This will not be easy to write, and for some, it may not be easy to read. I owe (finally) writing this entry to my friend Rob H. He has a great blog called “Robster’s Place” and his entry on Saturday January 5 reminded me why I began writing this blog in the first place: To share stories, to share my opinions, but above all to be honest; sometimes brutally so.
If I am honest, I must tell you I tried to write this on January 1st, then again on January 4, then again on January 6…each time hitting the ‘Delete’ button.
Then I re-read Rob’s latest post again, and figured, if he could share something so personal and scary, then I could too.
Biggest change since I last wrote here in November, at least on the surface, is that I now am employed by another well-known insurance company as a Help Desk Analyst. I am grateful for the job, and it is something that could turn out to be a great thing.
What I’ve learned since I began this job in mid-December is:
1) There is only one Frank Creasy and I will never have another boss as cool as him, period. (I already knew that years ago, but it was driven home to me in stark reality my first week on the new job.)
2) It seems saying ‘You’re Welcome’ when someone says ‘Thank you’ is a dying art. Almost everyone — and I am not exaggerating when I say EVERYONE — on this Help Desk responds ‘No problem’ when someone says ‘Thank you.’ I am also not exaggerating when I say that it is driving me crazy to hear ‘No problem’ all day long. This week I started taking calls using someone else’s accesses. (Confidential to my Anthem Help Desk Training Friends: Four weeks in, and most of my accesses to do my job are still hosed or not yet available; makes Anthem and the recently decommissioned Request IT look like a well- oiled machine!) On the phone, I am doing my part to bring back ‘Thank You’ to this Help Desk.
I also learned that, as far as ‘soft skills’ go on the phone (courteous customer service, attention to detail in documentation, and just basically ‘listening’), I can do that in my sleep. And, recently, I almost have.
You see, this job, as grateful as I am for it, has a rather long exhausting commute. For the first three weeks of the job, I worked 8am-5pm, which meant I was up at 5:30am, out the door by 6:40am and commuting to work via train and shuttle bus. Some days I got to work in an hour, other days it was a 90 minute commute. The one thing that won’t change with this commute is the walking. Now, don’t misunderstand, I fully get that any job I have in Atlanta will require walking and commuting. I just didn’t expect to walk into work exhausted. The evening commute has run about 70-90 minutes each day, and now that I have moved to my normal shift of 9am-6pm, I sometimes don’t get home until 7:30, again exhausted. Trust me, the last thing I feel like doing on those nights is cooking a meal so I can take a lunch. Several nights this week, I have gotten home, collapsed in a chair, taken off my braces, fixed a peanut butter sandwich, eaten that sandwich and then gone right to bed, calling It a night without turning on the television, and before 8pm.
Something is happening this week that has caused scar tissue I have on my legs, stomach and chest (and all of that scar tissue is at least 15 years old, some of it 34 years old) to turn a bright red and become very painful to the touch. It’s like the scar tissue is fresh, making each step, each knee bend excruciating and almost painful enough to make me cry. So I already know that I am taking too much Advil, and come mid-afternoon, I am tired and, at least I feel like I am on auto-pilot. It’s not fun, and I know it’s not healthy long term.
But, like Arlo Guthrie said, ‘That’s not what I came to tell you about.’
When I went back to Richmond for Thanksgiving, I already knew that I wasn’t going to be able to afford a return trip for Christmas. That reality, even though I had about a month to prepare for it, hit me like a truck. In mid-December, I deactivated my Facebook account just because it hurt to see all of the happy holiday photos and stories, when I knew that I was going to be spending Christmas Day far away from family. That day was very rough. I was despondent, crying at the drop of a hat, doing my best to sleep the entire day, just to get past it. That week, I went to work, gave the stock answer of ‘Fine’ when asked how my holiday was, and then every night that week, I went to bed as soon as I got home and I slept through the entire weekend.
I began to feel like I had hit a downward spiral. Doing the math with the anticipated paycheck, I realized I would never make enough at this job to pay all of my debts and eat. I also was in a lot of pain (I still am). And I just wanted to stop the pain. I wanted it all to end. I didn’t care about football. The Redskins made the playoffs, but on the night of their big playoff-clinching game against their rival the Dallas Cowboys, I was in bed before the 3rd quarter was over, and, it will surprise those who know me, I truly didn’t give a damn about the outcome. I (still) don’t see any joy in the next baseball season, mainly because I know I won’t be able to afford tickets, and what’s the point of being in Atlanta when you can’t go to the game?
Rational thought was gone. I just wanted the pain to stop, and I guess it all came to a head on New Year’s Eve.
That night, I was very suicidal.
I got home and I had a full bottle (160 caplets) of Advil and a full bottle (30 pills) of over-the-counter sleeping pills. I figured I would very methodically take the pills with a soda and then sleep.
I fought those urges for hours. I cried. I intentionally turned off my phone; I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was in my bedroom holding the bottle of Advil, trying to find a way out. I know I took about 12 Advil, and then I stopped, turned off the lamp on my night table and slept. I am not sure why I stopped. The bottle of sleeping pills is still in my room, and it’s still unopened.
The pain hasn’t stopped, and I have felt an overwhelming sense of sadness that I haven’t been able to shake. I’ve thought about breaking my lease and coming back to Richmond to live (in fact my mom had an ‘escape plan’ that she called me with on New Year’s Day. Obviously, she knew I was in trouble but she did not know how dark things had gotten for me the night before), but I don’t want to go from being depressed and broke in Atlanta to being depressed and broke in Richmond.
Again, I have to be honest, there are still days where I wonder ‘What’s the point?’ and I think about opening that bottle of sleeping pills. I’m in the city where (I thought?) I wanted to live, I finally have a job, and yet I am terribly unhappy all the time, and it feels like I’ll never be happy here, in this city that I used to love so much.
I am hopeful that things will get easier, that my legs will stop hurting. I have no doubt I can do my job well, if my body doesn’t give out completely. I feel like I am on a see-saw and things could go either way…up or down. In many ways I am a different person than I was a year ago. Case in point: Lady GaGa, Pink and Taylor [Swift, for the three people who may read this and not know who I’m talking about] all have shows set for this spring in Atlanta, and I don’t have tickets to any of them. While I am somewhat bummed about not having Taylor tickets, I am not that broken up about it. In fact the first show I’ve heard about that got me somewhat excited is Leonard Cohen at the Fox Theatre in March. Hopefully tickets aren’t too expensive and I can afford one.
Why am I writing this? Because I thought maybe if I wrote this all down, it would help me to ‘get past’ it. I’ve shared parts of the past few weeks with a few friends, so I must thank Mimi, Beth and Shannon for listening to me when I was at my lowest (and when I probably came off sounding like a bore). And special thanks to Wendy D., who got me out of the apartment a few times recently when I needed it (though I didn’t ever let on how depressed I felt).
I know I am not out of ‘the emotional woods’ yet, especially if my knees hurt like crazy when the alarm sounds tomorrow. I’ll do what I can to cope with the pain.
I just hope that at some point, life becomes more than just ‘coping.’
Thanks for reading,
[Bonus points if you know what is referenced in the title of this entry]