Tag Archives: housing

Oh, the Guilt

I knew that I was entering a toxic living situation, but did not know what to do about it. I was in a similar situation last time I had a roommate. I had two part-time temp jobs and had to get out of my mold-ridden apartment. A woman I used to hang out with was losing the house that she rented because the owner was putting it up for sale, so we both needed a place to live at the same time. I knew better, but I had very little income, a lot of bills, and nowhere to go. I used to hang out with this woman a few times a week, but I’m reluctant to call her a friend. She was very bossy about where we would go and what we would do and she had a very obvious drinking problem. We would make plans to go to a concert or a movie, and she would invariably say “Let’s have a couple of drinks first.” Then once she had “a couple of drinks” she wouldn’t feel like doing what we had originally planned, and she would sit and have at least eight more drinks (no exaggeration) and argue with people or act like an idiot. I have no idea why I put up with that nearly every weekend for almost two years. We had been friends back in college, but then lost touch for several years then started hanging out again. She had a steady (but low-income) job, and with our incomes combined we could afford a 2-bedroom apartment in the small town we lived in at the time. We rented the top floor of a small house that had been divided into three apartments. I knew it was a bad idea, but I really did not know what to do. The roommate I had before that had moved to Seattle and I was stuck in a small town with no steady income.

We made a deal before we looked at the new apartment — we didn’t have to make a decision right away. If we liked it, then we’d take it, and if we didn’t like it, we had other places to look at. Unfortunately, she liked it and I hated it. I can look back on many times in my life where I needed to be more assertive, and this was one of those times. I thought the apartment was too small for the price and just weird. It was painted strangely and the staircase that led up to our unit was obviously thrown together as an afterthought once the house had been turned into apartments. The staircase was tall, steep, visibly lopsided, and it looked dangerous. Once I saw the place, I was fully prepared to just make some noncommittal comments like “Oh, we’ll get back to you, we have some more places to look at” but the ex-roomie liked it and wanted to take it right away. And because that’s what she wanted, that’s what we did. She was always more willing to fight, and I was always more willing to step back to avoid a fight.

I lived there for six months, and in that time we had exactly one day that the hot water worked. It wasn’t even the whole day, but I was able to enjoy a warmish shower for maybe 10 minutes. I complained about the lack of hot water to the landlord a lot, but nothing was done. The basement of the house served as a laundry room, and often it was flooded at least ankle-high. The landlord wouldn’t do anything about that either. The basement was always trashed, but it wasn’t clear who was supposed to maintain it. We had messy neighbors who would just throw trash in there and no one cleaned it up. Garbage would float in the floodwater. I avoided bathing as much as possible because the shower water was ice-cold. We had to use a landromat because of the flooding. Sometimes, when it wasn’t flooded that badly, I would just do my laundry in the basement, anyway.

My drunk roommate lost her job very shortly after we moved in together. That’s when it got really bad. Around the same time, I got a full-time job just outside Seattle. It didn’t pay much, and I had to drive over 50 miles one way to get there. It was the worst job I have ever had (which is saying a lot) and I was under extreme stress every day. Every day I would just get into my car and scream. If I was lucky, my roommate wouldn’t stagger home drunk and coked-up until I was just leaving for work (or after I had gone for the day). When I was less lucky, she would stagger home drunk and coked-up with several other drunk, coked-up people while I was trying to sleep or just relax by myself in the living room after being yelled at and publicly humiliated all day. There were often creepy strangers milling around our place when I got up in the morning. After dealing with an extremely hostile work environment, living like that wore on my sanity. I still hung out with the roommate on occasion, but she got me into a couple of dangerous situations and I moved out and never spoke to her again. I’ve seen her a couple of times randomly. She looks sick and awful and I don’t feel sorry for her. She’s 32 but could pass for almost 50.

While my current situation isn’t nearly that bad, there are some big problems. I was very nervous about staying with this particular friend because she is such a negative person. She has an ability to take everyday situations and turn them info full-on disasters. Even completely neutral situations that have nothing to do with her somehow become huge crises in her world. I’m beyond thankful that she’s offered to let me stay here, but I just knew I’d spend the whole time walking on broken eggshells.

Weeks ago she asked me where I wanted to sleep when I stay with her. I told her that I just wanted to sleep wherever it was convenient for her and I wouldn’t interfere with her daily routine.

“Oh, it’s your house. I’ll sleep anywhere! Feel free to just boss me around tell me where to put my stuff. I’m not picky.” I laughed, and said it in the tone I use when I’m telling a funny story or making a joke.

Two hours later she called me sobbing because she thought that when I said “boss me around” that I had been calling her bossy.

“Is that what you really think of me?!”

I had said it so casually that I didn’t even remember that I had used those words, and I would have used the same words with anyone else I considered a friend. This is the level of sensitivity I’m dealing with.

I thought that perhaps things might change a bit because a week or two ago, one of her best friends “broke up” with her because of her negative attitude. She asked me to give her honest feedback about her personality and actions. I did, though reluctantly. I named a few occasions where she has shot herself in the foot by being so negative. I also reminded her of another incident –when I lost my keys last June and was stranded and freaked out at 4am, she was angry that I did not call her. She yelled at me over the phone and said “Obviously you don’t think of me as a good enough friend.” I was the one who had had the bad experience, but she was the one who got personally offended. It is textbook emotional manipulation. If I had called her, she would have moaned and groaned all week about how I threw off her sleep schedule. Also, I didn’t call anyone, so it’s not like I called everyone except her. It was a very strange argument, and she actually cried and turned it into her own problem when it didn’t affect her at all. The goal of all of this is to inspire guilt or possibly pity.

I don’t respond well to such theatrics, if I respond at all. The new roomie keeps starting drama, in particular with my cat. She already has a cat, so I don’t understand it. I don’t even want to write about it because it is so incredibly stupid that it hurts to think about. She has said things to me that no sane person would ever say ever. She locks my cat in the freezing basement, then gets mad at me when my cat meows at the door. The obvious solution would be to not lock my cat in the freezing basement, which only became a factor long after she offered me a place here. I don’t even want to get into what she says will happen if she doesn’t lock the cat in the basement, or worse –what she says will happen if the cat doesn’t quit meowing. It’s too stupid to document. I said in my last post that she was worried about the neighbors complaining if the cats fought. That is a true but much less dramatic account of what she actually said. She thinks the letting my cat in will trigger an apocalypse and her life and livelihood will be in danger. I wish I were kidding.

My mother used to do similar things, but only after she had brain damage. That’s probably part of why this makes me so angry at her irrational behavior. My mother’s brain-damaged guilt trips wore me down physically and mentally. I was young and trying to establish my own life, but I got sucked into my mother’s illnesses and divorce on top of her excessive dramatics and manipulative behavior. My new roomie is paranoid about things that will never happen and every day some new drama comes into being. I can’t stand illogical behavior. I found another place to stay, but they don’t take cats. Dogs, yes; cats, no. Every dog I’ve ever known has caused way more damage to their home than my cat, so I don’t get it. Heck, I cause more damage to my home than my cat is likely to. Also, she’s declawed (not my choice, my parents declawed her as soon as I went away to college and wasn’t around to protest). I’ve started the Pet Travel Scheme for my cat and don’t want to leave her anywhere else for a while because I need access to her so I can get her to her vet appointments at the appropriate times.

My cat has actually broken out of the basement a few times, and the results were as uneventful as any sane person would expect. The two cats saw each other, but didn’t fight. Because I’m (generally) respectful, I put my cat back in the freezing basement. She sleeps on top of me every night, and I think it was upsetting to her that I was upstairs sleeping on the sofa. I got a little air mattress from someone on Craigslist so I’ll sleep on that. It’s still very cold down there, even with the space heater.

I’ve given up my car, so I’m going to be stuck here a lot. Also, it’s very likely that I have gout, which would explain my freaky joint pain. The doctor ordered blood tests and X-rays because something was visibly (and painfully) affecting the joint on one of my toes. More news about that on Monday.

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Filed under fml, health, Home Life, jerks, Obstacles

Commence Freakout

There was more knocking at my door. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. Then there was knocking at my neighbor’s door. They did answer.

There was a lot of talking, and I didn’t hear it all. I hid in the darkness and crept to my door to listen. I spend most of my time in my living room which is at the back of the condo, so I don’t think they could see the lights on or any signs of life when they looked in from the parking lot.

I just heard bits and pieces, but enough to get an idea of what was going on.

“Well, we don’t really see her or talk to her. I saw her not too long ago, though.”

“When?”

“I think it was Monday. I used to see her in the mornings sometimes, but not so much lately.”

“<garble garble>, so the rental agency told us to come out and see what was going on. We just wanted to know if she’s still here. <garble garble> and we didn’t know if something happened to her or what.”

I’m actually glad my neighbor said he had seen me (which is true, I did see him a few days ago). Otherwise the landlords may have called the police or broken in. The last thing I want is for them to think I’ve been murdered or injured. Now they just know I’m an accidental deadbeat. As much as that sucks, it’s better than some alternatives. No one wants to be the bad landlord with a dead tenant that no one noticed. No one wants their tenant’s corpse to get eaten by a cat.

I thought I heard them mentioning a note, but I just went out there and there was nothing. Really, people? Why don’t you mail me a letter or leave me a voicemail? The last time I called them didn’t go so well, and I’m too anxious to do it again.

I know that I’m wrong for not calling them. It’s the right thing to do but I can’t do it. It’s painful for me to be like this. I hate it. I have spent my whole life putting my needs second, walking on eggshells for everyone else, living in fear of inconveniencing other people, and here I am being a huge inconvenience. I’m causing a lot of problems, not just with myself but with my landlord and rental agency.

When I was sure they were gone, I made the rounds calling transitional housing facilities again. I was calling them regularly and I’d had no luck, and calling them again today proved to be no different. They’re always either overflowing or they don’t answer their phones and they never call me back. I’ve called several. Once I get kicked out, then I am out of a home, probably for good. I will never have a home again without a lot of help that doesn’t seem to be available. Of all of the transitional places, only one sounds desirable, like I’d be able to get the help I need and get on my feet. One has truly bizarre requirements: they don’t take in anyone who has an open bankruptcy, owes a landlord money, has already received help from Housing Services, or has been evicted. What the hell kind of homeless people are they taking in?

Most of the transitional housing centers have a religious focus, which makes me a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t get here because of a lack of religion, and religion isn’t going to fix anything.

Anyone reading this blog probably has the same questions I do. I don’t know why I haven’t been evicted yet. I don’t know why no one has sent a deputy. I don’t know why I haven’t received an official eviction notice. I received a 3-day pay or vacate notice, but I didn’t pay and I didn’t vacate. So here I am. Friends keep telling me not to worry, that they have to notify me and that there must be documentation and court papers and certified letters and all kinds of crap that I haven’t received. But as we all know, nothing in my life goes the way it should. So yes, I am worried. And I feel inept. I haven’t worked towards paring down my belongings in a while. Off I go.

 

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Filed under Depression, fml, Home Life, Materialism, Obstacles

Impasse

The Impasse by Stephen Adams

A friend asked me “What would you be doing if you could get any job you wanted, right now?” To my surprise, my mind went blank. Two months ago, two years ago, six years ago, even ten years ago, he could have asked me that question and I would have described my career goals in striking detail. I was asked that question all through high school, college, graduate school, and even while I was working at crappy low-level jobs and I always had an answer. Now I don’t. I can only guess that something in me snapped during my most recent of many awkward interviews.

I’m still not looking for a job. I don’t think most people understand why. I’m not even sure that I do. I only finished my master’s degree in June, so it may seem like I am giving up on my job search early. Master’s degree or not, this has been a fruitless search since 2003. My last two jobs (crappy as they were) ended abruptly and in the same fashion. Those weren’t the only times either. I have simply lost the ability to handle certain types of tasks. I also struggle without proper healthcare. Without my medication, my ability to function in the workplace is limited, and without decent pay, my access to my prescribed medication is also limited. And I am far beyond frustrated with working at low-level, low-pay jobs outside of my skill set. If I hadn’t had one job in my career at a well-known and reputable company, I would probably just think I was a moron. But no, once upon a time, I was given a chance, and I did a good job and I was well-liked. And then my job was outsourced. That was the only brief glimmer of success in one very long and dark period. It wasn’t a great success, anyway. I was still low-income and stressed about money, but at least I felt accomplished.

I have been battling a rather bad respiratory infection for a while now. I’ve complained about it, I know. When I lie in bed I can hear my chest creak like an old staircase. Sometimes it sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies. Sometimes it makes both of those noises at the same time. I cough and choke until I see stars. It’s difficult to laugh. This may be difficult to believe, but I really do laugh a lot.

My landlord has still not taken action against me. It’s confusing, but it’s a relief. It’s also a source of much anxiety. I have not made much progress in packing or purging my belongings. I’m sick and exhausted.

I am currently working with the Department of Social and Health Services to find out if I can get some medical attention and possibly a case worker. It’s all downhill from here. I have also re-opened my food stamps application, and I hope I can get something on that end within the next few days.

I’m getting a bit frustrated because I am lacking some basic items that most people (including myself) often take for granted. I need dish soap. I need pants that both fit and don’t have holes. I want fresh food and a new toothbrush. I have decided to sell my car once I move into transitional housing. Unfortunately, my car insurance got canceled and my car is likely to be repossessed for the second time this year. I can’t do anything about that right now, but I can maybe find some clothes. There is a community clothing closet in the next town over, and I may try to stop by and see if I can find something. I also have some clothes that don’t fit me anymore, and I would be glad to donate. I don’t need much, unless I get a job. I really just want something that isn’t falling apart. The soles of my shoes are halfway off, and every time I walk outside I have to stop periodically to shake out the gravel and other debris. I was able to buy toilet paper after selling some things online. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to sell online because I do not get paid until the items ship (at least when I sell on Amazon.com). If I have no money, it’s a bit difficult to ship things.

I was able to get cat food during my last trip to the food bank, so my little feline friend will be well-fed for the time being. She’s not a terribly picky eater as long as I give her dry food.

I can only hope that my situation is temporary, and I will find my hope and drive again. It’s not like me to be a leech, and I’ve lost the energy to be a good scavenger.

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Filed under Depression, Food, health, Home Life, Materialism, Obstacles

But how are you getting by?

How are you getting by?

I get asked this a lot and I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know what kind of an answer people expect.

I suppose people think I’ll say something like “Oh, I’m just living on savings until I find something new” or “I’m getting unemployment” or “My husband/parents/in-laws are helping out.”

No one has ever asked me this question when I had a regular job. I find that strange because I wasn’t “getting by” even when I was working. There is a misconception that if you have a job, you can “get by.” My car was repossessed when I was working. My electricity was cut off when I was working. When I was working, I had to eat with the homeless people in the park because I had no food and made too much money for food stamps.

I had health insurance at two of my last three temp jobs. Unfortunately, I had so little money that I couldn’t afford the copays to see my doctor. It’s good that I had insurance in case I got into an accident, but what good was this insurance if I couldn’t use it when I needed it for less catastrophic times? I had health insurance when I was coughing up blood, but I didn’t have $10 to see the doctor. I couldn’t go to work like that, and my job did not provide sick days, so I would either get more poor or more sick.

Since early 2006, my rent has increased 27% while my income (until I quit) had decreased 29%. I was barely able to pay my rent when it was at its lowest, so it just seems impossible now. I’m damned if I do, and I’m damned if I don’t. Right now I just can’t deal with working at a horrible job that I hate and am not good at where I’m likely to get reprimanded. I am hyperaware every second of every day that I still will not be able to pay my rent on time. This isn’t a money management problem. I really wish it were a money management problem. I can fix my budget, but this goes so much deeper than that. To quote a friend of mine: “If your boss gives you 60 hours of work to do and only 40 hours to do it, you have a time problem, not a time management problem. If you only get $400 for a week of work, but your basic expenses cost $500 a week, it’s not a reflection of your ability to stick to a budget just because you can’t make it work!”

When I was a receptionist, the company I worked for invited a personal finance counselor to come in and speak to us individually by appointment. I was struggling in a dead-end job and I was barely able to make ends meet, so I was glad for the opportunity to talk to a professional. He gave me a worksheet with a list of items on it and asked me to tell him how much I spent on each. He asked me about my utilities, groceries, my medical bills, credit card bills, and rates on car and renter’s insurance. I gave up my telephone land line years ago, and my cell phone plan is reasonable. I have not had cable since 2003. I did not even own a computer, let alone pay for Internet. I spent very little on groceries. I had the cheapest car insurance policy I could find. I spent about $200 a year on clothing and shoes combined (I spend far less than that now). I had already lumped several accounts into a debt consolidation plan that had reduced my interest rates by half. I do not buy music, go to bars, or go to movies, and I attend only a couple of concerts a year. At the time, my only consistent “luxury” was a $20/month Netflix account. My expenses were all bills I was struggling to pay off from my first two years of unemployment. After buying the basic essentials and making minimum payments, I was left with about $40 each month. It was not enough extra to see a significant change in credit card balances and the like. Also, $20 of that went to Netflix. Almost all of my money was spent playing catch-up.

The personal finance counselor told me that I had cut out all I could, and that the only solution to my problem was to make more money. He told me that nothing was wrong with my budget. I began looking for a second job, but I never found one. I was eventually fired from that receptionist position for “being unhappy.” I was only unemployed for about three weeks, but my next job paid nearly $10,000 a year less and I was laid off in less than six months. It did not occur to me that my next job would pay so much less, especially since it was technically at a higher level. It was a big pay cut, and it hurt. It hurt more when I got laid off.

So, how am I getting by? I sell some of my belongings online. When I get money from that, I put a little gas in my car, I buy cat food, rat food, or kitty litter. I eat food-bank food almost exclusively. I steal my neighbor’s wi-fi. I stopped taking all 7 of my prescription medications. I revel in the fact that the electric company won’t cut me off again for a very long time. I let my phone get cut off until I can scrounge enough money to pay my past-due balances. I think deeply. I worry. I go to a lot of used bookstores to sell my collection. I look around at the disarray and panic because I don’t have the energy to box it all up and I don’t know where I’m going or how I’m going get there. I sleep a lot. I mope. I don’t answer my phone. I wait for the sheriff to force me to leave. I jump at every noise. I don’t get out much.

I did something very unethical that I am ashamed to talk about, even here: prior to leaving my job, I found a year-long bus pass that had been dropped by a coworker. There was no one around when I found it, and I waited a long time and no one returned to get it. These bus passes are issued to employees for free, but they probably cost the company over $1000 (I know that they are worth around $1500).  I was a temp and did not get the year-long bus pass — I had to pay $90 a month for my own. The pass was brand new. I found it in July, and it’s good through next July. I fully intended to turn it in to security, but at some point it occurred to me that the pass was worth much more to me than to whoever had lost it. After all, they had a real job and I didn’t. Also, I’ve had so many bad things happen, that maybe this was a break for me. I don’t believe in Karma, but if I did, I’d actually think this was the universe trying to throw me a bone for once. Well, maybe I do believe in Karma after all. I kept the pass. I never heard anything about anyone looking for it, so I ride the bus to save gas, and I don’t pay a penny for it. I won tickets to a movie last night, and that bus pass was the only way I could have gone to the only fun thing I’ve done recently. I could not have paid for parking, and I did not have enough money for bus fare. Keeping the pass was wrong of me, but I’m doing it for survival.

So, that is how I’m “getting by,” if you want to call it that. I don’t even want a job right now because a job will not save me from eviction, and I need to be ready. I’m too depressed to make progress quickly, and I know in my heart that I’d be too distracted at a job, even a simple one. I had enough trouble focusing at my last job. I am using this time to focus on liquidating my belongings and finding a transitional shelter to move into, no matter how frustrating that may be.

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Filed under "In this economy", Depression, Food, Home Life, Materialism, Obstacles, Work

Jinx

Good Luck by Mark Ryden

Good Luck by Mark Ryden

Those I interact with regularly tend to react to me in two different ways: they ignore me or they ignore my problems. For quite a while now, I’ve been somewhat of a shit magnet. Is there more dignified term to express that concept? I can’t think of one. I’m kind of like the jinx in Li’l Abner. When I’m not writing in my secret blog, I generally keep my problems to myself. Once in a while, however, I’ll get into a conversation with a trusted friend and I’ll let a few details about my life slip. They say things like “Oh, I’m so sorry,” or “I don’t know what to say.” Then the phone calls and e-mails stop and I’m left keeping things to myself again. In other instances I have friends who don’t seem to pay attention to anything I say. I was IMing with a friend the other night, and he expressed surprise that I “seemed a bit down.” This friend is aware of my situation, so why would he express surprise? Gee, I’m about to be homeless and lose everything that’s ever been important to me while I admit absolute defeat, I’m in a perpetual state of emotional breakdown, I don’t know what to do, but other than that life’s peachy. A different friend of mine (who is aware of certain aspects of my situation but none of the more recent developments) gets visibly uncomfortable if I speak of anything negative in my life, such as my horrible family. Once when I mentioned that I was worried about having enough rent money, he said “Why don’t you just move in with your parents?” I had previously told him that my mother had been dead for years and I hadn’t spoken to my father in even longer. When I mentioned it the first time, he changed the subject very quickly. He later forgot that the conversation even took place. He doesn’t want to hear things like that because bad parents don’t exist in his world where all the pretty white houses have picket fences made of lollipops. He is a good guy, but he doesn’t understand my situation at all and has repeatedly made insensitive and ignorant comments to me about money. He has never had a real job, but he owns an iPhone and lives with his rich parents. Then he admonishes me for living the only way I can. He also once told me that I “just need to be more optimistic.” I didn’t tell him I quit my job. He doesn’t know I’m getting evicted. I may very well disappear and he’d never know.

Speaking of disappearing, I am at a strange crossroads. I am friends with a guy I used to volunteer with about five years ago. He is a barely functional alcoholic. He is caring and funny and genuinely kind, but he’s trouble. His financial situation is not much different from mine. He is incapable of holding a job due to his alcoholism and (as a former employer of his put it) his “inability to keep his mouth shut.” He did not finish college, he never pays his bills. He can’t even get a bank account because he wrote several bad checks and never paid overdraft fees. He can’t get a driver’s license because he owes $5000 in tickets for moving violations and associated fees. He sent me a text message today asking me if I’d be interested in living in a house with him and a few other people. In Philadelphia. Rooms are $425 a month and I can bring my cat. Tempting. I’ll never find anything like that here. He has asked me to move out there before, and I’ve always said no (for the record, we are not dating). Until now, I had not seriously considered his offers because I had hope for something good to happen in Seattle. I don’t have that hope anymore. Quite frankly, I’m at the end of my rope and I have no idea where I’m going. Moving there is a bad idea, but is it a worse idea than staying here? I get so overwhelmed with choices. I get frozen because there is always something in the way and I don’t know which obstacles to conquer first. I can’t declare bankruptcy yet because I don’t know what I’m doing with my car. I can’t figure out what I’m doing with my car until I figure out if I can move to the United Kingdom or not. I can’t move to the United Kingdom until I get my passport and see if I can get a job and secure things with my relatives. I can’t do all of that until I save money and get a job here. This line of thinking gets me nowhere, literally. My thoughts just whirl around and around and I just stand there, dizzy.

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Who can it be now?

Another day, another knock at my door I don’t answer. I’m starting to think that my landlord and rental agency are as clueless about eviction as I am. It seems odd that they would try to approach me in person when I have not received so much as a phone message from them in about a month and I have received no eviction-related documents since my three-day pay-or-vacate notice. There have been no notes left on my door, which is even more confusing. I live in a condominium with no on-site manager. Why would someone drive all the way out here unannounced without leaving a note? The pay-or-vacate notice was left on my door, but that is all.

I can only assume it is someone who wants to talk to me about eviction. This person knocks on my door persistently, and does not approach my neighbors’ condos. Whoever he is, he is here to see me. The only reason anyone stops by my place uninvited is to get something from me. I tell myself sometimes that I will answer my phone next time a debt collector calls, and I told myself tonight that I will answer the door the next time this happens. But I probably won’t. If I had an income I might have more confidence in this matter, but as of now I don’t.

Today I drank a Diet Rock Star, a drink that can wake the dead. I hoped that by drinking it I would find the energy to pack and clean out my place a little, but I was fast asleep an hour later. I have barely moved on paring down my belongings. I have also stopped applying for jobs. I have reached the pinnacle of my exhaustion. I’m becoming more fearful that there is something very wrong with me health-wise. I have only mentioned some of my chronic health issues here, and it’s not something I really care to get into yet, but I started showing signs of illness around ten years old. I have been diagnosed with a couple of problems, but my diagnoses do not explain many other symptoms I have. I’m definitely not a hypochondriac, even though I have often been treated as such. My symptoms are visible, undeniable, and run in my family, but my medical tests are always negative or inconclusive. These issues only add to my overwhelming fatigue. Despite having a father who was a doctor, I have never had proper, consistent healthcare. My parents never took me to doctors, even when at age 12 I became violently ill and developed vertigo and intrusive pulsatile tinnitus, the latter of which I still have to this day. I still get vertigo on occasion, too, but never to the degree I had it in childhood. There were multiple occasions when I had to crawl because I couldn’t walk without vomiting or falling. I haven’t had an incident like that in about 11 years (knock on wood). By the time I was old enough to go to doctors regularly on my own, I had been disowned by PsychoDad and didn’t have a job that offered health insurance. I finally got good health insurance just in time for my Cancer Scare of ’06, but I lost my job six months after the surgery that left me scarred and hormonally wonky, for lack of a better term. It wasn’t cancer, fortunately, but no one knew that so my stress levels extremely high. Not that knowing would have changed much. It still would have been stressful and life-altering.

One of my biggest personality flaws is that I don’t ask anyone for the help I need until it’s too late. I had this problem in college and graduate school. I have had this problem at jobs. I’m doing it again right now and I don’t know how to stop it. I seem to have personal drama going on all the time, and I will struggle, struggle, and struggle with school or work all the while thinking “I can do this!” and by the time I realize that I can’t it’s too late. I’ve been asked in several situations “Why didn’t you tell me there was a problem? Why didn’t you ask for help?” My response is always “I really thought I could handle it.” But sometimes I can’t. My awareness of this personality flaw hasn’t stopped me from doing it time and time again. I guess I don’t know where the line is between self-sufficiency and foolishness. I can’t stop all of the drama, but I should be able to improve the way I cope.

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Can’t I wait until next year to have a birthday?

I'm HOW OLD?!

I'm HOW OLD?!

I am 31 years old today. It’s hard to believe how long my life has been like this. I’ve been in survival mode since 2003. Possibly even longer. It’s not that I’m old; I really don’t care about aging at this point in my life. I didn’t care much about turning 30, so I’m not going to start freaking out about it now. It’s just a bit depressing that my life was so much more “together” when I was 24. Every birthday marks another year’s distance away from my stability and my dreams. I actually thought that since I had never lived this way by 23, I’d never live this way at all. It’s been an amazing decline. I have had my palm read three times – once by a “professional” I went to on a lark, and twice by amateurs. All three have said the same thing: “You will always be financially secure.” I wonder what it is they think they see. My palms are rotten liars.

Even with my aches,  pains, and swollen joints, I don’t really feel very old. I’m not like most women my age. While I do care about my career, I am mostly juvenile in my activities. I prefer video games to cocktail parties, Thai take-out to home-cooking, mis-matched furniture to Better Homes & Gardens, kittens to children, thrift stores to department stores, B-movies to art films, and electronic music to adult contemporary. I’m a perpetual kid.

I woke up early this morning to call community resources because my research has led me to believe that I should find a caseworker. My best option may be to move into transitional housing. Now, I’m not in an abusive relationship, but I am at risk for being homeless because no one can help me long-term and I don’t want to burden my friend, especially since she doesn’t really have room. I’m exploring my options. I don’t want to lose my cat, but it appears inevitable. I’m going to assume that I cannot have my cat at the YWCA. I’m also going to assume that there’s a long waiting list, but once again I’m grasping at straws and I’ll try just about anything that doesn’t terrify me.

There is also a low-income housing project near where I live. It’s actually a rather attractive complex. It was built less than two years ago, and it is across the street from a brand-new library. It is within walking distance of a few drug stores and cafes, and it is also very close to my regional food bank. It is actually more desirable than my current location, but I fear it might be more expensive despite its “low-income housing” label. Section 8 housing is often more expensive (or roughly the same price) as the condo I rent. How do people live around here?

For the past two evenings I have been startled by loud knocking at my door. Due to my circumstances, I have not yet had the courage to answer. I haven’t even had the courage to speak through the intercom. Last night the sound of the knocking made my heart race and I began to hyperventilate. I’m terrified of confrontation, and I know I have to face this situation eventually. I want to be calm and assertive, but I physically and mentally freeze. I don’t even know what I’m so deathly afraid of. I know my rights, and for the moment, no one can kick me out. Strangely, no one left a note or even a proper eviction notice on my door, so my evening visitors could be completely unrelated to that drama. Unexpected knocks are not a good thing, in my experience. My car repossession/assault began with an unexpected knock that shook my walls and woke my neighbors. I hide in the dark a lot. I’m even afraid to play music.

My friend (whose basement I may stay in) wants to take me out for a birthday dinner, but it’s so difficult to choose a place to go to when I feel disgusting and don’t even want to leave the house. I need new clothes and new shoes. I look awful. I’m tired, so tired.

As a single, somewhat antisocial woman, I have to throw my own birthday parties. That should explain why I did not have any birthday parties between ages 19 and 30. I don’t have any money to do anything for myself, and I feel tremendous guilt if someone even buys me a drink. It’s silly, I know. It’s ingrained from childhood. My mother would never let me accept anything from anyone, and would make me feel awful even if someone bought me a birthday present. Christmas presents were usually okay because then gifts could be exchanged instead of given. My birthday still makes me feel uncomfortable.

I also received a job rejection from the job I interviewed for on Friday. I received no feedback as to why, but the interview did not go 100% smoothly, so it’s not a complete shock. I have received so much “feedback” over the years and even when it’s generally good it makes me wince. I neglected to send a thank-you note after my interview on Friday because one of the interviewers told me they would decide that day. I’ve given up, I suppose. I can’t even imagine getting a job at this point.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon watching illegal uploads of Weeds and trying to think of an inexpensive place I can suggest my friend take me for dinner. Happy birthday to me, Scott Baio, Joan Jett, and that kid who plays Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.

tombstone

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Filed under Depression, Home Life, Materialism