This has been a pretty poor mental health week for me, and I’m trying to put into words how I’ve been feeling and what it has been like to live under these thoughts. Hopefully someone else who has a rough time inside their own head will read these words and realize that they’re not alone. That’s my hope, at least.
Monday began with a disturbing dream centered around the acting group I left early last year, including people with whom I haven’t interacted since squeezed together in tight living quarters. It was uncomfortable and made me queasy as I got up for work. I knew my boss wasn’t going to be in the office, so I hunkered down with a bowl of cereal and decided to work from home, sending emails and making plans for later in the week. Unfortunately, even by end of day my mood hasn’t much improved, though I tried to take frequent breaks for mental health.
Honestly, I don’t remember much of Tuesday; it just wasn’t that memorable. A conference call, some emails, a signed contract or two, they just sort of rolled into the general downer that I was feeling for the week. I put some things off until Thursday, hoping the July 4th holiday on Wednesday would help perk me back up. I played some games with friends that evening, but largely to no avail – I went to bed, eventually, in about as dour a mood as I had begun the day.
Today was the 4th of July holiday, a time when, traditionally, I visit friends in Sacramento and, as one would put it, “celebrate the founding of our nation by blowing up a small piece of it.” Though there were good people around, including some of my favorite people in the world, I just could not shake the funk I was in for long. The 4th of July is a huge deal for a particular friend of mine, and is a time when he goes all-out and we tend to continue in the fine tradition of making things go boom.
Tonight I really didn’t participate much when it came to the fireworks. In years past he and I would start planning, plotting, and even designing that evening’s neighborhood extravaganza early in the afternoon. Today, it was more like 7pm, with the sun already low to the horizon – he was tending to the many guests at his house and I just wasn’t feeling productive at all.
Tonight I gave a small toast before we lit off the last firework of the night, a tradition started years ago by my friend’s family, none of whom were able to visit this year, and their exclusion really hurt him. What I said was simple but effective, and several people thanked me afterwards for what I said.
Tonight we celebrate family – the family we have, the family we choose, and the family we keep. To those who could attend, we thank you. To those who couldn’t, we’re sorry. And to those who wouldn’t, we miss you.
I was speaking about specific individuals with each phrase, and I think what was said really resonates not just with the party host but others who were in attendance as well. That felt good, and I believed it was important to say something, at least in the absence of so many who had made previous July 4th celebrations so iconic, but I still felt like a hermit not wanting to speak to anyone, or more precisely feeling unworthy to speak with anyone.
Work has been much improved since starting my new position, but what absolutely kills me is that I’m still struggling to handle even the specific workload I asked for, the more targeted and single-minded tasks that best serve our company and our clients. The amount of work has shifted greatly, in that now I can breathe, but the anxiety and the pressure still paralyzes me. I feel incapable of doing what’s been asked of me, even though it’s much more comfortably less than in months or years past.
I feel at once directionless and out of control, in that it feels like I am incapable of handling tasks and situations, even though there isn’t much going on, as it were. My social life is effectively nil, save for some online gaming and a weekly lunch with an old friend; my extracurriculars aren’t fulfilling, writing being a hard-pressed muse to tackle of late; and all in all I’m still feeling pretty worthless in general, that I don’t or can’t contribute meaningfully to those around me, fully cognizant that I’m actively ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
When I was young, I believed that staying alive was just a matter of will – if one wanted to survive enough, no peril or injury could cut their thread. Fairly naïve, and very reminiscent of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, among others, but of late I’ve come to the staunch opinion that I don’t actually have much of a survival instinct any more. Yes, I want to avoid pain, peril, and the causing of distress to friends and family, but I’m pretty much wholly unafraid of death itself.Whether that thought is born from my own existentialist leanings or depression, the thought of dying, while unpleasant, really just makes me shrug. Someone tries to rob me? Get out of here – you can’t reasonably threaten me. Get into a bad auto accident? I just can’t see myself holding on out of force of will. It’s a weird feeling, at both a great ennui and a deep melancholy.
I need a break, not just from work and obligations, but from myself. A full day to catch up on sleep and watch a movie or two, a full day to see a close friend or spend time with my wife, and a full two days or so to try and organize my thoughts into words, into stories; either new texts or continuations of prior works. I feel like that would be a good recharge, and help lift me out of this funk.I didn’t make it to my last therapy appointment, for the all-too-ironic reason that I was having a bad mental health day. I need to make the effort to schedule a new appointment, and perhaps have a follow-up with the psychiatrist to discuss how or if the medication is continuing to work as expected and whether a change is advisable.
It’s now 1:15am on Thursday morning and I have a lot of responsibility on my plate to get done before noon, not the least of which is to actually get some semblance of sleep so I can make it through the day tomorrow.
Please know that I greatly appreciate you reading this blog, finding less-than-public posts like this, and all of the support my friends and family show. I know when I write walls of text like this that it may seem like things aren’t doing well, but I’m still in a much better place than I was a year ago.
Here’s hoping to take whatever next step I need to so improvement can continue.