My Coping Mechanisms Were Overwhelmed

I don’t think I’ve ever had a week that has tested my coping mechanisms as much as this past one has. 2023 has been a rough year, but this past week has been a special brand of hell. Not only have I had to deal with a few incredibly stressful events such as cancelling a flight and booking a new one, confronting my body image and gender identity issues as I get fit for a suit and buy new clothing, and trying to ramp up my performance at work even more as projects get shuffled around and my timeline gets drastically reduced, but I’ve also been trying to juggle preparations for this trip I’m going on. I have dropped every single ball multiple times this week (or had it knocked out of my hands by circumstance) and, despite wanting nothing more than to crawl into a hole for twenty-four hours so I can rest and recover before cleaning up and trying again, I have had to carry on immediately. I honestly don’t think I’ve had a week where I’ve had to just suck it up and keep going when I’m this stressed and miserable since I moved out of my parents’ house.

After all, it’s not like I’ve got time to spare before this trip, not when it looks like I’d be driving for sixteent hours in a single day to make the trip happen. Turns out all flight prices are high right now, even the domestic ones, so it is cheaper to just drive even if I have to get a hotel halfway due to exhaustion, park in the long-term lot of an airport, and then stop at another hotel on the way back. I’ve had to make a lot of mental adjustments, prepare myself to spend a lot of money, spend a lot of money, and confront more stressful things in this one week than in any one month so far this year. I mean, the thing that made dealing with the stress and misfortune of this year possible was that, until this week, it was just one or two big things at a time. I get could away from it and rest. I could take time to recover. Now I’ve got all my recovery time set aside for errands or cleaning my apartment (I think coming home to a dirty apartment would break me, assuming I manage to make it through all my preparations and then the entire trip without breaking), all while still packing and preparing to leave at the crack of dawn on a Friday morning. Gonna have to get my ass up at 5am or something like that so I’m not arriving at my friends’ apartment at midnight. Or so I have more than 2 hours of total break time during the trip.

As I write this (a few days behind where I would like to be, in terms of writing posts ahead of time), I feel like I might have hit the point where I’ve gotten so stressed out that i’m getting sick [that was thankfully not the case]. It could also be the sleep deprivation, though [it was], because I’ve been having a difficult time getting to sleep at a reasonable hour out of a mixture of needing some kind of joy in my day (like Wednesday, when I got home at 9:30 and finally got around to eating after my shower and prep for the next day at 10) or because my body is having a difficult time with all the stress it’s going through (like Thursday when I went to bed by midnight, but woke up in the middle of the night with awful stomach pain because the normally inconsequential amount of dairy I ate pushed me over into the bad lands thanks to how exhausted and awful I felt). I mean, I had an objectively minor but personally major outpatient procedure this week that involved dealing with one of my top five nightmare scenarios and it is barely more than a footnote in the events of this week. It’s not like any of that stuff hurt much. It just felt as awful as I always imagined it would (which is why I put it off until it developed into an annoyance I couldn’t ignore) and now I can’t get the feeling out of my mind.

All of which is to say that I’m at about my wit’s end. My coping mechanisms have become brittle from overuse and lack of effect. My mood has passed beyond “sad” or even “depressed as hell” to “fatalistically neutral” because it’s not like feeling bad about any of this is going to do anything but use up energy I can’t afford to spend. I’ve got my lists. I’m making progress. I’m going to get everything done. I just gotta hold on until all the “do it now or else” stuff is finished and then I can hopefully ease up a little bit. Once everything is ordered, bought, and accounted for, I don’t need to worry about running out of time to get necessities. I can just leave all the packing until the last day (which is separate, of course, from the packing preparations of picking out clothes and making sure everything fits in my suitcase). I mean, I’m going to have to do laundry right before packing anyway, so it’s not like I would accomplish much by trying to pack sooner. I just gotta make sure it gets done and all loaded into the car the day before so I can just wake up, shower, get coffee sorted, and then drive right away. I can’t afford to do my usual “waste two hours because I thought it would only take fifteen minutes to finish packing” thing.

It would be really cool if flight prices would just drop before then. I’d love to just fly from the Midwest to the East Coast. It would be a hassle, of course, to have to check a bag and deal with all the usual stuff of a plane when I’ll have to do it all over again the next day, but it would take a lot less effort on my part than driving for fourteen to eighteen hours. I can do that, I’m pretty sure. The most I’ve ever done is twelve, but this is just a third more than that, so I think I can manage it. Especially with a bunch of World Beyond Number podcasts to listen to on my drive. I’ve been saving most of that for just this occasion, though I’ll admit I’m a bit worried about the number of people talking about how much they’ve cried while listening to it. Crying makes driving a bit more difficult. After this past week, though, I think even bawling while driving would be a walk in the park.

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