Turns Out Writing These A Week Ahead Has Some Drawbacks

[I write all of these a week ahead of time and rarely have I felt so at-a-loss for how to shift this one to reflect the time between when I wrote this and when I edited it before it went up. For this post, I edited it on Friday and added a bunch of notes to reflect my mind frame a week later. All of those notes are in brackets like this one.]

In the first draft of this post, I wrote about feeling capable and like I’ll be able to manage everything I want to do this week without having to borrow from days later down the line or by sacrificing my well-being in the moment. I went on about it for a couple paragraphs before I realized that what I felt was “rested” and that what I was describing was just my first time in months starting the week without already being exhausted because a single weekend wasn’t enough recovery time from the stress of weeks past. As it turns out, this past weekend was exactly the recovery time I needed to finish resting up from the pair of stressful months I had (two months of days, not two months by the calendar) and now I finally feel ready for the week ahead. While it is possible that something stressful and exhausting could happen this week [which it totally did, since I write these a week ahead of time] since most of the stress and exhaustion of my past few months has been the unexpected nature of what has happened, I think I’ve finally gotten to a point where I have enough stored up resilience to bounce back from one bad thing [haha, NOPE].

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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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Taking A Moment For Perspective

I was taking a break at work, sitting in my chair and mindlessly flipping between email accounts on my phone so I could feel like I got something done (clean out my email inboxes) without needing to really do much (all I really get are ads these days), because I was too exhausted to engage with even something as simple as a sudoku puzzle. After I ran out of inboxes to clean, I decided to text a friend a simple complaint about being exhausted and not knowing why, given that I’ve actually been getting decent sleep this week. As we talked and I went from that general statement to considering the specifics of my past few days, I realized that I should actually be very proud of myself for only being this exhausted. All of the stress of the last two months hasn’t actually gone away, I’ve just adjusted to carrying it and started getting enough sleep that I’m not so tired in the morning that I need to spend two hours convincing myself to get out of bed.

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The Benefits Of Rest

I’ve written many times about my relationship with sleep. While sleep and dreams and my ability to rest don’t occupy my mind as much as stories and tabletop roleplaying games do, they’re probably third or fourth highest on list. After all, I’ve been dealing with one kind of insomnia or another for over half my life and my experiences with it and relaxation in general have made me highly aware of the different kinds of rest you can get. This makes it easy to direct my time towards what I need in order to maintain high-function in periods of high stress or enduring periods of constant stress, but it also means that I tend to abuse this power at times when my stress levels are lower than my usual state.

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Imperfect Rest Is Better Than None

As I’ve been working on recovering from all the stress of the past few months and trying to find ways to still make progress on my goals without worsening my current degree of burnout, I’ve realized that my most restful days of late are days that include a mixture of actual rest, enjoyable activities, and moderate productivity. While I’ve always known this to some degree or another, I’ve never been able to nail down a formula for it. Experimentation over the last few weeks though, has had startlingly positive results. If I have enough rest and relaxation intermingled with a moderately busy day of self-directed activity, it is usually a net-restful day for me, even if I’m cleaning my apartment and doing all my laundry. If I can be a little productive on a day set aside to not need productivity while also engaging in restful occupation, it is usually quite restful.

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Reclaiming Home And Resting Peacefully

I haven’t been reading much lately. I have no problem finding books that sound interesting and I can afford to buy books I want (I also live a block away from a library so I could get access to books easily even if I couldn’t afford to buy them), but I still haven’t read much in the past couple years. Most of the reason for that ties back to the pandemic, my current living situation, and issues from my past coming together in a way that leaves me unable to relax enough to feel like I can get lost in a book. Any time I hear my neighbors thump around their apartment, any time I get stiff from sitting still from too long, or any time I start to lose track of time and feel a brief moment of panic that I’m breaking from the routines that have let me survive the stress of the pandemic, I get pulled out of the book.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but it is can easily be summed up by me admitting that I don’t feel “at home” in my apartment. Even as I attempt to address the stress and past issues, I still find myself thinking “I don’t have a home, I have a place I live.” It’s a difficult mental space for me to break out of because I grew up in a situation that made me feel the same way. Even with making a home at my college and in one of my apartments since then, I’ve spent so much more time in a living situation that feels like a place I merely occupy for now, rather than a place I feel safe and like I can control or own. Which is why I am having so many problems sleeping and why I can never seem to nap. It’s why my insomnia seemed to go away the instant I left the house I grew up in and didn’t return as an actual inability to sleep until my current living situation.

That’s the thing about rest. You can only do it if you don’t feel anxious about your safety. I didn’t ever feel safe in my parents’ house (and still don’t thanks to all that trauma) and one of my first experiences in my current apartment laid the groundwork for not feeling safe there. I got my wisdom teeth removed the summer I moved into that apartment and discovered that I have a bad reaction to oxycodone when I developed severe paranoia, had bad nightmares, and couldn’t sleep until the two doses I’d taken left my system because I kept instantly waking up thinking someone was trying to break down my door. It was probably just my upstairs neighbors being noisy as they continued to do until they moved out despite my requests that they quiet down during the late night hours, but it’s difficult to parse that information when you’re in a drug-addled sleep-state.

I stopped taking the oxycodone and made-do with Tylenol (which worked just fine since I have a pretty high pain tolerance) and it didn’t really come up again until late January of 2021 when my upstairs neighbors got even noisier than they had been, to the point of waking me up repeatedly in the middle of the night with their thumping and banging. It didn’t help that I was perhaps the most stressed and alone I’d ever been in my life, so I wasn’t in a good place going into that period. I got through it, though, and I’m doing a lot better now, but I’m still struggling with the feeling that my apartment of almost two years still doesn’t feel like a “home” to me.

As someone who definitely can’t afford to buy a house and the types of rentals that would allow me to live without noisy nieghbors banging on walls or floors are not something I could rent without roomates, there aren’t many good solutions to this problem. I could maybe move somewhere less expensive, find a better paying job, get a roommate or two, or move in with a friend who just bought a place despite how terrible a location it is for me and everything I’d do other than hangout with that friend (a minimum 45 minute commute in heavy local traffic, so I wouldn’t even enjoy the drive). None of these are guarenteed to succeed or even likely to happen before I have to renew my lease again. I could try moving, of course, to another rental with similar issues but fewer negative past associations, but rent is increasing so fast I’m not sure I can afford to live in a place of a similar quality to my current apartment (which, honestly, isn’t that high even if I ignore all factors other than the noisy neighbors).

There really aren’t a lot of great options, right now, which definitely isn’t helping my current stress levels. I’ve been trying to work on reclaiming my space and making my living space feel more like a “home” instead of just the location I sleep most nights, but that’s slow work. Slowed even more by my almosted0 recovered financial position, mounting stress as a Human in the world, and the increasing isolation of frequently feeling like one of the only people who is still taking on-going pandemic seriously. It’s not great, honestly, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I’d hoped that writing my thoughts out here would provide a solution, that I’d come up with some kind of idea for what to do or at least feel a bit better about my slow but steady progress, but I just sort of feel tired. Which is all I’ve felt lately, if I’m being honest. Tired.

I’m going to do my best to relax a little bit, to try to reclaim my own space in a way that will help me work on my other goals, and I hope you make some progress on relaxing yourself. Or on personal goals. Whatever you’re working on, I hope it goes well.

Stress, Coping, And Not Tempting Fate

Of course, the week I wrote about being resilient and capable of managing my stress is the week the world takes another step down the “gone to hell” path. My workplace announces an end to mask requirements, Russia invades Ukraine (keep in mind I wrote this on February 24th and February 24th Chris has no idea what has happened between now and then), and the conservatives of my country have continued to do their best to prove what absolute shithead fascists they are. I really need to stop writing about how I’ve finally gotten my feet underneath me or how I’m managing my stress. It feels too much like tempting the fuckers to fuck something up in the world at this point.

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Rambling About Stress, Student Debt, and The New Year

Well, it’s the new year. Officially and completely. Both as I’m writing this and as it goes up. I am definitely not past writing the wrong year, yet. I rarely write the year on anything other than journal entries and I’ve been too busy to spend time sitting around journaling. Which isn’t technically true, I suppose, since I had time for other sitting around. I haven’t chosen to spend time journaling yet, is more accurate. And my blog schedule is a bit off kilter since I took a few days off for the holidays and this past work week is unusual, so I will be low on energy and might miss a few more days. In truth, I have no idea when this will go up, since I’m not sure how many blog posts I’ll get done and how I’ll sort them all out. Or what days I might decide to skip.

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