May 6, A is for Anxiety, Anticipatory Anhedonia, A. C. Moore, and Art Supplies

IMG_20130506_103538Today, I had yet  another interview for  an internship. Honestly, I hate interviews, they make me Anxious.  I am a thorough thinker, but not necessarily a fast one.  I have this internal dialogue going about all the ways I am not supposed to screw up, my thoughts skitter to a halt, and my tongue refuses to form coherent words.  Which is truly bizarre, especially in the context of interviewing for a social work internship, because I LOVE talking about social work.  I know the field as well as any rising senior can, I speak the lingo, I write the papers, I .  Know.  My.  Shit.  Until I sit down in front of someone who asks me why I want to work at such and such place, or why I enjoy teenagers, or any other question that asks for subjective personal information about myself and my motivations.  And then I just shut down.  Because, these jobs, they are not about me.  They are about the client populations.


And here’s the deal, my friends, they are patient.  They ask me a question and they are willing to give me time to think about my answer.  And when I give it, it is a complete and well-thought out thing.  Many times, it is a thing of poetic grace and beauty.  Because I write it out, and correct it in my head before I ever open my mouth.  And if this takes days, and sometimes it has, I just say “I will get back to you on that,” and then I make sure I do.  It’s messy, but it works.

So, after I had my torture interview, I took myself on an Adventure to A. C. Moore. I looked at the Art supplies, but I didn’t by any of that fancy pants stuff. I bought a 50 pack of Crayola colored pencils instead. Forty percent off, Bay-Bee! And I bought an inoculation against Anticipatory Anhedonia. Let me explain what that is. Pleasure for most people is a three-fold thing: they anticipate, they experience, and they reminisce. Most people, when they have an event or a trip planned, they look forward to it. People who are depressed, however, generally lack the anticipatory phase of this cycle. While they have fun if they do go do things, they do not *anticipate* fun. You can see how this lack of anticipation could lead to a lack of participation, right?

Now, remember that I was pretty severely depressed for about three years. Oh, did I forget to tell ya’ll that? Mmmmmmm, well, in case you didn’t figure it out, there ya go.  Now, remember that I am a true introvert, that being with people takes a serious chunk of mental energy, and that I am generally perfectly content with my own thoughts, and you can begin to appreciate that launching myself out of my house is occasionally a major undertaking. Therefore, since I know that one of the things I don’t do is anticipate fun in the normal way, I take steps to fix it.  I announce my intentions to go do such-and-such in public.  I arrange to be responsible for some portion of the food or frolic.  And I stack.  That is to say, I stack things on the event or trip.

Here is an example.  I am visiting a friend at the end of this month.  Now, I am greatly looking forward to seeing my friend, and in truth, I would be content if we did nothing but hang out in the apartment all weekend.  But, I know we are going to a party.  And I have mentioned that I would like to go to the used bookstore, and I would like to visit LUSH, since we don’t have one here. And go get ice cream. And, I have purchased yarn, which is not something I should do because I have plenty of it, but dang, it’s pretty, and it’s lace weight, and if I leave this project there, and only work on it when I visit, it will increase my anticipatory hedonia for the next several trips.

So, here’s the moral of my story:  find what works for you, and then do it.  And if people look at you like you are weird, hang out with different people.  We are all a little weird, and that is what makes us unique. Take your happy where you find it.  I’ll be finding mine talking to my friend while I knit 996 yards of “Woodrose”  into a shawl.



Please excuse the glare on the pencils.  The shot I took without the flash did not show the true colors of the yarn.