A Fresh Can of Whipped Stress and Chopped Anxiety on This Burnout Sundae

I’m really starting to think that I am, in fact, cursed. Every time I take a vacation from work, something happens immediately after that vacation ends that seems to completely destroy all of the rest I got while away from my job. This time, it didn’t even wait that long and then doubled-down. I had an anxiety attack that lasted a few days, wrecking my sleep for most of my second week away from work, and then, when I had finally recovered from that (so much as I can in less than a week) and went back to the office, I wound up with a whole pile of emotionally draining and difficult events scheduled within a thirty-two hour period. All of which felt incredibly trite and inconsequential after I learned of some awful news impacting a dear friend. The first two weeks of 2023 were one hell of a start to the year.

It was a pretty shitty way to come back to work after two weeks off, to be smugly told that I’d volunteered to run an “internal tradeshow” event while I was out of the office, and it really soured my other wise good mood. Thankfully my coworkers’ attempts to pass all the work required onto me fell apart when our boss informed us that they had to be involved as well. I wound up spending almost eight hours doing demos for the tours coming through during the day of the event. It wasn’t a solid eight hours of non-stop social effort, since I had the chance to stop for lunch and a walk while someone covered my station, but that’s still a long time for me to be standing on a hard concrete floor while staying socially engaged. Later that same day, I had a family therapy session that should have involved a direct and difficult conversation with my parents but really just involved me monologuing and then us talking about some basic word meanings instead of them actually enagagin with what I’d said. The outcome is that I’m probably done with family therapy sessions. I’m still sorting through how I feel about all this, so I might change my mind once I’ve had time to recover from how busy and exhuasting the last few days have been.

The light in this period of stress was seeing my old therapist again. I had to get a new therapist after my old one left the organization she worked for and decided to take a break from work for a while, but I finally managed to schedule an appointment with her again after these last four months. My new therapist with the old organization is fine, they seem like they’re decent at their job, but our sessions are shorter. They frequently start late and end early, so the already short (compared to what I was used to with my old therapist) sessions feel even shorter. I’ll probably continue seeing them on our 4-6 week appointment schedule for something they specialize in that my old therapist does not, but maybe not. I’ll have to see how things shake out over the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, this bright and shining moment was overshadowed by needing to hustle back to work for an appointment with HR. I recently applied for an internally posted job within the company and that turned into an interview (a relatively low bar to clear, thanks to the way internal job applications are handled). I think I handled myself well, but I couldn’t really get a decent read on the people interviewing me. I’m trying to avoid fretting about how things went, especially given the almost glacial pace of the decision-making process at my employer, but I expect this will be on my mind for at least a few more weeks before I find out how it went. Plus, I’m concerned I went in a little underdressed. I haven’t bought new casual clothes in a few years and, thanks to my working out and the pandemic, my body isn’t really the same shape it was when I bought any of the clothes in my closet. The outfit I went with, ultimately, was mostly hand-me-downs from my grandfather after he passed away which fit alright, thankfully, but I felt awkward and uncomfortable the whole time. I also felt incredibly ill-prepared since I applied for a job outside of my direct work experience and I’m really not sure if I’m going to get a follow-up interview, much less the job. Only time will tell, unfortunately.

It was a rough thirty-two hours, that. I only got one day of (at-work) recovery as well, since my siblings came to visit this past weekend. While it was a delight to see them both, I had to do a bunch of cleaning to make sure I was ready to host them. Maybe not as much as I otherwise might have if I hadn’t done all this cleaning just two weeks prior (my sister got sick and we had to reschedule), but still enough that it was difficult to mentally unwind after the stress of last week. I went into the visit a lot more tense and keyed-up than I usually am, which is never pleasant or conduscive to the kind of good, restful sleep I needed to get, so I wound up crashing pretty hard after they left. Which, for me, meant playing a lot of Valheim while not talking to anyone as I started a re-listen of the Twilight Mirage season of Friends At The Table.

Today, as you’re reading this, I’m probably dragging myself out the door or pushing myself through a rough work day (made a bit more rough by my much more strict coffee rationing that began the night I couldn’t sleep for shit two weeks ago). I do not know how I’m going to feel in that moment (I edited this all the Friday before this posted), but I really hope I’m going into what is (hopefully) an incredibly normal and boring week at work with the usual amount of stress rather than the condensed can of whipped stress that was last week. Makes me miss the time when I was just burned out…

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