11 Aug 1997


"Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up caffeine."

Panic. Paralysis. Cathexis. Getting Stuck. That's where I am. Panic, to me, does not mean closing your eyes and running off the battlefield to safety -- that would be taking sensible action. It's more like being stuck in a car on the train tracks while the engine barrels toward you at 80 mph.

I've had panic attacks for no discernible reason, and panic attacks for all sorts of very real things that might or might not bother anyone else. Right now the panic is my immediate future. I graduated with my M.A. this past May, and continued working for the department where I had been a student and a graduate assistant for the summer. Then I took a break, a two-week visit to my families in North and South Carolina. Now I've been home for two days and I can't stand it. I can't cope with all this time. I don't have a job, I don't have a license or a car to get to a job although there are a fair number I'm qualified for. I'm scared of even trying to look for a job, feeling like people are going to laugh at me, this little baby chick trying to find out how to get to any job without modern personal transportation, scared I'm going to use up all my savings and won't be able to get a car once I get a license, scared I'll never pass the license test, scared I'll starve. Scared I'll have to move in with my family and be torn apart from my real loved ones/support network, none of whom are related to me. Just as scared I'll be left alone by family. Al of these seem totally likely. It's no better when there is no real reason for the panic, or a reason that doesn't seem enough to provoke it all.

I have a temp job for about three weeks probably. A very familiar job, one I've done six or seven times before. And I'm scared to go back to it. But I'm even more scared of the week I have before it starts, of time alone with myself. Time too panicked to search the Web for jobs. Deer-in-the-headlights frozen by any and all of my options. The anti-depressant/anxiety pills can cope with the minor stuff, but this is way beyond their capacity.

23 Sep 1997

I wanna talk about being mostly past this, for anyone who has a fear that seems too big to conquer. I did move in, temporarily, with my dad and his family in South Carolina. It is a little awkward to be searching for jobs in Tampa while I'm up here, but the Internet is a godsend! (I suppose it helps that two out of three possible fields I'm interested in are overtly computer-related.) I'm putting my résumé in every free online database I can find and applying for jobs online -- it's MUCH more comfortable for me than anything to do with job searching offline could be. And being up here takes off a lot of the pressure that I felt to Findajob, Findajob, Rightnow. Even if I am a bit homesick, I am still too scared to go down there without firmer job possibilities than I have yet (though in less than two weeks since starting I've already gotten two e-mails from possible offers, but one was not in an area I wanted to move to.) But I will go home soon, as soon as it looks like the hours alone will be limited.

But I'm not paralyzed. I'm getting myself out there for people to see. Not close-to-suicidal because it feels like I can't possibly ever get a job. Not counting myself a failure at 24. This is a big step up and I want to put it out for others to see and especially for me. Lots of my essays focus on the bad moments -- when I feel good I don't have time to write, I'm living. I want one with a happier ending. And I'm looking forward to going home.


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