and so it goes
Not last week but the week before was the last little bit of paid time off my wife and I have for the year. It was actually the end of a two week break, but that second week was my favourite.
We had time for ourselves. I finally got my Zettelkasten started; she’d finally got her nails and more hobby stuff sorted. I started toying with the idea of building my own index card storage; she saw friends who also had time off.
But together, we had a mini date down the local M&S cafe, which is always great. We had a champagne breakfast at our favourite local restaurant and walked out with a bottle of wine to take home for our wine cooler1. We took the dog out for the day at a local nature spot, walking until we were pretty much ready to drop. We slept well that evening.
We’ve been really lucky this year and had some wonderful time off together, and then Sunday evening was spent convincing ourselves that it’s not all going to go to hell just because we were going back to work.
Things started going to hell because we went back to work.
My wife didn’t have too many problems, other than settling back into the pattern of not having a great deal to do but being forced to sit at the laptop for eight hours regardless. I went almost immediately back into long running arguments over the state of orders and contracts. By Tuesday, positivity was a thing of the past.
And then the universe piled on. My wife got a cold that had started when she went out with friends the previous weekend but just built up worse and worse, and so I inevitably got it and we both worked sick.2 Then more family drama. Then we noticed what looked like a water staining patch on our front hallway wall which we thought we’d monitor as it looked dried out. Then we noticed effloressence coming out of it late Friday evening. Waiting on a call back from some damp specialists now, but it’s the weekend so it’ll be a while.
I use Daylio to track my mood at the minute, and my average mood went down from 4.3/5 to 3.3/5 in one week, and it’s still falling.
That last Sunday when we were worried about work messing it all up, I echoed the Stoic philosophy I read. How we don’t have to react negatively to things like that, that we could keep calm and persevere and come out feeling as good as we did then. And then I engaged in that good old human pastime of hypocrisy and reacted badly to everything within days. Friday night got particularly dark for me.
But that advice does hold true, and I’d be better off for listening to it. My brain wants the outrage and the self-hatred, it wants to fire off all the adrenaline it can at any point. My depression wants me to be miserable, to wallow in despair and pain and accept a life of misery.
However, I am not my brain, nor my depression.
Even while ill, I am able to make decisions that go against these instincts. I just have to choose to do so.
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I have longed to be that guy with ‘special’ bottles in the fridge, just never let myself spend the money.↩
She has a complicated work sickness policy; I have a stingy one. We both work primarily from home, so we find it best to reserve sick days for when we physically cannot get out of bed.↩