Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Struggling to Improve

I've been struggling recently.  The lack of light here in the winter time does not contribute to a happy and healthy Kyle.  Born a desert rat, I'm used to short cold days in the winter, but with plenty of blue skies and outdoor opportunities.  Up here, the rain and the dark gets to me after a while, and now that I know it gets to me after a while the knowing is starting to get to me too; I feel an upwelling dread over the winter coming at me like a slow train I can't get clear of.

I'm trying a few things differently this year.  I've tried to stay on top of fall chores such as raking leaves and tidying up the yard.  Last year I was too busy getting married and my brain was too haywired from kicking nicotine that I didn't take care of things around the land like I should have, and it weighed on me all winter.  When I looked at the disarray and mess on my land, it reflected back the disarray and mess I felt myself to be in, and it dragged me into further depression.  This year, by trying to keep up with the leaves falling, and by "putting my land to bed" I'm trying to give myself a landscape that reinvigorates me a little bit when I look at it.  Something that says "you've done better this year than last year."  There is still so much work to be done around here that I'm sure sometimes it will overwhelm me like it did before, but when I'm having a dark moment I plan to try to focus on what has been accomplished, rather than what still needs accomplishing.

I'm also trying out light therapy.  I bought a "happy lamp" and I'm sitting in front of it as I type.  I'm hoping that with the amount of time I have to spend in front of a computer I can also spend enough time in front of the happy lamp for it to have an impact.  I'll report results come dead-of-wintertime if I'm managing seasonal depression or probably won't report them if I've fallen into a wintertime stupor like I have in the past.

Luckily, I think a major improvement on past winters here will be that I have stuff to do to get out of the house and interact with the world.  When we bought this house and land in October of '14 I decided to take a break from working and focus on householding/homesteading.  Little did I remember how much different the winters in Olympia are from the winters in Portland, and I ended up just sitting on my ass for most of the winter, probably going a little cabin fevery to spice up my seasonal affect disorder.  Last winter I pulled the same crap with an extra twist... I quit nicotine once and for all in early August and went through the effects of nicotine withdrawal for the next several months.  While I am now very grateful for having quit nicotine, the way I did it and the timing I did it with brewed up a potent mixture of panic attacks, seasonal affect and depression, cabin fever, and everything else you can imagine that goes with those symptoms, which all contributed to my behaving like a wounded dog for several months.  I don't know how my brand new bride as of last October put up with me for the first several months of our marriage, but I'm grateful she did.  This year I'm hoping it's different, and working to make it different.  Rather than having too little to do and no reason to leave the house, I probably have too much to do and plenty of reason to leave the house.  I'm working full-time, in school full-time, and trying harder to keep up with things around the house and land.  I'm actually a little worried that I'm stretching myself too thin, and I'm trying hard to be conscientious of when I need to say no to things and take some time for myself to not be too stressed out or overwhelmed.

My job isn't helping with not being too stressed or overwhelmed.  I work in the most stressful position I've ever had in my life.  I work in a black hole for problems.  Customer problems, co-worker problems, institutional problems.  You name it, they find their way to my office and nudge people towards yelling and swearing at me.  My boss is totally incompetent, and his attempts to make it look like he's doing something so he doesn't get fired probably make the job harder than if he just sat around and let me and my colleague do everything.  I come home very amped up and very stressed out most days, and I don't have a whole lot of energy or willingness to work on school after work.  I'm contemplating asking management if I can switch to something a little more part time, like 4 eight hour shifts, or 3, or even 5 five hour shifts.  Finishing school is my most important goal, and I right now I'm going about it very slowly.

So, I need to strive for balance.  I need to do school related work in the mornings before I go to my job, because I'll probably be too stressed out when I get home to switch into learning mode.  I need to go to work everyday knowing that it's probably going to be unpleasant most of the day, and downright awful sometimes, but that I'll walk out alive.  I need to keep my bigger goals in mind so I don't make rash decisions like just walking out on my job or something similar.

Those bigger goals are what they always have been.  Get out of debt, achieve financial independence or something close to it, and then find a way to spend my time doing something that uplifts me rather than wearing me out and grinding me down.  I also need to remember that business, accounting, and finances are a tool to that end, not necessarily an end unto themselves unless I find that they are, in fact, something that uplifts me.

Unfortunately, adulthood has shown me that I can be much more fragile than I thought I was.  As I'm picking up the pieces of previous shatterings, I'm trying to examine those pieces and find out more about where the weakness was, so that as I put the pieces back together I can situate them into a stronger arrangement.  This is undoubtedly a lifetime project, but one I hope to achieve large gains on in the coming months and years.  Too many other important things are on the horizon for me to be weak and fragile when they arrive.