Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cue the yearly breakdown in 3....2....

It's breakdown time in The Cave!

Once a year or so (probably more frequently than that, but I recall having had a breakdown at this time last year), I like to become wildly overwhelmed with daily life and spend a few days careening between tears and panic.

On this year's schedule:  Inability To Deal With Physical Objects and Crushing Animal Care Responsibilities!

A few days ago, Viking Roommate (he's not new anymore, he's been here for almost 3 months) returned home from helping a friend build a shed.  In his hand was a bag full of random art supplies that had been unearthed during this process.  I use many art supplies, and I am broke, so it is a reasonable assumption that I might enjoy these free objects, yes?

I about had a panic attack.  My art and craft supply situation is overwhelming.  I have MOUNDS of stuff.  ACRES of stuff.  I can spend hours trying to get it put away, only to have it explode forth the minute my back is turned.  I have been actively trying not to learn new skills to prevent supplies from utterly destroying my life.

I must have looked panicked when I said "I cannot deal with any more objects."  Viking Roommate seemed to understand, and withdrew with the bag of stuff.

Yesterday, after yelling at the dog for the third or fourth time in about an hour (for going after the cat, her favorite irritating habit), I started fantasizing about a night off of Animal Care Duty.  No walking in the freezing dark, no lunging and barking at passersby, no bag of crap to schlep home, no expensive kibbles, no prescription cat food, no twice-daily insulin shots, no piss on my carpet, no cat shit on my garage floor, no scrubbing and bleaching, no yowling at 5am for breakfast, no guaranteed $500 every time we have to visit the vet, no $65 groomer visits every five weeks...

When I discovered that the dog had eaten the cat's expensive prescription food, I started crying.


The cat's diabetes will get worse.  His neuropathy will get worse.  His ability to make it to the corner of the garage to shit will diminish.  His grooming habits will deteriorate.  He will probably become allergic to the hypoallergenic food he is currently enjoying.  He will have more piss accidents in the house. He's only 13, and could go a few more years.

The dog is not young.  She is 8, and is starting to move more slowly on walks.  Her eyebrows and butt are grey, not black.  She needs grooming more frequently now.  She has not outgrown any of her obnoxious habits (burping in people's faces, sneezing in their hair, begging for food, hogging the bed, whining and nudging if she is not the center of attention, et cetera et cetera), and I have not been able to train them out of her.  She has doggy lupus and a tendency towards pancreatitis.  Her corneas are fucked up from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

My cat is my second largest monthly expenditure every month, behind my rent.  If you combine cat and dog, they outpace rent by about $10 a month.

The fact that my job requires me to be the sole caregiver of two rabbits and three rats is just icing on the cake.

I hate crying.  It makes my eyelids puffy for 48 hours, makes my sinuses hurt for at least 24, and usually triggers a migraine.  There is a reason I stay firmly in Robot-Land.

I got my shit under control before the migraine hit.  I went to bed.  I went to work.  I plodded through my day, stoicism returning.

I called my mother to see if she had my old swim parka, as I am freezing my ass off at work.  My work parka barely covers my ass, and I am tired of shivering at work.

She brought it by, along with another short parka, a bunch of coat hangers, and a bag full of wool owl tchotchkes.  I immediately felt the panic surge again.  Oh god oh god oh god.

I declined the second parka, with the explanation that my parka is fine, it's just not long enough, and that a short parka will never get worn.  My torso is not cold, my ass is.

When she held up the owls, I think I must have sounded deflated, and I think I said "Oh boy.  Something to try to keep out of the dog's mouth."  I feel like such an asshole.

I sent her a text to apologize for my reaction to her gifts.  A reasonable person would not panic at the sight of a warm coat and some hangers and some funny little owl dustcatchers.  Even thinking about it makes me want to cry again.  If I had to speak right now, I would not be able to hold back tears.

Viking Roommate saw me come in, laden with hangers and coats and bags and anxiety.  I explained what had happened, and why I was a prickly ball of nerves.  He took the hangers.  I have no idea what to do with the owls.  They will probably stay in the bag on my desk for 6 months, and become buried under more things that I cannot deal with.

I don't want to be that person, who pisses on gifts and thoughtful gestures.  But my boat is capsizing.  Can't they see it sinking?  Why does everyone keep throwing buckets of water into the boat?

I have to get up in 7 hours to go to work, where it will be 45 degrees inside the building.  I will have to rake up rabbit poop, and deal with hundreds of objects that are not mine.  Library books and specimens and bits of paper and tools and cleaning supplies.  My job is Animal Care and Dealing With Physical Objects.



  1. Viking Roommate sounds like a bit of a lifesaver for you at the moment ...

    As much as I loved and miss Kaos the Windhund, I don't miss the pissing and shitting on the rug, the chewed newel posts, the antiques that were destroyed from gnawing, walking on icy streets terrified I'd be dragged for miles should he have spotted a rabbit or coyote, and all the expenses you've mentioned above. And I will probably not get another pet, because only having to take care of yourself is sometimes the best thing. Your pets are old and sickly, Tante F. It might be the right thing to do.

    1. I have a strict policy- inconvenience to ME is never a reason. Only when they are suffering more than they're enjoying. Sadly, nobody is technically suffering. Well, except ME. They're pretty happy, actually. Gypsy feels better than he has in months. It's probably a combo of the B12 shots, the anti-anxiety meds, and well controlled blood sugar. The dog would be happier if Viking Roommate was as smitten with her as she is with him, but we can't all get our way.

      I probably won't do the pet thing again. I'm too prone to finding the neediest, sickliest, most expensive animals anywhere. Everyone else has nice normal pets, I seem to attract the really broken ones. I love them. I will give them Cadillac levels of care. But I don't think I can do it again.

  2. I am currently experiencing a breakdown of my own, so I not only sympathize, I empathize. My circumstances are very different, but last week, I was sobbing on my bedroom floor saying "I can't do this anymore. I can't. I just can't." over and over (it really freaked out the cats).

    Can you take a break from work? Maybe set up a fund to accept donations for your pet care? Can friends or family help take over the dog walks for a few days? What about seeking the help of a mental health professional?

    1. I'm always one vet visit away from total insolvency, so taking breaks from work is too dangerous. My mother is taking Her Dogness tomorrow, so I can have a few hours with the cat and the rats without the psychotic need-beast clamoring for attention.

      I have had therapy out the yin-yang. Sadly, I'm not very good at it. Mostly I just make the therapists laugh. My current mental health plan is "have minor breakdowns, then quickly spackle over the cracks and go on like nothing has happened."

    2. Sorry to hear that therapy doesn't work for you. (I know a lot of people it doesn't help. I think some it is just luck of the draw with shrinks.) Anyway... Are you taking care of yourself physically? Eating your veggies, sleeping enough (easier said than done, I am well aware), and exercising? If you feel better physically, it might help your mental state. Again, it works for some people.

      What about selling some of your excess crafting supplies on Etsy or eBay? That might help you raise some cash for vet bills. Or maybe a Kickstarter thing where you give those flowers you make to donors?

      Sorry if I am coming across as bossy. It is not intentional. I just hate seeing someone breakdown (as I am also currently experiencing) and I am trying to be helpful.

    3. My self-care habits are sorely lacking. Diet's a mess, exercise's a mess, sleep habits are a mess. My mother is babysitting my dog overnight, so maybe that last one might get cleaned up a bit tonight. I drank a bunch of water and took a multivitamin today. It's something, I suppose.

      I can always borrow money from my mom for vet stuff. Fundraising beyond my usual 8-hours-a-day-at-work is way beyond my capabilities at this point in history (and most points in history, truthfully- my ADD runs deep).

      I think everyone's having breakdowns lately. It must be the season for this sort of thing.

  3. I hear you on the animal care duty. A few years ago, I put my dog in foster care for three months because I was totally overwhelmed by life and she was One More Thing I'm Responsible For.

    I daresay it's not uncommon for reasonable people to panic at the sight of More Stuff. That's what creates the market for professional organizers (my dream job). If I lived near you, I would gladly volunteer to practice my future job skills on you. ;) In all seriousness, I wish I could help. It pains me to see people overwhelmed by stuff.

    1. It's not just my stuff, either. I live in my grandmother's house. There's all sorts of residual objects that are not technically mine to deal with, but I must keep around. It's part of the reason my rent is so damn cheap. I will just continue to deal with MY stuff, and do the best I can.

  4. Have you got a Goodwill store, Salvation Army or a Value Village (any kind of thrift store) near you? I have been acquiring stuff since I married Mr.Happy - twenty stuff filled years. Fabric. Yarn. Patterns. Beads. Ribbons. Lace. etc. etc. ad nauseum. I vowed that this would be the year that we down-sized our (meaning my) stuff because we will have to sell this house in the next few years. So I went and got boxes. Lots of boxes. I take a box of stuff to a thrift store once a week.Sunday is new box day. Stuff goes into the box through the week - if I change my mind about it, out it comes and something else goes in to take it's place. Saturday is drop-off day. Slowly but surely, inch by inch, step by step, I am getting closer and closer to getting rid of stuff that I can really live without. And Goodwill loves me!

    1. I have been purging like a maniac. The last big heave-ho was books. I love books, but there comes a point where it's just hoarding.

  5. The nice thing about getting rid of stuff is that it makes your butt look smaller. Somebody actually wrote a book about that.