I went to the brain doctor on Monday without any good news and the bad news was old news.
After a year of seeing him I've finally made him understand that more people in my life isn't the way to increase my happiness for the long term. In short visits I can, and often do, feel better spending time with people I know well and like and trust. Once those visits hit a certain point, I start getting uncomfortable and feeling icky. Long term is never good.
The thing is, he said, that for people with my level of depression having them go out with people and visiting friends and family all the time would be his first suggestion. For most people it works and he's pretty much been pushing this idea on me for a year. Monday, he didn't.
Instead of focusing on a social life he switched gears to my work life. It started with how I feel about my current job, which is okay. I don't LOVE or really like my job, but I don't dislike or HATE it, either. It just is. The people are nice enough and seem to be here more to work than make others look like fools. My boss is great and trusts me. The actual work is mostly mind-numbing and repetitive, but sometimes there're things that require real brain power. The pay's okay. It's not going to buy me the house and land I'd like, but I can rent comfortably and not worry about shopping or going to plays or visiting people to the North or to the South. It's not a bad job, but if offered full pay I'd rather not come each day.
He then asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and the honest answer I gave him is I don't know. Everything I've said in the past -- engineer, lawyer, writer, WWE Superstar, astronaut-fireman-president, etc. -- aren't wrong answers, but they were answers to get people to stop asking me about the future. I told him that there isn't one job I can think of that I wouldn't be happy to retire from or forced to stop doing because of some horrible physical problem. I look at my parents as they approach retirement and I can see them missing things.
My dad loves working with the students at the community college. He loves helping them put together an education plan to help guide them through their years at the school. I think he'll be glad to leave the daily grind of his job when he retires, but I think he'll miss the students. I've told him that he's going to go back and help out a few times a year and it won't be about the money, but the time he gets to spend helping people.
My mom, on the other hand, won't miss her job at all. She won't miss the kids or the teachers or the administration. When she retires she plans on doing her art and selling it and her art is the thing she will miss if she can't do it. Hell, I've seen it for years. Because of the high stress levels at school she doesn't art off and it makes her sad. On those few weekends when she does art off she's rejuvenated, at least in the moment. When she gets to the point that she can art off most of the week and then she gets to a point where she can't art off anymore she'll be crushed.
I don't have anything like that. Yeah, if I have my eyes pecked out by a canary I'll miss reading, but there are still books and tapes (anachronistic) and television to listen to for stories.
What do I like doing besides read? he asked. I like to cook and bake, I said. So the brain doctor tried to come up with something I could do in that area, as if I hadn't thought about it before. I'd go nuts working a line, just flipping burgers or putting on the condiments or taking orders. So many people to deal with. At my own place it would be even harder because I'd have to depend on and trust other people. There's no way I could do everything. If I wanted to be in the back and never come out then I'd need people to wait and take orders and handle the cash and do the books and I don't have it in me to trust **anyone** that much. The only way I could see me being happy is if I had a window and I could make whatever I wanted to make and sell it and when the food is gone it's gone, too bad for the next person.
He suggested getting into publishing. To which I replied that I'd have to move to a big city, a place I don't want to be, and start at the bottom and push to make quotas and harass people who are running late. Then he tried to suggest doing something with publishing online and I explained that most online publishing are vanity presses and not real publishers.
He then asked what I'd really like to do. I said I'd like to be paid to lay on a couch all day reading. I'd like to be an eccentric billionaire, I said. He asked if that would make me happy and I said that I don't know, but I'd feel safe. We bounced around on this for a while, discussing things that I like to do and how to feel safe in my life. Nothing was resolved. And in the end he told me to keep thinking about what I like to do so that I can find a job that will make me happy. I said okay, but I don't believe anything'll happen.