Wednesday, October 24, 2007


"Shit." I muttered at the screen of my laptop when I realized I dropped Grandma in the wrong chair. The animated people waiting on the left side of my screen all had preferences floating in bubbles above their heads. One wanted to sit at the bell table. Another wanted to sit next to Chloe, the social young woman with blonde hair. Two of my waiting crowd wanted to sit next to Grandma, but I accidentally dropped her in the last chair at the heart table.

Someone would have to be disappointed.

I find myself drawn to computer games lately, sad as that sounds even to me. I started with Diner Dash when I was home with Mom one of these times. It's soothing for me to know what people want and know I'm capable of providing it. I found tables, clicked and dragged the party to an empty one, took orders, delivered food, dropped off checks, cleared dishes and started again. And somehow hours passed while I had the illusion of control over some portion of an imaginary world.

I bought Sally's Salon on my return to my house. Same idea, different scenery. I hired people to shampoo and style and make coffee, but I dragged customers from chair to chair, cutting and coloring, perming and spraying on tans. And hours passed while I was consumed in something other than hating my life. Which, frankly, is a blessed relief.

"Don't worry about it." Jill said kindly when I told her I had to start taking better care of myself. I eat for comfort and I find I've gained a considerable amount of weight. Clothes don't fit and I only look at myself in the mirror when strictly necessary. It's as if I can't believe I have this set of circumstances with which to deal - a job where I am considered superfluous at best and a terrible hiring decision at worst, friends I don't talk to often at all, and a family which is struggling mightily. So I'm turning myself into someone I don't recognize. "You've had a rough couple of months and you need to be kind to yourself, not beat yourself up over a few extra pounds."

True enough, I thought. But still. I don't want to be here, but have no idea where to go next. I feel like these applications and interviews are born of this desperate desire to change anything to see if I start to feel better. I want to move, but I worry about selling my house in this market. I want to try something new, but judging from my post-doc experience, I might fail miserably yet again. I need to get closer to my family, but the thought exhausts me. I'd be expected to take care of the girls a lot more. I'd go home for more weekends, know more details, be consulted on more decisions. And while I want that, it also scares me.

I also know the process of getting to there from here will be exhausting. Finding a job and negotiating reasonable terms. Packing up a 3 bedroom house I have filled with stuff and moving it to a house I'll have to select and arrange to purchase. Closing my life here and opening one elsewhere is hardly an easy activity, and even as I pursue it, I dread it. So I rest and crave sleep like an addict. I guard my resources closely and growl if anyone encroaches on energy I feel I might need for myself later.

I am, in short, selfish and awful and angry and sad. Which leads to the question of how depressed I am. And the answer is that I don't know.

Life isn't impossible, but it is hard. I am withdrawing as much as I know how, and when I look at the situations from which I recoil, I understand that response. I don't want to talk to Henry about how he wants to be on papers with which he wasn't involved. That will suck. I don't want to go to meetings with people who think unkindly of me. I feel awkward and inadequate so I avoid attending. I feel like I'm doing penance with Friend for not being there for her, yet I don't feel badly about making the decisions that resulted in that. So I bristle even as I try to fix something I fear might be broken. So in all these things, I know there are problems and though I've made some attempt to fix them, I'm making no progress and it makes me miserable and sad.

So I play games.

Wedding Dash consumed most of my day as I sat on the loveseat ignoring work I could be doing. I didn't call home to check on Brother's Wife - she had her gallbladder out today. (Actually, I did call this evening. She's hurting, but everything went well. Mom's sick again, but she and Dad are keeping Little One. Dad was sad he didn't get to talk to me last night because I called too late and he was already asleep. So I'm disappointing people yet again.) I didn't write to Friend because I know things are hard for her and I don't know how to help. And I'm so damn tired of feeling badly. I just want to forget. I want to be someone else.

So I'm the one who seats wedding guests, trying to make everyone happy and planning ahead so the animated people can sit with the people they like most. Then I take their gifts, deliver them to the happy couple, and bring appetizers. It's easy because the guests have bubbles over their heads in which their desires appear. Hungry? There's a little shrimp over Grandma's head. So I click on the plate of shrimp in the corner, then on Grandma and all is right with the world. The olive skinned woman with the short hair wants cake? It appears in a bubble over her head. I can click on cake then click on her and wait until she disappears in a poof and reappears in the corner, dancing until all the other guests are finished eating. I don't know why it's soothing, but it is.

And if I don't do well - if the guests start to cross their arms and their lips move as they mutter complaints - I don't score enough points and the nice animated woman appears after the level is finished. She says it was a good effort and that I should try again. And as I do, I get better and get to see new backgrounds. I went from backyards to ballrooms to cruise ships and ended up on an island when my right hand started to cramp a bit from the hours of clicking and dragging.

Why not apply that energy to life? Because I never feel like I'm winning lately. I never feel like I'm doing a good job and that Suzie and Joe's wedding went well so I can move on to Betsy and George. I don't have much hope that submitted or work-in-progress paper will be published. I don't think I'll find anything from this clinical project I was going to finish today, so I'd rather leave it until tomorrow. While Boss and I discuss future work and I try to talk about how I'm interviewing, he finds a reason to cut the meeting short. So I've no idea how he feels about me going, which makes me feel unsettled and bad.

I should, I know, work harder. Go to the office for 10 hours everyday. Exercise, drink more water and stop eating comfort foods. Write and read from my house. Call home twice a day and be focused and loving with each conversation instead of distracted. Be supportive for Friend. Call my other friends to let them share some of my worries and learn about their lives. The games (and the book I also read) today didn't get me any farther than I was yesterday.

But I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to see about increasing my Celexa dosage, though it pains me to do so for some reason. In the meantime, I'm going to accept that I am very unhappy with my current circumstances and take whatever selfish comfort I can that I'm working (in a grand sense, not - obviously - in my daily life) to change them. Then I'll take something to help me sleep, rest for a while, and try again tomorrow.


Lucy said...

I was tempted by a typing game tonight while I was eating my pint of ice cream in an attempt to console myself for a crappy day (at least I was wise enough to realise that Scrabble would make me cry; I'm not sure I could cope with disgruntled wedding guests, either). In other words, I can completely relate.
I'm sorry you're having a rough time. The one thing you should do (rather than your long list) is stop being so hard on yourself (that's a lovely black surface you have there, kettle). I hope things get easier soon. *hugs*

baggage said...

I think I'm going to download Sally's Salon. I'm sorry you are feeling down...I hope the increased celexa dose helps. I just started on is helping me although I clinch my jaw all the time..hope that goes away.

Anyway, I'm reading and I hope you feel better soon.

Psychobunny said...

Ohhhh. It's okay. You're having a rough time and if you need some time out to play games, then you absolutely shouldn't worry about it. No one has the right to expect you to sacrifice your own well-being to further theirs.

And it's okay to take a higher dose of Celexa. That's what it's for. And like lucy said, *hugs*

Psycgirl said...

The way you describe yourself, I would never say your post-doc sounded like a failure. You seem to focus too much on all the things you "should" be doing, which is guaranteed to kill your mood. Hope you feel better sooner

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