Monday, March 25, 2019

Inspire Me Monday #220: If I Could Change the World

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

I have spent my life being angry with and beating up on myself for having a brain that works differently from the way "normal" people's brains work. I have been chided for being disorganized, scatterbrained, a daydreamer, distractible, on one hand unable to continue on a given train of thought for long periods of time, on the other hand, obsessive to a fault with certain issues. I have never been good at sleeping during the hours when "normal" people who work "normal" jobs sleep. 
I can be extremely productive and I can follow directions, but I hate being told what to do and I hate punching time clocks. (Unless I can punch them with my fist and break them. Then I'm okay with punching time clocks.) I much prefer soft deadlines to hard and fast ones. I'm good at filing because I enjoy words, including names. I tend to do well with online classes, not so good with classes where I have to show up in person because I have a tendency to run a few minutes late.
On one hand, in spite of being painfully shy by nature, I love to act and have very little in the way of stage fright. However, if you ask me to do anything which involves public speaking, I would prefer that a sinkhole open under me and swallow me. My voice shakes so badly that no-one can understand a word that I'm saying. Public speaking sucks for me.
I don't like doing customer service jobs because of my social anxiety, but I've often ended up pigeonholed into customer service jobs. I'm okay making small talk. My current job is "customer service lite." I see the customer for a minute or two, smile, hand them their food, and wish them a good evening. Then I get back on the road and cuss out the terrible traffic and sometimes the other drivers and the fools who insist on jaywalking across busy streets. None of them ever hear me, but it's happening.
There are plenty of remote phone answering jobs. It's hard to find WAH jobs that don't involve answering the phone. I'm hoping to finish my Bachelor's in English writing because having a degree will open up a few more possibilities for working remotely.
This world is not made for people with brains like mine, and the "advice" (translate: scolding) I have received over the years has always been the same.

YOU JUST need to change.
YOU JUST need to go to sleep at a "reasonable hour."
YOU JUST need to stop that stinkin' thinkin'.
YOU JUST need to give up on this silly writing nonsense and get a nice normal job in an office like nice normal people do.
YOU JUST need to stay awake and not fall asleep during class or meetings.
YOU JUST need to smile and pretend things are okay regardless of how you really feel. Lots of people have it harder than you do. 
YOU'RE JUST being selfish.
YOU JUST need to stop being such a crybaby.
YOU JUST need to toughen up, to exercise more, to just push through it no matter how tired you think you feel. How can you be that tired? 
YOU JUST need to stop being lazy.
YOU JUST need to be more like normal people
YOU JUST need to stop being this way.
YOU JUST need to not be you anymore.

For most of my life, my own inner dialogue has echoed what people have told me. I'm bad, I'm wrong, I'm selfish, I'm weak, I'm lazy, I'm stupid, I'm worthless. And I don't want to be me anymore.
My son has a different brain too. His differences aren't exactly the same as mine, although there are some common experiences. He is on the autism spectrum. He has ADHD, although his presents in ways that are more typical for girls than boys. He finds it impossible to learn from textbooks, although he has no problem reading. He reads classic science fiction and fantasy novels regularly. He has social anxiety with a degree of agoraphobia, and he has unipolar depression. He has never responded well to medications. 
When my son was young, I tried to push him to do things that he didn't really want to do so he wouldn't end up being a "loser" like me. Once he was in his teens, I backed off, in part because I had finally received a diagnosis of bipolar 2, which meant that I was able to deal with some of my own issues. I saw that my behavior was driving a wedge between me and the most important person in my life, so I stopped forcing him to participate in activities which he, in fact, found stressful, such as being on the youth soccer team.
In spite of now understanding my emotional ups and downs better, I never dealt with my need to always be proving to others that I was a "good person" and not a "loser." When I could work physically difficult jobs such as nursing, I was able to find work on the night shift. I hated having to work specific hours, but I much preferred nights to days. 
I still didn't sleep well, but it was easier to make myself go to a night shift job and most of the time I ended up physically sick rather than clinically depressed. I worked even when I was sick unless it was completely impossible to do so, and my employers praised me for being so diligent, even though the truth was, I was putting the people I was caring for in danger by working when I was sick.
I am no longer able to do rigorous physical work, and my wages have placed me below the poverty level ever since I lost my nursing job in 2017. I've spent a lot of time being ashamed of myself and berating myself. I never would have been as cruel to anyone else as I have been to myself. 
I have decided to stop doing this. It does nothing except for sending me on a ride to Depressionville. I am currently in a euthymic mindset, possibly boarding a rocket to Hypomania Town, which is both good and bad. It's good because I tend to get things done when I'm hypomanic. It's bad, because of the crash that inevitably follows the hypomania. I rapid cycle, which actually does not make things any easier. However, I have learned to try and be productive during the euthymic and hypomanic phases, and I am going to use this time to call county social services and inquire as to exactly why they have never given me SNAP despite my wages putting me below the poverty level. (Yes, I have applied for SNAP. I got Medicaid, but not SNAP.)
I do not want to be dependent on anyone else for my well-being or my living arrangements. I still hope that one day the work I've been doing with my blogging and other online activities will eke out at least a small income for me. 
The way our society is set up currently, we miss out on the skills and talents of a lot of people who might be very diligent workers in their own right but cannot conform to a rigid 9 to 5 type schedule and who might be very productive for a time but then end up fighting depression for a while and not be very productive. For someone like my son, his circadian rhythms are a bit whacky and so he can't commit to a set schedule because sometimes he sleeps "normal" hours, and sometimes he isn't able to fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning. 
I do not believe that drugs are the answer to issues such as this.
We live in a technologically advanced society. I believe that the 9 to 5 schedule and commuting to a job are archaic ideas in many cases. There are studies which have shown that people are much happier and healthier working a six-hour day rather than an eight to twelve hour day. 
Certainly, there are jobs which require people to be physically present, including police, fire, and medical jobs. However, there are many jobs still requiring people to show up to work at a given location which could now be done remotely. Making certain clerical jobs remote rather than on-location could drastically reduce traffic problems as well.
I know that to some my thoughts may seem like so much pie in the sky. Personally, I believe society would change for the better were we to implement these changes. People who were formerly unable to work would now be able to contribute to society. With less stress and more time for their families, people would be happier as a whole.
If I could change the world, this is what I'd do.


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