From Age Thirty to Thirty-Seven

After I had my breakdown at age thirty, I moved back in with my parents. I found I wasn’t able to function on my own. I would fall asleep driving to my temporary job with Kaiser. When at the job, I couldn’t even read. The words were all jumbled. I appeared competent. No one could see that I, a highly educated and articulate former professional woman, COULD NOT EVEN READ A SENTENCE.

So to Hermosa Beach and my parents’ care, I returned. They were tremendously supportive and encouraged my recovery by giving me work to do and charging me room and board. The rent was more than I could earn doing odd jobs around the house. We drew up a promissory note with well-defined terms, including interest charged for the money I owed them. Once I was up for it, I got outside employment, starting as a temporary file clerk for Cushman and Wakefield, a large commercial real estate firm. What followed was a decade long career in commercial real estate. It was a welcome change, not emotionally draining as was helping severely emotionally disturbed youth, and it used my analytic and problem-solving skills. Still, I continued my pattern of overdoing it, working long hours and neglecting myself, leading to repeated burn out and cyclical depression. As a result, my résumé which you can find on LinkedIn lists numerous short stints at various jobs and in multiple career areas.

Soon after moving back to Hermosa Beach, I met my future husband, a civil engineer who didn’t own a car, just three motorcycles and a small plane. Not your average engineer. Interesting. Complex. He even spoke Mandarin. Three years after we met, we married and later had a son. Since both my son and husband are very private, I hesitate to write much of my life as wife and mother. I can say, though, that I found being home with an infant difficult. At the same time, I found being at work, away from him, heart-breaking. After childbirth and a pregnancy that kept me bedridden for five weeks, I returned to the workplace on a part-time basis. My job, as always, grew, consuming more and more of me, while my son needed me home with him. When I worked first two then three days a week, my sister and my husband would care for my son. By the time that my responsibilities demanded that I work four days a week until 7pm, I put my son in a loving home-based childcare setting. Every time I would leave my son at childcare, he would cry for a good one and a half hours. I visited him during my lunch hour, which meant that he we would cry again after lunch. It broke my heart. Finally I decided to quit work and stay home with him full-time.


6 responses to “From Age Thirty to Thirty-Seven”

  1. Yes! That’s huge! I can see how that would be hard!

  2. Being a stay-at-home mom is definitely not intellectually stimulating. It is difficult to have an advanced degree and not use it after having worked so hard to obtain it.

  3. It sounds like your parents encourage a strong work ethic. Being a stay-at-home mom can play tricks on me – especially when I struggle with mood swings. I often think the grass is greener or that another situation in which I appear more ambitious would keep me more mentally healthy. I had a pediatrician once tell me that if she was a stay-at-home mom she would kill herself. Having just woken from postpartum psychosis at the time, I didn’t mention to her that I was close to it.

  4. I agree, Salva, but honestly I wasn’t pursuing material gain. My ambition and workaholism came from my personality or were a symptom of bipolar disorder. I did not pursue money. I just wanted to get the job done, and do it well, and would do so at any cost to myself and my family.

  5. No answers to be found in materialism. Period.

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