panic! at the home office

So Friday afternoon I may have had a little panic attack. Apparently I posted something here and then trashed it immediately. Then I started drinking.

I was trying to email a request form to someone for a project, but I didn’t know just what to say. But I got stuck thinking about it, and it never got sent. Then the 10 am department meeting happened, and the department manager started demanding more output than we have been producing lately. Just what I needed to hear. After the meeting, I froze up again.

I took a long lunch, thinking I would take a break and calm down, then get back to work. The getting back to work never happened, and instead of producing more, suddenly I’m producing less. Thinking about this made me start freaking out, and I gave up around 2 pm. I literally got into bed and covered up hoping I could calm down, but it just got worse. I briefly thought about calling my psychiatrist, but I don’t think I could have made it through the phone call, and I didn’t want to get sent to the hospital involuntarily.

So when my shift ended at 3:30, I poured a glass full of scotch whiskey and started drinking with the intent of knocking myself out as quickly as possible. After an hour I was successful, and I slept until about 8 pm.


I fear the manic episode from January has permanently damaged something in my already defective brain. I can’t organize tasks, I can’t follow through, I can’t regulate my mood, I can’t control the anxiety. I can’t stop thinking that I will no longer be able to do my job, and that I will have to find something less stressful for much less pay and worse benefits.

Before the manic episode I was relatively unhappy at work but I was able to cope with the stress and managed to produce work in a timely manner. Now I am completely unable to deal with my mental state. I have no coping skills; I have nothing in the toolbox that I can use to improve my situation. My fight-or-flight instinct has been engaged, but I have nothing to fight with. The urge to flee is overwhelming.

The only thing that helps me relax is when I am doing something new, like yesterday when I drove new roads for a few hours and walked at a park for over an hour. But there are only so many roads within a reasonable distance, and I can’t do that every day. Eventually I have to come back home to my life, and start thinking about everything again.

I will call my doctor on Monday when I am relatively calm and explain the situation, and see if he can recommend something.

money or sanity

Fuck it, I’m going to post it anyway.

There have been many changes in the past two years at work. First there was an incident where a big pipeline exploded (thankfully no one was injured or killed). There were changes in business and construction practices resulting from the explosion. There were changes in management, and employee losses through an early retirement offer to dozens of people. Then the pandemic forced almost everyone in my building to work at home.

Through it all, we just keep working, drawing construction plans, lining up contractors, and getting jobs constructed. We are well paid, we have good benefits, and we are fortunate to have continued working when many others were laid off or had their jobs simply disappear.

But I’m fucking miserable. I hate it. I want to leave.

We get more and more responsibility and workload without the hope of additional people to help. We get new requirements that make projects harder to complete, but we are expected to meet target dates. I can just barely do my shift because I am so stressed out and angry. I don’t enjoy what I am doing. I don’t like getting up in the morning and turning on the computer. I think about work when I’m trying to relax. I dream about unfinished jobs and missed deadlines. My anxiety is off the chart right now.

I looked online at different jobs on the internet this week, but that was rather discouraging. Any opportunities that exist right now would cost me as much as one-third of my current take-home pay, and would have a smaller benefit package. There’s nothing out there that is close to being as good as what I have right now, and there is no situation where I would be able to manage my mental health issues the way I am at the moment.

I talked to a friend from work Friday, and it turned out he is having the exact same conversation with himself. He feels the same way, but had a little insight for me on how to help my attitude and not get myself in a frenzy over it. He reminded me what I would be giving up by leaving this job behind without a better opportunity. He talked me down from the ledge a little, and I felt a little better about things.

Then yesterday and today happened, and I’m freaking out again.

I have zero confidence in my ability to do my job and stay sane at the same time. My supervisor is understanding, and he tells me it’s okay to talk to him when I’m feeling stressed. But of course he doesn’t know the whole story about my mental health, and I didn’t tell him I’m ready to leave no matter what it costs me.

Then there is my wife, who understands my feelings and does know the whole story. But she also told me to consider what we would be giving up, and would any other opportunities be any less stressful?

Then again, what happens if I have a meltdown and can’t work at all? Who’s paying for psychiatrist appointments and medication for myself and my daughter if I’m having a breakdown? So many questions, no answers, and another fun day of work on tap for tomorrow.

The whole house of crazy cards is teetering and ready to fall.

manic wanna-be architect

I’ll preface this by saying I might be having a little manic episode, but it’s nothing to worry about, right? I’m not out of control or in any danger, I’m just riding the wave for a while. I’m mildly amused at my condition right now, but I hope I don’t have a crash in the next few days.

I haven’t slept a lot during the night for the past several days, yet I have fallen asleep at random times during the day and evening. My anxiety has been high due to work issues and problems with my daughter. I’ve had tension headaches which turned into a migraine on Thursday. I’m writing a lot, and trying to keep from posting it all. I went looking for a difficult word search, and ended up downloading and printing 40 different ones I need to stay off Fakebook and stay away from Amazon … or the car dealership.

Yesterday I got up at 7:30 on an off day, I was awake all day, and I went to bed at my typical 9:00 to 9:30. Then I woke up from dreaming at about 1:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was not a weird dream, but I remembered it very clearly when I woke up. I was in a different house, and I was designing it in my dream, arranging rooms and hallways.

I was laying there, completely awake, and I decided to get up and capture my dream house on paper. So I got up, got my graph paper, a scale, and my mechanical pencil (because geeks have those items handy in the middle of the night), and started drawing my house.

My daughter (whose sleep schedule is often backwards) comes upstairs and asks why I’m up, so I explain to her. Then we talked for a while, but the whole time I’m thinking about my house. Finally she went back to bed, and I started drawing again.

I realize I’ve lost track of time when my wife gets up at 5:30. I explain to her that I might be a little manic, and I spent most of the night designing a house. She said, “That’s not bad. At least there aren’t computer parts all over.” [That’s another story to tell someday.]

Here is the final sketch I came up with during the night:

I didn’t finish obviously. I still need to do a lot of details, and I might put it in Autocad today and work on it this week. Or I might do it online in Sketchup, since I don’t have architecture blocks for my Autocad installation. In fact, I have no architectural anything, because I don’t know how to design houses. I’ll post something when it is done.

mortality

I’ve been preoccupied with death lately. More specifically, my own mortality has been on my mind. I think about it during the day, and I dream about it at night. I worry about dying from COVID if I were to catch it, but there are many other ways to die: car crashes, falling trees, stepping in front of a bus, falling awkwardly and cracking your head on the pavement, falling off high places, having a heart attack or a stroke. I think of these things every day, and it has become tiring and unhealthy and obsessive.

There is so much to do before I die: wills, lists, preparing finances, helping secure my family’s future without me, and more. I feel like a squirrel with winter approaching, with so many nuts to gather and ever-dwindling time. I want to survive for many years still, despite the difficulty of life inside my brain, but I don’t know how long I can last.

I have been feeling pretty good mentally for the past few weeks, but this line of thought is trying to bring me down into another depressive spiral. Sometimes it is that easy for me to get sucked into a mood swing. I want to be free of bipolar depression and anxiety, but I believe that is an unattainable dream. I’ll settle for just eliminating this obsessive thinking pattern.

they’re writing about me

There was a recent article about increasing depression and suicidal thoughts related to the coronavirus pandemic. The article suggested ways to spot people who are suffering from depression, loneliness, and mental fatigue by asking the following questions:

  • Are they getting up and taking a shower?
  • Are they brushing their teeth?
  • Are they changing their clothes?
  • Are they keeping their place clean?
  • Is their refrigerator filled with food or is it not?
  • Are they ignoring phone calls and text messages?
  • Are they not posting on social media as frequently as they used to?
  • Are they declining invitations to virtual holiday celebrations?

The article goes on to say these are people who might need help coping, and that you can show compassion and understanding by talking to people who are depressed and may be having suicidal thoughts.

Ummm, this sounds like me most of the time. I believe it is more from bipolar depression than being COVID-related, but anxiety over current events and the pandemic doesn’t help. I don’t have suicidal thoughts anymore, but sometimes it feels like life is too tiring to keep going. I don’t feel that way very often; usually it is more like a feeling of constant struggle to go on living.

Some days, I feel good, and it is worth the effort to keep living. I try to remember that feeling when I am at my worst.