Sunday, August 31, 2014

Practice makes perfect?

Never ceases to amaze me how bad I am at online dating, or dating in general. OKCupid is known for having tons of men who send out generic emails to tons of women in hopes of playing a numbers game -- maybe a few will respond. Here are a few examples:

  • Hi pretty how you doing today that is a lovely smile you got right there on your profile pic. Do me a favor always keep that smile on your face.  
  • You have a contagious smile and look that invited me to your profile. I am writing you with hope of sustaining a connection with you, i feel we have a lot we could explore together, i would love to learn more about you if you don't mind. Go through my profile and write me back if anything about me piques your interest. Honesty is important to me and i love the simple things in life. This is my first time on a dating site and am hoping to make it count.....I look forward to your response. Hugs
  • Im Jack, just wanted to say in all honesty. you have to be one of the most beautiful women I have seen in forever. you have stunning eyes and a stunning smile. simply gorgeous   
  • Just wanted to say you are truly a beautiful woman...you seem intriguing and classy..I'd love to get to know you better...if you give me the opportunity to... 

But recently I got an initial email that sounded a bit more sincere:

You have one of the best profiles I've seen... gorgeous photo, of course; you really did put some time into it and have a nice way of expressing yourself. Anyway, in addition to liking your comfortable and also confident look in your photos, thought we'd have some things in common... Would be great to hear back from you.

Normally I wouldn't have responded, because he is not Jewish and "somewhat serious" about Catholicism. But I thought he sounded interesting in his profile, and his picture was cute, so I responded:

Thanks :) I like writing, and when I'm with friends, I'm always comfortable & confident. You express yourself well too.

It's been two days, and no response. I'm wondering why. Possibly he's busy; it's Labor Day weekend, after all. But why be so enthusiastic in an initial email and then completely ignore my response? What did I do wrong? Should I not have suggested that I'm only comfortable and confident around my friends? Did I not sound interested enough in him?

Or maybe that's just his initial email to everyone, and someone prettier and younger also responded to him.

I totally suck at dating. Online and offline.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, August 28, 2014

You're not an addict. You're a borderline.

Yesterday I was at an all-day "safety" training, which intends to teach employees how to de-escalate clients who are very upset or angry. The idea is to calm them down verbally before they become physically violent, although you also learn how to break out of various ways people can grab you.

During the training, the topic of mental illness and violence arose -- understandably, since we work with people who have mental illnesses, some of whom occasionally might become violent. The trainer, a program manager, was talking about one of her residents who frequently displays aggressive behavior.

"She's a borderline," said Tessie Trainer. "You know what a borderline is, right?"

Well, no, I don't. I know that some people have borderline personality disorder, and that many of them have difficulty managing their anger and impulsive behavior, so sometimes they are aggressive or violent towards others. (Or themselves.) But it always bothers me when people use psychiatric diagnoses as adjectives. I'm not "bipolar" or "a bipolar." I have bipolar disorder, but it's not my only or my primary defining characteristic.

This became even more striking when Tessie explained how our formerly homeless clients have been marginalized and stigmatized for being homeless or abusing substances. They've been ignored, stepped on, attacked, and labeled.

"I tell them, 'You're not an addict, you struggle with substance use,'" she said.

I didn't think it was my place to point out the glaring inconsistency. First of all, I'm still on probation. Second, I didn't want to call her out in front of everyone. But it bothered me. If we're not going to stigmatize our clients for their substance use, we shouldn't stigmatize them for their psychiatric illnesses.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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 -- aka, Katya -- 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 Katya, 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 Katya 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 Katya 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"