Day 50: Pros and Cons

Untreated anxiety can get to feel like a Groundhog Day situation. It seems that I’m constantly just waking up back at step one. Things change, but not enough to make a difference. I am still overweight, in debt up to my eyeballs, stuck in the same shoebox apartment, struggling with my relationship, lacking anything even barely resembling a social life, and thousands of miles away from my closest friends.

I wish I had someone to help me (read: do this for me, like a parent, or a mental health advocate). I keep searching for a psychiatrist in my area that will take my health insurance, but the website is full of outdated information. I called the customer help line in the middle of a panic attack at work last week, and though the customer rep was very kind as I freaked out in her general direction, she still couldn’t do more than provide me with a list of names that I’d need to call, one by one, and ask if they were taking new patients. Reality informs me that I might only need to make two or three calls, but since making phone calls is one of my biggest triggers (right up there with using Facebook), I feel paralyzed. I am going to do it this week, though, come hell or high water. I can’t stay in this loop much longer. It’s no good for anyone.

Today I went to the coffee shop to drink a decaf tea and do some writing, but my brain refuses to stay in one spot. I can’t concentrate for more than a minute or so, and nothing that I previously thought I wanted to do today is getting done. I had hoped to apply to a few editing jobs, but as soon as I started looking at the jobs boards, I realized I’d need an updated resume. Once that occurred to me, I instantly got sucked into feeling pointless and unqualified, a whirlpool that spit me right back out at the “It’s because you’re fat and old” line of reasoning. So much fun.

On the upside (depending on how you see it) I’ve picked up three extra shifts a week at another hotel. This puts me at 70 hours a week, between the two jobs. I’m scared that the physicality of it will age me, as well as encourage terrible eating habits and weight gain. Technically, I should have plenty of time to sleep, but I’m really bad at sleeping. I can’t count on my body to fall into a rhythm when it comes to relaxation. There’s a very good chance that I’ll be sleep deprived. I’m already dreading the wrinkles and bags, and the level of anxiety I’ll experience once sugar and caffeine enter the mix. I will have to be vigilant in having prepared healthy food with me 24 hours a day.

However, I’ve done the math, and if I work my butt off, this gives me enough extra income to pay off the major credit cards in a year. I’ve closed all of my cards except for one (the one with the airline miles), and I’m keeping a very close eye on my credit score via a few sources. I’ve gone over my credit reports, and feel like I have a handle on what my personal pile of debts looks like. I feel confident that if I can be very, very good, spend little to no money on anything extra, move into the cheaper apartment that my friend just told me about, and basically put off all joy for the next year, I will be able to live on less money, plus repair my score enough to apply for an apartment if and when I decide to move to a new city.

To make this all work, I need for everything to be on a schedule. Meal prep times and amounts. Sleep times and amounts. Work times and amounts. Bills due. Cat supplies due. Groceries due. Social life allowance (Friday night, Saturday day, and Sunday early evening). I can write during my overnight work shifts – plenty of time there. I wonder if I can somehow afford to schedule in just one professional mani/pedi a month? It’s probably too extravagant, but I always feel so much more professional with nice nails.

Of course, none of this takes into account that the Camino is calling again, with a fierceness I didn’t experience the first time. I’m tamping it down a bit by writing about the last time I walked, and keeping in touch with my Camino friends as they go on their new adventures. A few of them are meeting up on the Camino Frances this year in October, and I’ve been invited to go. I tell myself that I can go next year. By then I will have gotten a raise, or maybe even a promotion. Perhaps I’ll only have the luxury of being able to afford to only work one job. Or maybe I will have successfully started treating my anxiety, and have found a way through the time loop. By this time next year, who knows where life will have led me?

Day 2: At The Office

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I changed careers a year and a half ago. I’ve changed a lot of things in the last few years, now that I come to think of it, but for the most part, it’s still up in the air whether or not the choices I’ve made have all been for the better. The career change was a definite improvement, though.

Before I decided to do something different, I was the director of marketing for an interior design firm, and later, the director of marketing for an advertising firm. I was good at what I did, but I hated it. The culture is so competitive, and the subject matter and methodology is constantly changing. Practices that can be considered gospel today all go out the window tomorrow. You’re constantly expected to train in cutting edge tech, learn new and exciting jargon, and look 110% prettier, hipper, and more fresh than anyone you meet. It’s exhausting, not to mention expensive, to pay for all of that continuing education and upkeep.

You also never leave work behind when you leave the office – it’s there with you 24/7. Social media never sleeps, and when you have 10+ clients’ social media accounts to manage, that’s hundreds of channels. I’m sure plenty of successful marketers have found a way to let it go when they want to go back to living their own lives, but I never found a way. I would wake up in a cold sweat, worried about so-and-so’s Twitter feed, and whether that new blog post I’d written for such-and-such was trending yet. It consumed me. Marketing was like a chronic illness. There was no stepping away. There was nothing but a constant sense of panic – foot tapping and nail biting and anger and fear – in my case, accompanied by lots of food in an attempt to dull the pain.

Things are different in my new job. There’s still panic, but it’s muted, and it comes from somewhere else – mostly that I now make about 1/2 of my old income. But I make up the financial loss in other ways. I can walk away at the end of the day and not take the job with me, and more importantly, I’m happy when I’m at the hotel. I genuinely love working in hospitality, despite the occasional bump in the road. With time, I’ll also begin to make more money, though right now I’m constantly on edge with how little I seem to be able to live now that I can’t spend a dime on anything frivolous. No date nights, no new shoes, no mani/pedis, no clothes or craft projects. I can’t even afford to grow a little cactus garden like I’ve been dreaming (though to be honest, I’d probably kill it). I only own one pair of work pants, and they’re starting to look ragged.

Worst of all, I can’t afford doctor visits, which isn’t frivolous at all, but rather desperately needed. I absolutely must go to see a GP in the near future, to get my general health checked, get tested for diabetes and thyroid issues, and get a referral to see a psychiatrist so I can get back on the anti-anxiety meds I desperately need. I also need to start seeing a therapist regularly. All that adds up. Even with health insurance, in a single month that’s going to be over $200, not counting meds. There’s no way for me to pay that now, so therapy is off the table until I get a raise or find a free alternative (that’s where meditation comes in, by the way). But if I really watch my pennies, I can pay for the GP. And if I’m really, really lucky, I can get the GP to renew my existing prescriptions, and skip the cost of the psychiatrist. So I’m just going to focus on being really, really lucky – and explain this all to the GP in hopes that she’ll understand.

  • Goal #1 for the week ahead is to find a GP and make an appointment for the near future, so I can be proactive about finding help for the binge eating and anxiety, plus make sure that I’m not suffering from any serious health issues.
  • Goal #2 for the week ahead is to attend a meditation meeting on Wednesday night. It’s time to start getting serious about making meditation a part of my everyday practice. Because even if I am successful at getting back on meds, I still need to be working at being mentally healthy in other ways, for a multitude of reasons.
  • Goal #3 for the week ahead is to watch what I eat and drink at the office. Quality in, quality out. Nothing from the vending machine. No stress candy or soda. Coffee and tea (black), bacon and eggs (hand to God, I get as much free bacon as I want every morning), and whatever healthy thing I bring for lunch – this week it’s leftover veggie curry and hard boiled eggs. Just those steps alone are enough to lose weight, but it’s not really just weight we’re talking about here, is it?
  • And my final goal, Goal #4, is to exercise, even if it’s nothing that impressive. Even just the minimum of meeting my steps goal on my FitBit and just doing some stretching and weightlifting at the gym is enough. As long as I’m trying harder than I tried last week, I’ll have met my goal for this week.

Today’s Weight: 197.8 lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 13,000 steps, 9 minute tabata session, 15 minute yoga session, and an hour at the gym catching up with my friend Theo (she’s brilliant, so that counts as mental exercise).