Monday, August 11, 2014

If Robin Williams had nothing to live for...

I was going to write about a great conversation I had with my aunt Caterina that put all my current employment disgruntlement into excellent perspective. But then Robin Williams lost his battle with bipolar disorder.

I learned about his death on Facebook (where else?) after a tremendous busy day of bossing people around and doing important work. I was feeling extremely accomplished and effective. In large part because my aunt Caterina, a retired psychiatric nurse, understood exactly the frustration and confusion I've been experiencing. She is probably the most sensible, grounded, level-headed person I know. She sees people for who and what they are.

I never thought Caterina would have had the exact same problems I've had negotiating this agency -- or previous agencies. But she has. She's experienced the exact same frustration and confusion. And she's a hell of a lot more normal than I am. I assumed there was something wrong with me, not knowing when to take initiative and when not to overstep, after being criticized for both shortcomiongs in what seemed an almost random manner. I thought I just wasn't getting it, and she always, effortlessly, knew what to do.

She didn't. And she was attacked and criticized for bogus reasons, like I have been. And she had the rug pulled out from under her more than once. And she was set up and knocked down. And there's nothing wrong with her.

So if it happened to her, I can't blame myself if it happens to me. There is much less wrong with me than I thought.

This was a huge and empowering relief, and I breezed through today. Deployed my direct reports strategically, gave directives and organized workflow. Chaired a clinical meeting, monitored the progress of various projects, supervised my ass off. I came home tired but satisfied with a good day's work done. Then I saw Robin Williams committed suicide.

On a human scale, it's tragic. He had children. You wonder how someone so accomplished and beloved could feel that life is not worth living, that it's just unending pain. But he damaged the pleasure centers of his brain with years of substance abuse, leaving him prey to anhedonia, one of the most insidious depression symptoms. The inability to feel pleasure and joy. Ironic, since he provoked riotous joy for so many.

People with bipolar disorder are the most successful suicides. That is, our fatality rate is highest. The next highest suicide rate is found among middle-aged white men. Robin Williams was 63. Only 19 years older than I am.

Who knows where I'll be and how I'll be feeling in 19 years. I certainly couldn't have anticipated the life I have now when I was 22. I don't have to worry about that right now. But I'm personally saddened by this loss.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mazal tov -- it's a submucosal fibroid

Friends of mine, after more than a decade of trying, recently had a baby, and I am genuinely delighted for them. This is not always the case when I learn that someone has had a baby. Because I'm essentially not a very nice person, when someone I don't know and love who is much younger than I am has children, I am sometimes envious. Depending on how cute and/or annoying the children are.

Yesterday, I had a pelvic sonogram to determine the extent of my fibroid growth. It's actually a two-part exercise. First you drink a few gallons of water and wait forever until an ultrasound tech rubs gel on your distended belly and pushes a probe around on it. Then you urinate and the probe goes inside you. I have decided that it's only as invasive as you allow it to feel, so at this point -- my fourth or fifth go-round -- it doesn't really phase me. What shook me was seeing the image of my uterus with a submucosal fibroid.

There are three kinds of uterine fibroids: external (subserosal), internal (submucosal), and in-between (intramural). The Mayo Clinic does a great job of explaining the various symptoms each type causes. I will spare you the details of the symptoms I experience; just know that I'm coping with frequent discomfort and increasing pain.

I've never really paid attention to the ultrasound screen. But after the less invasive half of the procedure, I went to the bathroom, and when I got back to the exam room, the tech had stepped out. So I looked at the monitor and saw an image of my uterus with a misshapen bulge inside.

We've all seen sonogram images; it's no longer a mystery. People share them with co-workers and post them  on Facebook. So I knew what I was seeing. It just cut me deep that I wasn't looking at an embryo. A baby. Which is almost all I've ever wanted since I was, I don't know, five years old?

Gloria Chang started chatting with me on Facebook later that evening. I told her I'd had a pelvic ultrasound. She asked what it was like.

Physically uncomfortable & slightly painful. Always makes me bleed. Emotionally, it was wrenching. Looking at the picture of my uterus with a lifeless lump growing in it.

And that's all I have to say about that.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I really don't know what to think

Dating has been as per usual lately, which means it sucks. I had one date with a guy that didn't go anywhere. When I got in the car, he said, "You look just like your pictures!" Presumably a good thing, since he contacted me initially. But it wasn't a great date, and I never heard from him again. I should have probably called my friend the dating coach for a de-briefing, but I didn't want to think about it.

And I've been hearing from the same kind of weirdos I normally attract. I've live-tweeted some online conversations, which is probably not as interesting as other live-tweeted events, and shared some especialy nasty correspondence. I've done this on both Facebook profiles, and I probably shouldn't. At a recent potluck picnic, two men informed me that reading what these men had to say -- and what I had to say about them -- was demoralizing to them. Which means they find it unflattering to me.

So I will stop posting about the losers I date on the "real" Ayelet's page, and limit that to Ayelet Survivor. This is the latest... let's say "passionate" email I recently received from a man who lives in California.

Hello ayelet First of all, let me start by saying that I was blown away by your beautiful smile and i find you so very attractive. A little more about me, I am a good person, I am loyal, giving, funny, I laugh alot. I value honesty greatly, I am a one man woman, meaning when i am serious with someone, there is no one else. You're such a very beautiful and charming woman and am sure you hear that everyday, why in the world is a very beautiful woman like you still single? My profile wont be up for too long, I'm on here with the 3days trial, if you would love for us to get to know each other, you can write me on 323) xxx-xxxx or send email to duelove789@gmail.com @ gmail . com Or here on yahoo messenger duelove789 @ yahoo .com I'll be counting the seconds until i hear back from you.. Take care

(The man I went out with recently also asked me why I'm still single. I guess he discovered the reason during the course of the date.)

Since Passionate Guy (PG) says his profile won't be up for long (which probably just means he won't be active on the site), I'll share his "About Me":

I am a very generous person in that I give quality time and make people feel special. I am a man who acts according to his moral principles. I'm a very confident person and love being a man of substance. I feel that I am "spicy" - alive, spontaneous and love life and everything it has to offer. I am looking for a woman that has a sense of direction in life, confident, sensitive, energetic, and most definitely thirst for knowledge and continuously striving for growth - whether that being spiritual, emotional or intellectual. I believe in the beauty of life. I will never choose to sit out.I want every drop I can squeeze out of it...so I need a partner who sees the world as a great place to be and one who will never loose that sense of the wonders that life has to offer. I am looking for an honest and fun loving woman who is opened to the world...bright, a "doer" and not a "follower"...a creator more than a consumer - provocative, curious, and original - someone with presence. A lover and a friend..worldly, settled, very sensual and articulate - with a PHD in kissing, of course! Above all, a person to share ones intimate feelings and build a true partnership with honesty and integrity...where there is peace and harmony together...invites more laughter than tears...and after the connection you can intelligently discuss a wide range of topics. I am seeking a partner to mutually navigate the obstacle course of life... someone to help each other overcome life's hurdles...to help heal the wounds when we falter. The truth to be told, - I'm looking for that someone. I am a big believer that the love you put in is love you get in return. The canvas of my passion is a large one and it would be wonderful to add new depth, enhance meaning and more love to this masterpiece/work in progress. Might it be you? I love a woman who is young in heart and who has not lost the ability to play - with words, with dreams, with thoughts, with me! I love down to earth kind of people...are you one of them? I am a people person and love entertaining at home. Love sincere, compassionate, passionate, and empathic folks! I do not create or surround myself with people who feed off of DRAMA. I love cities deep in history, art and architecture...and the art of conversation. I believe that a good relationship is initially built on friendship.No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each others worth.Miles may lie between us, but we're never far apart for friendship is not calculated in distance;it is measured by a heart that brings happiness that gold nor silver can't buy.   
             
A whole lot of cliches, and is PG for real? It's pretty clear his first language isn't English. But he strikes me as intense, at best, weird and scary at worst.

It always seems kind of weird and scary when someone gives you his email address in the initial contact and urges you to email him off the site right away. But am I judging him too harshly? I really don't know at this point.

Often I think that my judgment of some men is vindicated by the unpleasant way they react when I decline to meet them in person. But the question still hangs in the air: why am I still single?

For guidance, I contacted Rochel, the dating coach. I emailed her PG's initial contact and "About Me." Her response was succinct:

I wouldn't bother, something is off about him

I thanked her for confirming my suspicions.

You're welcome, he seems really nutty

She's married. And she consults with numerous women, so she's seen a lot of dating correspondence. Even more than I have, which is hard to imagine. So I'm not contacting Passionate Guy. Whatever the reason I'm still single, he doesn't have the solution.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't write back in anger

I'm on edge. Hate my stupid chair at work, and the temporary cramped quarters I'm in, and some of the people I'm supposed to supervise. Well, I don't hate them, but I hate supervising them. I probably shouldn't say why, but the whole "supervisor" role is not coming as naturally as I thought it would. I'm figuring out my job, and then I have to help other people figure out their jobs. And the guy I went out with two days ago hasn't called. And my back hurts and my knees hurt.

So I'm jangly. Nervy, as the Brits would say. And I got a message on OKCupid, and I didn't respond well to it.

The guy is clearly ineligible. He's seven years younger than I am, and Catholic. Still, he's not hideous, and I'm heartily sick of Jewish men. And his message to me was rather debonair:

You are remarkable. I'd like to get together and try new, exciting and delightful things!

That's kind of cute. I haven't been called "remarkable" in a while. But my first thought was, "Uch, I don't want to try new things, I want to do things I already like. And my back hurts." So I don't think my response was very flirty:

Thanks. I think? You're assuming we find the same new things delightful.

That's just dumping a bucket of cold water on him. I need to make a new rule: Never respond to email on a dating website unless you're in a good mood. Or you've taken a Klonopin.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, July 03, 2014

People fight for their right to mock mental patients

Recently I've left two Facebook groups because the moderators insisted they had the right to make fun of people with psychiatric disabilities. People who would bite your head off if you used the word "retarded" or some ethnic slur get extremely offended when you ask them not to make fun of you and your friends.

being popular on the internet is like sitting at the cool table in the mental hospital

That's what one insensitive person (IP) commented on an online thread in the "OTD and Sane" group. Another person jumped on the bandwagon.

Hey, that's the closest some of us are going to get to sitting with Napoleon, Elvis, Genghis Khan, and Oscar Wilde. And that's only when one other person is at the cool table

I didn't bother talking to him about this flagrantly offensive rant. I thought I could talk to IP, woman to woman, because she's emailed me a number of times to complain about other group members and we've had a decent rapport. So I tried:

I've actually been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons, so I would prefer it if you didn't make fun of mental patients as a group. Thanks.

And failed. She became defensive.

I dont think i made fun of mental patients. How is that making fun of ANYONE

I didn't think I was being unreasonable, and tried to reason with her.

It's making fun of the people at the "cool table" in the mental hospital

She insisted it wasn't offensive:

A table with elvis genghis khan oscar wilde would be amazing conversation

I tried to educate her:

That's not realistic. Neither as a patient nor as a clinician have I ever seen that scenario.

I guess some people would interpret that as having somewhat of a testy tone. She certainly did.

Ok im not going to apologize for what i said. I dont feel i made fun of anyone. Im sorry you feel that way.

That's not really an apology, and is she really that ignorant?


You did put down people in mental hospitals, and I'm surprised you don't see that. There's no need to get defensive. I'm not asking you to apologize in public. I'm just asking you to be a little more mindful before making jokes about psychiatric hospitals and hte people in them.

Trying to emphasize our common humanity. She's not having it.

Im sorry but you are totally over reacting or bring super sensitive. Im sorry you think i was making fun. I disagree

That got me a little annoyed.

You actually were making fun. I'm not overrreacting.

So I posted a thread in the group asking if others found this offensive or inappropriate. And was roundly denouced. I left. I should have known that people in a group called "OTD and Sane" would jump at the chance to make fun of people with psychiatric disabilities. Like me.

Mental illness is the last acceptable stereotype. I try to educate people, but it doesn't seem to be working. They think mocking people who are suffering is funny and resent your attempts to assert that it's not. Not sure what the answer is, but I'm pretty angry right now.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"