Random thinkings

Random thinkings about starting a bit of a side blog about myths regarding mental health and psychology.  Like, addressing and providing more information about things such as gender identity, myths about psychiatric medication, myths about what causes mental illness.

Basically, what drives this is feeling like I’m answering the same client and student questions all the time.  Questions which come from such a misinformed base.  I get where they come from, because too much of education, social media, and all sides of information getting are confusing, difficult to navigate, and ripe with misinformation.

Because mental health and psychology is hard.  It’s really hard.  It’s hard to understand because there are so many factors.  It’s the brain.  But it’s not just the brain. It’s the environment and socialization, and systemic oppression.  It’s medical and genetic and social and personal.  Balancing all of those takes a lot of understanding.  My thought is just to clear a few things up, provide a few more resources, and direct people away from the black and white thinking that is so tempting with mental health.

Again…thinkings.  Perhaps they will become something more.

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I’ve been working

I have, in fact, been working and making efforts toward those things that I wanted!

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And I broke out in a stress rash because of it.  I’d share a pic but it’s on my tummy and I’m incredibly insecure about my tummy.  Also that’s gross.

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Anyway, so I did a couple of job applications and a couple of job interviews and..weirdly…a couple of job offers.  One offer as a clinical director (exactly what I wanted right?) … turned out terribly.  I had a panic attack leaving the interview, an interview that, by the way I felt went terribly.  I felt like I sounded like an idiot and just smiled and rocked the whole way through.  But I got the offer.  I felt weird about it, so I chatted with my partner about it, mostly just to vent and get support and hold me while I rocked.  But the pay was way too little and I would have lost health insurance, a deal breaker given my misfiring immune system and random inability to walk or use my hands.

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The second one was better.  It was actually at a site I trained at before and with my old supervisor, basically for my other old supervisors position.  It went super well, my old sup was excited to chat and offered me the position.  It’s part time, which would me I would get to keep the job that pays the bills while doing what I’ve really wanted–supervising and taking part in the administration the clinical training program.  So I accepted.

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Enter my eeeeeeekkkkkkssss!  Cause then I had to talk to my current job about changing things ups.  I explained I wanted to keep my hours (I had, after all, kept a second job this entire time so this wasn’t anything new to them).  But that means I have to move some clients, which I find very hard.  I don’t like being inconvenient to them.  And, as much as I desperately want my Saturdays back, my Saturday clients really appreciate my having office hours that day.  So I have to confirm my planned hours with my boss and anxiously talk to my clients about changing appointment times.

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I hate change.  But I also love it.  I break out in stress-induce eczema on the reg.  And now my RA is flaring up and my feet are all Little Mermaid-y (reference to the Hans Christian Anderson verson).

So to counteract this, I bought some new books and snuggled with the beag today.  Tomorrow I will send out the appropriate emails and also try to not freak out.  Wish me luck!

Learning and being wrong.

I’m frustrated with the world as I notice that more and more people don’t seem to want to learn.  They don’t want to think or be challenged.  They want to be validated.

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And I feel like that is what much news and commentary has keyed in on.  And what has gotten us in this situation.

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Learning means gathering a great deal of evidence.  Thinking critically about it.  Putting it together with what you already think you know.  Working to piece things together to get a better, fuller, more systematic understanding of the subject.  Learning requires work.  It can be exhausting.  It requires questioning what you think you know and sometimes being wrong.  Accepting that what you thought was right, isn’t right.  And changing your thinking.  Sometimes what you learn goes against your experience.  That’s okay!  Learning should be humbling.  And learning should be a constant exercise.

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Unfortunately, we (I saw “we” as a shorthand for the broader culture in which we all live), have gotten away from this nuanced and difficult way of dealing with new information.  I’m not talking about kids.  I’m talking about grown ass adults who dismiss any information that isn’t in line with what they “know to be the truth.”  I get it.  I hate being wrong.  Everybody hates being wrong.  But admitting that you’re wrong is the only way you can ever be right again!  Information changes.  New data is out in the world every damn day.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to be open to that new information.

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Clearly, based on what I already said, that doesn’t mean that you blindly accept everything told to you or marketed to you.  But it does mean that you should take the fucking time to read shit, analyze shit, follow the fucking links, find the fucking facts.  Dig a little fucking deeper than a goddamn clickbait article title.  If you really want to feel like you know something, learn about the methods behind the article and the data shared.  And fucking stop acting like your personal experience is the last word.  I say this because it is the defense of every dumbass that I know.  “Well this is my experience.  I know because I went through this.  I don’t have to listen to these experts!”  What the fuck ever.  I don’t care.  Learn a fucking thing outside of your damn experience.  I once saw someone write “2+2=22” I now know the truth of maths!

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I partly blame media.  Over the last few years I see more and more articles with overly simplistic messages.  Clickbait titles.  Black and white data.  Emotional writing.  Writing that is meant to make you feel “right.” As in, you follow this site and thus you have this political stance and thus you will feel “right” and “validated” when you read this.  It doesn’t challenge the reader to think differently.  It makes them feel good.  It makes them feel smart because “Oh I totally knew that!”  “Well obviously.  My party has been saying this forever.”  “Ugh who doesn’t know this already.”   It gets reads and then people share the article on social media so that they can say to their followers (both like minded and different) “look how smart I am and how much I already knew.” “I have always been so right and everyone else has always been so wrong!” (this is also what gets people into conspiracy theories)

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Rarely does a nuanced, difficult to read, data heavy article get shared.  Memes with dumbed down statistics get shared.  Articles that sensationalize events get shared.  Black and white thinking gets shared and reinforced and validated.

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I want validation for this gif because it’s my fav.

People suck at science and reading information anymore.  Example:  A neuroscience article gets published on gender differences that shows differences in how boys’ and girls’ brains react to various stimuli.  Small sample size used from a homogeneous group.  Results are just this side of statistically significant.  Authors say “hey this interesting.  let’s look more at it and see if this is socialization or brain structure or both.” (i.e. please fund our next study.)  The study has not yet been reproduced.

Fast Forward to this same article being covered in a popular magazine.  This title will inevitably be titled something along the lines of “Scientists discover the roots of why Men like guns and Women like dolls!  Hint:  It’s deep within the brain!”

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It’s simple.  It’s easy to read.  It reinforces what people already want to believe.

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It also feeds into deep misunderstanding of the science behind that work and it’s applications.  It also fuels sexism and discrimination.  But no one wants to think about that part.  Their beliefs, or “knowledge,” was validated and they need go no farther.

I’m begging both writers and readers to please stop this bullshit.  Please!  Let’s get back to nuance, learning, and challenging ourselves.

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This is me being lost. I will forever be lost.

Part of me getting back into writing is my attempt to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life.  This seems very silly.  I have doctorate.  I work full time and do pretty well in a private psychology practice.  And I’m an adjunct instructor in psychology.  But there’s a few struggles I’m having with all of this.

Part of it is just the sheer case management and frustration of a full time case load of upwards of 35-40 clients.  I don’t see all of them every week and some are more demanding than others.  But when it comes to returning phone calls, consulting with schools, crisis calls, insurance crap, documentation, etc.  It’s just all very frustrating.  It’s not that I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started, it’s more that half of this is mindless (mostly the insurance and documentation stuff) and the other stuff is so difficult to find boundaries with.  Going above and beyond for clients and not seeing them do better and having to hold that frustration for dozens of people is eventually exhausting, especially when you are wanting to do it all perfectly and better.  I feel constantly anxious about what parents are going to yell at me and I guess I’m still figuring out my boundaries in all of this.  Also seeking 6-9 clients a day without time to process and manage everything that should go into each and every client is not realistic.  I’ve dropped down how many clients I see a day since I got diagnosed and was just forced to recognize I don’t have the energy.  But it is sill hard.  I realize that all of that doesn’t seem difficult to many people.  “It’ just listening/talking.”  If your therapist is good, it’s way more than that.  And again, the listening/talking is what you see from your therapist.  The other half of it happens behind the scenes.

The other part of this is simply not feeling intellectually challenged.  This part has nothing to do with clients.  Client sessions can be intellectually exhausting.  Balancing listening, theorizing, scanning your mind for data, resources, and interventions, and simply being present with the client.  Doing all of these at different points in the session.  However, since being in private practice I really really miss consultation groups, in-service trainings, meetings, etc.  I’ve found this so absent.  We do have monthly “trainings” but these are not super interesting, not challenging, and honestly not the most cutting edge.  I can only hear a lecture on ACT so many times.  I miss learning.  I miss the classroom.  THis is why I continue to adjunct even though it’s time consuming and really not worth the money.  I like finding the new research and I like discussing with young clinicians about what they experience.  I like having committed time to consult and bounce ideas off of others.  I have no idea how people just do private practice.  I’m finally understanding why some people find it so isolating.

The last bit of this is simply that I feel like I want to do more.  I want to be involved in more systems, higher level systems and organizations.  Perhaps this is because of the state of Trump’s America.  I get pissed about the way people talk about healthcare and access.  I want to be more involved in these discussions and find ways to ensure that people who need healthcare are getting it.  I get pissed about how we talk about gender, race, and sexuality.  I want to be involved in that discussion and finding solutions.  Basically I feel like I’m not doing enough.  Whether I’m involved in training, administration, community consultation, whatever, I want to do more.

So what I’m  thinking about is how I can do more and feel more fulfilled.  I’m thinking about my options and trying out different things.  I’ve applied for different positions, Clinical Director of a site that works with DCFS and child abuse/child custody stuff, I applied as a Supervisor at a Community Mental Health to be involved in training and competence, and I’m also looking at a few other things.  I’m also thinking about getting more involved in APA and other organizations.  I’m involved in AWP already and thinking about doing more there.  I’ve entertained the idea of doing a Master’s of Public Policy to get more involved in government.  IDK.  But I’m working on it.  I have an idea of what my options are, and thinking more and more about it.  I have nothing figured out.  Also, when I interviewed for the Clinical Director Position I felt like an ass.  Like totally unprepared.

Trying to come back.. :/

I keep trying!  I promise I keep trying to get back on this!  I suck.

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I keep coming back because this is important, only to me.  Nobody else.  But I’ve found that when I’m the most stressed or anxious about really ridiculous (like embarassingly ridiculous) things, I like to write it out.  I feel too dumb to actually talk to someone about my random thoughts, but the echo chamber of my mind drives me insane.  So writing it and illustrating it via gifs is soothing.  When I write I find myself going back, editing, changing my opinions and thought processes in vivo.

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Part of why I never get much published is that I write, then I edit, then I sit on something for a day to be sure I don’t look at it the next day and cringe.  Then I do look at it the next day and cringe and I delete the entire thing.

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I write when I’m upset, annoyed, impulsive.  And even now, after stepping away for awhile because I hated everything I was writing, I find myself hating 90% of what I’ve written in the past.

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I don’t know what I expect of this blog.  It’s personal.  But it’s also political.  It’s the grand “The personal is political!”  I can’t stop being a feminist psychologist.  It’s impossible, apparently.  Even when I just want to rant and rave about things.

But seriously, I don’t know what to do here.  I like writing.  But I hate what I have to say.  I’m so not eloquent at all.  So putting my thoughts together takes forever.  But I feel like  I need an outlet to rant.  And doing it on facebook gets me in trouble (more on that in a later post, but I got kicked out of the family again–please read hyperbole, mother!).  IDK.  I’ll figure it out as a go along.

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Anyway, another year has gone by.  Another move.  Another medical diagnosis.  Another job.  But all in all good things.  I have a happy home, a happy job, a happy income level, a happy dog, a happy partner.  The only really not happy thing is my health.  My body has recently decided to turn on itself.  I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, which means my joints are actively destroying themselves.  Yay autoimmune disorders? Anyway, after many months, I have a clear diagnosis and medication that helps me to get to somewhere around 85% my normal functioning (up from literally 3% functioning where I couldn’t get out of bed, walk, or even type.  I recall one day crying because I couldn’t squeeze toothpaste on my toothbrush.  I should write about that.  That sucked).  But my anxiety never seems to go away.  That shows up in the strangest of places.  I meditate now!  So crazy!  Part of this all comes from feeling that I have a partner that values me and values me valuing myself.  Weird, right?  Anyway.  I’m working on writing more. I have some stuff in the drafts.  Like I said, it goes through that editing process where I have to not cringe at it after a day.  Maybe soon?  I want to do more.  I will do more! I’ll put it in my damn bullet journal!  Yeah!  I”m one of THOSE people now!

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I had a terrible realization…

I had this little realization the other day…

See I just bought a bike a few days ago.  I was all excited because this meant I could run errands on my bike, bike to work (cause my new job is super close!), and get some exercise/relaxation at the local bike paths and forest preserves.  All around, pretty happy right?

Within a mile of my first fucking outing my self kicked in.  My brain.  My stupid brain.  My stupid internal competitiveness and attitude of self-hate.  All of the sudden, instead of going for a leisurely bike ride, I was competing with myself.  Timing myself and setting immediate goals.  What’s my time now?  What’s my speed?  How far can I go today?  How long until I can do 20 miles?  That’s too easy, 30 miles by the end of the month.  What schedule should I be on?  How many days a week can I get in an hour bike ride?  What’s my speed now?  What if someone is better than me?  How long before I’m better than them?  How much weight can I lose?  How much muscle can I gain if I do this 5 times per week?  Should I take a class or do a race?  Not until I can finish in the top 5%.  What’s even the point of doing this unless I’m going to compete.  I should at least be better than that rando I just passed.  I bet I can be healthier than my sister if I stick with this.

This thinking style sneaks up on me pretty much every time I start a new thing.  If I start running, I can’t just run.  I have to building.  I have to be competing with someone, even though they usually don’t know that they’re competing with me.  I can’t just have a hobby, I have to do it to until I pass out.  I have to give it my all.  It’s do or don’t.  And I don’t just let myself enjoy any of it.

It’s a terrible mentality that was drilled into me when I was a kid.  I was already a kind of obsessive kid (neurotypicalities kinda run in my family).  And then I started playing basketball.  Just a little background: in the town I grew up in, girls’ basketball was INSANE.  Like, we were just kind of expected to go to state.  You played year round, be it summer leagues, preseason conditioning, etc.  It was hypercompetitive to even make the team, let alone get any playing time.

I think my parents tried to put some limits on it when I was younger.  I wasn’t allowed to play travel teams (although I think this was also partly cost).  But my parents told me that high level of competitiveness wasn’t good for kids.  I was just bitter about because it meant I was falling behind.  So, just to make the team, I had to work harder and harder and harder.  Dedicate so much time to it.  It wasn’t healthy.  I knew it, because I wasn’t eating well, I wasn’t focusing, and I didn’t even care about playing so much as I just wanted to be better.  I was actually pretty miserable playing.  Especially once I started high school.  I didn’t even have any friends on the team and I’m pretty sure I cried out of frustration or physical pain every time I came home.  But I played for another year, and intended to play the following year.  I quit partly because of depression and partly because I felt I had to work.

But then that hyperfocus, hypercompetitiveness just transferred into my work.  I took like all of the hours that I could at work.  I wanted more and all the responsibilities.  I ended up moving jobs to get more time and experience and money.  By my senior year of high school, I worked two jobs, was enrolled part time in college courses and part time in high school, and was acting as a tech crew leader for the theater.  I was also applying to colleges and trying to get scholarships.  I don’t think that I ever stopped to enjoy any of this stuff.  I mean, it helped me to avoid the depression.  That was great.  But I just had to keep doing things and keep doing better and be a better worker than everyone around me.  Even if no one else knew.  (In fact, the other AP students would often say I didn’t deserve to be in the AP classes because I wouldn’t do the homework and they thought I was dumb.  Fuck those guys.  I killed the tests, which was all that mattered).

I struggle to slow down.  I struggle to relax and enjoy what I do and what’s going on around me.  I just have this constant need to work harder.  Go faster.  Do better than whatever I was doing.

That doesn’t sound like a terrible thing to some people, right?  No.  And in some ways it has been super helpful in getting me through college and grad school.  Getting a good job, two good jobs.  And putting my life back together when things get rough.

But at the end of the day, I end up exhausted.  Burnt out.  Isolated from the people and things around me because of my hyperfocus.  I know that it pushes people away.  And maybe I do it because, in addition to helping me avoid negative moods, it enables my social anxiety.  When I’m focused on work, I have a reason to avoid people.  I feel like if my friends saw this, they would be confused.  Because I don’t really do hobbies, at least I don’t get into them.  I don’t because I hate myself within 6 months after I start them; I’m burnt out and angry that I spent money.

Since I’ve had this realization, I’ve decided to try and be mindful about it.  Use it when I want to and try to manage it when I don’t want it interfering.  It’s a work in progress.

Bowie tried to save us.

I’m officially convinced that it was, in fact, David Bowie that was keeping all of the goodness in the world.  He took all of the bad and evil in the world and channeled it all to good and happy and wonder and curiosity.  And that’s why he was amazing.

See, for decades Bowie was able to take all of the evil and negative, absorb it, and turn it into, well…

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Yeah, all of that and so much more.

I believe that he tried his very hardest to do his best for human kind.  He absorbed what he bad and hate that he could.  But there was clearly too much. And it turned to cancer.  He couldn’t control it anymore.  And, yeah.

I mean, look at the world since he passed.  I don’t understand w. I’m not saying that Bowie was the last string holding shit together, I’m just saying.  We have lost his amazing glow.

We lost his beautiful metaphors and story telling about saving the world.  His many lyrical warnings and worries, that he refused to explain (See: Valentine’s Day).  Many times he tried to tell us that he had come here to save worlds and make things okay again (All the Young Dudes, StarMan, all of The Man Who Fell to Earth), but the world just wouldn’t let him.  He did everything he could to soak up the negativity and replace it with wonder.

We failed Bowie.  And now we have to suffer the consequences.  For not respecting all that Bowie did for us, that beautiful orange-haired space man was taken back to where ever he came from.  We are left with some other sort of orange-faced, hate-filled monster…It won’t end well.

Back! (I think. I hope.)

So I really don’t know where to start.  I have been absent from writing for well over a year now.  This was never my intention, but it just became a thing.  I can’t excuse it.  I don’t want to because this blog has very much been a self-care thing for me.

But my life has also changed pretty significantly in that year.  The biggest changes being that I ended a long-term relationship.  This was definitely for the best.  I feel better than I have in a long time.     I have finally dealt with and have some answers (or at least lack of further questions) with my health.  I became fully licensed as a clinical psychologist, meaning that I am no longer a trainee.  I have a new job that I feel significantly happier in so far.  I started a new relationship that is pretty awesome.  Overall, I feel like I am in a better place, having come to terms with a few of the things that led me to the anxious and irritable place that I was in.

So what got me back here and wanting to write this was looking one of my last posts.  Things that I wanted and goals.  I think I met a few of those.  I’m definitely still working on others.  I still struggle with social anxiety.  That’s something I’ve come to accept will probably never change.  I was shy and anxious as a kid (sometimes I do wonder if I would have met criteria for Selective Mutism, but my parents are not best record keepers and I don’t trust my own memories).  But, I feel more together and confident in a lot of areas.  The changes that happened were necessary and positive.

Yep.  Here I am.  Getting back into something that makes me happy.  Again, even if no one reads it.  I’m still trying figure out where I want to go with this.  I enjoy writing in such a stream of consciousness way.  I miss being able to just start on a topic and see where it takes me.  So I missed this.  Here I am!  Yay and I am making a commitment to myself to start writing again!

Here’s a Cumby!

 

Poll: What is wrong with me?

After a week of severe pain and going to work with a fever, I was finally told that I “look like death” and bribed into going to the doctor.  So I went to Urgent Care (cause it was Saturday afternoon by the time I got around to going).  They sent me to the ER because I needed imaging done and looked too hellish to wait until Monday.  So I got the kind of “cool” ultrasound that would make Scott Walker proud, told that I had fibroids and an infection, given antibiotics, and a ridiculous bill.  I took my pills and followed up with my doctor.  I was miserable for many days.  I was tired, depressed, confused, and feverish.

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So that was many weeks ago.  However said pain has not gone away.  I went back to doctor and was told “There’s no reason for you to still be experiencing pain.”  And I was sent on my way.

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So, since there is no reason for me to still be in pain and everyone keeps telling me this is in my head, I’m left wondering what the hell is wrong with me.

After consulting with my circle of people (which happens to include many therapists of different orientations as well as people who read too much), my options have been widdled down to:

Factitious Disorder
Conversion Disorder
Existential Crisis (Samuel Beckett style)
Hysteria (a la The Yellow Wallpaper)

To help you along, my symptoms include:

Feeling that someone is stabbing a knitting needle through my left ovary
Exhaustion
Ennui
Self-Loathing
Staring blankly at things without realizing that people are talking to me
Desire to read a lot of Murakami

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Your input is appreciated.

Life Goal: Getting my shit together.

I’m increasingly impressed with my ability to think that I’m a complete fuck up and later find out I’m only 90% fuck up.

In hopes of getting the most out of that 10% of success in life I’ve decided to make a list of life goals.

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They are these:

Get a second beagle puppy.

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Get a third (and possibly fourth) beagle puppy.

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Find a house in Chicago that is conducive to multiple beagles.

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Find a permanent job/never be a “trainee” again.

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Find a job that pays enough to maintain my lifestyle of Netflix, good bourbon, and beagles.

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Not have anxious, insecurity freakouts on boyfriend (more realistic goal: decrease number of anxious, insecurity freakouts on boyfriend)

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Be amazing like David Bowie.

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Resist urge to read comment sections in the news.

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Be able to talk to people at social gatherings (more realistic goal: decrease number of bourbons it takes to talk to people at social gatherings)

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Realize that “full time” means 40 hours, not 65, 70, or 80.  Also decrease caffeine intake.

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Convince self that socializing isn’t death

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Figure out why Ben and Jerry’s says there are 4 servings in a pint (it’s clearly 2 at best)

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Ok.  Plan to get life on Track: Go!