Housing court postponed

To next Tuesday, which gave us almost an extra week. If only Husband’s damn check would come in the mail!

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Housing court tomorrow

Tomorrow members of my family will face the housing court judge who will decide whether to grant them an extension to pay or to unequivocally move forward with eviction. Considering that the three of them live in a bronx apartment that costs less than $1000/ month and they’ve been there over two decades, this is extremely distressing. You can’t house 3 people for 1k in many places here. It’s unheard of, and it’s only because of rent control that they pay so little. Once they are kicked out, they will have to pay going rates.

Now you might say, why do they need to live in NYC? Can’t they move somewhere cheaper? I don’t see how though, because none of them can drive or afford a car, and 2 of them are disabled so there’s no chance of learning to drive. The only places I can think of that aren’t in the city but allow a person to meet their needs without a car are assisted living facilities or in downtown locations of other cities, but neither can house 3 people for under $1k, as far as I know.

So, where does that leave them? I wish I knew.

Meanwhile, it’s not easy to pay our own rent, and the hot water disappeared again yesterday and isn’t back yet. We pay about $1.1k/month for the privilege of living in an apartment (near the subway at least, albeit the end of the line) that has been burgled twice in 6 years and, lately, loses heat and/or hot water about 10-25 times a year.

And still I know we are lucky in some ways, as there are Americans who have it worse. Americans who live in slums, shacks, trailers, and homeless shelters, who despair at the prospects of a jobless future, who cannot feed their children.

What a luxury it seems to be worried about deficits and taxes.

Overcoming the Inertia of Depression

It was another hard week, one that brought a second set of impending eviction hearings against my extended family, news of a family member’s coke addiction, my second painful ruptured cyst in as many months, and an unexpected motherboard failure of my husband’s trusted computer, which he depends on for his freelance web development work. By week’s end I felt so gloomy it was hard to imagine a positive future, and I was caught in my head with worries of infertility, homeless relatives, and a continued struggle to meet basic needs like rent.

But these problems were not only mine but my husband’s too, and he was struggling more than I with fear and distress for his family. I knew that he needed me and even though he was there for me, I didn’t want to be another source of worry and energy drain for him. I resolved to do all that I could to get stronger.

On Friday, I went to the kindle store and searched for self-help books on dysthymia, depression, and addiction. I found some that seemed to be approaches I am comfortable with and downloaded samples to my phone. And I began reading.

I found that just having the books added to my sense of control. I am doing something. I am educating myself further about the current guidelines for what works and what doesn’t. And I will use this information to craft a lifestyle that keeps my dysthymia in check.

As I read through the introductory chapters, I found it comforting to be reminded that my lack of activity and energy is not because I am a failure, a slob, or a lazy bum. Rather, I had fallen into a vicious cycle that affects many. I am not alone in this, and there are ways to manage it.

One thing I read in many places is the beneficial effect of regular exercise on both neurochemistry and hormone levels. I’d not been exercising (beyond walks) since the end of the skating season, and I felt like a failure as I continued to neglect exercise. But reading these books motivated me to try and to start simple. So on Saturday after our walk I fired up the Kinect and played Kinect Adventures until my body was tired.

That little act was very powerful in it’s effect on me. I felt more in control because I’d successfully gotten myself to exercise, my body felt better because the muscles were active, and my brain felt better because the exercise released dopamine.

Half a year into the new job

And I can’t believe that much time has passed. I love the job and am still so grateful for the opportunity. I actually enjoy going to work most days and I am really excelling. The company is having a strong year and I believe I’ve been a big part of that. The environment is so much better for me – I feel accepted and comfortable and valued.

I’d even thought about ending this blog. After all, it was originally an exploration of school and depression, research and science, and life in academia as a woman scientist. I’m no longer in school, academia, research, or considered a woman scientist professionally.

But, that doesn’t mean the themes of my life aren’t similar. I still struggle with dysthymia, and I’m still in a male-dominated industry. I’m still a young woman figuring out herself and her future. And I still enjoy the outlet of blogging and the companionship of other bloggers (although I’ve mostly been a lurker lately).

So, I’m still here. And I still have things to talk about.

I’ve wanted to start a family for many years now. The time is nearly right, and I’m glad I’ve waited through our struggles with money and career. A few months ago, we started decreasing my antidepressants. Following my friend’s suicide last fall I had spiraled out of control, and it took many months to feel better again. During that time we changed my medication, such that I was on both Wellbutrin and Prozac. It helped me feel alert enough to go to work mostly on time and feel aware in the mornings. It felt like the cloud lifted and my head was clearer.

Then I started the new job in January, and I felt energized and motivated. Also, my students did well and finished the skating season fabulously, earning an invitation to skate at the end of year gala with Olympians, where I shook Evan Lysacek’s hand and watched him give a $100,000 donation to my organization.

So earlier this year I began talking to my doctor about planning for a baby, and we started tapering off my meds. We started with Prozac because Wellbutrin had been the more recent addition and had helped a lot. We dropped the Prozac from 40 mg to 30, then to 20, and things seemed ok. So we dropped it to 10, and then planned to start reducing the Wellbutrin.

But somewhere around then things degraded. The increased stress and long hours of the new job had started taking their toll on me. I began crying too often and worrying and sleeping too much. The doctor said we had probably dropped it too fast, and we upped it half a pill, to 15. That was about a month ago.

Work continued to be stressful even as I enjoyed it and felt proud of it. Night and weekend work that had seemed like a temporary measure dragged on. I got a summer intern which relieved some of the pressure, but the work kept increasing and that wasn’t enough. We won more and more work from new clients, and the projects I led went extremely well, but I was getting worn-down.

The last few weeks I noticed increasing negative and repetitive thought patterns, and I found myself crying alone quite a few times. Finally, on Thursday about a week ago, I got so upset during the work day that I dashed to the bathroom so no one would see as the tears started. I finally had broken down, and I called my husband and told him how much I’d been struggling.

It was disheartening to reach that point, but it forced me to see that I must change something now to prevent a full relapse of depression. I saw my dr that eve and told him how I’d been feeling, and he said I sounded depressed and increased the Prozac back to 30. I talked to my boss and told him that I could not keep working nights and weekends, that there had to be an end in sight for that. Then I worked from home the next day and rested over the weekend. The next week, I forced myself to take full lunch breaks and go home at a decent time. And I took all my meds.

It’s been about 9 days and I’m starting to feel better. I want to keep writing, and focusing on my health and sanity. Maybe I’ll even stop lurking and let some of you know that I’ve been reading.