Okay, so maybe I never had control.
You know why I started watching Breaking Bad the other night? Two reasons:
1. My friend Sean told me about the show and couldn’t stop raving about it, so I figured it would be worth checking out. I had always wanted to see it, but never really had the motivation.
2. I was having a panic attack thinking about my lack of a life and the prospect of dying. Death has always been a trigger for my anxiety, because I find it very hard to accept that it will all end someday. Hell, even writing about this now is starting to send me into a fit.
I wanted to watch something different, something that would take my mind off of my anxieties. I’m still watching it because I can’t seem to last more than an hour without drifting back to thoughts of how useless I am and…well…the end.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking suicidal, I’m actually talking terrified of the idea of it. That’s what always blew my mind about people who thought my depression meant I was more likely to do something like that – yeah, sometimes you feel like you just don’t care, but for me it’s different; my anxiety sets in, sending me into a spiraling panic attack that makes me feel like my very life force is being stripped from me.
It’s hard to explain the feeling, because it’s not like everyone else says it is…at least not for me, not in my estimation. In my case, I don’t feel my heart beating out of my chest or something like that, I literally feel like something inside of my chest is physically being pulled out of me. I don’t know if that’s worse or not and I really don’t care. Measuring the severity of this shit is pointless; in the end, we all have our own shit to deal with and it tends to happen in an (at least slightly) different manner for all of us. I’m expressing myself about the feeling now to…get it off my chest (pun intended).
It’s gotten so bad lately that I’m not even really concerned about whether or not I become a success. If I end up some loser who lives off of his relatives for the rest of his life, that would suck – but what’s more of a pressing matter to my anxiety addled mind is what any of it is for if you will have no memory of it, nothing to experience or look back upon, no afterlife, nada. If it really is the big sleep, what then? Not knowing sends me spiraling. To think about it is like sentencing myself to torture. I only mention it now to try and explain a little bit of what it’s like for me.
We all have our fears. One of my friends is afraid of death. Another is afraid of heights. I’m afraid of death. That is my greatest fear. If nothing else, at least you need not fear that I will attempt to hurt myself, because my brain is hardwired with a defense mechanism that puts any and all thoughts of sedition to shame.
I don’t know what else to say on that matter.
I’m applying for jobs whenever I get the chance. Jobs, gigs, whatever I can find that might pay me something. Anything. Hell, I searched the term “English” on a job board hoping to land some mislabeled or misrepresented positions which require or demand someone with an English degree. Most of the jobs it caught were actually requiring bilingual applicants, frequently described as “fluent in English/Spanish”…hence why English shows up.
I’ve thought about searching for more freelance gigs. Being that a lot of the freelance gigs for writers are telecommute nowadays, I’m thinking that if I check every major metropolitan area on Craigslist, I might find a few more positions hiding somewhere that I can legitimately apply for. The only problem is that skimming the gigs section of dozens of major metropolitan cities is a lot more work than usual. I’m sure I could get it down to a science, but right now the task seems daunting.
Another thought I’ve had is to volunteer for the library. They’re always in need of more volunteers; perhaps if I can get some legitimate, in-person work experience on my resume through the use of volunteer work, someone will finally take me seriously.
I’ve got this problem. I can’t help but to denote when something isn’t morally right or fair. I know that life rarely is, but I have this little compass inside that keeps pointing in one direction and I have an innate inability to ignore it. Some part of me just won’t allow myself to sit idly by and say nothing as injustices take place. I don’t care if everyone knows about them; there are plenty things that everyone knows about while nobody does anything about them. Just because this is the case doesn’t mean that it should be, and it doesn’t mean that I should be forced to sit here silently and accept it without making a peep. If there’s something genuinely wrong about the way a system works, I’m going to point it out. The more you ignore things like these and refuse to talk about them, the more ingrained they become in our society, until eventually our world becomes dystopian in nature. It already has to a large degree, but refusing to point these things out simply because people already know about them is not a good enough excuse. Quite frankly, it’s a rather childish attitude to take on a matter to simply pretend it isn’t there and act like it doesn’t really matter.
Regardless, here I am looking for work and ignoring other work. I’m applying and putting the effort in, using all of the best strategies, but deep down inside harboring the belief that it will all amount to nothing. After ten years of searching, you begin to realize how much time you’ve spent just trying to get yourself into a normal lifestyle, you look back and realize that your twenties are gone and you have absolutely nothing to show for them, and then you realize that you have perhaps the most legitimate reason out of anyone to ask “why me?”
Then your friends try to compare the severity of their situation with yours and claim seniority of shit mountain. What I’ve come to appreciate is that I don’t care where anyone thinks that any of us stand on that great big pile of shit, because ultimately we’re all waist deep in it. I couldn’t give a shit less how much worse you think you’ve got it, or if you’ve actually got it worse; that doesn’t negate the fact that I’m living in a world of shit right now.
I keep running it through my head, trying to figure out where I messed up or did something wrong. The truth is, there is nothing. Okay, most people start looking for work at 15 or 16 and I waited until I was 19. That was fucking stupid, but of course I didn’t even understand why I did shit like that until I saw a Psychiatrist when I was 21 and they explained what was going on. In other words, it wasn’t exactly entirely in my control, and even if I had known about it as a teenager, I wouldn’t have been able to do much about it. I was such a loner back then. I still am to a certain extent, which is why I’ve never made connections and I’ve never been able to rely on that as a means of finding employment. Anyone who understands the game as it exists today should be able to appreciate how incredibly vital that one piece is to the entire god damn puzzle.
Anyways…at 19 I applied for one or two jobs. When I didn’t hear back, I gave up. That’s just how I was with my anxiety back then. For a few years, I thought about what I could possibly do in order to really start living my life, and ultimately all I could come up with is going to school. After all, I got my GED and I felt like it was useless because employers (at least at the time) didn’t look as favorably upon it as they did upon a proper high school diploma. The one thing a GED was good for was getting into a community college. My only problem was figuring out what I wanted to do. Hell, at the time I didn’t want to go back to school ever again. Oh, so young and foolish.
Eventually, I was talked into going back to school in the mid 2000’s. I gave it a try, got scared and left after two weeks. A year later, I tried again and it stuck. By then, I had a much better handle on my anxiety disorder, although I was still only able to take roughly half time in terms of the amount of credits I was taking. As such, it took me 3 years instead of 2 in order to earn my degree.
After I got that degree, I thought I’d found my meal ticket. I knew I wanted to continue my education, but first I was going to get a job. Then the economy crashed right in my face. Suddenly, anyone who would have cared about an associates degree was entirely unimpressed and refused to even consider me for what little employment even existed at the time. I applied for hundreds, if not thousands of jobs that year and never heard back from any of them except for Target, which lead to one interview and no call back.
After 9 months of searching, I gave up and went back to school, sure that a Bachelor’s would be just the ticket. Of course, I understand and appreciate now that you don’t go to school to get a job; degrees don’t get you work. They’re valuable for other reasons, but not for that. I didn’t understand it before because I had been told that getting a degree would help my chances. It has greatly increased the number of interviews I’ve had, but it hasn’t done much else.
6-7 years of schooling. 3 years of getting my shit together. Add it all up and it’s a decade.
A decade which I spent doing things that I thought were necessary and important to help me find employment; learning the game so well that I know it backwards and forwards, inside and out. I know this shit so well that I want to rip out the larynx of any “friend” who dares tell me what they think I “need to do” that I haven’t been doing.
Listen, I’ve been at this for longer than you can possibly even begin to fucking fathom. I’ve applied for thousands of jobs in my life – thousands. I haven’t gotten even one of those jobs. Not one. Ever. I did 6 months of work study but that lead nowhere. I have done three years of freelance writing and all it nets me are more gigs every 4 or 5 months (if I’m lucky). I have little else to my name in terms of work experience and nobody wants to give a chance to a guy who’s pushing 30 and has no real work experience.
What fucking hope do I have at this point? Unless someone just up and gives me a job, someone I know who can hook me up, I’m hopeless. Nobody is ever going to give me a fucking chance. I’ve had that can-do attitude for a decade and it’s beginning to wear thin.
Ask yourself something.
If you had been in my shoes and had been unable to find work for a decade, how would you be feeling right now? Would you have been able to stand it? For once, I wish that I had someone in my life who appreciated and respected my fucking strength. Unfortunately, nobody really seems to get it. Nobody does the math and realizes how long I’ve been at it, how much of myself I’ve put into this regardless of how little I have to show for it. Nobody talks to me like they’re shocked – it’s almost like they expect it; like they expect me to just be some loser who can’t do any better. Nobody says “wow, man…I can’t believe you’ve been at it this long and still can’t find anything…that’s bullshit man, I’m really sorry.” Nobody says “your perseverance really inspires me.” Nobody says anything that doesn’t end seconds later and attempt to move the subject of conversation onto something a little less heady.
I can’t not think about it anymore. I can’t avoid it. I am tired of people who put their heads in the sand and act like nothing is wrong – why? because I can’t stand to do it myself. I prefer to face reality head on. Unfortunately, facing reality means panic attacks galore, and the only thing that gets rid of that is surrendering myself to some kind of fruitless endeavor. Perhaps that is why I’m watching Breaking Bad. I see a lot of myself in these characters. Walter got into the game because he was about to die and wanted to do something with his life instead of just being a nobody. I don’t have that kind of motivation, but I can understand his desire to be something and appreciate the attempt to fight off the very idea of death.
I need a break. From everything.
All I can do is take this time to myself and avoid thinking about death. I have little control over anything else in my life. Having control…for me, it means the ability to say “fuck it, I’m going to watch an entire television series over the next few days and completely ignore everything else in my life, especially that nagging and lingering thought that sends me into a spiraling panic attack.” At least I have that. There is definitely that. The ability to say that my free time is mine and belongs to nobody else is quite a gift. I grow tired of it some days, but others I am thankful for it.
I thought that the only way I could get through this was to “get by with a little help from my friends.” I stayed almost in constant contact with them, kind of like what Jesse did at one point in the series out of a constant need to not be alone. What I’ve come to realize is that I love my friends, but sometimes I just need to be a loner and do my thing on my own for a little while. Take that how you will. I’m about to pass out. I’ve been typing for too long as it is.