Back to Work

I've been hard at work this week, getting back in the saddle. I've been giving myself office hours, working only from 9 to 5. It's been a really good change. I'm happy. Here's what happened this week.

Monday, I treated as a stat holiday. It was my very last day off from work. It was a struggle getting to bed though, so I took a sleeping pill. Unfortunately, it was a bit late when I did, and Tuesday, I woke up at 5:30 for the first time in three weeks in order to head to the gym. I arose, super groggy, hit the gym, managed an uninspired workout, hit the steam room and hot tub, then went home to sleep off the rest of the sleeping pill. Talk about having a case of the Mondays. After that, I fixed up my resumé and started reaching out to my professional network. I just wanted to get out of the house for a change, talk to people, ask for help finding work, and just reconnect and have fun again.

Wednesday, a psychiatrist's clinician called me to perform an intake interview with me for their services. I was referred to them in September, so interesting timing. The call was super disrupting, opening up all my old wounds in order to assess the level of risk I posed to myself and others and to what extent I need psychiatric help. The difference between psychologists and psychiatrists is that psychologists use talk therapy, amongst other forms, to help you through your troubles, whereas psychiatrists prescribe medical interventions like antidepressants. I'm pursuing this option in order to get a more formal diagnosis and investigate my pharmaceutical options for recovery. I still have a problem with anxiety where my heart will just race and not slow down regardless of what I try, eg. taking a nap, deep breathing, mindfulness practices, drinking some tea, listening to calming music. I still have unfounded fears constantly that someone or something is coming to kill me at any moment, so it would be nice to have a pharmaceutical option that could calm me down a bit.

Then my parents tried to set up a time to meet me in Calgary. Initially, I consented to it, but after consulting with my support network, I changed my mind. I've written before that I would allow them to apologize, but one of the problems is that they aren't able to keep it to just an apology. They'd sneak in some gaslighting or blaming or plain old guilt tripping. If they were really sorry and if they really understood what they did wrong, they would understand why I can't communicate with them. A year is a very short time to change for anyone, especially if they spent it in denial like I know they have, and I would only lose out if I allowed them to talk to me. There's nothing in it for me. They would gain some form of peace, but not without trying to disrupt mine first. The other problem is that I had given them plenty of opportunities before to play nice, but they've shown overwhelmingly that they're only interested in their own "happiness." After everything I gave them, if they don't know how to be happy with the abundance they already have given their advanced age, then being at peace with me isn't going to change that. Being content, satisfied, and grateful are choices.

I handled that problem pretty well, considering my history of struggling with my family. I'm pretty proud of myself. I don't think this will be the end of it though. They'll probably harass me some more sometime in the future, but I'll worry about that when it comes again. The combination of the psychiatrist and my parents calling completely wiped me, so I gave myself a break and spent all of Thursday doing some maintenance and upgrades on my 3D printer. I could have used that time to look for work, but that's how disruptive my family can be to my daily life.

Friday was pretty full, meeting five different people throughout the day. It was good just getting to chat, catch up, and zip around town like I was on a mission. I made a new friend too, so bonus.

My rough plan for the job hunt is to find a retail job until I can get a corporate gig. With regards to cash flow, we just need to survive until Carrie graduates. After April, she'll stop paying tuition and working for free, and she'll be able to get back to full time work while she's detoxing from school. We live pretty humbly overall, so our costs of living are under control right now.

My long term goal is to be a software developer, which is a little different from my training as an engineer. I want to work on app design and user experience, so I'm going to be working on a side project to get myself set up in iOS app development. I've made quite a few attempts at pivoting towards software before, but it never really stuck because I never sorted out my personal issues. Now that the worst of it is behind me, I'm going to take this opportunity to retool my skill set and set off on a new career path.

I haven't formally applied to a lot of jobs just yet, but there are multiple ways of finding work. The oil slump has stopped getting worse, so things will slowly start getting better. The tide will rise slowly, but I still have to get creative about finding work. At the same time, I need to not work myself to death and treat the situation as it is, without being so desperate. Carrie and I have some savings which will float us for a bit, but there's still lots that I can do before I have to get desperate. Working minimum wage isn't beneath me, but it's more a matter of finding something with the right fit.

It was a rough awakening and week; a rough aweekening, if you will. I'm happy to feel like myself again and jump right back in, but this time around, I'm trying to manage myself and pace my work. I'm applying for jobs and I'm checking in with myself along the way. I'm back at it. The six month arc of my recovery is over. I felt like I'd never get better, but here I am, better than ever. I'm done working on myself so much and being a house-spouse, and now it's time to get back to work.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le