"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~Oscar Wilde
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earhart

January 30, 2008

I'm a Slacker

I have a sneaking suspicion that I annoy the hell out of the various psychiatrists I’ve had over the years. For the most part, I’m compliant with their suggestions. I take my medications. Getting addicted to cigarettes by 13 years old taught me to steer clear of drugs and alcohol. I don’t cause chaos by running through 20 million relationships or engaging in dangerous sexual behavior. On the other hand, I’ve always blown them off when they try to coax me back into the workplace.

After my first psychotic break, I moved in with my parents and didn’t bother finding a job. Partly because I was a little freaked out over the experience and partly because I loathed the idea of having to go through the social aspects of work. That’s the part of work that has always bugged the hell out of me; the office gossip, the cliques that form, being stuck in a room for eight hours a day with people you’d probably never choose to associate with outside that environment. Even during those times that I’ve been a part of the favored ‘in’ clique, I’ve been constantly shocked at peoples’ bad behavior as I watched them drive others out or tried to emotionally destroy them.

So, somehow, I ended up being 34 and living with my parents. :-p It’s not really as bad as it may sound, though. My mother has severe diabetes and had a hip surgery twenty years ago that makes it difficult for her to walk now. If I weren’t here, they’d have to hire in-home care for her while my father is at work. It ended up working out for both sides. They get somebody who’s almost always there when her blood sugar gets low and she’s too weak to grab something to eat. And I don’t have to worry about rent, food, or utilities.

Don’t get me wrong. I definitely understand the psychiatrists’ concerns. If I choose to re-enter the workforce, I’ll have at least an eight-year gap in my employment history and no real skills. I’ll be dirt poor and in danger of homelessness if (well, when, really) something happens to my parents.

On the other hand, I don’t think somebody coming from such a high-paying position can really understand my lack of fear. I suspect they nod against themselves when discussing me and attribute it to the ‘negative’ symptoms of schizophrenia*. But it’s not really that. It’s more that I’m really not impressed with wealth. I’m fine with $5 thrift store jeans and $15 sweaters. Owning a car and paying for insurance, repairs, and gas just annoyed me. Jewelry? Don’t even get me started on that. A $700 piece of stone carved out of a mine in South Africa by people working in dangerous conditions will never change my impression of a person. If I even notice it. Library books and people watching amuse me just as much as television and video games.

And there’s a second reason. I’ve always been fascinated by alternative forms of travel: Bicycle touring, backpacking, hitchhiking, and train-hopping. One day, I came across Digihitch, a website dedicated to hitchhiking. If you lurk around the forums, you’ll realize that some of the posters are homeless or just traveling for an extended period of time in the cheapest way possible. After awhile, any fear of poverty that I once had faded. While I wouldn’t want to be living in abject poverty, if the worst happens, I’m far more emotionally prepared for it than most people with a fair-paying job who think that nothing could happen.

On the other hand, I may take a math or French class next semester (trimester?) just to shut the shrinks up. :-p

*There’s two classes of symptoms in schizophrenia. Positive symptoms are things like delusions and hallucinations. Negative symptoms are less well-known. Becoming apathetic to situations that would make the average person shriek in terror and showing little emotion are a couple of examples.


FerdC ~ Crazy Medical Cases said...

My wife and I get a huge kick out of buying things on major sale. We are always looking for a deal. I think the way you feel about money is pretty cool.

I like my job most of the time, not always. And I know what you're saying about how evil people can be. Sometimes it's hard to boundary those people away. But I do like the positive aspects of my job, and I like to be helpful to others, in big ways and small. I hope that someday you find something that brings you joy.

Helping your parents is cool. I also hope that you can keep doing that AND doing something for yourself that brings you joy.

I'm rooting for you!

alyceclover said...

For some reason that post brought back a forgotten memory~a sister and my mom discussing the surgeon's beautiful outfit as her patient, my brother, lay in the bed behind them dying.

I was there one day when the surgeon popped her head in the door, said "How you doing today Rich?" and left. He told me how much her inpatient visit would cost when he got the monthly bill.

My sister and mother loved that surgeon and I think she represents all that is wrong with our "broken health care system".

If you have not read "Ruthie in the Sky" she is a fabulous lady hitch hiker blogger. I think I found Digihitch through her site. Not sure what my user name is anymore.

I decided my body has given up on me, or I might simply hit the road myself.

Berryvox said...

Ferd - Yeah, I'm not too worried about the whole situation. I'd be in pretty much the same position as alot of housewives who end up divorced years later. And most of them turn out just fine. Still, volunteering at night or on the weekends would probably soften the gap in my work history. And I might have learned to blow off other people's behavior since I don't have that teenage and twenty-something girl angst that I used to. :-p

Alyce - I hear ya. My mother was utterly entranced by my father's previous boss because of the aura of wealth he gave off. (Not in a romantic way, of course. Just jealousy over what he had and she didn't.)

And, when they sent me the bill for my last hospital stay, it came to about $3000 for one night. All they really did was give me an Ambien, asked me a few questions, looked at my previous history, and told me what I already knew.

Ooh, no. I hadn't come across Ruthie's blog before. I'll definitely check it out. :)