Thursday Thoughts: Resourcefulness


  • the quality of being able to cope with a difficult situation

I’ve been thinking about writing this post since my friend, The River’s Wayward Daughter, mentioned the Spoon Theory, which really hit home with me.  It’s part of why I reposted my story about Facing the Fear yesterday.

You see, I’m not right in the head.  I have been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, including chronic depression, anxiety and panic disorders, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.  This comes as a shock to some people, who know me for my sunny disposition and optimistic outlook on life.  They have no idea just how much of my resourcefulness I’m using on a daily basis.  How my definition of a “difficult situation” may be something that sounds simple to them: making a phone call, going someplace I’ve never been before, meeting new people, finding a job.  My theatre background comes into play a lot, as I put myself on whatever stage I need to perform on, and fervently hope the rest of the actors stick to the script.  And the stage fright doesn’t make me throw up.

For the most part, I do okay.  I’m not currently taking any medications other than for allergies.  I do take a variety of vitamins and other organic remedies, and we have full-spectrum and daylight-like bulbs all over our house.  I’ve learned to cope pretty well with the depression and SAD, and they’re basically under control.  The anxiety and panic disorders, however, usually hit me without warning.  I do my best to avoid triggers, but sometimes I don’t know what is and isn’t a trigger.

Crowds, especially large crowds of strangers, and even more especially strangers in my personal space are big triggers.  This makes vending at craft fairs and conventions a little tricky, but usually I can have my table between me and my customers, which helps a lot.  I paste on a smile, engage in inane conversation, and kick myself that I’m not a better salesperson.  It’s like I’m on trial, that everyone is judging every aspect of my products and display and finding them as inadequate as I feel.  If you see me at one of these events, please be nice, and try complimenting one of my creations.  This will soothe the anxiety monster a bit and let me slip out from behind my mask.

The phone is another trigger.  If I call you, know that you have a special place in my heart, because I don’t make phone calls very often.  I’m happy to talk if people call me, but if I don’t recognize the number, I won’t answer.  I used to work in a call center, and I was very good at my job, helping people figure out their bills or change their service.  Yes, I got cursed at occasionally, but usually I was able to end the call with the customer happy and singing my praises.  Then, without my consent, and in violation of the promise the company made me when I was hired, they switched me to Outbound Winback.  I was calling customers who had cancelled their service and trying to get them to reinstate it.  First of all, one of the reasons I hate making phone calls is the fear of calling at a bad time.  Most of these calls were definitely not welcome, so I was already on edge before the conversation even started.  Then when I explained why I was calling, I’d hear something along the lines of, “Wait a minute.  I went through all the trouble of cancelling your service, uninstalling your equipment, sending it back to you, getting another service out here to install their equipment, and now you’re calling to tell me I can have everything I asked for before I cancelled the service?”  Then the cursing would start, the disparaging remarks on my intelligence (another thing I really can’t stand), and the inevitable slamming of the phone in my ear.   It wasn’t long before the migraines hit.  One lasted TWELVE DAYS.  I had a nervous breakdown and had to take FMLA leave.  I went back part-time, but it wasn’t long before I just quit, because I couldn’t deal with the anxiety and panic attacks I was having on a daily basis.  So now I avoid the phone as much as possible.

My current anxieties mostly center around money.  I’ve worked hard these past years to rebuild my credit after trusting the wrong people to give me the money they owed me, as promised.  Right now, I have bills due that I can’t pay, and next month is the same boat.  My financial aid kicks in in October, and I should be okay for the rest of the school year if my calculations are correct, but that doesn’t help me with my August and September bills.  So I’m desperately trying to sell things, figure out exactly what my inventory is worth, rework my business plan, and see if there’s any way I can get a loan.  I’m working to get more items up on Etsy and eBay, but that takes time.  I sold 300 CDs for $60 while I was in Ohio, which hurt, but it had to be done so I could pay for my storage unit there.  I’m doing everything I can think of, and those who care about me are helping as much as they can (thank you, I love you).  Asking for help and admitting I can’t solve my own problems are another trigger for me, thanks to another aspect of my past that I’m not going to get into.

A lot of you are probably thinking, “Why don’t you just get a job?”  Fact is, I’ve tried.  I’ve applied for well over 400 jobs in the past year.  I’ve had five interviews from those applications.  FIVE.  And I don’t generally do well in interviews anyway, thanks to the anxiety paralyzing my mind.  Once I have a job, I do great, but getting my foot in the door is problematic.  And I have moved around so much and lost touch with so many people that I can’t provide references from any of my past jobs.  It’s been over three years since I was laid off my last full-time job, and the part-time job I worked last winter never contacted me after the holidays were over.  Then there’s the issue of what aspects of the job will trigger my anxiety and panic attacks.  Working in a call center, as a receptionist, or any kind of telemarketing is flat OUT.  I just can’t, not if I don’t want to spend my entire day crying and in pain.

I know what’s best for me is to continue what I’m doing, to keep Rewondered going and keep adding new products.  To keep using my creativity and artistry.  To spend my days in my studio, where I feel safe and calm.  I am getting an increasing number of views, fans, and orders, but getting to the level I need to be at will take some time.  The instability of my finances is stressful, yes, but the fear of working in an environment that will trigger another twelve day migraine is worse.

Those who have never experienced this kind of paralyzing anxiety won’t understand, and will probably think I’m whining and I need to just suck it up and do whatever it takes.  But when I use up all my spoons, that’s it.  I’m done.  I’m completely useless.  I don’t know how to explain to someone who has never had a nervous breakdown just what that experience is like, and just how much I want to avoid going through that ever again.  Even thinking about it enough to write this post is inducing tears.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my life and I’m really very happy.  I’m getting married in about three weeks to the love of my life, and I am eternally grateful that he understands that I’m kind of broken and still loves me exactly as I am.  I have awesome, amazing friends and I love living in New England.  I know that my anxiety and fears are irrational, and that just makes things worse, because I want to stop but I just can’t.  I’ve stopped beating myself up over that though.  This is a part of me I can’t change, no matter how much I might want to.  So I deal with it as best I can.  I avoid it when possible, I hide it if I can, and sometimes I just embrace it and let myself cry.  Then I wipe off my face, blow my nose, and get back to work.  I am coping with a difficult situation, and I am grateful for my resourcefulness.

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