Yesterday I interviewed with a company called “Frontpoint Security.” I mention them by name because there are several reviews of the interview on Glassdoor, with replies from the company themselves, so I don’t think it’s unfair to name them here. It started as a wonderful day- cold and full of sunshine. I was excited that the train ride took almost an hour and 20, because I was reading a great novel (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry). I arrived full of hope and the enjoyment of reading. That lasted right up until the interview began. Without any questions about my customer service experience, they handed me a five or six page logic test with math SAT questions. I had two problems there. The first is that I’ve gotten a D in logic twice, because I could not get the hang of taking verbal questions and turning them into equations. For instance, I am still not sure whether Jill is taller than Kelly, shorter than Kelly, or that Jill and Kelly are the same height just because Anne is taller than Jill. I am also not sure how many days it took for a water lily to become covered with water in the middle of a pond. The second is that I’ve never been through SAT prep, because I never had to take it. I went to a junior college for my first two years, and because they had their own entrance exams, I took them instead. I was placed in remedial math, and the very least I can say about that is I passed. I still have a ways to go in getting my Bachelor’s, mostly because I did not have time for a full-time job and advanced trig.

The reason that I skipped the SAT is that I was in the hospital with a migraine that wouldn’t quit, and I stayed there for longer than I’ve ever stayed in a hospital, except for the time I got meningismus, irritation of the meninges rather than full-on meningitis, and still no less painful. The migraine and the meningismus required the same battery of tests, including repeated spinal taps (I went to eleven). Plus, one of the medications I was given made me go from fine to batshit crazy in less than five minutes. A nurse got the order wrong, and instead of giving me a shot in the arm or hip of Stadol, pushed it into my IV. Meagan and Lindsay were standing there when it happened, and their eyes became larger and larger until my dad walked in and told Meagan to take Lindsay home. They were both in panic mode, because the effect of the drug was that I couldn’t stop talking, and at a pace so rapid that it was downright scary. I just kept saying over and over, “I’llbefineoncemydadgetshere. Iwantmydadbecausehe’llknowwhattodo….” along with a litany of orders to the nurses to get my dad the fuck here. When he arrived, he was in scrubs and I had never been more glad to see anyone in my life. I don’t remember what happened next, but I do remember that it calmed me down the slightest bit. Something was ordered for me- I think it was Haldol- but what the nurse did was inexcusable because she’d seen the order and didn’t read the whole thing. I think I missed three weeks of school, and when I was let go from the hospital, I still had to go for another spinal tap because the migraine hadn’t lifted. He told me to drive myself and lent me his van. I drove there, but they gave me a spinal tap and driving home was one of the scariest things I’d ever been through because I could barely lift my head over the steering wheel.

So, these questions are put in front of me and I realize how unprepared I am for this and begin to freak the fuck out. I asked the recruiter how much these questions counted, and did she want to know anything about my experience and career so far? She said,  “of course. It’s just that the manager came up with these questions to see how you’d get through training.” So, I told her everything I could possibly think of that would tilt my chances, including the Rock Star award I won at Alert Logic where a senior vice president had listened to my call and sent all the senior managers a note that if everyone else was like me, our Net Promoter Score was ensured. He talked about how I was cheerful at 3:00 AM, and thought it was brilliant that I chatted him up about football and Doctor Who since he was calling from the UK. The funniest thing that happened was that after I’d validated him by asking his security question, I said, “this is a question I ask all my British customers. Who is your Doctor?” He answered with the name of his GP. When I explained what I meant, he laughed heartily.

I also told her about the other Rock Star award I’d won because I was on the phone with a customer with another AL employee at the same time, and how he’d nominated me for it because of the great customer service I’d given while we were on the phone together. I was sitting there trying not to shake, but the memories of those two awards were something I focused on because it meant more to me than anything to prove that I was worthy of the job itself….. and worthy as a person. I was trying to self-soothe, because I knew I’d blown that test because I couldn’t even finish it and external validation was worthless.

She said I would hear something by Monday or Tuesday, so I am spending my weekend wound tight as a tick. I want a job where I can read all the way to work, and finish several chapters at once. I want a job that starts with great pay and ticks up with quality assurance. I want a job that has metrics out the ass because I like checking my performance every morning. It’s quite soothing not to go weeks without knowing how you’re doing…. like only getting a report card in school every six weeks.

It sounds like a great challenge, one for which I feel ready.

At Alert Logic, so much was going on with me emotionally that I crumpled with anxiety and threw up before meetings. I am not sure that I was healthy enough to take that job in the first place, having just come from Portland because I was so far down that I needed to come home and lean into my family for support. Now, I am free of all of it, and working with Sarah has gotten me on track for a wonderful life instead of one that’s merely mediocre. I came home because I was so depressed that I thought I might kill myself, but the only thing that stopped me was the dream of becoming a famous writer. In essence, I needed to stay alive for you, and I do not say that lightly.

Those feelings resurfaced when Dana and I had our ugly blowout, and I realized that I needed more help than my family and friends could provide. That was when I decided that being in a psych ward was better than leaning on people so unprepared to handle depression this overwhelming. As my romance with Dana and my friendship with Argo ended, I realized that the support system I had was slipping through my fingers, and I didn’t have anyone else that knew the ins and outs of the situation like they did. The suicidal thoughts and plans didn’t come from wanting to cause anyone pain, but to cause them relief that they didn’t have to worry about me anymore. Those thoughts are never reality, which is why Argo’s words gave me the strength I needed to take my life into my own hands and pull myself up enough not to ask my friends for help, but to submit to the fact that I was ill and needed to take my own steps to get better, rather than expecting everyone else to “fix me.”

My nature made it harder to get better in the hospital than I wanted to, because my empath mirror neurons went off and I began to believe that everyone else had it worse than me and they needed my support more than I needed theirs… another belief that probably cost me because I couldn’t recognize that we were all in the same boat. We were all broken in our own ways, and yes, I was just as sick as they were, but I took their stories on as my own, as I have done my whole life. The Lanagan Search & Rescue system became acute as my roommate told me she was a cutter and could I watch over her to make sure she didn’t cut herself in our room?

Luckily, she was not in my cohort, so I had meetings/classes all day without her. We all spilled our pasts and what brought us to this situation, this last-ditch effort to keep ourselves stable. The story that got me the most verklempt was a guy that wanted to kill himself over his job. God, no job is worth that, but his ego was tied to it and a project failure threw him into a downward spiral. Another reached hers by walking in on her husband committing adultery in their bed. Another arrived with scars on her wrists. It was terrifying and uplifting all at the same time, because sharing brought us close together and gave us hope that despite all our problems, we’d make it if we just stuck to the program not unlike AA, but similar in terms of sharing our stories and keeping it up during outpatient.

There were so many people I just wanted to take into my arms and not let go, because I am not the type person that can see suffering and walk away from it. However, the entire point of the program was learning how to soothe ourselves, and hugging was strictly forbidden. In some ways, I felt alone. I was the only lesbian, so there were few people that could really identify with me. I was also angry, because my social worker was a lesbian and absolutely lost her clinical separation and started to cry. Why would I be angry about that? Because it was my job to cry, and I didn’t want to sense weakness in the people around me that were supposed to help me because I didn’t want to take on their emotions about me. It was pity. Just straight out where I could see it, and the last thing I wanted or needed.

What I did learn in all of this was that I was right. Diane had been a problem, and not a solution. She knew I would need her as I started coming out, but didn’t realize that my young ears weren’t the appropriate place for her to talk about her life. She was right and wrong all at the same time, and would have been a wonderful resource had she kept her clinical separation intact as well. But she didn’t, and I ached for her in more ways than one.

If you click on both links, you will see the change in my tone in talking about her. The first is idealistic and wonderful, painful and real. The second is after all of the talks I’d had with friends who didn’t think my story was what I thought it was, and proved it to me.

Now, I am alone with my books and tea, wanting to reach up for something more than just sitting by myself, fictional characters often replacing real interaction. I’m having dinner with Pri-Diddy next Tuesday, where I know that she will enfold me in one of those hugs designed to heal pain…. because I am exhausted.

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