Month: July 2012

Daily Double!

So remember how a while back I said that I just wanted one good thing to happen?


It did.


I have been selected to be on Jeopardy!!!!! I’ve taken the test every year since I was eligible for the College version, and I was chosen to try out in person twice (once in college, once last year). I got the call yesterday that I’m going to be on the show!!! I fly out to LA in August for the taping. This does not feel real.






I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was first diagnosed when I was 18, but I’ve experienced the symptoms since I was a child. The main symptom of GAD is “the almost constant presence of worry of tension, even when there is little or no cause.” (Learn more here.)

I’m never not worried. When one problem has been resolved, another thought springs to mind. Paid all the bills this month? You’ll have to pay them next month. Figured out the playlist for this week’s show? I don’t know what to make for dinner. Found a cute skirt at the thrift store to match that tank top you like? Something, somewhere is not right. It doesn’t really even matter what I’m worrying about, because I worry about EVERYTHING. It is the most obnoxious thing in the world, and it’s my entire life. For the past year, it’s been getting worse, since my incredibly limited income is not stable. I feel slightly useless for being unemployed, and slightly cheated by my master’s program. I have a lot of things that could be worried over.

I don’t have insurance, so I’ve been off medication for a few years now. I was doing alright without meds for a while, and now I think they could be beneficial again. Worry sneaks up on you. Since it’s such a part of my mindset, I don’t even notice when I’m doing it. Lately, I feel like I do nothing but worry.

If you tell me not to worry… that’s the last thing I want to hear. Oh, okay. Just stop. Just like that. Done! I’m fixed. Sorry, everyone. That’s not how it works: Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a chemical imbalance in my brain that does not allow me to relax ever, and it makes functioning like a normal human being really hard sometimes.

There is a huge stigma about mental illness in this country, and I’m (of course) worried about backlash from this. People who know me well know that I have anxiety problems, so that’s not news to you. But to everyone else: this is real. It’s not something I’m making up. I try to relax. I take bubble baths. I read books. I eat chocolate and drink wine. Always, always, always there is a nagging feeling and tension in my whole body, which makes my other medical problem, scoliosis, even worse.

My anxiety is exacerbated by confusion and lack of information. I get pretty paranoid pretty quickly. If I get an email that says, “I need to talk to you ,” I will assume the sender hates me and wants to talk to me so they can tell me how much I suck at life. I will continue panicking until I actually find out what the topic of discussion is going to be. For my sake, and the sake of everyone with GAD, please stop being cryptic in emails, world. It is the absolute worst.

Something that makes my anxiety better is knowledge. Let’s use an example. When I was in 4th grade, I became incredibly worried about shark attacks, for reasons unknown. I went to the library and started doing research on sharks, shark attacks, and how one can avoid shark encounters. I became an expert. I read all about Eugenie Clark, the “Shark Lady,” an ichthyologist who was a pioneer for women in science. My anxieties and fears turned themselves into interesting things to research. I’m still terrified of sharks, but I know when not to go into the water, and I know the signs of sharks in the area. If you know enough about something, you have the information you need to combat it. That’s why I still do my own weird research on various diseases, wild animal attacks, plane crashes, serial killers, and executions in the United States. Yes, I am strange. Yes, doing research gives me a calm that nothing else can.

So here’s what you can do for me, friends. Give me a topic to research. It will entertain me, distract me, and calm my worried brain. Learning new things is my therapy.


I have some skills. (Aw, yeah.) I’m good at research–that’s mostly what my master’s program taught me. I can type pretty quickly. I love spreadsheets and I’m pretty good at organizing with them. I have a handful of awesome recipes that I’ve mastered. I can sew. I can get by in Spanish and I’m learning German right now. I’m a fast reader. I retain knowledge like a safe. I make amazing coffee.

Basically, those skills add up to “cutest secretary ever who will bring baked goods to work at least once a week,” which I’m totally fine with for now. The problem is… I haven’t had any bites in a while. I’ve applied for a dozen secretary/assistant jobs in the past few weeks and I’ve heard nothing back.

My skills (and experience) don’t seem to match up with anyone’s rubric. I wonder if I need more education or training in one area or another, but I can’t really afford that. (My German class cost $85 and I used birthday money to pay for it.)


What skills do people need to get hired these days? I would even settle for an interview and no offer–my hope for anything more is at a minimum.

Looking Nice Does Not Tax Fraud Make

I live next to a dollar store. It’s pretty sweet. Sometimes I walk over there and buy myself some cheap nail polish as a treat. Big spender! Then I take some time and do my nails and it makes me feel nice about myself.

Apparently, having my nails look nice and not looking like a hobo, generally, is a bad thing. I keep seeing these eCards (you know the ones I mean) that say things like, “Oh, so you’re unemployed and you have your nails done? Glad my taxes are paying for that.” It’s not like I’m going to a salon and getting a manicure; I’m sitting at my kitchen table with a bargain paper towel soaked in cheap nail polish remover, scrubbing at my dollar store nail polish.

Taking the time to do my nails or do my hair or put on clothes that aren’t sweatpants is not an indicator of misspent money or taxpayer resources. That’s an indicator that I haven’t given up on myself yet. I don’t want to turn into someone who wallows in their own misery and filth; keeping up my appearance is part of that. And if you think that my personal style choices are political, and therefore something you get to have an opinion about, you are wrong (and a jerk).


Eyes on your own work, kids.