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Dear Captain Awkward,

One of my friends has mental health issues of severe depression (along with some other stuff) that is being ineffectively treated–a situation that they are trying to change, but solutions are slow going.

The depression brain weasels are causing my friend to regularly assume that everyone they know and care about is actively furious with them. I (and other mutual friends) will regularly check in with our friend only to hear how they were sure we were mad at them for a litany of tiny “infractions” that most of us would never even notice.

I know that my friend can’t help what the depression tells them. But it is also becoming incredibly difficult to spend the first hour of any interaction with this friend repeatedly reassuring them that no, really, I’m honestly not mad. The extended confessions (“I was so sure you were mad at me for the following reasons…”) seem to spin them up into a state of heightened tension and to be causing harm to them in spite of the “forgiveness” afterward. I think the harm is stemming from their viewing the confession as evidence that they are awful and that their forgiveness is predicated on our saintliness, which will surely run out someday.

In short: while I’m not mad at them and I do love them dearly, the weekly confessions are hurting them and are a genuine drain on my own limited spoons for social interactions, causing an avoidance spiral that doesn’t help them believe people aren’t angry with them. Is there a set of scripts you might can recommend for cutting through the litany of specifics each time and reminding them that we’ve done this before and those recurring feels are just the depression speaking?

Much love!

 

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Hey Captain and Crew,

I’ve got… well, let’s say I’ve got some guilt on how I handled a situation, and I could really use an objective perspective. I’m a master of the JerkBrain Guilt-stravaganza, and I can’t tell if I should tell my brain to shut up or if it’s on point.

I’ve been working at a job I dislike for a long time (almost 10 years). It was relatively steady work and in the economy no one else seemed to want me. This past spring I took additional education, in the hopes of that making me more viable. Since July I’ve been actively (read desperately) hunting for a new job. Yesterday I was contacted by a headhunter I’ve been working with. She had a “possible” with the catch of having to start immediately.

I’d gotten nothing but rejections, and things have been so bad here at the office I was considering just leaving anyway. I told her to put me forward thinking it would go nowhere. That same day she came back with a positive response. I’ve been offered a temp-to-perm opportunity for more money and while not the position I was hoping for, it’s at least in the industry I just trained for.

I didn’t think, not for more than a moment. I accepted, and felt the bottom fall out of my world. I told all my bosses that Friday is my last day. They’ve been resigned and more or less gracious about my sudden departure. There have been a few barbed comments about how I probably owed them better after so many years. Captain, I’m a creature made of guilt right now. It’s never been a secret I was actively trying to leave, but this isn’t how I wanted the final farewell to go.

I guess I wanted someone else’ opinion- how much of the guilt I’m feeling is appropriate? Did I just act like a total jerk to people I’ve known a decade? I’m already so overwhelmed trying to wrap up everything at my old job, and mentally prepare for my new one that this guilt-monster is just, exhausting and beginning to convince me I’m a bad person who was nasty to people who’ve been more or less good to her.

What do you think Captain? Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Job Jumping

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Dear Captain,

So here’s the deal:

I’m married, and living with someone who is incredibly smart and hard working. He has so many mad skills that he doesn’t even need to submit applications to get a job. By comparison I have a degree in something I realized (after 4 years) isn’t really my thing and definitely doesn’t do much good in the area where Partner and I currently live. I feel dim, drab, and generally useless by comparison (despite Partner’s instance that this isn’t the case at all).

I’ve spent the past year working (part time and unpaid) while hammering out a couple of novels. Partner says I should follow my dreams and not ‘settle’ for a job in something that is beneath my college-educated-self. He’s perfectly happy supporting me, and capable of doing so. 

Looking ahead now I’m torn between two reactions.

The first is a bit of a knee-jerk and goes something like:

HELL NO. I will not sit idly by and become your housewife* and make sandwiches while you work and do cool things with your life. I will go out and make waves and waves of money**

* I’m sure there are people who are perfectly happy as housewives (more power to them), but it’s never been a word I wanted to use when describing my future

**I don’t actually want waves of money, but it seems like a good way to prove to myself and others that I’m not dependent  

The second reaction goes something like:

The world out there is terrifying. I like it in my apartment, and I like writing and playing video games and if I could just pretend I’m a kid with no responsibilities for the rest of my life that would be great, k-thanks-bye.

(okay, so maybe they’re both knee-jerk reactions)

Am I totally crazy to be stressing out about all this? It seems moronic to feel miserable choosing between what most people would see as a multitude of positive options. My brain has convinced me that I don’t deserve to live happily without getting a real (grownup) job like the rest of the world. At the same time I don’t feel like I would be happy working a job I seriously dislike. (Especially when I don’t need the money that bad and really someone else probably needs it more and I’m just taking it away from them and they would do better at the job anyways **hyperventilate**).

I’m terrified that no matter what I do I will end up looking like a worthless failure in comparison to all the successful, awesome people around me. 

Should I stop being a good-for-nothing-leeching-bum and just get a job? Should I dedicate my time to getting published, even if it means depending heavily on others?

Sincerely,

Dependent and Unemployed 

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