Sunday, May 24, 2020

Don't Hit Me With A Shovel

I’ve been trying to write something new for 50 days, but keep losing the energy to do it. This entry was entitled 23 Skidoo originally, as it was to be done on day 23 of sheltering in place, Then it was going to be a recap of the events of the end of April. Now my family is at 72 days inside, tomorrow is Memorial Day, and it feels like the world is settling into a groove. 

That groove, unfortunately, is massively increased risk taking because it is nice outside, and we are all stir-crazy. Governments seem to have given up on mitigation, and are aggressively opening up everything willy-nilly. 

My anxiety and depression is being managed better. I was falling into a trap of working 50 hours, literally waking up at 4 AM, going into work,  and putting in a few 12 hour days. It wasn’t healthy. I couldn’t sleep and didn’t know how to handle it. Since time has lost a lot of meaning, it seemed to make sense. I came to realize I needed help, so called the Employee Assistance Program at work. I’ve been with the company 13 years, and have referred dozens of people to it. I have a lot of trouble asking for and accepting help. I also had this idea that I was a manager, so that benefit wasn’t really for me. I’m a leader, I can handle more stress. 

That was fucking stupid. 

So I called, and they gave me a referral. The therapist had a lot of stuff about Christ on their webpage. I decided that would be a poor fit. 

I was forced to go to therapy as a teen because my Mom’s husband was beating me and being abusive. So, you know, I needed therapy while it was happening. The guy asked me why I didn’t just ask David to not belittle me or hit me with a shovel. Like, dude. Are you fucking serious? I also shared with him that I was an atheist. His response was ‘That’s OK, God believes in you.” I stopped going. 

Anyway, I asked for more options. Of the three, one person looked like a perfect fit. She called out an interest in supporting LGBTQ clients, and had a degree in comparative religions. I assumed that was code for “I get the mythological roots of belief, but don’t really have a preference since it is all academic.” I called her, we had a great intake conversation, and set up our first appointment. 

I guess this paragraph is going to sound like a Yelp review. She was engaged, smart, and professional, yet very real in her approach. It was a fantastic hour, and she sparked some ideas to help me climb out of this pandemic depression. Her homework for me was to go to a comic book shop for 15 minutes. I did, and it felt great. Doing something normal built my confidence to try to do things that aren’t simply survival based. Grocery and pharmacy runs are fun and all, but dang.

We talked about over-exposure to news, and how that is something I struggle with. I thought about it, and resolved to only read news before or after work. I also went through the alerts on my phone and iPad and reduced it down to only the News App. It was anxiety inducing when NYT, WaPo, CNN, Vox, and Apple News all alerted me to the same story in a 10 minute widow. It was like getting stung by bees. 

Another tactic I came up with was to keep a list categorizing my activities as either “Healthy” or “Ill”. That’s been eye opening, and will be good for managing my less desirable behaviors and encouraging the positive ones. 

I am sleeping better, and haven’t done more than get up briefly to pee at 2:30 a couple of times. I’ve gone right back to sleep. No spiraling out about a conversation I had with an ex-girlfriend in the early 90s for 2 hours. Yes, I am talking about you. I’ve been getting up at 6-6:30 daily and am back on track at work, managing my time much better. 

It’s funny that only 2 sessions have done so much. I will be going for a while. Maybe the rest of the year, maybe less. My largest challenge is to not assume some progress means I am done. Clearly the pandemic isn’t going anywhere. Just yesterday I started crying uncontrollably. I started thinking about how young children won’t be able to share physical objects with each other or touch their friends at school in the new year. It broke my heart. The idea that a kid can’t hand a friend their favorite toy to play with killed me. 

What’s next? Well, as Dallas and Texas reap the rewards of opening too fast and too early, I guess I’ll just be staying inside. Ideally, I’ll start to enjoy the things that used to bring me joy. Writing, reading comics, watching films, drawing, and photography. Stuff that is not directly related to the necessities of survival has been hard to engage with. I mean, that’s the core symptom of my current depression, really. 

I probably should have just written about how I think fashion is going to change for the foreseeable future, but I guess that can come another day. Here’s a hint- practical, non-flashy, Gloves, aprons, and masks will start to become more expressive and styled for different purposes. Long sleeves will be a thing. Less skin exposure. Solid colors. Anything too “splay” will be out of place and possibly make you a target of ridicule or worse. Anyway, I’m still working all that out, so hold your horses super-fans of Hectic Engine.