Breakdown

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday was the day that this hard, endless year finally caught up with me.




I was working at home because I had an appointment to see my doctor that afternoon for blood work and a general physical.

I attended a meeting online, and it was just awful. These meetings are always tension-filled for me. I inherited a project that was a mess, the worst of my career. And this group, for whatever reason, does not work as a team at all. It is filled with animosity, disrespect, and absolutely no communication. And as their writer, I am the target for much of the abuse, simply because I am low man on the totem pole (so to speak).

Yesterday's meeting was the worst. And this is saying something. They pulled in my deadlines by two weeks without telling me, gave me more new features to document that I wasn't told about, and all with absolutely no hint of support from anyone in the meeting. I was under attack the entire time.

I could tell that I was losing the battle to contain my emotions, and was praying that I could simply get through the meeting. I did, barely.

As soon as it was over, I threw my headset across the room…

...and then the floodgates opened.

***

I mentioned that I saw my therapist M in my last post. I need to write about it, because it was the most intense session I have ever had, and one of the most significant. In a good way, mostly.

One of the things I talked with M about was that I almost never cry. Even after a year on hormones, I haven't *really* cried. I've been misty-eyed a few times, and cried a bit… but no serious tears.

Before transitioning, I could count the number of times I cried on one hand. I simply would not let myself. Could not let myself, really. The last time I cried significantly was over ten years ago, when I basically had a nervous breakdown. It was, in retrospect, the moment when "he" began to lose the lifelong battle, and the moment when transitioning became inevitable.

M told me at my session that I was close to having a breakthrough in terms of being able to finally, finally let myself truly feel. It's going to happen, she said; you just have to let it happen, and don't fight it.

So when I felt the tears coming yesterday morning, as awful as I felt, and with as much work as I knew I needed to do, and with such impossible deadlines… I finally gave in.

Months and months of relentless stress and crushing pressure and endless commutes and insomnia and no possibility of being myself and no time to exercise and let out some of this tension… it all finally, finally caught up with me.

I cried and cried and cried for a half hour straight. I couldn't stop.

I eventually knew I had to talk to *someone* who would understand. And so I called my work friend B. He knows about me (as does S), and has been wonderfully and unstintingly supportive from the moment I told him.

As soon as I got on the phone with him, I lost it again. And B knew what to do. I apologized for calling him, and he simply told me to let it all out, that he would wait with me on the phone for as long as it took, and that he wasn't going anywhere.

It was just what I needed to hear. When I regained some semblance of composure, I began to ramble nonsensically, and he just let me go. He listened. He truly listened. He didn't judge me, he didn't try to tell me what to do… he just listened. It was a remarkable thing to experience.

In the middle of this, my doorbell begins to ring, over and over. I excused myself and stumbled down the stairs. It was my 88-year-old landlady, smiling as she held up a package that had arrived the previous day.

I had forgotten my keys, so I ran back upstairs and returned with them… and then could not, for the life of me, get the door open. It was just too much for me at that moment.

She told me not to worry and went to get her keys. A moment later she reappeared, and the door swung open.

As soon as she saw me she looked concerned.

"Are you alright, dear?" she asked.

I told her I was, and she said, "Are you sure? You look so, so sad."

I very nearly lost it again. I simply thanked her for her concern and said it had been a long year. She said she could tell.

"I do worry about you," she said. "You always look exhausted when you get home and we chat, even though you never mention it. Promise me you'll take care of yourself, dear. Will you do that? It would make me happy."

I assured her I would.

B managed to calm me down enough for me to call my manager. She is having a difficult time as well at the moment, but she did the best she could to help.

I told her I simply could not work in the satellite office any more this week; I feel completely alone there. And this week neither S nor R, the other new writer, are there either. So I would literally be alone with the wolves. She said to simply write a note to the AA in the main office saying she authorized me to work there for the rest of this week for a team-related project.

That act of kindness will help to make the next few days almost bearable.

***

As soon as I finished talking with her, I had to leave for my doctor's appointment.

My doctor was genuinely worried from the instant she walked in the examining room.

"You look exhausted," she said. As I related the day's events to her, she just shook her head in disbelief.

"I'm not telling you anything you don't already know," she said, "But you HAVE to get out of there. This isn't good for your transition, and it isn't good for your physical or mental well-being."

As she noted, I've been under major, endless pressure since February - more, if you include being laid off last September. People can't remain under ceaseless stress that long without repercussions, she noted. I already was hospitalized once this year. She said the next time it may not be from low blood sugar and insomnia; it could be much more serious. And this job was not worth it.

She increased the dosage of my anti-anxiety prescription and made me promise to call if they weren't making a difference by the end of a month. She would either prescribe something new or adjust my dosage.

After receiving my flu shot and having my routine blood work, I took the train back to my parents town and went to my favorite local restaurant for an early dinner. I even ordered an appetizer, something I rarely do, but I felt I had earned a cup of their terrific chili that day.

Once that was done, I walked over to my electrologist M's office for my weekly appointment. (Yes, this was a long, long day.)

M happened to be walking past the door as I walked in. She stopped.

"You look very fragile, Cass," she said. "Are you OK, hon?"

I began to tell her, but started to tear up again. She came over and gave me a huge hug as I began to cry again. She just sat and held me for a long time, rubbing my back and telling me it would all be OK. Thank God for her and for B. I needed someone to help me, to simply listen… and they did.

I will always be grateful.

***

I just need to try to survive the next few days at work. I desperately, desperately need my vacation. As I told a friend today, I haven't felt this tired since I had mono five years ago. I have a hunch I'm going to sleep and sleep and sleep. I hope so. (My friend threatened to kick my "skinny Irish butt" all over town if I didn't, adding "and with four-inch heels, it will really hurt." Thank you, sweetie. It was the nicest butt-whipping I have ever been threatened with. :c))

Apologies for the endless self-indulgent rambling in this post; I just needed to get this out of my system. I'm *glad* I cried; it was far too long in coming. I hope it happens much more frequently now. As hard as this year has been, it is oddly comforting to really FEEL sadness, at long last, after decades of feeling… nothing.

I cannot go back there.

And I will not go back there.

***

This seems like a good time for a few a propos songs from Mr. Consistency, Tom Petty (has he ever written a bad song?):



I love the seething defiance in this version...

2 comments:

Jessica Lyn on January 6, 2013 at 3:59 PM said...

Now I feel awful that I missed this post.. I'm so sorry. I know you have your friends, but please remember I'm always here for you.. you have my email and number.

Hugs

Cassidy on January 6, 2013 at 4:05 PM said...

Thank you, Jess. That means a lot.

I just hope I find something better as soon as possible. This job is taking a very real toll on my health and my transition. It won't stop me, but it's making it more difficult.

== Cass

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