Category Archives: I probably need medication for this

overstimulated

The problem with trying to come up with a plan and then stick to it is all the distractions. This multisensory world we live in, with its televisions and internets and phones, and tweets and likes and posts and feeds … it’s a lot. Particularly for someone like me, who was distracted by three network channels, a VCR and a couple of  Tiger Beat magazines.

So whenever I start trying to figure out a career path, all that stimuli veers me off the path pretty quickly. Like, I start searching for “writing prompts” and all of a sudden I find myself with 10 different windows open, reading book reviews, message boards and blogs that are three links removed from the original search result and are on a topic that had nothing to do with my original search.

Also, I then get hung up on the idea that I have to DO all of these things. All at once. NOW! Which gets me so overwhelmed that I slam the computer shut and go back to surfing 200 channels of nothingness while reading a novel and calculating my 401k contributions for the year in my head.

It’s no wonder I get headaches.

So my new plan is to focus on one thing. Like, just now when I logged into post this blog, I saw one of those new announcements from WordPress about a new feature where you can integrate your Tweets into your posts, which got me all freaked out again about how I really should be on Twitter because Facebook is fine but it’s really shouldn’t be my primary outlet for my short random thoughts (as opposed to my long random thoughts, which is this blog, but shouldn’t I be tying the two together in an integrated marketing strategy, but then what name do I use and who would follow me and who do I want to follow me and do I want those people to read this blog and of course I do but I need to be careful about who on Facebook can read it so AAAAAH! Slam! goes the laptop lid.)

But I didn’t let that happen. I calmly and rationally said, self, we are just going to move past this and we are going to write a blog post, which is what we set out to do. It’s OK if we just do that one thing. Everything else can come later. And I did it. Isn’t that fabulously sane and rational, except for the part where I’m talking to myself?

So that’s the path I’m going to take with everything. I’m not going to let myself feel so overwhelmed or guilty about not doing everything that I end up doing nothing. I’m going to choose just one thing at a time and do it, thoroughly. So I downloaded one book – actually one sample of a book – to my Nook. I’m going to read that sample, and if I like it I’m going to buy that one book (instead of the two or three I’d normally buy at once and then read none of them). Once I finish it, I will then choose a next step, whether it’s to buy another book, or open a Twitter account or something else.

I’m so serious about this that tonight I actually watched a movie without reading or being on the computer at the same time. And when it was over, the computer was still there, plus my husband didn’t have to explain the plot to me.

Oh, the new me is going to be so aware and focused it’s scary. Imagine what I’ll be able to achieve when I actually pay attention to stuff. I will be unfreakingtoppable. Look out world, here I  …. oooh, a chicken!

self-esteem

One of the things you hear women in their 40s say most often (the ones who think their 40s are wonderful, anyway), is that it’s great to be 40 because you’re finally comfortable with yourself. You’re free of all the bullshit and nonsense that accompanied your 20s and 30s. You know who you are, you’re comfortable with it, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it.

I so want to be one of those women. So it’s led me to really try to understand why I’m not.

I know that I have self-esteem issues. I also have a high level of anxiety. I’m almost constantly stressed out. I know that’s kind of the hallmark of 21st-century life, but I don’t deal with it well, and I really don’t want to live like this. I never really thought about the self-esteem and the anxiety being related at all though, until this week, when someone suggested that I’m anxious because I’m worried that I’m going to do things wrong, because I’m not good enough.

Good enough. Suddenly it all came together. Well of course I’m not good enough. That’s part of who I am, as much as my hair or eye color.

My husband and parents would give me a big “duh” right here. They, who know me best,  have lived with me and get the brunt of my freakouts and moods and temper tantrums, have always answered “What is lack of self esteem?” to the Jeopardy category of  “Amy’s biggest problem.” And while it was a no-brainer to connect with my body-image issues, I wouldn’t have connected it with the anxiety.

But once I started to really think about it, it made more and more sense.  Merriam-Webster’s definition of self esteem is a confidence and satisfaction in oneself. I do not have confidence in myself. Generally, no matter what I’m worried about, what I’m stressing about, what I’m anxious about, it can be boiled down to a deep-rooted fear that I’m gonna fuck something up. I made a point this week to, every time I felt anxiety, spend time thinking about why I felt it. Like, why am I worried so much about this stupid work event that I’ve dealt with for 10 years now? There are many, many things about this event that could worry me — people’s reactions to it are at the top of the list. But dig deeper, and I’m really worried that they’ll have those reactions because I’ve done something wrong, something that will cause those reactions. Then I worry that my response to negative reactions will also be wrong. What will I say? How will I phrase the email? What will I do? Stress, worry and anxiety, all based on my potential actions; actions that will be wrong because I am not good enough.

In college I wrote a short story for a writing class, called Good Enough. It’s a story about a girl struggling with anorexia. She’s not there yet, but she’s on the doorstep. She’s constantly beating herself up for not spending long enough at the gym, for going to McDonalds, for not being thin enough or pretty enough or good enough. It wasn’t really autobiographical because even though our thought processes were the same, I didn’t work out as much as she did, or walk away from hamburgers like she did. I wasn’t even good enough to be anorexic. Pretty sure you don’t have to be Freud to psychoanalyze the shit out of that one.

So, go me. I’ve stayed on the path to self-awareness for longer than five minutes without getting bored and drinking wine instead. I think I made some headway into understanding my thought processes and made some interesting insights. The question now is, what the hell do I do about it?

a beach chair for me and one for my emotional baggage, please

I read recently that it’s medically necessary to take vacations. Not that I needed to read that to know it. There’s a reason even the most unreasonable tightwad companies give their employees vacation time – people need to unwind and refresh, or they end up as miserable stressballs incapable of producing worthwhile work. The problem is that vacations also turn me into a miserable stressball because I’m so busy worrying about what’s waiting for me when I get back.

I took a really good vacation in 1998. Ireland. One week. It was awesome. It was beautiful and it was fun and it was the perfect combination of educational and relaxing and drunken debauchery. And when I came home I was depressed for a week. Like, literally, cripplingly depressed. I did not eat anything but bread and cheese because it reminded me of Ireland. I was so unhappy to be back I thought I wasn’t going to be able to survive it.

Since then I have taken four vacations. A trip to the Keys. A one-week cruise to Hawaii. Another long weekend in the Keys. And my honeymoon, a three-day cruise to the Bahamas. But see, I learned my lesson after that Ireland vacation – don’t let your guard down and relax too much. As long as you can keep the anxiety and sense of day-to-day misery with you, it won’t be such a hard crashdown when you return. However. This sort of defeats the purpose of a vacation. To the point now where I just don’t take them. Because why? I might as well spend my money on something I can use.

I do recognize how messed up this is. I’m just not sure what to do about it. I know that I need, more than anything in the world, a week on a beach someplace, with fruity drinks and hammocks and blue water. BUT. I also need to be able to let go of the anxiety while I’m there, and eliminate the depression when I get back.

Any suggestions for a beachfront condo with a lobotomy?

how not to diet

So in a rare burst of good sense, I just deleted a post about what a giant failure I am. It was a good vent, and I was really upset when I wrote it, but it didn’t need to be out there for posterity.

What does need to be out there is that binge eating is not a solution for anything, and the sooner I can figure that out and break the cycle, the better off I’ll be. “Sooner” being a relative term, since obviously in 40 or so years I haven’t quite gotten there yet.

It’s a pretty typical scenario. I get depressed, usually about weight or money or, more often, both. Maybe other stuff is added in. Maybe it’s February and I haven’t been to the beach in 4 or 5 months. Maybe the looming 40th birthday has me irrationally freaked out, particularly career-wise – I get terrified that I am not qualified to do any job out there other than the one I’m doing , and what the hell does my future hold if something happens? Even though the whole reason for that, of course, is my own crippling lack of self-confidence.

You know, just general stuff like that.

So the logical response to any of those issues is to eat. Even when you’re spending $40 a month on Weight Watchers and you’re so close to goal you can taste it (no pun intended) and so maybe possibly we can throw “self-sabotage” in there too as a reason for the binging. Because I know, as surely as I know anything, that once I hit my goal I’m going to think I’m fat at that new weight, and stress and obsess and screw up numerous opportunities to lose more weight. Repeat, ad nauseam.

I was doing great this week. I was a perfect little WeWa-er. I ate what I was supposed to, in its healthiest forms. Protein, complex carbs, limited sugars. Small glasses of red wine at night. Exercise. For four days. And the scale showed it, proving that if you just do what you’re supposed to, it works. So naturally, I fell apart in spectacular fashion. I binged. And I binged on what was in the house, so I binged on healthy food. Whole-wheat pasta with tuna added in because it’s important to have protein with every meal – even when your meal is about 6 serving sizes. A full tub of fat-free Greek yogurt with Swiss Miss mixed in for that chocolatey goodness that will make you forget to miss ice cream. Dark chocolate, because if you’re going to have a little chocolate, dark is much better for you, and if a little dark chocolate is better for you, a huge slab of it must be really, really better. A bottle of red wine. God, just think of the antioxidants coursing through my system.

So if you’re going to do shit like this, you want to be sure to save the worst of it for the night before weigh-in. That’s when, after a day when you cried more than you didn’t, you want to go OUT to dinner and make sure you get there in time to have three glasses of happy-hour wine, and since you’re splitting an appetizer-sized flatbread with your husband, who is at goal and will probably still be there tomorrow despite this, you should also order the bisque. Because nothing says Weight Watchers like cream- and butter-based soup. And then, just to be sure your weigh-in will be an utter failure, you should split a dessert the size of your head.

And just to ensure a complete meltdown on the scale, you should get on the treadmill to do a run and break down crying two minutes in. Crying does not earn activity points, sadly enough, even when done on a piece of exercise equipment.

What the fuck, people? What the FUCK? I can’t even get on that scale tomorrow – it’ll be up a good 5 pounds and I can’t even think of the tailspin that’ll throw me into.

celebrating my annual identity crisis

I’m not sure at what point in life one is supposed to cross over into adulthood and send out your own holiday cards, rather than having your name tacked onto your parents’. I’m guessing, however, somewhere around 40 is a reasonable time frame.

As with most things relating to maturity, I have been solidly behind the curve on this. I think I sent some cards out once in my 20s, probably because I was drunk. And maybe again the year I got married, because I actually had an up-to-date address list and I was deluded into thinking that being married meant being an adult. But this year I’d moved on past such foolish rituals and was happy in my “no-responsibilities” holiday season. No kids, no shopping to do, no cards to send. No stress. It was a good plan. I should have stuck with it. But then a friend made a comment on Facebook (another age-inappropriate highlight of my life) that “if you knew how excited a 6-year-old gets about seeing Christmas cards in the mail, you’d send them.” OK, guilt button pressed.

So the Sunday before Christmas I pulled out all the boxes of cards I buy every year in my after-Christmas, half-price shopping spree (oh, the yards and yards of wrapping paper and garland I own … never mind that I neither wrap presents nor have a tree) and found my wedding/address list file, and went at it.

Holiday cards are really fucking complicated.

I had two boxes of cards. One was completely non-holiday specific, and one was funny but said “Merry Xmas” on it. So clearly, the Jews needed to get the non-specific card. However, the more religious Christians couldn’t get the Merry Xmas card because of the whole Christ/X thing. And then there was also the fact that Hanukkah was like, three weeks ago, so I had to craft my message carefully so it was obvious that I was really just sending best wishes for the new year, oh, so you happened to get this the day before Christmas … is it Christmas this week? I hadn’t realized. I spent the next two hours doing the kind of analysis into people’s potential religious beliefs that should only be attempted by historical scholars on a civilization that’s been extinct for 1,000 years.  I even had to go to the store and buy actual New Year’s cards for the extra-Jewish folks on my list, because apparently my neutral card wasn’t neutral enough.

So I put the damn things in the mail and proceeded to spend the rest of the week worrying about who I’ve offended. Did I write something stupid? Did I send the wrong card to the wrong people? Did I accidentally mention “Christmas” on a Jewish card? What about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons? Are they even allowed to get cards? With glitter?

Why did I do this? Why? What business do I have sending cards to celebrate a holiday when I’m not even sure what holiday I’m celebrating? Even if there are cards for Christmukkah (and I’m sure there are) you just can’t send those to everyone, and the ones that are really multi-religion and “embrace all faiths” imply some religion and/or faith, which I do not so much have. On December 25th I celebrate the birth of Jimmy Buffett by eating turkey and pie, and wish I still believed in Santa. And really, the only reason to send cards anyway is to assuage guilt about not being in touch with people all the rest of the year, and HELLO, that’s what Facebook is for.

Next year, I’m totally back to being one of “the Turners.” Happy holidays.

the weapons of mass destruction are spreading the evil

See previous post for “WMD” reference.

So I am having a particularly ugly time with the hormones this month. It makes everything so much crappier and more difficult and just downright unmanageable.

For example:

I finally picked up the fourth Twilight book (the name of which escapes me at the moment; add “memory loss” to this list). And it’s just annoying me. Bella – go to college. Don’t let your life center around a man. Even a hot, immortal man. You’re like the worst stereotype of the girl who gives up everything for a guy, to the point of being willing to give up your actual life. I actually had to skim through the wedding scene, it bugged so much. I should probably drop it entirely for now, but I need something to read and I’ve finished all the Harry Potters for the second time.

Deadlines always seem to converge at this time of the month, and right now I have three biggies on me all at once – and of course, computer programs do not cooperate and everything is 10 times more difficult than it needs to be.

iTunes shuffle sucks. The theory behind shuffle, unless I misunderstand, is that it should shuffle your songs. All your songs. So why do I keep hearing the same songs? And the same artists. I am reasonably sure that Cinderella does not make up such a large part of my library that I should hear them twice an hour.

Ugh, and I just found a zit. Because being fat and moody isn’t enough.

DOOM! and CRAPPINESS! and I just want to go back to bed and stay there for a week

I hate the fact that I had to get out of bed this morning and I hate the fact that I can’t go back for at least another 11 hours. I hate that one dog won’t eat food and the other will eat anything that isn’t nailed down and some things that are and probably would eat the nails, too. In fact the only reason I got out of bed this morning is because she was chewing on the corner of another piece of art that we still haven’t hung on the wall – a cute little wooden sign that says “Welcome to the beach!” and how cruel and sucky is that – because I’m not at the beach, I’m stuck in my office trying to figure out what will piss people off the least today.

Oh, and meteorologist Amy Sweezy? If you ever again have the nerve to say on a Monday “if you don’t have to work today it’s going to be a GREAT beach day” I will hunt you down and kill you. Or at least petition for your immediate dismissal because what a shitty thing to say to your viewership on a Monday morning. Do you think that if we didn’t have to work we’d be up at 6:30 a.m. watching your forecast?

Plus, I’m really, really, really fat.

Barry somehow managed to mix up his acronyms and referred to my PMS as WMD, which I find strangely appropriate.