On the Roller Coaster

I feel like I started the week out on a high. Most of my therapy session Monday was focused on my successes from the week.

I submitted work to a place that was not my own blog. I expect nothing from it, but it was a step.

I started my volunteer doing weekly deliveries for a church program.

I’m doing yoga in the mornings.

I worked up the courage to record my own voice on the new blog to podcast thing.

The rain is gone. It’s nice and sunny this morning. It will be relatively warm this afternoon. I will be able to sit on the porch to read. I can take the dog for a walk in just a sweatshirt(and pants). There’s good news on the vaccine front(though left to my governor and county exec I will still be lucky to be vaccinated by Christmas).

So much good. Nothing bad of note has happened. Yet, I woke up this morning in a funk. I should be used to this. The reason I started therapy is my anxiety and depression. Sometimes I can pinpoint the cause. Sometimes it’s just there. Some of the possible reasons for the down mood?

The high of the recording the first bit for the podcast turns into the low of struggling with recording yesterday and the low quality of the finished work. You can listen below. As a “helpful” commenter pointed out after my first one, speaking isn’t for everyone. Thing is, though, I have emceed work training events in front of hundreds of people. I’ve presented at conferences. I know speaking is something I can do. Recording is the issue. Also, the lack of an audience. I will give it a few more tries and then decide if I continue.

The high of the writing submission turns into the low of being stuck when it comes to the book. Another spot where I start thinking maybe it’s not something I can actually do. I will never make money from writing so why keep pretending?

The high of the vaccine news and seeing posts from friends who are getting the vaccine turns into the low of knowing that so many people I know will be vaccinated and I will still ne sitting at home waiting months for my turn.

I should have expected this. I think the fact that I got teary watching the series finale of Greek(a show I had watched before) should have given me a hint that my emotional state was fragile.

It will be easy for me to sit and dwell on the lows and get even lower today. I will do my best to not dwell. Maybe today is a day to go get the free drink I’ve earned at Dunkn or use my Starbucks gift card from Christmas.

And now the link to where you can experience my dreadful recording from yesterday.

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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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.

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.

I’m Done Again

I never intended this blog to be so much of me talking about my problems. I meant to only write about my thoughts on the world. Current events, TV, books, etc. I did that quite a bit in the beginning with a little bit of my personal life sprinkled in. I did posts about my vacations and posts about my time working in jail.  Lately, it feels like all I do is post about how miserable I am. I’m done with that. I will still be miserable. I just won’t write about it. I’ve given up on any change coming. I’m stuck where I am with no options or support to make a change to a less toxic life. No one wants to read about that every day. no one wants to write about that every day. I feel like I’m back on Livejournal when that’s what everyone did. No more. I’m done.

So, since I’m done with all that, I’m not sure how much I will be writing. I will still do my Friday post about what I’ve watched and read. I will still do my Sunday post where I write about good things from the week before. I will try to back to writing more about my thoughts on current events and such. I might try a few reviews, but likely not. I just don’t know when I will be in the mindest to write those things.

When you wake up to news about a pandemic and go to bed with news about a pandemic it’s hard to feel like writing about the news. When you wake up feeling physically ill about the thought of clocking in and go to bed feeling ill about waking up and clocking in the next day, it’s hard to do more than sit on the couch and watch TV.

So, I might disappear except for my Friday and Sunday posts. I might not. It’s hard to tell. I do plan to try to keep up my vacation habit of looking at very limited social media. I am going to try to limit my constant need to know the Covid stats in the country. I will learn to live with my daily dose of toxicity. It has to get better at some point. Right?

See You On the Other Side

I am taking a vacation.

A vacation from work.

A vacation from the room I’ve been sitting in for 4 months.

A vacation from the news.

A vacation from social media.

A vacation from the blog.

I wish the picture below was current vacation me. I’m going to make an effort to get there mentally and emotionally.

See you on the other side.

Ready for a Break

I woke up this morning already stressed and anxious before my day really even started. My dog woke me up around 6AM as usual. I tried to go back to bed and get more sleep since I am working the 4-8 shift at work tonight. I think I dozed a little, but I can’t turn my mind off enough to go back to sleep once I’m awake. It starts to drift to things that will make it hard for me to relax. I’ve been officially out of bed since around 7:30.

It probably doesn’t help that besides making coffee my first two things I do are turn on the news and read the newspaper. Maybe it is time to break my news addiction and do something different with my morning coffee. I did read a little bit and I  did my morning word puzzles. It did not help settle my mind. All of the coronavirus news mixed with the stress and anxiety that work brings has me on edge all the time.

Since my day ends at 8 today it shouldn’t start until 12. One of the stresses of my life is people who don’t respect personal time. I already got a call this morning before 10. It was one of those “I sent you an email so now I’m calling to tell you to read your email” calls. Those are always fun. There was at least recognition that I am not on the clock once I mentioned I was in the branch 4-8 tonight, but I still felt obligated to read and respond to the email. It’s really hard to beat the stress and anxiety when there is no guarantee of personal time free from calls. It’s time for another mention to my wife that I need to quit and find a new direction in life. Maybe if I keep it up she will eventually agree. This is not a sustainable life.

I will be on vacation for a week after Monday. I may deactivate my social media. I will likely disappear from the blog during that time. Since I will be with the only people who I care to be in contact with I might leave my phone on do not disturb the entire time. I need a break from the world.

Self Doubt

I wrote this one a year ago today. This is an ongoing issue. I’ve been looking at job openings again and I opt not to apply for a lot of them because I don’t feel qualified. I’ve also reached a point where I want less, not more when it comes to career. I want to be able to clock out and forget about work until I clock in again. This is not exactly the best time to be looking for a change. I feel like I’m going to be stuck where I am forever.

If you have followed this blog(or my personal Facebook page) you will know that I have long contemplated my future career-wise. I have applied for promotions where I currently work. I have been turned down for promotions where I currently work. I think we are close to 20 times now that I have been turned down for a new job with my current employer. I have applied for multiple jobs at other organizations. I have been offered one job. You can read here about my decision to turn down the job offer. In that post, I talked about upcoming opportunities for change. Those opportunities did not pan out and now I am back to where I was before, contemplating my future.

There is a job opening right now that seems to be a good fit for me. It is a change, but not a major change. I would be doing a job similar to what I’m doing now. The commute would be manageable. It would not mess up my long term plans(I don’t think). It would reset my vacation, but I could deal with that. I’m still hesitating, though, before completing the application. Why? Various reasons. Various questions. Is 50 too old to make a major change like this? Do I really want to start all over at a new place? Do I want to give up the vacation I’ve accrued and start over? And the big one – Am I good enough?

Maybe the reason I’ve been turned down for so many jobs where I work is that they know me and know that I’m not good enough. Maybe I’ve been fooling myself all these years and I’m not actually good at what I do. Maybe they see all of my faults and they all add up to someone who would not succeed at these jobs. Maybe I’m better off staying where I am. What if I go somewhere else and they realize all of this and then I end up with no job? Maybe I should have stayed in my old position where I was basically invisible and it was less likely people would realize all of this. Maybe it’s time to admit to myself that it’s not them, it’s me and I should stop wasting my time.

I should approach the job thing like high school me approached dating. You can avoid all the inevitable rejection by not trying at all.