Personal

Pluviophile

Noun: Someone who loves the rain, who finds joy and peace of mind in rainy days.

I have a list of potential blog titles, and when I came across this one today, I knew it was just right. We got our first real rain in SO LONG yesterday. I swear I felt my soul take a deep breath. I took the dog out three times for rain walks, just because I needed to celebrate this little miracle.

I can’t remember when the rain stopped. No one makes a note of the last time it rained. Similarly, it can be hard to pick out where any one thing starts or ends. As Lisa Lutz says, you don’t know there’s a story until the middle. Not being an especially intuitive person, I often find the story at the end and have to piece together how it came to pass. Lately, I’ve been feeling like there is a narrative I can’t explain happening. Did it start with COVID? With working from home? With loosing key friends to moves? With the leadership changes at work? With the [no name, no details] drama that’s been playing out on personal time starting last October? Losing my long-time therapist and not finding a replacement? With the medication change this spring? The move? Or should I look back even further to Mom’s death?

Friday night I was very low. A friend (hello L) called and we chatted for a while. Eventually I admitted things were feeling pretty hard, and she asked if it was a medication issue. I’ve been pondering that as well, but I don’t think so. Usually when I’m in “dangerous” mental territory a couple things happen.

First, I am not able to let things go. Think of a non-humorous version of George Constanza‘s obsession about what he should have said. Except that it’s Everything and Anything. All the time. Running endlessly.

Second, I get irritable. This can be subtle, because, unfortunately, I am easily irritated. But when a combination of inability to let things go combines with rage about EVERYTHING, a little warning bell starts to go off.

Third, I get suicidal ideation. As I have mentioned before, this is not the same as becoming suicidal. For me, it’s when something goes wrong and instead of brushing it off, I think, “Oh, I should just die and get it over with.” Obviously, this is a complete overreaction to the situation, but it’s an overreaction that is a red flag warning about my mental state.

Currently, I am only having issues with irritability. But as I write this, I have reverted to a “normal” state after the Friday night blues. So, what’s going on? Let’s go back to my list from above.

  1. COVID?
  2. Working from home?
  3. Losing key friends?
  4. Leadership changes at work?
  5. [no name, no details] drama?
  6. Therapist
  7. Medication change?
  8. The move?
  9. Mom’s death?

1. COVID

Regardless of what Mr. Biden says, COVID is not over. This last week I may have been exposed at work to the virus, though I have my fingers crossed that I wasn’t actually in the office at the same time as the person I think became ill. I am vaccinated and plan to get a booster shot soon. It does appear that the virus has been downgraded to a bad cold, but with my health, that can cause issues for months. Still, I no longer feel the same tension about decisions to go out into the word. Score = +1

2. Working from home

I love working from home. I go in weekly and that’s more than enough for me. Score = -1

3. Losing friends

This is an issue. COVID has not helped me to increase my social circle, and I’ve moved twice in the last three years. I need to find time to get out into the world and find some friends again. “G”, the one who moved away, was always game for a bird watching hike and “M” enjoyed a good gallery opening. Sadly, both are no longer readily available. I need to invest some energy here. Score = +1

4. Work

More about this later. Score = +10 and rising

5. NNND Drama

As of October 1, the NNND Drama is over. From here I need to work on boundaries. My first step on that is NO volunteering for ANYTHING for at least a year. L… I’m depending on you for enforcement here. Score = +4 and falling

6. Therapist

My therapist of 24 years retired last fall (October 2021) and I have yet to find an adequate replacement. During the medication change this spring, I made do with help from the Kaiser system, but their therapy feels like therapy-by-numbers approach. Forms to assess your mood. The therapist visibly checking her computer to ensure she has asked all the required question. No humor. Since then, I’ve tried to find a therapist, but most are not accepting new patients (A pandemic is stressful! Who knew?) The one therapist I did manage to make an appointment with was late for the appointment and talked a lot about herself. That’s fine for a friend, but less desirable in a therapist. I need to add finding a therapist to my list, along with finding a new doctor for when I officially change providers in January. Sigh. Service shopping. I hate it. Score = +2

7. Medication change

While I don’t think that this combination of medications will ever be as “good” as the original Paxil, I feel like things are sustainable. I’m a little more antsy on this combination, but I’ve entered the “well in myself” phase. Score = +1

8. Move

I love the beach house and living here. Score = -2

9. Mom’s death

I miss Mom daily, but I feel as though I am well out of the daily grieving process. Score = 0

Work is Stressful! Who’d a thunk it?

Clearly, work tops my list. To recap work status:

In late August 2021, the Executive Director of my agency announced she was moving on to a new position. A variety of changes have followed, and the management team today looks very different from the one a year ago. The new ED told us she was contemplating an agency reorganization, which is never fun. Then, in the “short session” of spring 2022, the Oregon legislature gave my agency a bunch of money to fund grants for fires and droughts. These are completely new programs and adding the staff and programs has been a real challenge. Everyone’s nerves are frayed, and morale is low.

I work in the “business” section of the office. Basically, it means my group does the un-sexy stuff: filing, accounting, making appointments, etc. We are the workhorses; we just plod along, hoping for a carrot or two, but not expecting much. During the course of the last year, my division has received all but NO attention. More and more things have been added, but the plan hasn’t really changed. “Just do your job,” could be our motto.

Into this environment, a new manager has appeared. She is a warm and lovely person (not just saying that) who is driving me nuts. There are two main issues for me. First, she is a Thinker and I am a Doer. Her motto is, “Let’s think about this…”; mine is, “What do you want me to DO?” While I appreciate her thoughtfulness, I want to get the task accomplished, not find the best way on the planet to do it. The second issue is harder to identify because I can’t find a name for it. The closest I can find is the difference discussed in this article. She likes to discuss the process and check in on people’s feelings; I just want to get done with the task and all this talking is slowing me down. But this still doesn’t nail the point. I rely on processes to define what I should be doing and if I’ve done it right when there is a problem; in the year she’s been there, I don’t feel like she’s learned any of the processes. Not only that, if she does encounter them, she wants to change them or “Let’s think about this….” I’m not a change-resistant person. If a process needs to change, okay, just tell me what the new process is. It’s the ambiguity that is wearing me out.

Worn out is just what I am. And with a deficient of energy to keep things in check, irritation comes to fore as a primary emotion. I demonstrably have no patience with people. So, how do I fix that?

I’ve spent the weekend thinking about this. I rested. I went to the library to get some ideas. I watched, “It Happened One Night” (hadn’t seen it before, awesome movie.) And now I’ve written this blog. What’s the answer, Choate?

I don’t know.

I’m pretty sure there isn’t a quick fix. Most of the research indicates I need to work on dealing with stress by adding scheduled self-care (meditation, yoga, walks, etc.) into my day. I need to work on my emotional intelligence skills, which are always in need of polishing. And I think I need to assess my penchant for drama.

In other words, breathe.

Sigh. Why is it never quick and easy?

Additional note: As I was reviewing my post from a year ago, where I explicitly talked about work, I realized I am in a much better physical place. I wanted to say thank you to the universe for that before moving on.