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.

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Rhetorical Questions With Real Answers

Sometimes, when I sit down at my desk or stare at my blank daily checklist and ask myself what I hope to accomplish with my day, I have a pretty good idea of what the answer is. Most of my days are fairly routine, after all. The daily grind of exercise, work, and taking care of my needs (rest, food, etc) is the name of the game, most of the time. Some days bring a greater variety, of course, but not many. Those that do are rarely pleasant, these days, since variety frequently means needing to warp my schedule in one way or another, or needing to do something else that warps my day in a way I had not anticipated nor will I enjoy. Still, most of the time I know what’s going to happen in a day and most of my questions about what my goals are or what I am trying to do are rhetorical.

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Reflections on Next Year

As the year draws to a close, I find myself thinking about the future more and more. 2023 is going to be a busy and exciting year for me, at least intermittently. Two dear friends are getting married and I will be a part of that, which involves at least one big trip and then a wedding, all of which will happen within the first six months of the year. Shortly after that, I’ll be moving since I can’t stay where I’m living any longer due to the rapid rise of rent and my personal distaste for how aware I am of everything my neighbors do. From there, my year is unknowable. After all, I’m also looking for a new job and hope to be doing something I can do entirely from a home office, since I’d like to move around a little bit. Try living elsewhere for a time. See what that’s like since I’ve lived in the same major area my entire life (northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin). Meet some new people. Go on an adventure or two.

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Post-Nap Confusion And Peak Ambient Stress

I had the misfortune of taking a nap today. It was not a long one, thankfully, but I woke up from this accidental time jump incredibly disoriented and completely disconnected from reality. It fell at the cusp of my transition from work mode to post-work-writing mode, as I took a break to sit on my office’s couch. Since I’m working from home this week due to being under the weather and wanting to avoid spreading this respiratory bug around the office, I usually take some time to move away from my desk, do something else for a little bit, and then return to my desk. Since I’ve been ill and exhausted lately, I’ve barely had the energy to do anything after work and have thus developed the habit of just sitting down on my couch under a blanket while some music or a podcast plays and I sort through post ideas in my head.

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August, My Least Favorite Month, Is Finally Over

One more week in the bank as I trudge through a spate of incredibly draining and difficult weeks with the hope of some kind of peace and rest on the horizon. The exact kind is to be determined still, from where I’m writing this (nor do I expect to have any answers soon), given the on-going health issues I’m dealing with on top of the work-related stress, world-related stress, and constant pandemic stress. I don’t know what things are going to look like once this flurry of activity has come to an end. It’s difficult to tell from the middle of things, especially given that I’m partway through a bunch of medical tests, none of which indicate that this is going to be a temporary issue if I’m reading the supporting documentation correctly. I, of course, could be wrong, but since I have to wait to speak with one or more doctors and then get one or more additional tests before I know anything, all I can do now is speculate. Which isn’t super helpful for me, but I’m grasping at straws and unsure of what else to grasp at.

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Stress and Sleep Troubles

It was another rough week. I got everything done I needed to and most of the things I wanted to, but I’m now struggling through another (thankfully silent) Friday and I want nothing more than to turn into a puddle for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. I bet puddles don’t have insomnia or anxiety. I bet puddles can get all the rest they need or want. I bet puddles don’t feel depressed and isolated from everyone they care about because anxiety is mean and they were raised to take on responsibility for the happiness and well-being of everyone around then, frequently leaving them feeling inadequate and like they’re hated whenever they protect their own mental health by not putting in extra effort to help other people who are struggling. What a life that would be, to be a puddle.

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Ongoing Pandemic Life

The pandemic has recently introduced itself into my life in new and frustrating ways. I don’t have Covid-19, thankfully (at least so far as I and my rapid tests can tell), but at least one of my estranged parents has it, as does my youngest sibling who is similar levels of estranged but for very different reasons [my single non-estranged sibling who still lives with our parents also caught it eventually]. Closer to home (emotionally and physically), one of my close friends who happens to also live only a couple blocks away also has it, though they seem to be in recovery rather than just starting out like my biological family. Many of my coworkers have been impacted by it recently as well, some of them showing the signs but never testing positive or having family members who test positive while they continue to test negative. I returned from vacation, had time to do laundry, and then discovered most of my day-to-day world had been turned upside-down and that the on-going emotional difficulties related to having estranged parents had only grown more difficult. Which kinda sucks, not gonna lie.

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Managing Vacation Anxiety

As I begin the careful calculus of packing and planning for my vacation, I’ve started weighing the various options I have for types of entertainment to bring with me to this isolated cabin. I have so many options that are portable enough to consider bringing with that I’m concerned I might be packing more tabletop and video games than everything else put together. It has been a long time since I’ve done anything to relax that didn’t center being at my apartment for an extended period of time, so I’ll admit I’m overly anxious about how to adequately prepare for my vacation. To be entirely fair to myself, something bad has happened every single time I’ve taken more than one or two days off of work for the past two years, so these anxieties aren’t entirely unfounded. Since one of the main strategies for processing anxieties involves acknowledging the parts that are actually reasonable or at least reasonable-adjacent and then taking steps to mitigate them, I’m giving myself space to over-plan and over-pack.

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I Have A Low Bar For What I’d Call A Peaceful Day

This has, so far, been the first week where nothing has happened by the end of Wednesday (please keep in mind this was written a week before it was posted). This will mean it is the first quiet week I’ve had in about a month and something I sorely needed after the tumultuous few weeks I’ve had immediately prior to this one. Not all of that time has been bad, of course. A lot of fun and/or good things happened during that period of time, but a lot of bad, unpleasant, and awful things also happened during that time period. It has just been a lot without much of a break for me to catch my breath. I couldn’t escape the constant happenings anywhere I went. Even the refuges I had built on Twitter for moments like this had been overrun by happenings. Long overdue happenings by the sound of it, happenings that I support wholeheartedly (for the most part, more than one thing happened after all), but still stuff that was a drain to encounter.

As I’m writing this blog post, it is the end of the third day since anything new happened to me. I’ve had no new issues to deal with, no new occasions to celebrate, no new happenings to work through, and none of the old stuff has reared its head anywhere beyond my anxiety. It has been quiet and I’ve had time to feel exhausted without worrying that I’m missing something vital. As boring as my days have been, this is exactly what I’ve needed. I even found an extra bottle of mouthwash when I thought I was entirely out of it, so even the small stuff has stayed incredibly uneventful.

As I write this, there is no noise in my apartment aside from the quiet whir of my fan, the distant gentle cheeps of my bird who is upset with me for walking past her without spending the rest of the time she’s awake interacting with her, the clack of my keyboard as I write, and the soft rumble of distant thunder as a series of heavy storms roll past to the north of me. I’m under a tornado watch, as is most of my state right now, a severe thunderstorm watch, and an incredibly enjoyable “watch the dark storm clouds roll in” watch. Given my history with storms, this is incredibly calming rather than worrisome and I’m looking forward to whatever tonight brings as the storm rages outside. It might be a tornado, which would be terrible, but there will definitely be plenty of rain, lightning, and thunder.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my evening. My attempts to make plans met with no success, so I suspect I’ll be reading or playing video games by myself while listening to a backlog of podcasts. The exact activity will depend on whether or not I still have power of course. Even now, I’m actively saving my work every line or two since it looks like the kind of weather that steals your power away without warning. That would suck, since it is hot and humid as all get-out, but it would definitely make tonight a quiet night with no demands placed on my emotional energy. Unless, of course, my apartment gets wrecked by a tornado. The one exception to the hopefully peaceful night I have ahead of me.

Still, a tornado does one thing and there’s only one thing I can do about it, so it is a relatively simple situation to handle when you’ve studied weather patterns and lived in the Midwest as long as I have. Feels so much easier to hypothetically handle than a difficult conversation about why I chose to remove someone from a Dungeons and Dragons campaign or why I think we absolutely need strict gun laws in a way most pro-gun people around me don’t seem to comprehend given the way the second amendment to the US constitution has been misinterpreted for years. Even writing those out was exhausting.

My New Mental Health Cycles

As I sat on my porch this morning, drinking my coffee and enjoying some direct sunlight as I cooled down after my morning workout, I was forced to admit that my struggles with depression this year weren’t entirely due to the long, bitter winter we had. That definitely contributed to it, of course, there’s no denying that. My struggles with work and the increasing solitude I feel as one of the only people I know who is avoiding all but the most necessary trips into public places are also contributing factors of course. However, there is no denying the increased severity of my depression from previous years to this one. Even last year wasn’t as bad as this one, in terms of my general depression.

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