Some of you are aware, at varying levels, that I’ve had a hilariously crappy week. As in, so crappy that it’s almost funny. And I hope that one day (soon), I’ll be able to laugh about it. Truthfully, I’m not quite there yet. But I’m trying to find ways to smile, even if prematurely, even if the smile muscles have to work hard to force the issue.
Because the debris really did pile up this week. It was an Office-Hell-Meets-F5-Twitstorm-Meets-I-Want-To-Shake-Two-People kind of week. To the point where, at the height of it all, I realized I was starting to breathe hard.
Except that I had merely been sitting at my desk.
But I had also heard the news that our only office assistant had given her notice; they’re leaving, and soon.
And I had gotten only two hours of sleep the night before, because I had been so distraught over the couple of lost friendships on social media the day before.
And, in a twisted deviation from the norm, one of the people closest to me in offline life, who is usually supportive, fell flat-out flat. In fact, they added more water to my waves by saying completely ignorant conventional judgmental things about online bonding. Complete with all of the neurotypical ableisms one can fathom.
(I’ve copy-pasted the text of the texts here, but I’m definitely issuing a content warning for everything between the lines.)
First, I got this:
“I don’t know anything about the online friends but in my humble opinion “online” always was a wall that people could hide behind or help them disappear because things don’t go their way. Internet allows people to appear to be genuine when they’re actually shallow. It doesn’t enable reading body language or any of the other social cues that enable true friendship.”
(Dysfunctional neurotypical projection much?)
“Just like you wouldn’t have become friends with and then married [partner] unless you had that physical face to face meeting right?”
OK, that was just plain patronizing. But wait–there’s more!
“I think people online are acquaintances and can’t really be relied on – there’s no skin in the game which makes it a superficial friendship. The anonymity allows people to act however they want (i.e. Bullying) and get away with it – no skin in the game; they can hide behind that wall and disappear. There’s no true friendship there.”
What the hell does “skin in the game” even mean?? It must be something significant, because they said it twice. Or maybe they’re having an Unimaginative Day. And they say we’re the ones who are “repetitive”…
That whole deluge of crap might get its own post. Maybe. There’s so much Epic Fail there that I don’t know where to start. And this is from someone who is literally among the closest to me, who I’ve relied on for a great deal of support, historically. Who even scored extremely high on the Empathy Quotient quiz! Wait–what??
And this is someone with whom I’ve talked at length about the joy and elation I felt upon finding other people like me online. I’ve gone on and on about how the internet has been a lifeline for me, a saving grace.
Did they not hear a word I’ve been saying?
(End content warning.)
Needless to say, my day was shot. My primary memory is of sitting at my desk, trying not to run out of breath, trying not to have some kind of breakdown, feeling the whispers of a severe shutdown close at hand, and trying to work rapidly, to get as much done as I could before it claimed me for real.
I made it through until lunchtime. At that point, I was ready to break, to go off the deep end. The demons were calling. It was tempting to follow them down whatever dark path they wanted to lure me into.
But just then, with the few words I hadn’t yet lost, I found my partner and managed, “do you want to eat with me?” Which, that day, was shorthand-speak for, “please please come eat with me so that I can vent and process with someone besides myself, in whom, at this moment, I have little faith. I need to feel better fast before I do something irrational or unwise.”
I think he sensed that, because graciously, he obliged, and as we talked, I started to feel better. Enough to continue on with my work and actually get something done.
At the end of the day, I talked with a second person who is also in my Inner Circle of Those Closest To Me.
By then, I didn’t feel the need to lean on them for support because by then, I felt like I was making progress in the Processing Department. At that point, I was standing on still-shaky, but stabler, ground.
This second person and I were talking, while my partner made dinner. They remarked that my partner has really changed for the better, having become massively accommodating. I agreed, and thought that was that, but then came the whammy:
“I see him doing all of these things. He does the kitty litter box, the dishes, and so on. What do you do?”
I know this person well. This was a veiled accusation that I’m lazy or unhelpful. And unless they’d been living completely submerged in the ocean, they knew better.
I hoped that a simple tap on the side of my head and an “it’s all up here” would suffice, but this person was being particularly dense, especially since every time I’ve ever talked to them and they ask what I’m up to, I tell them, and by the time I’m done, they say, “wow, I get tired just listening to that!” or sometimes, “better you than me, girl”.
Do they not remember all those conversations??
So when I heard “what do you do (in return)?” I flipped my shit.
That was it. I’d had it. Last straw applied to the pile on my back.
I’ll tell you what I do. First, I fall asleep two, four, maybe even six hours after everyone else. I wake up at least as early as everyone else, maybe even an hour or two earlier. And then I go to my office and put in at least ten hours, sometimes twelve, and as many as sixteen, while our cats eke out a mere existence on the dry food and water we’ve set out, missing us the entire time.
While I’m at work, I don’t stop for lunch like everyone else. I work straight through, with my brain doing 100-meter dash after 100-meter dash, all day long. I could spend eight hours straight researching a single lab test marker and one lab panel is 18 pages of lists of those single markers. I spend an average of 20 hours preparing for an initial meeting with clientele and an average of two hours preparing for a routine follow-up meeting. And that’s outside of the meetings themselves; they require their own time.
And when I’m done with that, I have projects on my desk that have sat for five years because I can’t get to them because I have an urgent question from this patient and a not-so-urgent question from that one, and oh, we’re getting socked for an extra $1200 in property taxes this year (over and above our usual tax rate) but don’t worry, because they’ll spread it out over the next four months, nevermind that at any given time, we’re living with less than a thousand bucks to our names.
If I manage to put out all the fires and get back to my independent work, then great! I have informational databases that might eventually become an 11- or 12-volume set of textbooks, but right now they’re in shambles. One of those databases contains the information to interpret two or three pages of labs and it in itself is approaching 300 pages. Another one, 250 pages. Another, also 250 pages. Others are newer, so they’re only 35-40 pages, and that’s for a little six- or seven-item lab panel.
After y’all have relaxed and gone to bed (which I haven’t done since I can’t remember when), I might be laying in front of my laptop with the TV on, but what am I actually doing? I’m not eating a bag of Fritos. I’m actually perusing several hundred medical journals, looking for the newest cutting-edge research so that I can copy-paste the newest information into yet another binder set, of which I’m almost halfway finished with my fifth 1000-page volume.
And then I have to spend one or two days a week out of the office to drive my partner to school, 150 miles round-trip, plus three hours of his class in between. Any time he wants to go somewhere or needs to get something that isn’t within walking distance, tag!–I’m it. I get to do the driving, which is one of the most stressful things I can think of.
So yeah, I might not do dishes, but I’m amassing information. I might not cook, but then again, my partner doesn’t have thousands of pages of my written creations stored on his harddrive, nor does he manage five different blogs, either. Hell, I even check Facebook more than he does, and he’s not even on Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, or WordPress. I might not be able to do the cat box or the vacuuming because my allergies flare up something tremendous when I do. In fact, I have to stop what I might be doing and leave the apartment for a half an hour every time. So I might not be able to to do that, but I’m going to be singlehandedly, hopefully, funding our entire semi-retirement through book royalties and lecturing on all the material I’m gathering and the experiences I’ve gained. And, I do this as an Aspie “Mac” in a neurotypical “Windows”-based world, with the compounding effects of both types of uncontrolled PTSD, on half the sleep of the average human being, on zero prescriptions or stimulants to relax me or get me going, with only the help of a single assistant who’s leaving in ten days and a partner who, up until last year, I had to cattle-prod in the ass to help me, and I even manage to do it without killing people or ending up in psychiatric lockdown, by the sheer grace of some power greater than myself.
So what do I do? I do a hell of a lot, with very little support, and I resent the implication of anything less.
Mic drop. Fall over.
(Image Credit: Cyril Rolando (both header and footer images))