine were "I don't know what to do anymore."
She wanted to put me on antidepressants, but I was on them ages ago and disliked them so much I will not go on them again. (I have other things to say about that but I try to stay a-political and neutral here... ahem) She talked me into reducing my work hours, which I freaked out about A LOT for financial reasons (and for pride reasons... but people will think I'm crazy... I'm not... I'm just... physically unwell and have some... well, my brain isn't handling anything well right now.)
C-Dawg told me not to worry. That people didn't need to know. She handled anyone who asked her why I was working less by either telling them I was sick, or that it was none of their business. I didn't tell anyone at first.
Jason knew. My brother knew. C-Dawg knew... a bit. I have a hard time attaching the words Depression and Anxiety to myself... in fact, I'm not going to capitalize them anymore. But there was some day back a few months ago when I was talking here about not feeling like doing much and Jason L. (of comment fame) said, hey, you sound depressed, and I just kind of nodded at the comment. Yeah. Yeah, I am.
I've been working really really hard. Like, really hard.
I've been seeing a counsellor since Fall. And I go back from time to time to see the psychologist who helped me with my car accident trauma. I've been going to acupuncture very very regularly, and I've been trying to exercise, although I'll be honest... for much of Fall and Winter, it would take a massive effort to get myself even around the block some days. But I did. And now I'm starting to get back to the gym. And I walk to whatever appointments I can.
I didn't tell you guys any of this. And I didn't tell my parents. This has been incredibly hard for me, but I haven't wanted to upset or worry them.
They're not as young as they once were. My Dad just turned 80, actually. And while they're younger than I thought they would be at this age (if that makes sense) they're still not young. And they don't need to take on my stress induced illnesses. It's not life and death. But it made things hard. "How is work dear, any new books in?" Oh.. work is the same. ... change topic. I've never lied to my parents before and it feels strange to be making this choice for them.
There's also the fact that they don't believe in "mental health" or "stress", they just believe in toughing it out.
So most of my world doesn't know I've been through this. Am going through this. I'm not even sure I want to put it out in this way, but it's either this, or continue to have nothing to write about. So this it is.
I still am struggling with food. I have lost ten pounds. Which... I guess is an upside. Yay? My body is still not back to where any of the specialists would like it to be but my counsellor and my acupuncturists are really happy with the progress with everything.
Some days, the anxiety still gets the best of me. And on those days, I wish there was something I could take that would help. But I don't want pharmaceuticals. I have herbs from the acupuncturists that help, and I try to exercise and breathe but man. Panic attacks suck. End of story. They just do.
So I'm not really sure where else to go with this post. To be honest, I don't even feel like re-reading it right now so I'll try to wrap it up somehow.
I am, and have been for the better part of a year now, breaking down all the systems and patterns and behaviours in my life that have gotten me stuck and unhappy. This may, at some point, mean leaving being a librarian, but I am not in the space to make that call right now. My goal is to get myself better, both physically and mentally/emotionally, and then to make any decisions about what I might do to make money. I mean, after all, I do like books, right? (Sigh)
I am right in the middle of all this and in some ways I am grateful.
I have had to give up a lot. Even just financially, I had to give up a savings plan I was on with the idea I would take a four month sabbatical in a couple of years. I had to give that up to be able to afford being part time at work and the treatments I felt would be most helpful. Fuck that hurt. You have no idea.
But to be honest, it all hurts. It's a mess in here right now.
My physical health is getting better, but it's still not all that great. My mental and emotional health are improving but it is more work than I would have ever imagined and I don't have a whole lot of energy to begin with, so it's difficult at best. Man, I could go on and on here, but I won't... let me try to TL;DR...
I'm not ok. But I'm a hell of a lot more ok than I was back when I realized I was not ok. I'm going to be ok. I don't know when. It's really really a lot of hard work. I'm scared. But trying not to be.
I'm not sure I'll put comments on for this. I really don't want advice. Even well meant advice is making me angry these days. And I don't like feeling angry. Plus, I'm beyond sensitive. To everything. No, really. If I was sensitive before? Now I'm all completely utterly ripped open and raw and if you tell me I'm doing it wrong I will lose it. I mean... not that that's your fault, I'm just saying.
So, yeah. Librarians? Sorry! You guys are awesome (I assume) and I know very little about what you do except that it's really really difficult and I really really do like books and the library was my favourite place to go as a kid, like for reals. So thank you for that and I'm sorry I used you as my example and I hope I didn't put you down in any way because that would suck. I'm not a librarian. I don't even play one on tv. But yay you!
Yeah. Um. Hi.
How about them Canucks/Blue Jays/other sports team reference used to change the subject, eh? How are you?
(No, seriously, how are you? I'm ok, not ok, you?)