Friday, December 09, 2005

If I had a kid, I’d get 6 weeks off work, no questions asked. What do I get if I have a mental breakdown? Nothing.

I am losing the battle again. Last night I couldn’t bear to look at the latest Architectural Rec0rd. They had a piece on “emerging architects.” These are people my age, who are doing what they love to do. It was too much. In order for me to move out of where I am now, I have to work even harder; I have to do something on the side in order to prove myself where my “real job” will not allow such proof to occur. The problem is I have nothing left when I get home.

A few months ago, I stupidly joined the office’s design forum group. I thought it would be a good way to move me closer towards my goal of becoming a designer, but instead all it has done is turn me into a glorified secretary. It has also driven the wedge further between what I do, and what the actual “designers” do. Everything is focused upon either current in-house designers, or about-to-graduate hot shots from architecture schools. There is nothing for us wannabes.

There needs to be such a thing as an architectural therapist. I need someone to talk to who knows what the industry is like, who isn’t connected to me through my job or by friendship, and who actually has any interest in hearing all of my crap- even if it’s only because I’m paying for them to listen. I’m tired of bringing my friends down, and I’m afraid of who it might get back to in the office if I bitch too often or too vehemently. A regular therapist is ineffective; it’s difficult to just spew forth all the emotions when I have to stop and explain all the terminology, protocol, and hierarchies that are inherent in the job. I just wish I had someone to talk to about it all, when the drugs aren’t working as well as they should. Engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as eating cookie dough with a glass of wine only serves to make me fatter. It doesn’t solve anything.

I’ve been at the same place for a year now, and I still don’t have even a full week’s worth of vacation time built up. It’s my own fault, between trying to find out what was wrong with my stomach, getting my tubes tied, and now trying to get my damn leg fixed. It will require surgery to accomplish the latter, which will have the unfortunate results of using the remainder of my sick and vacation time, and putting us further into debt. ManThing remains optimistic that I can have the surgery, and we will still have the time and money to go to Germany next year. I honestly don’t see how that can be true.

Six months ago, I could walk without hip pain. Four months ago, I would have hip pain after walking more than a mile, but it would go away with some rest. Now, I can’t walk without pain. I can’t lie down, sit on the couch, or swim without hip pain. As of Tuesday, the pain has spread to my knee as well. The pain wakes me up at night if I roll over on my leg the wrong way. It burns while I sit at my desk. The pain has become such a constant part of my days that I’m thinking of naming it, much like Philip has named his stomach ailment.

I just want to be happy, but I’m beginning to think I don’t know how. Nobody can teach that; not even a “Happiness For Dummies” book. I keep anchoring my hopes to certain events that I think will make me happy; but then they pass and I feel the same.
Finishing architecture school was the first: I didn’t realize I would trade creativity and periods of daytime freedom for constant tedium and cubicle imprisonment.
Getting off the Pill was next: Nothing has changed. Still fat. Still moody.
Getting my MINI was the most recent: I absolutely adore my new car; probably much more than I should love an inanimate object, but it has resulted in $110 of additional cash outflow each month.
The current hope I am clinging to is the hip surgery. At this time, I don’t even know if I’m a candidate or not. I never thought I would simply want to walk without pain. Until a few months ago, it never even occurred to me that it would be an issue for me at age 31.

All of these things combined caused me to exhibit the compulsive behaviors of a bulimic or a drug addict today- I meticulously planned my crying fit so that no one would know. I managed to stave off the inevitable until lunch, so I wouldn’t waste company time. After blowing off a lunchtime design forum group meeting, I went into the restroom to gather paper towel to catch the downpour, then stealthily snuck down the back stairs to my car. My car is the only place I can be alone. I didn’t even care that it was cold. Though I really wanted nothing more than to go home and crawl into bed forever, I had my crying spell, then went back to the office to falsify “normal” for a few more hours before escaping into the relative comfort of a weekend. I will spend the weekend forcing myself not to feel guilty for not working, even though we have a deadline next Thursday.

I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.


Cath said...

Cadmonkey you are on a nasty downward swing. I know you aren't interested in generic advice but you need to start looking around for another job. It doesn't matter that you have only been there twelve months, start looking. Sometimes even looking can help make you feel better. I always read your blog, even though I never comment, but after this post I think you could use some affirment. I'm only sorry I know nothing about the architect industry. But I have always worked with engineers and they can't be much worse :)

Philip said...


Downward spiral! Shit, you've got to find a lever to halt this death spiral. If I could (can) do it, you can too. Keep writing honestly, that's a start. Find one thing that you enjoy/still like/are looking forward to and focus on it.

There was a phrase I found a few weeks (months?) back: "sustaining daily goal."

You need one sustaining daily goal to get you through these rough times. It can be as simple as a glass of wine and some music while you sit in a comfortable chair and allow yourself to unwind each day. A good dinner? Something.

Reach out to those around you. Focus on good little steps.

Now that said (and I say this tongue in cheek so don't get your hackles up . . .) Cath needs to understand that you're going to bitch about *any* job you have, so switching is not going to fix that.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Philip, not just because of what he said, but because I know you. Out of all the jobs you have had I have heard you bitch about this one the least.

First things first, get that leg fixed.
Second, go on vacation. It is called a credit card. I haven't heard you say you have done anything fun in along time. You need a mental rest.
Third after you have rested and are free of pain. Find something to add joy to your life. Quit trying to make it architecture. That is a job to pay the bills. Some people live for their jobs. That is how they get in magazines. Screw that! I would rather have a happy friend then one that works all the time than me pointing at a magazine and saying "I knew her in college, she was nice back then"