Today and friends

So today I have been thinking about friendships and one in particular. My boyfriend has a female friend that has known for a couple of years long than he’s known me. Well over the summer last year they were talking all day every day for about a 3 hours a day. When I’ve asked him to not talk to her he said no that he wouldn’t stop. I’m supposed to be his partner, but I don’t feel like it.

Well the last time I had asked him to not talk to her she threatened to go behind my back to see and talk to him. This hurts a lot, but what makes it worse is that he did talk to her behind my back. Which hurts even more. I don’t know if I can trust him to not do that again. I really wish he just would block her on everything. He doesn’t need her all she does is add stress to him and then it gets turned around on me and he’s an ass to me.

I’m not even sure what to do with these emotions I feel like crying and ignoring his call later today. I feel like that would be a bitch move but I’m not sure what else to do. He has asked me to not talk to my family before and I can’t ask him to not talk to her. I’m not even sure what to do about my relationship with him. I already feel really bad lately about the way I am. I feel bad about myself in general and put myself down a lot. I understand that you are not supposed to do that, but I have such low self-esteem lately that I don’t feel capable to tell him how I feel.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

No Conflicts and Aspirations

Genuine curiosity could beat my depression.
It could beat my procrastination and depression.
How do i tap into it?
The elements of freedom below help.
Paying attention whilst not criticizing falling into the lava stream.. acknowledging it and letting go; allowing myself to let go.
This is how I will study, this is how i will become somebody.
Every moment is an opportunity to train.

‘No conflict’ is a feeling. It is supported by calm bandwidth.
Calm bandwidth includes nonjudgemental awareness of thoughts and feelings.
This is done by understanding my mind and being non-reactive.

No conflict is a feeling.
The feeling of urgency is a conflict with the present moment.
Depression is a hinderance;
recognise the hinderances.
In life, much more is part of my meditation.
Every moment is an opportunity to sculpt the mind.

Since returning to this, I feel I can use this writing as the key to a happier, more content mind.  I’ve been on the verge of it for some time.  Going the extra mile has not been so easily seen.  Breaking through the fog is happening. Going the extra mile.

Here’s another excerpt from my imaginary book entitled No Conflict, this chapter is called ‘Jobs and Career Kerfuffle’:

Jobs and career kerfuffle

Just like I held on to education hanging off a cliff, I also have attempted many jobs. I think I counted fourteen. But after Uni, the first job I had was that of a ‘customer service engineer’, which could have been great fun as you get to plan your jobs to a certain extent. However, as you can imagine, even at this later time, it was too difficult and opened my eyes to something that was a delusion but I am going to treat it as an obsession because there was some debate, and it does not really matter now what it was. Fresh perspectives here. It was something prominent at that time which was in no way new but predominantly surfaced. It deescalated after I left the job, and then I had another well paid job, as a ‘technical author’ for a building firm, which could’ve been amazing too, I could’ve saved, but my condition and paranoia were on an intrusive level for that one too. Right now, I have chosen to study for a masters in neuroscience, so there’s some justice as the rewards are going to be fruitful. Rewind a minute.

I first recall being overly distressed by a particular idea around age thirteen. It was different from derealisation from my OCD and opposite to the organic spontaneity any philosophers or scientists would feel. What on earth am I on about? I already mentioned it but because it is interesting, without further ado, here is what initially I thought it was;

As a question:

‘How is there something but not nothing at all?’

Outside of the feeling (of mental illness), it is an interesting question. I have looked into the science, religion and philosophy, but still, it remained. What do I mean by this? Surely it’s just an interesting question, right? No, what it always felt like was a disturbing conflict. No amount of anything helped it. If I think about it now away from the feeling, the science takes you into quantum physics and the philosophy is existential cognitive reasoning like Descartes ‘I think therefore I am’ which I have his book of meditations about. However, none of this searching helped my ‘problem’. What it was, is the delusional assumption that 

‘Everything should be nothing’. 

Due to the disturbing feelings it caused, my torment was eventually recognized, and I was prescribed antipsychotics. Even though that word sounds all scary, it was accurate. Words can’t describe how it would make me feel, and that is what mental illness is. However, right now and toward the future, I am going to treat it as an obsession, because that’s all it is now. Like I say no amount of philosophy, science or religion helps solve my disturbing conflict. No amount of my ERP made it lessen but you know what, it does now, I have called it an ‘existential phenomenon’ before, I frequently call it a disturbing conflict which is accurate. I deal with it now by delegitimising it like any other obsession. So as I have been building neuronal connections it is not so overpowering, but the feeling does still arise from time to time. I used to avoid certain situations, people, and ‘sit on the fence’ because of it, yes compadres, this is why, and I notably remember it stopping me in those jobs like that I speak of once I finished University six years ago. I remember as the field engineer, I was attempting to learn on the job, which should’ve been fun, but I was so preoccupied in a somewhat disturbing way, by this, (not so much the other obsessions anymore as I learnt to manage them), and I simply could not retain information or pay attention in a way that would have seen me succeed. Kudos for the positivity, Walks still. So, may we continue to delegitamize this existential phenomenon.

Many jobs I have had, one after the other. Many times I have quit not for want or lack of confidence more so debilitation and confusion. Kudos for the dedication. So you see, the disturbing conflict, as well as my OCD, is my illness. I’ve never fished for a diagnosis even though I welcomed one. I only welcomed one because it was a huge relief to find out there may be a way out. What now? Like I say I can immerse myself into neuroscience. I do have work to do of a mental health kind, though. This is part of it. Rewind.

I figured, relatively recently, there must be reasons why I still cannot pay attention as anyone does to not just studies and work, but past times too. Therefore, I acknowledge that ‘mental review’ as a compulsion is still prevalent; I overlooked this in a sense, that ‘little’ compulsions can still be as problematic as ‘big’ themes and such. I appear to have done enough work now with the disturbing conflict, that I can sink into focus and feel a lot more immersion. I have the opportunity to study now, so things are going to work out, alongside sharing this journey. But let me explain something; OCD cannot turn into psychosis, so to let you know, please don’t panic about that. I am aware that schizophrenia OCD is a common obsession so please do not think in any way that it is possible to ‘go mad’ from your condition. It doesn’t happen. Can I now treat it as an obsession? Was there some debate as to whether it could have been still? Absolutely, and I am looking at my condition in its entirety from a fresh perspective here. ‘Everything should be nothing’. Boy oh boy, I am somewhat free of it now, but I remember how isolating and disturbing it was, it seriously disrupted my life.  

As I already touched upon I must delegitimize it, notably realise that reality can be the axiom. An axiom is an innate fact in mathematics I believe, I won’t bother looking that up (but it’s a cool bit of vocab). I remember when I first started telling the nurses about it, most said ‘don’t think like that’ but I couldn’t express enough how I had no choice. However, a good psychiatrist and my most recent therapist totally understood how it was for me. I must realise now how good freedom from it is, keep writing and meditating, and remember. It is bliss compared to what it was. Free of the conflict means that I can focus all my ERP efforts on my condition and continue to do what I want to do.  

When the first psychiatrist that listened to me properly understood it, she said ‘how can I deny that I am something.’ That is what it does. It is disturbing. It was a relief when someone finally understood how it was for me. Anyway, back to the present. It is gone now mostly. Although, what I want to do now is I want to feel it, I want to keep healing, as soon as I start to fight the feeling, start to argue with it in any way, the disturbing feeling comes back. Feeling it like this again makes me wonder how I managed so much. I want to feel it though, bring it on. I no longer fight by way of argument causing torment, more so I fight by way of allowing and not responding, but seeking it out and applying calm bandwidth to do this.

As I hit the gym today, obsessions popped up and made me want to retreat, it’s not to do with lack of concentration, it’s a genuine feeling of compulsion. The feelings involved at the moment are guilt, doubt and depression. They always were. These types of feelings are so overwhelming but I managed to separate myself from them (there’s a word for this, which I won’t bother looking up I forget. (There’s a lack of vocab for ya), and choose not to respond to them essentially choosing not to ruminate. Realising their illegitimacy, took some work but I got there. I love working out. You see I have to create head space for the doubt stream, but delegitamize it also. Now that I have done a lot of meditation I will speak of later, I am ready to proceed with the athleticism, which is something I want, alongside study. I held onto education from the edge of my cliff, and attempted over fourteen jobs. Walks, man, have compassion for this, for yourself. I am unique, but special. The mental health work I mentioned I need to do now, is in part visiting art galleries and being a hermit in a tree. More on this later.

 ”All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadow shall spring. Renewed shall the blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be King.” – J.R.R. Tolkein

Even if the rumination is ‘real’ in theme, self-sabotage is not acceptable.

Too Many Excuses.

I love writing. I write lists as a comfort, and my thoughts as an outlet. Sometimes, I get hung up on others opinions of my writing. Opinions I shouldn’t worry about. I write for me. Most of it doesn’t make sense but it feels right.When I freeze while trying to consider opinions I haven’t heard yet, I am hurting myself more than anyone. With no paper to spill my feelings into, I find myself fixating on them more than ever.

So I am just gonna go for it. I am sorry if this is a little scattered.

Remember the first time you watched a movie from your childhood, but as an adult? Maybe there was a joke that went over your prepubescent head, or maybe it confirmed a theory you had. Either way, I find myself doing this often. I used to really push away from religion and even claimed to be atheist (ZERO opinion if you are or aren’t religious). I talked about things I didn’t have any knowledge on and put down anything that sounded like a religious comment. Now I turn to the Bible as a comfort. The words in that book mean more now.

The word mindfulness means more now. I understand how I can be mindful, and how that benefits my growth as a person. My BP diagnosis was my first step towards mindfulness. I finally recognized something wasn’t right and sought help for my mood and subsequent actions. With that came the realization that I had formed these habits that were hurting those around me. I didn’t want to just mask symptoms, I wanted to find the cause.

I have had a lot of great things happen lately, and I had a lot of shitty things happen too. As I revealed recently, I was hospitalized for thoughts of self harm. All is better now, I just had to get some meds tweaked and take some time to process my feelings in a safe place. I get back to work and disclose to a close coworker what my hospitalization was for. My boss comes back from vacation and suddenly, after almost a year, fires me for “low productivity”. I had just signed a lease on a two bedroom apartment for my self and my mom who I care for. I just bought a new car earlier this year. A lot of people close to me pointed out the timing of being let go, right after I was hospitalized. I just don’t want to be one of those people who blame others. I honestly was shocked when they let me go. I had never received any indication that my work was not meeting expectations. I have filed for unemployment, but I haven’t received anything as of yet. It has only been a week.

Isn’t it weird the things that can trigger depression. My job loss didn’t. I was upset and down as to be expected but it wasn’t depression. Having to ask and receive help from my sister who is so judgmental of any actions that aren’t 100% responsible, and my grandmother who I have been trying to set boundaries with, especially financially.

I got a verbal offer for a job today. Since completing my degree, I haven’t been job searching. Let me tell you, I am being offered hire positions then I have ever held. Positions that I most certainly feel I am unqualified for. I accepted but am waiting for the official offer letter.

I feel like things are looking up and all in all, this year wasn’t bad. It might be one of my best yet.

My First Time.

I have never been hospitalized before. I think that I am pretty good at hiding things, but I couldn’t hide this from myself. I knew there was something wrong. I wasn’t sleeping more than a couple hours, I was becoming emotionally abusive, and I was falling back into overspending. Mania. This isn’t the first time I have been manic this year, but I hope it is the last. I moved into a new apartment earlier this week and I already can’t make rent. I am exhausting. I am tired from being me.

I took myself down to the hospital which I think we can agree is a feat on its own. Not having insurance was both a blessing a curse. The plus side is that I could choose whatever hospital I wanted and the downside is that I am uninsured. I can’t help but laugh that this insanely expensive vacation I just took and I didn’t even get to go to the pool. I am constantly, actively working to better myself. I take my medication, go to all my doctors appointments, religiously see my therapist, use the breathing exercises. I am not immune to it. It wasn’t at all what I had expected. Clean, hospital like in some ways, slightly degrading, and cold. BUT I am blessed to have gone to a place that provided me a private room and bathroom. Granted, everything was bolted to the floor and the bathroom had no door. Overall it was a really nice place filled with people actively trying to get better.

I was sad and anxious that I was taking all these days unpaid, but I had to. I had to go and get help. It was an out of body experience watching me set fire to all the relationships that took years to rebuild. One conversation has sent it all tumbling down. Here I am, trying to intervene and slow the damage. I was discharged yesterday afternoon and it seems that my grandparents are going to be the hardest to recover. I suppose it is divine timing because we just moved away after living next door to them. I am fortunate to still have my mom in my corner because it would be hell living together for the next year if I am going to be the source of her pain and anger.

I am doing better today. Better than yesterday, better than a week ago. I just have to keep pushing forward. My anxiety is manageable right now and I hope that it stays that way. I hope that this made inpatient stays a little less scary for those who haven’t experienced it.

Keep fighting the good fight!

National Suicide Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Awareness Month and September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. You never know what other people are going through. Be kind whenever possible; it’s always possible. Maybe this is something you don’t show much concern with because it had never affected you directly. You never know who in your life may decide to take their life. Even if you think someone is self-harming because they want attention, that doesn’t make their pain less valid. Existence is pain. Sometimes that pain is overwhelming. We can overcome that pain if we seek help from both professionals and from people in our lives.

If you’re hurting, or think your life is meaningless, there are plenty of places to seek help. If this post speaks to you, I want you to leave a comment. I may not respond, but if you feel alone, look at some of the other comments. Many people, hundreds of thousands, feel the same about their lives. You’re not alone because so many people have the same feelings. Reading articles from TheMighty.com helped me when I was looking for some comfort. I felt people there were in the same boat and I felt less alone. I’m sharing the resources listed on The Mighty website below.

Suicide Prevention Resources

If you are feeling suicidal, there is hope. 

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255

You can reach the Crisis Text Line 24/7 by texting “START” to 741-741

You can call The Trevor Project, an LGBT crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline, 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.

You can call Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 if you live in the U.S. Call 877-330-6366 if you live in Canada.

To find local resources in your area, visit To Write Love On Her Arms.

If you are hard of hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor 24/7 by clicking the Chat button on this page, or you can contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889.

To speak to a crisis counselor in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

If you are a veteran (or your loved one is a veteran), you can reach the Veterans Crisis Line by calling  1-800-273-8255 and Pressing 1. You can also send a text to 838255.

Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

For additional resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

You can read the following stories from people who’ve been there (from The Mighty):

And for additional messages of hope, click here

You are not alone.  

Thirty.

30. Thirty. The big 3-0. I want to mark this time. (peep that pic of me celebrating graduation in late May)

If you would have asked 20 year old me what the next 10 years held…she would have thought that it sounded scary and wonderful, but it could never be her. She blamed everyone for her problems. She was endlessly in love with Joseph Anthony but She was months away from the hardest break up she had faced. She was wonderfully oblivious that her life was about to change courses in a big way. She didn’t really have a lot of close friends outside of Joe. Hannah was dating David and you all didn’t really get along with David. She had a less than ideal relationship with her family and believed that it was beyond repair. There were a lot of questions about where my life would lead me. She was also very secure with herself. She of course thought she could improve in her exercise and diet, but she had confidence and it was obvious. She had no idea that these fleeting, endorphin filled time was mostly a product of her bipolar.

 

This didn’t seem like a big deal until I thought of how fast it went by. How quickly 30 years of my life happened. What have I accomplished?

 

I am well established in my career. I have been in the health care field for 10 years.

I got my master’s degree.

I moved to Texas and back.

I have a pet kitty that makes my days better (You count your kids right?)

I received my diagnosis of Bipolar disorder and started treating it.

I repaired many relationships that I had broken.

I have moved countless times, and it has allowed me experience more than one small bubble in Arizona.

I bought the newest car I have ever owned this year.

I made the big decision to start fertility treatments and become a single mother by choice.

I have realized that it isn’t a relationship I fear, it is that I wouldn’t be accepted or understood. I am asexual.

I have made peace with the fact that I will most likely have my mom living with me for the rest of her life. I am truly okay with it.

 

30-year-old me is on a camping trip in the future. This is 29 years and 359 day old me. Present me is sitting in my room. She is in Mesa and live in a crappy one-bedroom mobile home with mom. That is right, you now care for your mom. Mostly financially because she can’t work but is still independent.  She sleeps in a recliner because you haven’t been able to afford the lift bed she needs. We just got approved for the apartment we are moving to. You prefer to rent an apartment over owning a home and having all the responsibilities or renting a home and having to landscape. This apartment is a dream. You have always looked at the high-end apartments as something you dream of living in. You dreamt of living in a beautiful apartment that looks like a model home. You love the idea of living in a really nice place and decorating it so that you are proud of it.

You love living with your mom. You rarely argue, and she holds you accountable on your self -improvement.

You packed up your shit, quit your job, and drove to Texas where you lived with your dad and Nicole for a year. Much needed. Super impulsive.

Things are rocky with your sister right now. She is following your footsteps and headed down an emotionally destructive path. That is a scary thought seeing as how you went without a diagnosis for your bipolar until you were 25. You have had a couple of relationships that fizzled out. It has been 7 years since your last one. It only feels like an embarrassment to say that when you imagine other people’s reactions. You are oddly okay with this. You have spent the last 7 years working on yourself, nurturing your mental health and mending relationships. You reconnected with Joseph. He turned into a real bar fly when you two hung out together. I do mean hook up if you are wondering. Turns out he had an ex-girlfriend living in the same house. You still love him, and you still think he is selfish and inconsiderate. He has gotten weirder and less mature if that is possible. He loves to wear leggings and outlandish attention drawing outfits and attend raves. He did meet a girl last year. They are expecting a boy next month. You don’t know that Joe has grown up, you think he just found someone to act like a kid with. She has a son in high school….don’t know if that was a teen pregnancy or she is that much older than us.

Hannah is still your true friend. She has changed A TON. She stands up for herself, has really matured career wise and is making more than you! She still feels like she doesn’t know what she is doing with her life. She is living it. She needs to look around. She is still letting pretty boys walk all over her. You constantly build her up and she is so critical of herself and her appearance. She got a boob job that she hates…and botox! As long as it is safe and makes her happy, I will never judge her.

You made the decision that you would start fertility treatments and become a single mother by choice. It is a long and expensive process, but you want it badly. Your mom and grandmother both had issues and could not have any kids after 30. Your aunt Cherril has cervical cancer. She isn’t doing well either. She has decided to not have any kind of treatments and doesn’t even want to take pain medication.

You write. You write in notebooks, on the back of paper plates, you have a blog, you bounce around on your ideas and just end up writing them all in a jumbled mess.

You lost your confidence and have gained at least 100 lbs. But your confidence was gone long before the weight came. After Sean, you were down. You were approaching the BPD diagnosis, but this sent you on a journey that you can credit your life to.

You started gaining weight and staying home. You went to the doctor for weight loss and then disclosed how you were really feeling, and she referred you to a specialist. Between the sadness and the weight gain, you felt ashamed. You stopped going out and packed on more weight. You are hyper aware of those around you. Careful never to agitate or inconvenience anyone. You have actually become pretty boring. You rarely show emotion and are too concerned about other’s opinions to be the silly person you were.

 

You hope that your next 10 years bring more joy, revelations about yourself, dreams come to fruition. You hope to overcome your biggest obstacle. Yourself.

In the next 10 years, you will have a baby. You will do two rounds of IUI before you get pregnant. You will become more confident in your work. You will increase dramatically in your salary as you are beginning to really establish yourself. You will become more involved in politics and religion…after all the wise Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all the places where decisions are being made.”. You will continue learning and educating yourself through reading and may even entertain the idea of a doctorate. You will most likely lose your grandparents. That is going to be the kick in the stomach of the decade. I hope you are somewhat graceful in your grief. I doubt this though. You will most likely have some issues in managing medications and potentially start being reckless at this time. I hope you come back here and remind yourself of how far you have come and how many people go through this.

My first 30 years have been challenging to say the least. I was dealt a tough hand and it didn’t help that I was manic for most of it. I have made strides in my mental health that have definitely rippled into the rest of my life. I am happy. Genuinely happy. I have you fine people to thank for some of that.

 

The Bipolar Writer Doubts

Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

I journal off and on over the last ten years. At times it is to clear my mind after a long depression cycle and to get my thoughts down during those times. At times I use journaling to come up with ideas for fiction and creative nonfiction work.

It is the area where my doubts to bleed on the page of my journal is when it comes to my writing. I am a published author with a memoir that is selling okay. There are other projects that I am working on to be published in 2020. There is a real fear that my writing will never go anywhere.

I know these doubts are just lingering because I have so much going when it comes to writing. I have the ghostwriting business that I am taking to the next level, and I am starting an LLC. I am launching my brand, The Bipolar Writer. Ive created new things for my tiers on my Patreon account, including merchandise with my logo. I have projects galore, and I am nearing the end of my master’s. I consider myself a seasoned professional writer with fiction and creative nonfiction that will take me to the next level of writing. Everything is either about to be published, in editing, or a work in progress.

You would think I would not have time for doubt, but it is always late that they come when I am alone.

Photo by Fawazlul Rizqi on Unsplash

They say the monsters and demons tend to come out at night the most. That is true also with doubts. There is something about sitting in the dark on the doorstep of sleep that wakes up my brain, and so the last thoughts are of my doubts that I faced that day. There are times I have mini panic attacks.

I am a work in progress. I will always be adjusting as new things with being Bipolar, having social anxiety, and panic disorder change and the world changes. I have written about being alone recently and why I feel okay with that feeling. The doubts they tend to go to other places. Will I be alone forever? It is one that has haunted me.

It is not all bad. I am better equipped to handle these thoughts of doubts. I look at where I was when I began this journey. I was this 20 something who could not live, and wanted to die. Then I came back. Got one degree with another on the way. Graduated with honors as an undergraduate and heading that way as a graduate student. My life as a writer has improved. I am better at helping others and sharing my story. I have a future in my hand. You see, the doubts are just feelings of insecurity. Look at what you have accomplished and what you have in the future. No matter how small. To quote a friend, open doors and go through doors that are opened for you. This life is too short. Stay strong as always.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

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Photo Credit: Photo by Julius Drost on Unsplash

Saving Myself Through Discomfort

“Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” – Susan David – TED Talk “The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage”

This pandemic caught me at a really odd time in my life, an odd time that has been going on for at least two years and which was exacerbated by the death of my semi-estranged mother. The scenario: 50 years of work (amateur, semi-professional, professional) in a field which always put me in front of people as their entertainment; 17 overlapping years of teaching which always put me in front of people as their instructor and entertainment. These fields were not the only work I’ve done but they were the most consistent, to the point where over the last three-or-so years I’ve been fantasizing about getting out. But my skills and talents fall where they fall and so it has been easy to just continue down these paths, despite a growing desire (desperation) to get out.

The pandemic snatched my work – all of it – right out from under me. Consequently, I have been fortunate to actually be relieved by this situation, almost as though I’d been saved. Yes, my money left but my financial and home situations don’t really require that I make much money anymore (thank you, anal retentive tendency to throw money at my debt until it is all gone). At the same time, about a sixth of my work has been salvaged through the magic of video so I do get to make a little money and still feel released from bondage to my career.

I have every reason to be happy.

So why have I been in this combination of panic/frustration/despair right along with my relief?

I said before that this pandemic caught me at a really odd time in life. Yes, I’ve been at a crossroads but I’ve just been standing there, paralyzed, looking at all the street signs pointing in different directions and listing to myself all the reasons why none of those roads is a good choice, the problems with each one, and why I just can’t. Here are all my great reasons for staying paralyzed:

  1. In two years I’ve gone from a little inclined not to hang with others to downright unsocial. I prefer my family and I’m uncomfortable spending time with anyone else.
  2. After over 50 years of depression and anxiety, it is exhausting putting myself under the judgmental eyes of people who can probably see all that and I’m uncomfortable with what they’re probably thinking. (Performers know that the artist is one entity, the person is another.)
  3. I hate talking on the phone. I’m uncomfortable giving my very important time away to some voice that I probably don’t want to listen to and don’t want to tell anything.
  4. I already spent way enough time using my office and administrative skills. I’m uncomfortable being tied to a desk all day (although I’ve had a standing desk for years, so there is that).
  5. I’ve been completely self-employed for 17 years, partially self-employed for way longer than that. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of being an employee and having a boss again.
  6. I’m 60 years old. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of starting something entirely new, learning something entirely new.
  7. I’m uncomfortable doing the same old things I’ve been doing and using the same old skills I’ve always used.

You get the point by now, I’m sure. I’m uncomfortable with so many things that I have made myself unable to make any choice whatsoever as to what to do with this next chapter of my life. Go ahead, try to think of any field in which I might work without running into one of my discomfort zones.

You can’t do it. I haven’t been able to either.

So why haven’t I been happy? Why have I been in this combination of panic/frustration/despair right along with my relief?

Because I feel useless. Useless. Of no use. No use to me and, even worse, no use to the world. I have avoided discomfort in favor of being useless.

Today – actually before taking a much-needed long walk and listening to the Ted Talk quoted above – I signed up for COVID-19 contact tracer training. I said to myself, “I bet this is all on the phone. I hate the phone.” I said to myself, “I don’t even know if I’ll be able to get a job, so what’s the point?” I said to myself, “People are so angry and uncooperative right now. I’m afraid of dealing with them.” But I started the training (all online) because I had told my husband some time ago that I wanted to learn to do something I know not even a little bit about, from the ground up. (Direct contradiction to #6 above.) This meets that criteria. And I started the training because it most definitely is needed. I said to myself, “I’ll deal later with the fact that I probably won’t do anything with it because it’ll make me uncomfortable.

And then I went for the long walk and listened to the Ted Talk and that brilliant statement: “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” The speaker also said, in response to someone whom had told her all the things they didn’t want to feel, “So, you have dead people’s goals.” Wow. Dead people’s goals. She went on to explain that only the dead get to exist without feeling discomfort. Mind … blown.

I’m going to continue on with this contact tracer training. I love learning and even taking tests (yes, I’m a nerd). When I’m done, I will be very uncomfortable with how to proceed. But I will proceed. Because I’m tired of feeling useless. I’m tired of being paralyzed by discomfort; by feelings; by waiting, wishing, hoping for some magical scenario to materialize which will bring me some income and make me valuable to the world again all while making me feel like I’m wrapped in a warm blanket. It ain’t gonna happen that way.

I want to be of use to the world once more. I want to have a meaningful life. So I choose discomfort.

Learn to Love Yourself in the Alone Time

I have spent the last several months going to work and going home. Not much socializing. Sometimes once a month I would go out if invited to something. I was trying to save money. And I was trying to work on myself. I went to counseling and did other activities to pull myself out of depression. I don’t have insurance so that was the best I could do. I remember feeling alone often. I looked for ways to stay busy and distract myself from how I felt. I wished I could afford to go out and spend time with even one person.

As I was getting to a better place with my finances, the pandemic happened. Everything shut down. I lost a lot of work. Other than concerns for my income, my daily routine didn’t change much. I couldn’t read a book at a coffee shop, but I could live without that. I had grown more comfortable with myself and didn’t mind the alone time. I still feel alone but it doesn’t bother me as much. I’ve grown to a place where I enjoy cooking again. I read more. I write fiction more. My creative ideas are never ending.

During the pandemic, there were videos of celebrities feeling upset during social distancing. This reminded me of how I felt. I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me or how I felt. We were all reacting in a normal way to isolation. I hope people are discovering new things about themselves. If you’re bored during isolation, you need new hobbies. If you’re alone and uncomfortable, you need to love yourself and enjoy your own company. We all should set time aside to be alone. It’s important to our wellbeing. Find your happiness in the alone time.

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.