Adjustment Anxiety

I am now over a month past my last day at my job. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time adjusting to things at first. Two days after my last day both of my kids came home for the holidays. We then had Christmas and New Year’s to distract me. My son went back to his house, but my daughter was still home. My afternoons were reserved for watching TV with her. I just had a few hours in the morning to fill and then I was good. She moved back to her apartment Thursday night. Friday I picked books up at the library and drove around dropping late gifts on friends’ porches. Saturday we finally took the tree down and vacuumed. Sunday I cleaned bathrooms and watched the football games. Then came Monday and the first real test of our adjustment to the new reality. Here are some of what I’m struggling with this week.

Inadequacy

My plan for the interim between leaving my job and the eventuality of going back to work was to work on writing. Improve the blog, look for other writing opportunities, and try to see if there is a book in my jail experience. The blogging part is relatively easy. I’ve been doing that. I have a decent amount of readers. I never really expected to make money with it. The other two make me feel inadequate. I have written about 5000 words about working for the state prison system. Most of those over the past two days. I am going back over it today for editing and such and I know I will find that the writing is bad and simplistic and not good enough for more than a series of blog posts. I don’t feel like I’m good enough to even try to do any freelance work or write anything to submit to any sort of real publication or website. It makes me lean toward just trying to get another library job even if I would hate it. At least I know I can do it.

Guilt

I know I can’t fill up the entire day with writing. I start around 8AM or so, sometimes later if I sleep past 7. Even on a good day, I am pretty much done with any productive writing before noon. I eat lunch. I walk the dog. Today I will sweep and mop the kitchen. I still feel guilty that I’m not doing enough. I’m not making money, though technically I have a few more weeks before we reach the end of my vacation pay out so I’m not officially not making money yet. If I take a few minutes to read my book I feel like I’m wasting time and the guilt creeps in. When I get to the point in the afternoon when I feel like I can quit and watch TV until my wife is finished with work I feel like a slacker. If I’m not doing something that I think others will view as productive I get really stressed out and think I should have just stayed at my terrible job. I was miserable, but at least my time was somewhat productive.

Fear

Fear that when I do decide I need to get a job that I will be unable to find one. Fear that my family will see me as a disappointment. Fear that my wife will decide that a “retired” husband is not making her happy. Feat that I will eventually be doing this alone. Fear that I have hurt us more financially than I expected. Fear that I’ve made a terrible mistake and that everyone is judging me harshly for it. Fear that I will never figure things out and I will feel like this forever.

Depression

I spend a lot of time alone now. I wake up early and go downstairs. My wife works upstairs with the door closed. I only interrupt her if it is very important. I don’t talk to another human for 12 hours. Add this alone time to the feelings of guilt, inadequacy and fear and it does not make for happy times.

It is a big adjustment. I judge myself harshly for not being what I think others would consider productive and then assume everyone is is judging me harshly. I need to find some sort of regular volunteer work to do so I get out of the house to do something at least once a week. I spend way too much time alone with my thoughts and it leads to bad places.

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Fighting the Midwinter/Pandemic Blues

This time of year is always a little hard for me. The holidays are over. It’s cold. While the days are getting longer, it is still dark relatively early. I go from having my kids around back to the empty nest. There’s not a lot to look forward to until the days are longer and warmer. This year is compounded by the state of the world. The virus is still out there. We just hit 400000 deaths in the US. DC is under guard to protect against violence at the inauguration. It will be east for me to give in to the depression and just give up on finding any good or being productive.

It took me a long time to even consider opening my laptop today. The only reason I did is because I am writing a letter of recommendation for someone’s grad school application today. Otherwise, I would have justified letting the writing go for another day.

There are positives, but I can dwell on even the negative of that.

Three family members have received their first shot of the Covid vaccine. Hopefully, my mother in law will get an appointment soon. This is all good news. But I remember that I am on the bottom of the list for vaccinations. I will be lucky to get mine by June. Most of my family has a reason to be ahead of me due to jobs and health conditions. I foresee a time when all of my family in Kentucky is vaccinated and can see each other while I am here in Maryland still waiting on my turn.

This was made worse by someone in the library world telling me that there is a push for library employees to be added to the essential worker tier of the vaccinations. It would be typical for me to leave my job only to find out that if I had stayed I could have been vaccinated earlier. I strongly disagree with this idea. Librarians who were always very vocal when it came to funding about how essential they were all suddenly decided they were nonessential when it came to the discussion of opening to the public. You can’t now decided you are essential again to jump the line for vaccines. If you closed in March and never considered opening again or expanding services you can’t now claim to be essential when it gives you benefits. Assholes.

I’ve talked in therapy about what to do to fight this. I want to find volunteer opportunities. I want to see if there are online trivia nights I can join. I want to initiate Zoom social nights with friends from high school, college, etc. I want to do all of this, but it is so much easier to sit on the couch under a blanket and wait for things to get better.

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Too Much Sleep

A while back I wrote about how my sleep pattern was off after a trip and how much I needed sleep. I’m now having the exact opposite problem.

Now that I’m not staying up too late watching baseball, I tend to go up to my bedroom earlier than normal. I generally try to read for a bit before I go to sleep. If there is a football game on I will have that on while I read. Sometimes I will watch a show I watch alone while my wife continues her rewatch of the 80s TV show Hunter.

I’m starting to have more nights like last night. I went upstairs at 9 after barely staying awake for the show we were watching. I thought about turning on the football game, but didn’t. I just got comfortable and went to sleep early. Unlike in the earlier post this did. It mean I woke up early. I still stayed in bed until my alarm. That means I was in bed and sleeping(for the most part) for over 9 hours. That is not normal for me and tends to make me more tired.

I work in branch for 5 hours today. That will increase my weariness. My couple of hours after if working from home will not help. I then will have at least an hour alone after work before my wife is done with work. It will be a struggle to stay awake past 9 again tonight. The cycle will continue.

I know depression is a big part of it. As long as my days are spent the way they are this is unlikely to change. Maybe when my regular TV shows come back next month I will stay awake more to watch.

For now, I’m just really tired.

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One of Those Mornings

It’s a beautiful morning, but all I want to do is go back to bed. I got plenty of sleep last night. It’s not a physical tired thing. it’s a “I really can’t face the real world today” thing.

I won’t go back to bed. Instead, I am up and dressed and heading off to work in 20 minutes.

I will instead have an afternoon in a Zoom staff meeting.

I will probably get stressful phone calls that will make the day even worse.

I’m still working on a plan that will convince others that quitting and taking a sabbatical is a good idea.

It’s one of those mornings where the thought of real life makes me physically ill.

Sigh.

I promise more fun posts will eventually return.

Monday Again

Here I am again. Monday morning with an overwhelming sense of melancholy about having to leave the house.

Another Monday morning with no blog post ideas.

I saw on Twitter a discussion of how far in advance people schedule blog posts. There are people out there who have weeks worth of blog posts done and scheduled. I rarely have a blog post scheduled. If I do, it is usually the Wordless Wednesday post where all I am doing is picking pictures to share. I typically get my laptop or iPad and then write what comes to mind. I vomit out my words and hit publish. I’m sure no one is surprised by this.

Scheduled posts would help my Mondays. It’s hard to get in the mood to do much at all before work on Monday morning.

Sigh.

Taking a Step

Readers of this space will know that I have struggled recently with coping with life in general. I’ve always had periods where I struggled with anxiety and worry. I’ve had down moods, but I always just coped with it, powered through and moved on. The last few years, I’ve found it harder and harder to do this. A series of life events, I think, lead to this.

I lost my mom to cancer.

I changed jobs soon after that.

My youngest went away to college and I had to learn to deal with an empty nest.

I learned soon enough that the job change was a mistake.

The toxic environment became more and more toxic.

Then came the pandemic and I lost pretty much everything I still liked about work.

The toxicity increased.

I reached a breaking point. My first hope was that I would convince my wife that I should quit my job and that would help. It became clear that would not happen, but something needed to change. I still think things would improve exponentially if I removed myself from that environment, but at the very least I need help coping with it. So, I decided I would finally take the step of seeking therapy.

It was hard to make the call. It was even harder when I kept being told that they had no openings. but I could be on a waiting list. I gave up and told my wife I was giving up on it and I would just cope on my own. She did not give up and texted me a practice to call. They did have an opening and I have my first appointment Wednesday.

Don’t be like me. You might be able to power through and cope, but it isn’t healthy. If I had talked to someone when my anxiety and depression started to get bad I would be in a much better place right now. It shouldn’t take a pandemic to admit you need help. If you need to talk to someone, make the call. I did.

Running or Walking Away

As a bonus post today a share of two posts that reflect how I’m feeling right now. It is a particularly bad mental health day for me today and I still have 45 minutes before I clock into work. This has been a long week and it’s only Wednesday.

Dreams of Running Away https://theycallmetater.com/2018/01/05/dreams-of-running-away/

In which I talk about how I’ve always had thoughts of running away and going somewhere where no one knows me and I can start over. Not happening now that I have a family.

An Insane Thing I’ve Always Wanted To Do theycallmetater.com/2020/05/30/an-insane-thing-ive-always-wanted-to-do/

In which I talk about a similar thing except in this one I walk across the country. It would have the bonus of removing me from real life and giving me time to reflect and think about my next step in life.

The two things they have in common is basically running away from real life and my problems. At this point I would just take quitting my job and taking a sabbatical.

Ready to Rip Van Winkle

I recently watched 28 Days Later. At the beginning of the movie the main character wakes from a coma to discover he missed the zombie apocalypse. After that, on Twitter, I saw a conversation where someone mentioned they would like to be like Rip Van Winkle and sleep until all of this is over. I get how they feel. I don’t want to be like the 28 Days Later guy and wake up to the end of the world. I don’t really want to be in an accident that causes a coma, but waking up to this being over is a pleasant idea. A pandemic, a bad work situation, the realization that you have no circle besides your immediate family. It’s a really tough time. Why wouldn’t I want to Rip Van Winkle my way past it?

This isn’t the first time this idea has popped in my head. Various times over the years when I have struggled I’ve thought about how I wish I could fast forward to better times. Sometimes that thought involved some sort of sleeping until it was over thought. Why don’t we have the technology we see in sci-fi where we can go into some sort f cryo sleep and be revived years later without aging? It’s probably not healthy to want to sleep through your problems, but I think 2020 is something I would gladly miss.

Of course, it is less of a desire now that I have a family. With a family, I would miss more than the pandemic. I would miss time with my kids. Maybe they could cryo sleep with me.

Am I the only one? Anyone else wish they could Rip Van Winkle their way past all of this?

What Now?

Labor Day weekend is over.

My kids are both living about 40 minutes away from my house now.

The days are getting shorter.

I have no work holidays until November.

I assume there will be no handing out candy on Halloween.

I have no idea what Christmas will look like.

I’ve given up on my thought of taking a sabbatical and making a career change.

Looking forward I see:

Going to a job that makes me sad.

Coming home to a few hours alone while my wife works.

Watching tv for an hour or two after work.

Going to bed early.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s Hard to Be a Blogger When You’re Boring

I have been thinking about this post this morning. I wrote a few years ago about how hard it is to be a blogger when you are boring. It’s even harder now when you are not only boring, but you also don’t even do the few things you used to do. My kids are both gone now. I have work and then nothing. Hours of home time, most of it alone while my wife is working. Nothing to look forward to. No attending Ravens games this fall. No conferences. Who knows what Christmas will look like. It is hard to be a blogger when you are even more boring than before. It’s even harder to be a blogger when you are boring and depressed.

I recently posted that I have trouble coming up with blogging ideas and asked for ideas. I was having trouble with a topic for my post this morning and thought I might use one of the ideas my friend Sara Leigh suggested. I started thinking about the things I would do when I retire(or quit my job now). I had ideas of what those things would be and I still might do that post soon, but I will warn you that it was pretty boring. I might become the world’s most boring retiree. It fits, though, since I am a very boring person.

Being a boring person makes it hard to not be a boring blogger. I read other blogs and a lot of them can find an anecdote from an ordinary day and make it in to an interesting post. Jenny Lawson is the best at this. I’m not trying to be Jenny Lawson, but it would be nice to be able to take more from every day life and make it an interesting post. This is hard for me as the following is my typical day and why they wouldn’t make a good post:

Wake up, read the paper, watch the news, write a boring blog post – I’m already in the process of boring you with a post about writing boring blog posts.

Go to work – I try not to talk about work online for a variety of reasons. Coworkers read this blog. I don’t people to think this blog is in any way associated with my place of work. It isn’t. This blog is representative of the common tater from Tater World Headquarters.

Come home, eat dinner, read/watch TV – Boring, boring, boring. I do get a Friday post out of what I watch and read, so I guess that counts as something I do that generates a blog post.

Weekends I do yard work, laundry, cleaning, attend church. Nothing that generally gives me a good story for the blog.

I used to do more commentary on current events and things I see on the Today Show. Maybe I can do more of that moving forward.

Maybe I can try to do more interesting things. Maybe I can use my upcoming time alone to craft better posts that would make the mundane seem interesting.

Blogging is hard for a common tater.