Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Hopefully-Therapeutic Vent

Newsflash! I have figured out what causes depression. The root cause for depression is anger. Okay, not exactly ground breaking news. I already knew anger was associated with things like verbally lashing out, spousal abuse, and cutting off other drivers. What I have recently discovered is that anger can cause "depression" too. There's more to anger than the temporary thoughts of rage. It can change your whole mindset. Negativity feeds off anger.

So great, I figured out this depression. It only took me a month. Fuck, I'm slow. That is only half of the battle though. Now, I am faced with the task of "destroying" my anger. An ironic word choice I used when stating my goal was to: "Find out what is really fucking bothering me. Then destroy it." How can you just stop being angry? Eliminating the root cause of your anger? Minimizing the value of what is angering you (a.k.a. Getting over it)? Anger management classes? Stress release? I suppose there are a bunch of ways to overcome anger. I normally spar or vent when I am angry. I remember about a year ago when I vented a nerdrage to the blagosphere and it was quite the therapeutic experience. I will try and duplicate that experience by recalling the events in my recent past. What follows is a recollection of my constant stream of disappointment.

First, there was some small bullshit at work that had me feeling generally useless. A presentation got shot down that I had been working on for about two months. Not so bad, but this was also coupled with the first mediocre perf-review of my life. Design work had me generally unmotivated for 8-9 hours a day and I spent a good deal of it surfing Reddit or Christmas shopping on Amazon. Next was some financial fallout with a friend who was being delinquent on payments for a joint-membership at kung-fu. The instructors attempted to coerce me into paying for him. When that didn't work, they tried using me as a collector. I hurt my wrist, so I wasn't even able to practice for a couple weeks. They picked a bad time to pull that shit. I was paying for something that I wasn't even currently using and I was getting hustled? Fuck that. Next was some mild family drama due to me not caring about my aunt with cancer. I don't care if she is family. If she is stupid, she is stupid. Being a blood relative or dying does not change the fact that a spade is a spade. Next was the usual Winter Blues that I anticipate around this time of year. It wasn't all that bad but it definitely didn't help. With this other crap going on, it would have been nice to have a healthy relationship. A confidant, someone who could make all the bullshit go away, a girlfriend to take care of and do nice things for... or just anyone at all. Next I lost my drive for an MBA, had a couple bad runs in Vegas, watched both of my football teams lose in one day, got a speeding ticket, organized a downtown event that turned into a bust, left the roof of my car down in the rain, destroyed my favorite jeans... and it gets worse.

I have been trying to buy a place for about a year. I told myself that everything would be okay if I could just have this one win. Generally when you open up escrow, you are in there, both parties are committed. I unfortunately had escrow canceled once before, but I was told that was a rare case. The seller had put in a clause allowing him to back-out after an inspection. He did exactly that and my hopes were crushed. Fast forward 3 months and I am about to close escrow on a new/better/cheaper place. This seller was ready to go. It was a short sale that we had to get closed before the banks decided to re-appraise. It was currently appraised at the bottom of the market, so I was eager to close at this price too. We quickly opened up escrow and I needed a loan in an unusually fast amount of time. The correct strings were being pulled and everything was falling into place. It was difficult, but good things usually are. We sped up the process and communicated terms fast. We backdated the loan to 2009 allowing us to skip some added 2010 protocol. The goal was near and we had one last turn before the finish line. My loan company was just waiting for an inspection to come back.

The inspection comes back and there is a pending litigation against the complex. Loan app denied. Game over. No bank in the world would give out a home loan for a condo complex with a pending litigation. Even if I could get a different loan, it wouldn't be in time. By the time the litigation gets removed or I get a loan, it will be reappraised for an undoubtedly higher price. Dreams crushed. It gets worse.

My Realtor, who also normally did my loans, was busy tending to her mother with health problems so she recommended a Loan Agent to me. The two of them are good friends so I gave this Loan Agent my full trust. I even gave the Loan Agent my credit card number and said "run anything you need". Big mistake. Turns out that when you are a Loan Agent not only do you make friends with my Realtor, but you make friends with plumbers, carpenters, repairmen, inspectors, and pretty much anyone else involved in the whole process. As it turns out, the Loan Agent had no problem hiring friends and paying them using my credit card. In return I'm sure she gets commission for bringing clients. Loan Agents are self-dealing crooks that should not be trusted. I had made a prior agreement with my Realtor stating any upfront fees would be refunded by the seller if escrow was ever canceled. Apparently this agreement was not communicated to the Loan Agent. The resulting week involved me trying to get hundreds of dollars back from my Realtor and the Loan Agent. After tons of "I'm sorry" emails from my Realtor and the Loan Agent, I decided to contact the companies that employ them. After telling me how "valuable of a customer" I am, one of the companies reimbursed me for a measly HOA Cert (pennies compared to the inspection). It gets worse.

What I have not mentioned yet is that my Realtor is a family friend. She is very good friends with my mother. (She even named her first boy Andrew also). In this current market, home buyers have tons of options when looking for Realtors or Loan Agents, so customer retention and word-of-mouth-recommendations are paramount. Apparently my Realtor got hand slapped at work and this information trickles down to my mother. My mother emails me saying my Realtor is "very sorry" and that I have "a lot to learn". This pisses me off. What happens between me and my Realtor concerning my finances should not make it to my mother. Ever heard of client confidentiality? This whole industry is based on trust. Trust that has boundaries. Trust that she lost. Sure, my Realtor is "very sorry" and her mother is having health problems. I. do. not. care. I am coldhearted when it comes to business and finance. If getting her fired would put money back in my pocket, I'd get her fired. It would be easy at this point because of the client confidentiality breach. I decide not to. Not because I am sympathetic, but because getting her fired would not benefit me in any way. Nothing is going to get me back my several hundreds of dollars. Well, perhaps blackmailing my Realtor to pay it out of pocket if she wants to keep her job, but I decided against that.

Still fearing for her friend, my mother gives me a rare confrontation-in-person. My mother takes the angle of trying to school me on the risks of home buying. For a little bit of background, she has never even done it before. Her parents held her hand through everything. She didn't even put up a dime for the down payment. She continues to babble and I am getting pissed off. It doesn't help that her sentences are starting to contradict each other. I eventually reach my boiling point and my mom is mid sentence, "Back when I bought.." when I cut her off and say, "You mean when all you did was co-sign a paper? Your parents did everything for you. They are dead, or I would ask them for help. I don't want your help. I don't want your 2 cents." My cold remarks are met with her usual onslaught of how she gave birth to me and how she supported me when I was younger. Typical rhetoric with words like "respect" and "appreciation". This time I didn't just cover up my good-ear and nod along. I wasn't having it. I raged on her, "What the fuck do you want me to do? Did you want me to work when I was two years old to support myself? Trust me, I would if I could. Just so you couldn't hold the past over my head. The only thing I am going to learn from you, is how to be a bad parent. There's a difference between a parent and a provider. We both know I don't need you anymore." As soon as those sentences left my mouth, I realized I shouldn't have said them. Although all those things are true, I can only imagine how soul crushing it is to hear your own son call you a "bad parent" and dismiss you as a "provider". I don't know how my mom puts up with it to be honest. I imagine her saying "Fine, leave." (a scenario I have planned for) but it never seems to happen. Maybe it's something about Asians that require them to have the appearance of a solid family household. Maybe she wants her son around because it's one of the few things in her life she can brag about and pretend to take credit for. Maybe she knows the personality I have to cut people out of my life (like my aunt) and knows that once I leave I won't be coming back.

I don't know if those things should be enough to make a person angry and depressed, but it worked for me. I have been over-reactive, angry, tired, and not-my-usual-positive self. If it is possible, I have become more cynical than ever. Life sucks, people are stupid, and things rarely go the way you want. I keep telling myself, "Anger is a wasted emotion." "Focus on the good." "Go eat a Nutella Crêpe." Nothing seems to be working. I tried to put some perspective on my issues by comparing it to the huge tragedy in Haiti. I see other people dealing with much worse things. My problems are not catastrophic in nature, but damn it, they are still my problems. Problems that made me angry. Problems that leave me depressed.

In a rare flash of optimism I decided to take the day off work to write this vent. Perhaps there will be some therapeutic magic once I hit the publish button. In the back of my mind though, I know what I need to do. I know what really needs to happen. I just need to let everything go and stop caring about the things that I can't do anything about. Easier said than done.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Having patients!

I wonder if any of the 40+ people on that email distro told my boss about his spelling mistake. I sure as hell didn't. With my current string of luck, I'd probably get fired.

On a related note, my patience has been tested recently. Turns out I have more than I thought. I don't know how much more patience I'll have with this "depression" bullshit though. Tonight I sit back and ask myself, "Am I doing everything in my power to get myself out of this?" Sadly, the answer is undoubtedly "No." I have become lethargic and unusually lazy. I now contemplate the consequences of "letting depression win" and what that would look like. I imagine it as living the same way I am now, but just accepting that I'll be miserable and treating myself to as much escapism as possible. It sounds pretty awful typed out, but it seems like a realistic (and attractive) option as of late.

In my attempts to "not let it win" I have been trying to channel the energy that I do have, into doing productive things. More volunteer work. Practicing cooking recipes. Cranking up my martial arts training. Sadly, all these things feel like distractions that are not improving my overall disposition towards life. Part of me is tempted to just "fake it till I make it". Honestly, it's all so exhausting. How much soul searching can I take? How much can I let my restless mind wander? I haven't had a good nights sleep since I can remember and my diet is all over the place.

The only thing that rivals how exhausting it is, is how confusing it all is. I fail to even articulate what "depression" is. It's not quite lack-of-relationship lonely and it's not quite the-day-after-your-dog-died sad. I want to compare it to extreme hopelessness, like standing before a mountain and not being able to see the top. Like every step you take is pointless and there is this overwhelming feeling that you are extremely... lost. I suppose at least "being lost" implies having a destination in mind though. So I cant put my finger on what depression is, but what I do know is that it makes everything so slow. The days feel incredibly long and there doesn't seem to be anything to look forward to.

Being left to my own devices has been alright, but I concede that I am not very "emotionally-smart". I contemplate turning to others but I wonder how anyone else could help anyway. I know I am not the only one who has ever felt this way. People have gone through this and beat it before. Maybe others could help. I want more than anything to discover this for myself. For one, asking for help is selfish; I know that I am still not good company right now. (In fact, I just raged on my mother last week. Not pretty.) Secondly, getting help robs me of the chance to "do it myself". Isolation creates an opportunity for self-accomplishment. On the plus side, there is a lot of self-discovery that I've been going though; it reminds me of the younger years when I was quite the autodidact.

I guess this talk of "figuring it out for myself" and "looking at the plus side" proves that I am not as hopeless as I thought. I'll keep waiting... waiting patiently for some kind of epiphany or life changing event to thrust me into being a different person.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Once we get to know them

Why is it so often that people hate their family members? Ever notice how the people we hate the most are typically people we know really well? We give complete strangers the benefit of doubt, a clean slate. Only after we get to know them better, can we see who they really are. It's only after we have become comfortable and familiar with them, can we see all the ugly things that the other people don't see.

"Familiarity breeds contempt."

This idiom has been held as an absolute truth for many years. Like most belabored cliches, there is often a lot of truth behind them. There is one thing that I think this saying fails to recognize though. The person we know the best is... ourselves.

Recently, I have had the time for a lot of inward reflection. I have "gotten to know" myself. I was able to make one huge realization in the past week. I am quick to point fingers and blame something else to absolve myself of guilt. Popular targets for blame include: parents, friends, bad situations, and a-a-alcohol (damn that song...).

It is extremely hard to be completely honest with yourself. But that is all you can do when presented with solitude and isolation. My hiatus has given me that. I have owned up to the fact that I am the cause of my situation. It wasn't random chance; it happened because I let it happen. I see this as an important realization because if I can manage to make it out of this "depression", I won't fall back in easily.

So I can't tell if the hiatus is working. On one hand, I have started to realize some things and stopped making excuses for myself. On the other hand, I hate myself a lot more than I did before. I will log my progress for now as a "mediocre success" and continue to stick it out. Heck, it's only been a week. The Einstein Quote of the Day on iGoogle seems somewhat prophetic: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Let's hope I don't go insane. Apart from canceling the Vegas trip, I can't really say that I miss my social life.