existential crisis

Mini Sartre PortraitSome nights, I can’t sleep no matter how hard I try. Tonight was one of those nights. I sat in bed overcome with frustration, worry and fear, and I can’t stop letting it get to me.

I need help from you guys, my friends. For the first time in a long time, I’m gonna bare my soul honestly on this blog, because I can’t think of any other place to let this out constructively. Comment if you can, I need advice. I don’t know what to do.

The two biggest pressures in my life right now are work and school. Work is a never-ending stream of stuff to do. Not a day goes by that I can’t open my work email spool & task list, and find a mountain of tasks that have fallen to me. I think I do a good job with them, but I can’t ever be sure — the field in which I work doesn’t generally include many “warm fuzzies” from management, and even when I get them, I can’t trust that they are praise for the sake of praise, not without ulterior motive. I also don’t necessarily feel like I fit in, socially. Though I am not orthogonal to the social standards, I don’t feel a kinship with them. (More on this below.)

School is like being judged every day. I am fascinated by the topics I’m researching (like I said on my application form, I’ll research them whether I get credit or not) but I still have not been fully accepted into my program of choice. There are also interesting opportunities that arise, that I want to pursue actively. Some are semi-mandatory, which often detracts from their attractiveness. Regardless, often I’m exhausted from work, or too depressed to approach them with the right mindset. Taking any of those on with that sort of attitude is worse than letting them pass me by.

Besides work and school, I try to bring meaning to my life, through various hobbies and interests (music, home renovation/restoration, reading, nooks-and-crannies of forgotten media), but I’m kinda operating in isolation. Every attempt that I can rememeber to join a group with similar interests to mine has lead into that whole clique situation again. I’m at the point in my life where I simply don’t want to deal with that kind of nonsense anymore…so I have gradually stopped trying to interact with the world. You can see it in the frequency of my blog postings.

It also didn’t help that I spent the bulk of my holidays in pain, not enjoying myself, unable to relax, and unable to “catch up” on either work or school. Now, I am just unable to relax, and as the pressure mounts, I’m unable to get enough work done, either (though I always do “enough work,” I’m rapidly approaching the point where that’s all I’ll be able to manage.)

The problem seems to be that I’m stuck in a logical enigma, where both action and inaction are unacceptable. On the one hand, I don’t believe I have any right to claim that my view of the world is better (or more interesting) than anyone else’s – so trying to change the world in any specific direction of which I can conceive is inappropriate and dishonest. On the other, fading to obscurity where I find myself now, at the end of the earth and the Internet, with dwindling resources and friends…well, it feels like an awful waste of life, and it feels like a disappointment to my friends & family.

So what to do to give my life meaning? I’m not raising my own children (for various reasons I’ve previously discussed), I’m not running my own company, writing a book or publishing an album. I torture myself over what I haven’t done, and refuse to acknowledge that what I have done is any good. (If you think my writing ever sounds like I’m proud of my accomplishments – I’m not. See above. I don’t honestly believe my insights or actions are any better than anyone else’s.)

I even find my own observations lack substance and drive. I feel outside of everything and everyone. Even when I’ve been offered entrance into various “clubs” and social groups, I’ve resisted – why subscribe to that sort of elitism? How am I any better than anyone else?

Finally, the few relationships I keep going throughout it all suffer. Those who have managed to remain close to me understand my cycles, and tolerate them, but I don’t think any of them would say that they’ve been “close” to me in recent memory.
How do I crawl out of this pit? How can I logically convince myself to act differently? What am I missing? Why is this so hard?

And, in the end, does any of this matter?

20 thoughts on “existential crisis

  1. “I won’t stop torturing myself until I find the source of all my pain!!” -Life In Hell

    You’re overworked and overstressed, and you’re tearing your hair out as a result. It’s time to cut your commitments back and restore some sanity.

    Going to school and working full time is a difficult task for anyone. You may be one of the few people with the intelligence and drive to do it successfully. But if you choose to attempt both at once (and I’m not saying you should), I would try and be realistic and shelve any pretense of also having a social life at the same time. A minimum of one of these things must go if you wish to have a modicum of sanity in your life.

    As for if it matters, no, it doesn’t, not in the larger sense, anyway. In a hundred years when you and I are both good and dead, rest assured that nothing we have done will make any difference what so ever. The only differences you can make are in your own life here and now.

  2. Ben,

    So are you saying that all of this is only the result of stress?

    For reference, I am taking only one course at school, which is a “hard” 3 hour-a-week commitment, with homework and projects on top of that. Add to that extra work for my advisor. It’s not exactly a huge commitment of time.

    Given my reaction to this all, though, stress obviously is a factor…

  3. It sounds to me like you have two issues at work. I’m totally stabbing in the dark, but I don’t think entirely randomly: they’re issues for most people in industrialized nations. If it sounds like terrible advice, ignore me.

    The first issue is listening to your busy mind too much. For this you need either to meditate, or else engage in some other activity that shuts your chattering mind down for a while and just lets you engage in sensation, movement, presence in the world. Not the world of thought, the world you’re actually physically touching and smelling all day. Cooking, dancing, climbing, running, swimming, something physical and non-verbal, but also engaging, where your mind won’t wander or feed back on itself. Thought is not always your friend: sometimes it’s just a thing that will make you depressed and miserable.

    The other issue is a weakening of the feeling of social connection, or close friendship. For this you need to focus some time every day on actions that cultivate existing friendships: drop by and visit people, or see them briefly in some casual context, or call, or IM, or email. Something to strengthen connections, regularly. If you feel like there literally aren’t *enough* friends in your life — or you’ve grown to dislike some of the existing ones, or can’t relate to them anymore — then focus some time on meeting new ones instead. Big social groups, as you’ve seen, are more complicated and unnecessary; just pick people at random who seem interesting. Some will respond well, and those who don’t, just forget about them: you can’t force people to be your friend, but you can try lots in parallel and improve your odds of finding a gem of a friendship.

    (And in response to “does any of this matter?”: yes and no. What we do matters to us, to those around us, and to the strengthening of our own sense of self, aesthetics, purpose, and connection. It just doesn’t matter to “the universe”. We’re all going to die and we’re all going to have all our work erased. But until then we can take pride and enjoyment in things we do. Just don’t get wrapped up in thinking they’re for so much of a “greater good” that you can or should ignore your own needs, and how your work/studies/goals service your own happiness.)

  4. I really wish I had some advice to give you – I really do. Unfortunately, I’ve been going through much the same process – stumbling around in the darkness. All I can offer instead is my shoulder and to share some of my notes in the hope that it may be of some kind of use to you.

    I’m now nearly completely isolated myself (literally; I walk outside to get the mail maybe once a week), some of it by choice and feel like I’m on the outside looking in — and a large part of me doesn’t really want in but still wants to connect with someone. I’ve even been isolating myself on the internet.

    I don’t think we’re getting what we need from friends/society/etc – the friends I used to have appear to have never been friends; just layers of masks. Society as a whole seems similarly empty, almost mocking in it’s falseness.

    If, due to required rituals such as the holidays that have just passed, I am forced to be around other people I feel almost like an alien in their pretense. In a way, I am, I try to blend in with the social rituals but I don’t really feel like there’s any real connection.

    The few people that I’ve been with without a forced obligation I do have some level of connection with, but they seem as isolated as I do.

    I’ve been feeling worthless, the few things I do achieve that might raise my self esteem – I cancel out due to dark things from my past. Like I’m not worthy of friends, happiness or even forgiveness. I’ve been trying not to do this anymore, to put a limitation on how long I should pay for mistakes I made. I’ve had mixed success with this.

    My wife is also going through a similar experience. It’s like there’s simply too much dishonesty — falseness in the world. Too many masks. Too many lies. So much so it’s draining us. Overwhelming us. Grating on us.

    Sometimes I do wish I could reconnect to ‘the world’, but usually some news story showing the epitome of human stupidity fixes that desire.

    I think we’re in the same pit…

  5. No, I’m not saying that stress is the sole problem here. (It might be, it might not be – I’m much too far away from the situation to judge.) But it does appear to be an aggravating fator. And you can actually do something about it, unlike some other things external to you.

    Looking again at this post, you also appear to feel lonely and isolated. While some of that may just be winter blues, some of it is probably real. I don’t have a good suggestion on how to solve that problem, since I’ve generally been unable to effectively tackle that one in my life either. Recently I had a good experience taking some beginner’s aikido classes at the local university. But it may just be that I stumbled upon a group of good people by accident. I’ve been to several other clubs there before and not generally liked them.

    I think finding new friends is often like that – you end up going through a huge number of people before you find the few that you like. And so hanging out and being social feels like an enourmous waste of time to us introvert types who don’t place a high value on spending time with other people just for the sake of spending time with them. Also seems to me that once you leave college, there isn’t really any place where adults go to just hang out and mingle. Bars tend to be exclusively for picking people up, nobody stays at coffee shops long enough to talk any more, and the world is just generally too fast paced to stop and say hi to someone on the street.

    The best advice I think I’ve ever heard on the social front, which I have utterly ignored ever since I heard it, is to try and meet new people by doing something that you’re genuinely interested in. If you like to hike, organize group hikes with people or find a group that goes hiking. If you’re really personally motivated to do the activity, it won’t feel elitist or cliqueish, because you’re there for genuine reasons of your own. I, for example, should probably schedule some time to go and attend one of the meetings of DARC – the Denver Area Robotics Club. The other thing I vowed to do recently is, start allocating my Saturday evenings to renting a pool table at some local bar and getting the word out to everyone I know: if it sounds fun, come on down and let’s get mildly drunk and fail at playing pool together. Etc.

    Of course, take all these suggestions with several large pinches of salt, since this is free advice from someone who has pretty much utterly failed at the art of socialization. ;]

  6. Ben, I tried so-called special interest groups. graydon’s comment is more on the money here – they pissed me off more than they helped me to relax. Maybe I picked the wrong ones, though – I tried engineering, skiing, and perl, amongst others. *shrug*

  7. graydon, actually I have an appointment at the climbing gym for this week. Hopefully that will help some. The last couple of tries, I just got exceedingly frustrated with my lack of coordination and skill, the severe pain in my forearms, and regretted my inability to type or walk correctly for a couple of days afterwards. And I was only trying 5.7s. I guess I’ve gotten too far out of shape.

    I have a very select few that I stay in touch with by IM, email or IRC who are more than just passing acquaintances. In person, I see on average about 3 friends a month, if that, not counting local store clerks. I do feel somewhat isolated, it’s true, and the older I get, the less I seem to be inclined to do anything about it. Rather, every time I try, it ends up more irritating than supportive, so I am less and less inclined to try again the next time.

    I do tend to make friends better with people who are total introverts or have trouble fitting in…but that part of me that is frustrated with cliques and special interest groups also refuses to turn that into some sort of “group,” too, other than the informal “people I rather enjoy seeing from time to time” type of thing.

  8. Heh. With the climbing thing, might I suggest that you quit expecting yourself to become and expert overnight, and back off on the self-flagellation a bit? ;] Really, people spend entire lifetimes climbing, doing it every day, and some of them never become expert climbers. I’m fairly sure you’re used to mastering something in a couple of days, but your body is not as fast to adapt as your mind. You can’t train for a marathon overnight. You can’t even train for a marathon in a month. Even spending 16 hours a day, 7 days a week running, you couldn’t do it. (Yeah, I know, arguing with you that you do have a few limitations and aren’t instantly capable of becoming an instant expert at everything is unlikely to be productive…)

    If the group socialization thing doesn’t work for you, then certainly, don’t do it. It doesn’t work for everyone. I’m not even sure if it works for most people. I’m not sure what else to suggest – hanging around in bookstores?

  9. Have you read Cziksentmihalyi’s Flow?

    Well, no matter. The important bit is this graph:

    When you start a new activity, you suck at it: you have no ability, so you don’t try too hard. As you get better, your abilities increase, and you increase the level of challenge. Games do this naturally: as you get better, they move you to harder and harder levels. If you don’t get better, you stay at the same level.

    If your abilities exceed the challenge, you experience boredom.

    If the challenge exceeds your abilities, you are out of your depth: you experience anxiety.

    Most people stumble toward the middle zone like simple automata following simple rules. They hill-climb towards flow by ping-ponging between boredom and anxiety: every time they get bored, they seek new challenges; they rise to the occasion and then get bored again.

    For reasons that I know you know, you’ve spent most of your life calibrated for “anxiety”. Nothing is ever good enough! You can always do better! Perfectionism! Endless internal criticism!

    Since you’ve asked for advice, I will spell it out for you: your hill-climbing algorithm is on the fritz. Run it on manual for a while, and go spend some time in the “boredom” zone. Here’s what Richard Carlson, author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” had to say:

    Lower Your Tolerance to Stress

    The way that society is these days, our thinking seems to be backwards. We tend to admire those who are under a tremendous amount of stress, those who can handle loads of stress and those who are under a great deal of pressure. When someone says that they have been working really hard or that they are really stressed out, we are taught to look up to this person, even emulate their behavior.

    Have you ever noticed that those people who state that they can handle a great amount of stress are the ones that are always under a great deal of it?!?! Therefore, if you teach people to raise their tolerance to stress, that is exactly what will happen. They will accept more confusion and responsibility. Think about it – when was the last time you heard of a 9:00 am – 5:00 pm job?

    Unfortunately, it usually takes a crisis or major turn of events in a person’s life to set off the wake-up call to their craziness. In my life it was the birth of my children. In other’s lives it may be an injury, disease, death of a family member, or even a spouse leaving. Generally, it is usually something drastic that jolts the person into a search for a different type of life.

    What you want to start doing is noticing your stress early, before it gets out of hand. When you feel your mind moving too quickly, it is time to back off and regain your bearings. When your schedule is getting out of hand, it is a signal that it is time to slow down and reevaluate what is important I your life rather than power through everything on the “to do” list.

    Instead of feeling out of control and overwhelming yourself, take a deep breath or go for a short walk. Try to relax. There is no need to worry that you won’t get everything done. When your mind is clear and peaceful and your stress level is reduced, you will be more effective and you will have more fun. As you lower your tolerance to stress, you will find that you’ll have far less to handle, as well as creative ideas for handling the stress that is left over.

    In other words, on a macro scale, quit school, or quit work; you can’t do both.

    Spend a day, or a week, or a month, resolutely bored; do nothing that challenges you.

    David Deida points out that only from a state of complete relaxation can you attain clarity about your mission in life. If you’re not completely relaxed, with no commitments or obligations, your mission in life will be obscured by the urgent or important tasks before you.

    If you clear your decks, then you’ll be able to see more clearly what really needs doing in the world that specifically needs you to go do it. If there’s nothing in the world that really needs you to do it, that’s another kind of freedom too.

    BTW, you were in this exact same funk this time last year. So there may be a definite seasonal component.

  10. Sometimes when I’m rather stressed and anxious, I can tell because my palms are sweaty and I can’t concentrate; whenever I do something, I can’t spend more than twenty seconds at it before the thought comes unbidden that I should be doing something else. This thrashing is no good: the only way to solve it is to prioritize, prioritize, prioritize, and decide which things are just not going to get done first. Sometimes the outcome of my prioritization exercise is to realize that none of it is that important, and I give myself permission to take the rest of the day off and read science fiction. It works: the world doesn’t end, I’m calmer for it, and I manage to focus and get things done.

  11. girl, you’re thinking too hard and analysing it to bits.
    i shouldn’t say that too much since i do it most if not alla the time LOL.

    but yeah, take it easy. if u can allow yourself, and you havta realise that you have to allow yourself, take a step back mentally. and take a long deep breath.
    you dont have to do everything at once, be it work, school or play or relationships. sure, it’s possible to do as much as possible in the least amount of time you think u need, and it might look like an interesting/appealing/exciting/worthwhile/(insert whatever adjective) and whatever endeavour. but yeah, u dont have to do everything at once.

    *hugs* it sucks, and it really really SUCKS, to be in the place you’re in now. believe me i know. *hugs* take care and take it easy.

    ps: i know its not really concrete ‘advice’ per se and its not very detailed but *shrug* it is what it is i guess. plus you know where to find me :)

  12. Ben: I’ve been a climber in the past. Loss of fitness in the past 2 years, combined with an increase of RSI symptoms has lead to a decline in what I’m capable of. This is frustrating. Hopefully I can get some of it back, even if I can’t solve everything.

    Meng: The HTML to the graph must have been stripped. Can you put in the URL in plaintext? I’ll check on why it got stripped meanwhile. There’s definitely a seasonal component. Fortunately it’s less cold & cloudy this year compared to last, so it’s not affecting me /as much/ (but I still admit there’s an effect.) On a macro scale, I hope you’re wrong. I won’t make that choice unless I’m forced to by some uncontrollable constraint (health, money, etc.) I agree the long-term, contemplative view is better. I also do my best not to thrash in an “ADD” like sense; I’m better about that now than I was just 3 months ago, thanks to better personal organization and a strict priority queue.

    It’s the constant internal criticism that is the biggest issue here, not overcommitment. I have never felt “OK” making mistakes, whether in public or not, and have loud introjects that reinforce that. Dealing with this has been a lifelong problem, I have evidence of it as young as 4 years old (ask me sometime offline).

    kaien: *sigh* yeah I knew you’d relate. thanks for the *hugs* :) it helps a lot. I’m trying to say “no” more often. But telling myself “it’s OK” is the big challenge (see above).

  13. I speak from experience that grad school is an endurance sport that will really test your stress tolerance. If you ever want to talk about it, I’m always happy to hear from you. Don’t make yourself such a stranger! It’s hard to meet new challenges or scale hurdles without the support of friends.

  14. Read through some of this again tonight. It’s late though, so gonna mull it over for a bit..

  15. Here’s what I can figure out:

    You’re at a point where physical intervention is needed to get out of the vicious cycle of being unable to relax mentally and physically.
    You sound like did once, when I was worn out and ungrounded, past the point of fixing myself. One of my friends does shiastu for a living and I took her up on her offer of a full-body massage.
    I’m not advocating any form of massage in particular, but I suspect that a thorough one, followed by a good bath (if that’s your thing) and a good sleep, would allows you to get yourself back together to the point of self-sustainability (meaning, being able to release stress). We all need to figuratively be “gone fishing” now and then.

    Once that point is reached, perhaps you should evaluate your workplace workload. It might be genuinely too high, especially given the extra demands of school. Not much reduction might be required. I bet it’s not very different from the accomodations someone needs when they have a family. (I often think of my school work as a second spouse, to keep in perspective the commitment involved.)

    Finally, being asked to join in is not necessarily elitist. Your insight or actions may or may not be better than anyone else’s, but that point of view falls apart when you ask yourself “Would I enjoy it?” (whatever the group, activity, or focus ‘it’ is). Find what you want, what you love, *what you value*. What you should or should not do will logically follow from working towards those. There you find drive and substance, and never be outside of it because you’re in immediate contact with it. The things we value the most are the most real.

  16. Everyone has a personal point of perspective on anything.
    Mine is filtered through only a handful of interactions with you. It could be way off the mark, but is just another angle. Ultimately we get to believe anything we want. Sure, weighted by source, but that comes down to belief also.

    Between action and inaction choose action every time!
    The world will change, directed or not. If it is with good intentions no one can blame you. Even if it ends up worse that where it would have randomly fluttered otherwise. No one could ever know. If the system is tolerant of change, once corrected, it will be in a better place had it not taken the misstep.

    You are more than humble enough (of your view)^2. Don’t be humble to the point where you don’t share. Propose; as opposed to impose. But, I know you would never do otherwise.

    Everything you do really does matter! If it is not with the goal of world change, it still goes into that fluttering function. As they say: We are standing on the shoulders of giants. More so, it seems to be grains of sand where they happen to have settled. But, it’s quite a pile.

    Of course it doesn’t feel good to loose sleep or other physical nessesity. Those we need. If you make no choices you can acclimatize to anything. The same will never seem like enough.
    In this reactive mode, mixed with our the ability to analyze the real time feeling of happiness just becomes a function that evaluates to what degree the outcome exceeds the expectation.
    Pride loops in the positive.
    You were looping in the negative, and in the worst way because your heightened ability to process was linked in when assessing potential vs actual accomplishment.

    Relaxing is not the solution.
    You have so much ability; You are spinning the wheels even when you would prefer to sleep.
    Just make sure you are not spinning the wheels madly on a treadmill at work either.

    Once you regain mental traction and control of your personal mental direction; Once you rebuild the confidence to connect it to the real world, and at least point in that direction; You know you could go anywhere you wanted, and I wouldn’t be surprised if society wanted to go along for the ride.

    take it; leave it; take parts.

    …. Actually, I am going to throw in the ‘immature’ advice too.
    They may have improved their technology, but they kept the name.

    Even if you don’t go ‘all in’ for your stuff, why not give it your largest investment?

  17. martin, thanks for the advice. Somehow, your phrasing (even if others are saying the same things) connects with me a bit better. Or maybe the release of my anxiety over the past couple of days on this issue has made it easier to focus on the comments coming in. I think it was this bit that made things clearest: “If you make no choices you can acclimatize to anything. The same will never seem like enough. In this reactive mode, mixed with our the ability to analyze the real time feeling of happiness just becomes a function that evaluates to what degree the outcome exceeds the expectation.” Geeky description to be sure :) yet it resonates with me more fully than simple platitudes.

    I know, deep down, that relaxation isn’t the answer (but it is a necessary starting point; I can’t begin to deal with anything when I get stressed out!) Once relaxed, I can come to a more full understanding — and you’re right, just adaptation is not always the right answer. Still, I choose to sidestep things that I don’t have to confront. For instance, in the past I’ve moved to new cities from old ones just because it’s been an environment more conducive to my personal aesthetic/comfort level. Sure, I could try and be happy somewhere else, but taking a path of lower resistance is often a more intelligent choice. Save that energy for something else, right?

    It will be very hard to take this item of advice: “Don’t be humble to the point where you don’t share.” I am still not yet confident enough in my own contributions to do this, and have had too many false starts in the past where I have simply imposed, not proposed. I don’t want to take steps towards proposing until I’m sure people won’t read me as imposing – this seems to be the key, that my communication skills are still somewhat busted. I may deal with change OK, but I still have a hard time changing specific things. Speech and linguistic patterns remain the hardest chestnuts to crack.

    BTW, I left Soma over 6 months ago now. I have a different job that is more satisfying, less stressful, and has me both within my comfort zone and my zone of proximal development (thanks, Vygotsky! Thvygotsky.)

  18. Wish I could offer more than silent thoughts these days, but I’ve been trying to deal with feeling rather in a similar rut myself. It’s a lotta fun, isn’t it? ^^;

  19. The primary reason I left Architecture, in particular, was that constant judgement. No matter what I did, when the reviews came, I was blasted for not doing something. It could have been something large, like a major requirement missed, but more often it was something small. “Did you consider the light in the room during a solar eclipse? Why not?” I needed to get away from that negativity. And drawing by hand.

    Throughout the rest of school, I know I got familiar with the game and did what I had to in order ot make it through. Some instructors wanted this or that, and I gave them what they expected. Even if, in some cases, there was no substance behind it.

    I haven’t gone back to school, even if I had planned on it before I left. The most I’ve done is some training classe for work, and again I play the game and leave it at that.

    To some extent, it frustrates me that I don’t get more out of such situations. And I suppose it is my own fault. Should I take advantage of the learning process? How can I do that and not get bored? It remains unanswered.

    As for work, I know I could do more. I know I could do better. However, what is my reward for doing so? I’m fond of saying at work that, “The reward for completing your work well is more work.” I do my part on the projects I am assigned. I actually take each project personally where possible, and try to make it successful.

    However, lately I notice that I’ve gotten a bit… Reluctant to put in more effort than strictly necessary. I refuse to work from home, and in fact I leave my work laptop at work. I state the truth, which is that I didn’t get cable when I moved. I turn my phone off before bed and when I’m expecting to do other personal activities. I show up at my appointed time, put my hours in, and leave as soon as I’m able to do so.

    And I haven’t really noticed much difference. I’m still getting bonuses for project work. I still have a good working relationship with some of the team members. I feel a bit better leaving work because I’ve started to leave my work there. I don’t use any method to check work email once I’ve left.

    Now the problem is that I do tend to get a bit… snippy when I get work calls off-hours, or even during lunch. Any intrusion on MY time annoys me. Even friends, family, and the like can disturb my quest for personal time.

    Work drains me to the point that I have no energy left once I’m out. I’ve noticed that I tend to go home and sit in silence, performing some simple mind-numbing task like solitaire or similar. Nothing requiring hand-eye coordination, or even much thought. Certainly nothing healthy and active.

    My outlet is tech toys. I buy them. Sometimes, I even use them after I posess them. I briefly cheep up as I research a new toy, then purchase it. I wait in anticipation until it arrives or I go out shopping for it. And I do enjoy the opening and first playtime.

    More and more, that is fading very rapidly. I get buyer’s remorse. It ultimately doesn’t help the situation.

    So what is there to do? We isolate ourselves. It is both unconscious and conscious effort that makes it such. There isn’t an wasy answer. I find that small things help here and there, and perhaps those will build up enough to overcome the worst of it.

    Eating right is a big one. Excercise is another. Those are somewhat easy to fulfill. The harder one is getting a bit of non-stressful time out of the house to socialize and just be out, free. My tendancy is to retreat to my own environment where I can control everything. It does me good to get out and about from time to time.

    I haven’t slept well for over a week now. There are phases where I do and do not sleep well. Everything seems much worse when I haven’t slept, that’s for sure. I haven’t figured out the key to good sleep yet. Except, of course, popping a pill drops me right out. Not a real solution, but a patch that does relieve the stress for a time.

    Starting to go on bike rides helped for awhile, but I didn’t keep them up. And now the weather prohibits them. Geocaching also helped a great deal, as it combined toys with a purpose to using them. I need to get back into more of that sort of thing. I keep meaning to get back into fencing, but somehow never get around to it.

    I’m frustrated with myself, because I feel like I should be able to do more and have more energy. I don’t understand why I don’t. I think back 10 years ago when I did so much more in a day. I would be gone for 14+ hours a day, hauling around a huge backpack on my bike and still stay up to play a new game or chat or something.

    I don’t have the answers, but you’re not alone.

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