Day 997: Insomnia – permanent and transitory stress

I’m tired enough that I’m really worried about that apostrophe.

There’s something about transitory stress and ongoing stress that’s worth unpacking here, I think. I’m going through transitory stress, and that’s giving me some insomnia, which isn’t great. But I can still recognize it as transitory stress.

So I know it’s going to pass. It doesn’t make the insomnia easier in the short term, but it keeps my mood from getting worse — this is insomnia like “something fell outside” insomnia, not insomnia like “it’s all gone wrong forever” insomnia.

Three days to go on this thing! Then over to Dry & Mighty semi-permanently; looking forward to that.

Day 849: Breaking up (with video games) is hard to do

Here’s the thing: I decided about a week ago that video games were a terrible distraction in my life, and not really doing anything for me other than momentarily distracting me from things I should be addressing and that were causing me to seek the distraction.

That’s a messy sentence… let me try another run at this.

That’s how my brain goes. Or went. I’m trying to quit video games, but it’s hella hard and also I’ve discovered that there are LOTS of ways to distract myself that ultimately aren’t super productive…

  • Adding artist images to artists on my Plex server
  • Reading comic books on my iPad
  • Reading “real” books by grown-up authors, without pictures

So clearly quitting comics (and podcasts) is not a panacea that leads me directly to more productivity and focus; it just leads me to different kinds of distraction. I think my hope is I’ll bore myself into submission and start cleaning the basement or something, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Day 711: Sleep Is Key!!!

We know this already! But now that I’m typing this (after another REALLY BAD SLEEP HAS DESTROYED ME) night, I realize that it’s not true.

STRESS IS KEY!!!

G_D volunteer stress kept me up all night, even though I’m doing things, productive things, to alleviate it. I should have been able to sleep, but my perverse dumb anxiety brain seizes opportunities to keep me awake. 

Dumb brain! 

So once again I’m in a bit of a scramble to the door, which is aggravating. I feel a bit cheated: I’m taking the positive steps and making the positive moves, but now I’m stressed about those steps, which seems like my brain is now just being a jerk for no real reason. 

Genuinely excited to get back on exercise tomorrow after a (hopefully) good night of sleep tonight. I’d be surprised if I’ve taken sleeping pills more than 20 times in the last 711 days, but I think tonight might be one of those times. 

Day 685: Still Sober After All These Years

Well, “all this year and three quarters.” It’s been a tough week! Sick for several days, and that’s knocked me on my butt in terms of recovery — not only physical, and sleep, but also work and ensuring that volunteer obligations are met.

You know you’re busy when two days semi-out of commission means three days of absolute frantic catch-up. It’s not “dropping right back into the swing of things,” it’s re-entering the race five laps behind.

I mean, life and work and stresswise, this is not great. I guess it’s good to feel needed, but it certainly colours the recovery process.

Day 556: Derailments

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, like the guy said. Yesterday, as covered, was a bit of a dramatic clustermug. Some short-term solutions but no long-term solutions, and we’re dealing with a situation that’s been handed off to us and seems to be the result of a shocking lack of long-range planning.

This is all sudden, and surprising, and has thrown off some of the meticulously tracked goals that I’ve set up for the quarter. But that’s okay. Nothing is really acutely time-sensitive with my stuff, so hitting “pause” on my projects to invest in long-term health and stability in the family is obviously the right move.

Finance doesn’t come up a lot here, because I’m not comfortable talking money. I don’t think most people are. But it’s super important, and if we’re talking about a project to improve health and happiness, you gotta talk stress. And if you’re going to talk stress, for 99% of us, ultimately you’re gonna talk money.

Not that I’m talking money today. But extended family issues have brought financial planning and sound decision-making back into sharp relief. So we’re thinking about money a lot right now. This is, again, eating into other plans, but ultimately it’s a good disruption because it’s drawing attention to a problem that will have a long-term negative impact. Goals like “improve this podcast” are deeply satisfying and may have benefits in the long term. But figure out your stuff for the long term is a goal that will definitely have benefits in the long term.

So — disruption is happening. It’s stressful. It’s anxiety inducing. But it’s ultimately really good.

 

Day 452: Caring Less

Still sticking it on the food, a bit under-performy on the exercise today but I got it done. Weight is a bit higher than I’d like but the trend line is good.

I have a hard time figuring out sometimes if I care too much about work, care just the right amount about work, or don’t care enough about work.

It seems to hinge on the conflict between understanding that my job is not my life, my employer is not my friend, and the best way I can be of use to an organization is by doing my job to the best of my ability, within the parameters of the job. Extracurricular work and “giving 110%” all the time seems like a great strategy for getting a lot done. But ultimately it leads to personal burnout, which doesn’t help the organization. And it makes the organization dependent on individual goodwill, rather than a solid operational structure, to function. Also not good.

So hanging it up at the end of the day and restricting myself to (mostly) bearing down in the 9-5 structure makes a lot of sense.

But when you’re surrounded by both co-workers and colleagues who are a bit more 24/7 in their approach to work, it’s hard not to feel like you’re slacking. And I do check my email outside of work hours, and I do reply and/or feel some anxiety or aggravation when something comes up.

Obviously this is a ship I need to navigate on my own. I’m extraordinarily fortunate to be in an environment where I and my work are largely appreciated and supported. There’s no “…or you might get fired tomorrow” sweaty-palms incentive to be blasting out emails at midnight. I don’t know how people in at-will states in the U.S. stay sane.

Not really an action item here, just a reminder to myself that work stress is a huge part of life balance, and noodling with how to manage that stress and work-life balance isn’t something to ignore in the grand scheme of things.

Day 432: Relative Stress

It’s been a bad week! But things are going pretty good now.

The massive work hump is… well, it’s NEVER wholly under control, but it’s sort of back to a dull roar right now.  I feel less panicked. I’m sleeping better.

Light exercise this morning, and I feel like things are more or less back on track. The tragedy of age is that three or four days off-track will push me almost a week off course — you’d think there’d be a logical 50/50 “be good/be not-good” ratio, but there isn’t. Going off-piste briefly actually means losing much more ground, proportionately.

In this daily tracker thing, I’ve got columns for overall mood, work stress, volunteer stress, and home stress. It’s been interesting ranking the three every day. Generally speaking, they tend to cluster. I’m not sure if that’s because I just get stressed about everything when I get stressed in a single area, coincidence (this is still a pretty recent project), or… something else.

With my wife back earning an income, though, my household stress has been arcing down pretty consistently. I hate financial stuff! But it is super important.

A quick run through the 2018 tracking so far… I thought there’d be clear stress precursors to going off-track, but there doesn’t seem to be. “Bad exercise breeds bad exercise” is the one rule of thumb. Huh.

 

Day 387: Personal Static

Going through this morning “tracker” is interesting, especially the part that tracks my general mood and work, volunteer and home stress. I’m not sure if first thing in the morning is the best or worst time to check these things.

I’m not batting 1000 on the “home stress” front right now. Close, but not there. And it’s nothing to do with home… more an unfortunate circumstance that somebody I’m close to has, for want of a better term, decided that I’m their enemy. There’s a lot of paranoia involved, and attempts to reach out only seem to make their feelings toward me worse. I’d encourage the person in question to talk things out with a professional and get a third-party read on the situation, but that wouldn’t make things better.

I tend to think the worst of myself in these situations. It’s not the first time I’ve had a friendship end, and each time I go through months of exhaustive mental inventory wondering if it’s me. Should I be more forgiving? Do more chances need to be given? What if I haven’t tried hard enough?

But you also have to have a check-out point: there has to be a finite amount of outreach, and trying, before you stop living a life and start just being servile to somebody else. Which is easy to understand in your head, but hard to stop worrying about. There’s a whole messy tangle around what’s supportive and what’s enabling, and at the end of the day I think we all just have to make that call for ourselves.

This is compounded by the fact that I know I have a large and fragile ego. I know that part of this is me not liking the fact that somebody out there doesn’t like me, even if their reasons aren’t super rational.

So that’s where the stress is these days. Letting go of people is hard, even if you’ve done the work, tried your best, and are sure (well, I’m never sure, but it’s hard to see more that could be done) you’ve done your best.

No threat to sobriety, but definitely moves me up a few ticks in life stress. Something to keep an eye on.

Day 379: Into another week!

Bad insomnia night last night, so delayed sleep and a bit off track this morning. But determined to do this Full Clout Scheduled Week, so I need to pull it together and get this train back on the rails.

Wow, that sounds monumental. Re-railing a train! That’s considerable. I think it’s more like “I need to push ‘Go’ on the model train set.” I’m not deploying Herculean effort. I’m just pushing myself a tad to get back on the stick.

So I’ve got a batch of evening things this week that relate to volunteerism. I’ve scheduled some self-improvement stuff at lunches. I’ve got little patches of productivity in the morning. Time to hit “Go” on this little train and see if it alleviates the sleep-impacting stresses.