There’s always a bartender on call.

I was talking to my bartender1 the other day, and my eyes filled with tears. Not just a few tears, not because of something I’d said, but a torrent that ran down my face unending, with nothing that appeared to precipitate them. For no particular reason, my tears were accompanied by a deep, deep despair, the kind that’s like being in an inescapable pit: no way to reach freedom far above, no way out except through death.

At which point my bartender reminded me that there’s always a bartender on call at the office number. It’s currently listed on what I guess is speed dial on my iPhone (it’s a Favorite, which is an odd way to put it, but it’s the only option I have).

This breakdown into tears and despair has been happening more often. It happened once even before Father’s Day, but the aftermath of Father’s Day seemed to bring it on in full blown misery. “I want to jump off this boat” type of misery; “I want to talk all the sleeping pills and never wake up”, etc. I guess you could say I was suicidally sad, but over the many years I’ve been subjected to this type of despair, I’ve never reached kill-myself-o-clock.

Of course, this despair has been with me all along. It’s just that it used to be covered by terror. But I remember I used to be pretty suicidal when I was younger and with my parents; it’s just that the adrenaline pumped by terror covered it up. Didn’t make it go away—I tried to let a bus run me over once—but it did a great job in distracting me.

These days the Abilify takes away the veneer of terror, removes the intrusive memories. Now all I have is the crushing despair that has nothing blocking it (incomplete as the block may have been).

But that’s not all I have, actually. I haven’t felt completely terrified all the time for a couple years now. And I’m not in crushing despair all the time, just… well, when it happens, it completely whacks my ability to do anything, like work.

Speaking of work: I dislike my new position. It comes with a micro-managing manager. While one of my favorite managers is, indeed, a micro-manager, he usually had something to contribute in his interruptions. This manager doesn’t always, and indeed, tends to slow the team down when he does code reviews. He picks on me during our daily scrum, despite saying that he doesn’t hold my last couple days of non-productivity against me. He tells many self-aggrandizing stories as examples in ways my previous managers, even the bad one that destroyed team morale, never did.

Said manager is also working to keep his SDE 1’s locked into the team, unable to move onto other parts of the company if they should want to. Despite a pager accompanying most other positions, they can be rewarding technically for a few valuable years. This makes me uncomfortable. He’s also said repeatedly that he wants everyone to stay around for several years, which is unheard of in my company where mobility among groups and cross-training is valued.

It’s not like this is making my despair worse, or even provoking it, but it’s not helping.

My bartender says I need to really concentrate on my hobbies or find some way to technically grow inside the company despite the constraints placed on me. Otherwise this is going to become a bigger problem down the road.

So that’s where things like. Incapacitated from time to time by mind-blowing near-suicidal despair, being micro-managed unto career death.

But there’s always a bartender on call.


  1. Bartender = psychologist, because you talk to them. Candy man = psychiatrist, because they give you the meds.

3 thoughts on “There’s always a bartender on call.

  1. Don’t you have a writing marathon starting tomorrow?
    I tried to make a contribution for your fund, but they made it hard. Talk about your goals, and maybe I can still contribute somehow.
    Writing is a great place to dump all kinds of emotion. It is a place for disappointment and sorrow, and depending what you write, the joy of happy endings. Or if not, then the joy of leaving a story with possibilities.
    You said you had started figuring out scenes. Hope that is going well.
    Looking forward to seeing what you write.
    Sorry about micromanaging boss – not sure what you can do there except be elsewhere or very busy producing good stuff.
    It’s a shame your brain chemistry is off. It’s almost a whole year before the ‘Day’ triggers come around again – does that help any? I cannot imagine what you deal with every day, but I hope you’re at least getting a bit more sleep than when you had a pager going off at all hours. Aim for a little extra sleep, or extra rest. Rest that knits the raveled sleeve of care. It really does. Even a few minutes with eyes closed is a lot better than nothing (for me, anyway).
    I needed three naps to get through today – but yesterday the play went off to the play contest. And other stuff eventually gets done. And the novel grows slowly in its final polish, but I still really like it.
    Talk to your bartender.

    • Ah, that’s right, the Clarion Write-a-Thon starts tomorrow. Yeah, the set-up for donations is not the best in the world; I funded myself for a variety of reasons.

      There are more triggers in store in the future. Fourth of July and my birthday are the main attractions in July.

      The suggestion for sleep is a good one, I think I’ll be taking that one up!

      • I don’t know if it would help at all, but the thought occurred to me that re-purposing bad dates – by making new associations with lots of good things that you CHOOSE to associate (instead of things which happened) – might eventually make a dent in them (rather than just surviving them).
        I have a small furry pet, a chinchilla, who, near as I can tell, has that first date as her birthday last year. They can live as long as a cat or dog – so we will be together for a while. I never really wanted a pet, but inherited her (long story), and, as much as you can spoil a chinchilla (you can’t give them too many treats because their digestive systems can’t take it), she is spoiled rotten. Let me know if that thought helps as you write your way through Clarion.
        I work on the general principle that any small positive step – on anything (I am trying to learn to walk again) – is a whole lot better than letting things continue down the wrong path in another small negative step. Your blog title always makes me think of that, because my principle comes from calculus and the idea of incrementals and infinitesimals and positive slopes. You can take the scientist out of science, but you can’t take the science out of a scientist!

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