Category Archives: Mental Health

I’m fucked. I’m fine. The unemployment mood tracker

Today I thought it would be fun to chart my moods swings over the past several months of unemployment.  As you can see from the below, it’s been very up and down, but upon closer analysis I’ve actually uncovered some interesting tidbits. 

The "I'm Fine. I'm Fucked" Unemployment Mood Tracker

  1. My insomnia started when I was in my “fuck-you pink-slip” high phase, which as it turns out was likely fueled by high levels of cortisol running through my body. How did I know my cortisol was crazy? Well, there was the obvious physical evidence (a flourishing muffin top), but to rule out ice cream consumption as the main cause of the muffin top growth spurt, my chiropractor suggested I take a saliva stress test to measure biochemical imbalances. As it turns out, my cortisol levels were three times higher than normal at bedtime, which explains my inability to sleep. No sleep exacerbates anxiety. Anxiety means cortisol. Cortisol and ice cream feeds the muffin top that in turn gets me all hopped up on shitty foods (and caffeine) that prevent sleep. Wee…what a fun cycle!! My naturopath, who interpreted the results of the stress test, used words like “adrenal fatigue” and “pre-diabetic conditions” so now I’m in the process of making a complete lifestyle change (diet, exercise, meditation, etc.) because the alternative doesn’t sound pleasant.
  2. The chart also indicates that despite efforts to reduce cortisol levels the past two months by using the natural remedies above (which are slow), maybe the best medicine came in the form of actually make a decision about my future.  Could all this soul-searching over the summer have been more stressful than getting a pink-slip or having a job that I didn’t enjoy? All signs point to yes.
  3. And finally, did switching to decaf actually improve my ability to make a decision about the direction of my future? I don’t have any scientific evidence that this is the case, but I can’t help but think it did. Caffeine is known to feed anxiety and when you’re sleep deprived and anxious, making an informed and rational decision is close to impossible. Instead, you seek solace in ice cream. 

Well, there’s the recap of  the “summer of Keri.” Wasn’t that a fun ride?

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Filed under Diet, Health and Exercise, Mental Health, Sleep trouble

An insomniac’s guide to communication

As many of you know, I’ve been sleeping like shit for several months now and I think I’ve finally reached full blown insomnia which is what I consider a late-stage side-effect of unemployment. I keep having the biggest brain farts and it seems my first language (uh…English, duh!) has actually become my second language. I’ve started calling my new first language the “language of insomniacs” and today I thought I’d post some tricks of the insomniac trade; a survival guide of sorts to help fellow insomniacs communicate in the waking world. And, for those of you who aren’t insomniacs (lucky bastards!), this guide might serve as a translation tool should you encounter an unemployed insomniac person who’s trying to speak, but you don’t know what the hell they are saying. 

Overview. Insomnia makes it difficult to verbally articulate anything. Stringing sentences together so that it’s coherent is close to impossible and sometimes you completely use the wrong word in a sentence. For example, this weekend I said to my boyfriend “is the grill ready for refrigerator?” What the f*ck does that mean? So yeah, I do this kind of thing all the time now and I’ve decided that rather than beating myself up about feeling like a stupid dip-shit, now I’m just turning every brain fart into a game.  

  1. The sentence above  “is the grill ready for the refrigerator?” makes no sense UNLESS you’re playing a “word game” and then it makes perfect sense! I’m trying to tell my boyfriend that there’s something in the fridge that needs to go on the grill without telling him what that item is and now he needs to guess.
  2. Trouble stringing sentences together? No worries! If you speak a second language like Spanish or French, why don’t you try speaking your second language first!  Maybe insomnia only impairs your ability to recall your first language. Now, if you are like me and don’t remember any of your high school Spanish unless you’re sauced in Mexico, then you’ll have to try something else. I have resorted to using sound effects and animations to try to get my point across! This has really become my new insomniac primary language and I call it “charades with a twist.” 
  3. Misplaced items? If the coffee carafe ends up in the cupboard or the cereal box keeps ending up in the fridge, then you’ve got the makings of this fun insomniac game! I call it the “sleep deprivation scavenger hunt.” Just tell the human you live with that you’ve designed a scavenger hunt inside the house with various household items and when they find all the misplaced items, you will bake them cookies or something.

Well, I hope this was helpful.  Doubt these tricks will work in a job interview, so it’s probably best to only play these games with friends and family. Oh…and if you find any typos in this post, they aren’t typos jerkface-person-who-sleeps-well! Remember, we’re playing a “word game!”

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Filed under Mental Health, Sleep trouble, Slightly amusing

Swearing is f*ing good for you!

A-ha! I knew there was a positive reason to swear – read all about it! So, next time I’m in pain, I’m gonna use “expletive therapy” where you get to yell out a very long string of expletives to alleviate pain. 

Hmm…maybe I should start an unemployment swearing circle for those of us suffering from mental pain…who’s in?

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Filed under Diet, Health and Exercise, Mental Health

3 weeks post layoff…

Today is week three – to the date – post layoff. I must say that time flies when you aren’t tethered to a desk plugging away all day in an office!  As you might have read in the “About” section, this is my second layoff in about 3 years. One would think that this would feel like old hat to me and I’d be able to skip a range of emotions that naturally flood in when you are “let go”, but that’s not the case.

A layoff feels like a break-up or a death in your family of oneJ. Its considered a major life changing event, so for those of you who find yourselves feeling what you are feeling, don’t worry, you are normal and if you don’t feel anything…then you need to tell me what drug to take to numb the mind!

First there was the shock, but in my gut I knew it was coming – my dream 3 weeks prior pretty much painted the picture for me. Then I celebrated my 35th birthday with my closest friends, 3 days after the layoff and discovered that it was difficult for me to feel happy. It was great seeing my friends and knowing that I have such an amazing support group, but I think at that point the layoff was starting to set-in along with the fact that I was no longer feeling young and not sure what I was going to do in the next phase of my career.

Week two was spent fighting off a horrible cold that had probably been brewing for about a month prior to the layoff and it finally took hold, taking me down by the jugular. And boy, did I ever feel like a big loser – a 35 year old snot-face, house pants wearing, 2 days without a shower or visitors, jobless loser.

After feeling sorry for myself for a couple more days, I finally saw the light and started taking action – plugging away on my resume, setting up the online job search feeds and networking. After all, people would not be knocking on my door offering me jobs! In looking back at my “crazy energy” during this time, I think it was more of an anger frenzy driving me to try to tackle this new problem head on and not let “THEM” tell me I was a loser!

Now it’s week three – and I’ve settled into my new life, however temporary, and have accepted whatever the universe has in store for me. Setting up a weekly routine is helpful and I’ve also started exploring hobbies that were put on hold, like photography, and I’ve begun new ones like blogging and soon plan to start painting abstracts. Exercise is also key – especially cycling, walking, boxing and yoga (love the boxing and yoga…beat shit up then relax away the bad energy!). And, most importantly, I’ve been given the gift of time to share some quality time with my almost 90yr old grandmother (birthday is this Sunday), helping her with grocery shopping, listening to her stories even if they sometimes feel like stories from “back in St. Olaf” – she loves the company and I have an opportunity to make her day brighter with these visits.

So – I realize I have rambled on a bit – so going to end this with a few words of advice to those loved ones who are possibly concerned about “how you are doing” post layoff. Remind them that you will experience a range of emotions, some of which are hard to watch you go through.  But, you have to go through the cycle and the only thing they can really do to help is listen, validate your feelings and show compassion and empathy. They can’t fix the problem or give you answers and the last thing they should be doing is telling you what you SHOULD be doing. The “shoulds” don’t help – it just feeds the anxiety and we know what we “should be doing” and will do it when we are ready. Just get us out of our house pants, out of the house and find ways to make us smile – the rest is up to us.

 

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Filed under Diet, Health and Exercise, Life, Mental Health, Random thoughts