Inside Depression

A figure walks away from the camera into the fog on a wooden path through treesIt’s been a rough spring. The clouds won’t quit. They’re damping down my everything. I replaced my SAD light bulb, but my light meter showed no change. So I waived my no-new-charges credit card policy just this once, and bought a new light, only to get the same readings. So much for the light meter. But whether the light is too weak or my SAD is too strong, I don’t need a meter to tell me it isn’t enough.

I keep up with housework, just. Since I mostly work from home, I don’t have to shower, get dressed, or go out in public. That helps. But I am impatient with my cat, snarky on social media, and racked with anxiety after the 15th of every month. Will I make the rent?? I stop buying groceries, make do with what I have on hand. It is dispiriting not to be able to afford something as basic as food. So far, things have always come together in the nick of time, but this month, I don’t see how that could happen.

I still have a part-time job, a holdover from my previous profession. Though the circumstances are about as good as a job of its type could possibly get, the contrast with my new work, which hardly seems like work at all, has made it clear just how much I hate that job, have hated it for years. It pays about 3/4 of my rent, so I can’t afford to give it up. And yet I can’t get myself to go in, putting it off until right before payday, then having to work all my hours over a short period.

Meanwhile, my business has fallen off. I’m not sure if this is due to changes in my advertising venue, or the advent of competition in a niche I previously had pretty much to myself, but most of my business these days is with previous clients. Which is gratifying in its own way, but it’s not enough to pay the bills. Why does an urgent need for self-promotion always rear its toothy head when I feel least able to put myself on display and take risks?

Not that I am completely defeated by challenges. HSP overwhelm is an emotional reaction, not true information about my abilities, I remind myself. I apply objective measures: It’s really huge that I am able to pay all of my bills each month, without adding anything to my credit card debt, for the first time in years. I have even been able to move some of the highest interest debt to lower interest cards. In the big picture, I am right on course in my long range plan.

I respond to emotional needs with common sense problem-solving. To fend off monthly funk and fear, I started tithing a percentage of every dollar earned straight to savings. This would be a great response to overspending. Unfortunately, the current problem is underearning.

I can’t seem to get much emotional mileage out of reality-checking and practical measures. They are lost in the shadow of the doldrums of today, which loom so much larger than the distant unknowable future. Depression takes the spark out of your plug. When the sun is out, to think is to act. When it’s not, the chasm between the two is impassable. All I want to do is nothing.

I have some major projects on my list. As you might imagine, they are well and truly stalled. Any tenuous flicker of interest that manages to penetrate the fog is swiftly extinguished by oversized expectations. But I’m getting past that a little, nurturing those tiny flames by not feeding them too much too soon. “Just do one thing,” I whisper to myself. And I do, and maybe a few days later, I do one more thing. After awhile, I am almost surprised when the progress is visible.

But no boost lasts long, not when another day dawns and it’s as overcast as the one before. I fear sunny weather may never kick in. We have summers like that sometimes. I’m in a holding pattern, and it’s getting really old.

Thank You for Sharing

I’m not a fan of TED Talks. What’s the point of recruiting interesting people who are experts in their field – who have highly detailed and specialized knowledge gleaned from years of intensive study – if you are going to impose an 18-minute time limit that forces them to generalize to the point of meaninglessness? No introvert thought that up, that’s for sure!

I’m similarly unenthused about “Big 5” personality trait theory, the extrovert bias of which I have ranted about elsewhere. I mention it only because one of the Big 5 traits is “agreeableness,” which is probably the inspiration for the same-named trait mentioned in this TED Talk.

Give and Take

Yes, this post is about a TED Talk, by organizational psychologist Adam Grant. Despite my skepticism about the format, his discussion of workplace sharing styles and how they relate to productivity and career success is highly relevant to my own experience.

Grant defines the sharing styles as taker, giver, and matcher. About a quarter of people are givers, a sixth are takers, and the rest are matchers. It’s interesting that a substantial majority are matchers. I’m betting most people think only in terms of givers and takers.

Go on, watch it. I can wait. You’ll love the part about the Canadian national slogan – so HSP! Continue reading

SensitiveType on Facebook

My brain is abuzz with all of the things I read and see that I want to share with you. The backlog is getting too huge to ever catch up, though, so I set up a Facebook page where I can post things that don’t make it into a SensitiveType blog post. Check it out (there’s also a link in the right sidebar).
A screenshot of the SensitiveType Facebook page

Life is Weird

So, after two months of no activity whatsoever in my newly chosen career, I suddenly have two clients this week, and both seem promising – that is, both will be good to work with, and need ongoing services.

This is also a week when I’m completing a project that put me in a highly stressful construction environment for the past few months. With the jackhammers shaking the building, and constant voices of workers shouting to each other over the racket day and night, I’ve felt like I was in a war zone.

It’s great to get away from that, but there are endless closing details to manage. If I could, I’d have chosen to do nothing else this week. Instead, I’m doing everything else! I wasn’t sure I could, but I am.
Busy woman at desk with 5 arms, typing, filing, and answering the phone all at the same time
And that’s a general theme of my life lately. I’m scrambling to keep up all the time. Continue reading

Turn, Turn, Turn

A Graph showing a sharp dropMuch has happened since I last posted. My first month in my new consulting career was pretty good. My second month was slower, but I figured there would be ups and downs at the beginning. However, when I had zero clients in month three, I realized I’d drastically overestimated demand, or else drastically underestimated how much promotion I’d need to do. Before I had time to figure out which, my tottering finances crashed. Continue reading

Call Louder, Won’t You?

A photo showing the ears of a horse, pricked up as if listening to some soundAs regular followers of Sensitive Type will know, I’ve been struggling for a long time to find a path that worked for me. Along the way, I followed a bunch of blogs about making a living online and/or by blogging. For awhile, I did a lot of reading. Sometimes I wondered whether it was a good investment of my time, especially with the financial wolves howling at my door.

It seems like I only use about 1/10th of what I’ve read, but since I’m forging my path in introverted solitude, it’s worth all that less-useful reading when I find something that affirms my own experience. The post below is an example:

The Complicated But Beautiful Process of Finding Your Calling

While I agree 100% with the title of this post, my perspective differs from the author’s on several points. First, he doesn’t mention luck, which IMHO plays a huge role in the success of any endeavor. After reading numerous success stories, I noticed how often fortuitous timing was a major factor, a point not always noted by the writers themselves.

Aha!? Uh-uh.

Secondly, aha moments are over-rated. Even if you have one, the story doesn’t end there. I’ve had many. Continue reading

By George, I think she’s got it!

3 years ago, I sat down in the middle of my life and refused to budge until I figured out why it wasn’t working.

I have learned a lot about myself since then.

I have learned that I am an introvert
(“No way!”
“Way!”)

I have learned that I’m an HSP, and what that is. These days, I think of myself as a “deep engager.” I’m not sure how much of that is introvert, how much is HSPS, and how much is my unique personality, but wherever it comes from, it’s a good description.

These days, I think of myself as a “deep engager.”

This improved self-understanding has allowed me to acknowledge without shame or apology that the following characteristics in a job make me miserable:

Continue reading