Archives for category: anhedonia

I’m sipping the last of my second cup of coffee. It’s a Friday; I might have a third, later. I’m in pain, mostly managing it. I’ve felt the tiniest bit “under the weather” since yesterday, as if fighting off a head cold. I feel… tired. Bone-deep fatigue unrelieved by a good night’s sleep. Rested – still tired. I struggle to fully engage routine tasks. I don’t feel wholly alert. I struggle to resist distractions.

I find myself becoming annoyed with myself over my “lack of motivation” at the end of what has been a ridiculously busy work week. My inner dialogue begins to become aggressive and adversarial, and a tad “punishing” and disrespectful. I could take time to try to sort out where all that garbage and mess comes from… or I can take the break I so clearly need, and do a good job of that, instead. I mean, clearly I learned this self-abusive unproductive bullshit somewhere, but those sorts of ugly relationship dynamics are not a regular part of my everyday life now. I can just “let all that go”, and make a point to willfully treat myself with more kindness and understanding. To embrace my own “Big 5″ relationship values – even in my relationship with myself.

I’ve got a long weekend coming up. I feel my shoulders relax when I think about spending time in the studio painting. As I imagine the moment, and anticipate the feeling of “treating myself” to that creative time, I feel my shoulders relax, and a smile begin at the edge of my mouth. I imagine hiking my new favorite local trail, again, and doing some sketches there, and returning to canvas and paint at home. I imagine sleeping in, and waking slowly. I imagine waffles for brunch, and little breakfast sausages, piping hot, fat crackling and popping in the pan. I imagine putting my feet up with a new book, and sipping a glass of sherry as twilight becomes nightfall. I imagine spending quiet time with my Traveling Partner, and long leisure hours discussing one plan or project or another. Rest and art and love seem like good things to spend the weekend on…

…I straighten my posture, and look over this spreadsheet, feeling just a bit less beat down, and ready to finish this week… One more way to begin again. 🙂

I hurt today. Soaking helped some. Medication helped some. Morning yoga helped some. I still hurt. I’m cross, and finding it hard to deal with people gently. Pain is not visible – still complicates my interactions. Everything from a partner’s heartfelt well-intentioned fitness reminders that seem to overlook how much pain I am in to a colleague’s pleasant inquiry whether I am “having a bad day” (nope, just pain) that lacks any context regarding the one thing truly amiss (pain). I am as frustrated with the lack of ability to really drive the message home in a way that sticks with loved ones (it’s almost always just pain) as I am with my lack of ability to do anything substantial to reduce my day-to-day pain in a reliable way. Neither bit of frustration is the slightest help for actually improving anything whatsoever.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of the frustration. Let go of being annoyed by the fairly steady lack of any real helpfulness involved in asking me what can be done to help. Let go of being annoyed with being reminded to do things that are good for my physical wellness, but so very difficult to embrace because I just fucking hurt. Let go of the whining about any of it (while I whine about all of it, right here). Just… let it go. Feel the love instead of the futility. It’s a tall fucking ask, I grant you that. One more thing to do, it sometimes seems…and sometimes I just feel so… tired. I take a breath, and let that go, too. Even that. Let it go.

There are tears in my eyes. Less the pain than the frustration with the pain. Sometimes it’s hard. Challenging. “The struggle is real.” I try to stop struggling and just surrender to this moment, here, now. It’s not a bad moment. It’s got some nice points to it. The work day almost over. Nice. Warm cup of noodles next to me waiting for my attention – a satisfying small bite of lunch, once it’s ready. Nice. The rain has paused and it looks like a good day to walk – I even have a purposeful destination in mind that should be within my fitness “reach”. Nice. All of that is good stuff. None of that is specifically about the pain I am in. I sit with that perspective instead, for a while.

…These noodles are ready, and it’s already time to begin again. I put the work in front of me on pause, and take care of this fragile vessel. For now, that’s enough.

What a peculiar and volatile time we are living in. A pandemic. The struggles of power and the trials of the powerful. Technological advantages changes what it means to be human, and how we think, and perceive the world around us. Social media “access” to the world that gives us each a megaphone to shout our opinions to anyone/everyone, unaware that we are still just as “unheard” as we ever were, but changes the way we hear others nonetheless. Messy. Difficult.

Change is.

First this change, then that change. Another change to another thing. A new different day. Another election or transition of power. Changes of jobs and roles and tasks and circumstances. Breathe through it. Another change is coming. lol Put it all on pause for a moment, and just sit with yourself. Let your thoughts and worries go, for a moment or two at least, and just be. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Tears? Let them come. Laughter? Let it fill you up. Be present and fearlessly authentic in your own life – most especially when it’s just you, in a quiet moment, alone in some quiet place. Give yourself at least that one small opportunity to find calm, and to embrace contentment.

Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Begin again.

Autumn is a season of change.

Fighting off change doesn’t prevent or halt change from coming, but – and this is worth noting – very few of the shadows that fall over us signal impending doom. Most of them are just shadows. 😉

The morning began gently, with coffee shared with my Traveling Partner. It was a lovely quiet morning, followed by what is, so far, an utterly ordinary, rather relaxed work day rather typical of my Fridays. Good enough. The state is back on a strict “lockdown”, and more businesses are shuttered for the time being than were closed two weeks ago. Thanksgiving is coming… there’s still this pandemic going on. No big event for us, just a quiet joyful celebration-for-two at home. Still feels like something to celebrate. I’m certainly adequately thankful.

I eye my cold coffee mug after a last swallow of long-cold coffee. It’s a fine time for a second coffee… and that’s another chance to begin again. 😀

I slept poorly. I slept very little. I woke to the alarm, set for the latest acceptable time to wake before a work day. I made coffee…

…Pretty much all down hill from there, so far. “It is what it is.” I’m in pain. I’m slowed way down with fatigue. I’m cross… with pretty much the world, and everything in it. I’m easily frustrated. Easily angered.

…Did I mention the crossness?

I sat down to work with zero enthusiasm. It’s a very human experience. I’m glad the week is at its end; I’m over it, for sure.

Nothing much sounds any good right now. No solutions that I could consider seem worth considering. If it were solely my own choice, I’d log into a video game and kill monsters for a while, because honestly, that’s what I want to do more than anything else right now; kill monsters. Monster-slaying being generally discouraged “in real life” (most particularly considering by far the vast majority of the monsters most of us face will be in human form, and that would be murder, which is totally not allowed), video games are the near-at-hand proxy.

…I’ve got work…

Yeah. So. I’m in a shit mood, and I’m in pain, and I’d very much like to be left entirely alone right now. The world intrudes. Every minute I have to interact with another person, right now, is an irritant. I’d just fucking go back to bed, if that were an option. Hell, I don’t even want to be around me, right now. Not fun. Less than my ideal best self, for real, y’all.

Work is work. I remind myself I get paid for being a reasonable facsimile of my most professional “best self” for the purposes of completing the work day (and week). I eye my calendar with distaste. Meetings. With people. I look them over with care. Who am I having to meet with? Can it be rescheduled without consequences that ripple into the weeks ahead? Can the underlying need be met without having a meeting at all? Was I invited to meetings I don’t need to be part of? Are there optional meetings that I can simply opt out of without concern? I reschedule what I can. I opt out of those that I don’t need to be part of or have no obligations to. The day still looks unpleasantly full. I frown at my calendar. I frown at my coffee. I frown at the shade still drawn, obscuring the sky beyond the window.

I sip my cold coffee, and allow work to distract me from being pissed off about having to work “on such a completely shit day” (it isn’t, actually). I take a deep breath with each new interaction with a colleague, making a point of being “pleasantly neutral” as much as I can be, seeking to avoid reactions that become over-reactions. Bad moods can be “contagious”. I’d like to avoid sharing this around.

My head aches with fighting off tears; there is no room on my calendar for crying, today. My back aches from the general nuisances of aging, and my arthritis. My cold coffee is gone. Finished. Consumed. I’d like to have another, but don’t really want to interact with my Traveling Partner. (Yep, I’m in that shitty of a mood, this morning, and disinclined to “make shit worse”.) I’ve forgotten my water bottle, too. So… it’s just me and the work in front of me, in this quiet room, alone.

…Looks like I’ll just have to begin again…

The sun is up. I slept in a bit. Sipping coffee, barefooted, on a weekend morning, late in the spring. It’s a lovely moment. I’ve got nothing to bitch about. Nothing nagging at my consciousness. No drama. No baggage (in this moment). No chaos. The morning is quiet. My mood is calm. My outlook on life is merry. I’m okay, right, in every sense of the word that matters. 🙂 My coffee tastes good. My roses have begun to bloom. My aquariums are thriving. The computer my Traveling Partner built for me while we share Life in the Time of Pandemic, together, is working beautifully – and by that, I mean it is both a wonderful upgrade in performance, and also a beautiful technological piece, aesthetically. I smile every time I sit down at my desk, feeling very loved. I feel content.

“Baby Love” blooming in a pot on the deck. 🙂

Let’s be super real on this notion of contentment and ease; I’ve worked years to get here, and there have been many verbs involved, and many tears shed, over time. My outlook matters more than material details. I could live this life, identical in all practical details, and be mired in misery. PTSD has that power. Healthy emotional wellness practices really matter that much.

No click bait here, no “secret practice your therapist doesn’t want you to know about” in an eye-catching thumbnail. I’m not about that. I’m just saying, perspective matters. How I treat myself matters. How I treat others, and how reciprocal those interactions are, matters. It’s been a long journey, and I’ve often felt I was stumbling haphazardly through the darkness, quite alone. I’ve known despair, and futility and frustration and sorrow and, yes, madness. I’m not alone in that – and that’s why I write. Reminders for me, and maybe, just maybe, a light in the seemingly endless darkness for someone else. Someone that I’ll likely never meet. There have been so many such souls on my journey… human beings on their own journey, helpful co-travelers, sometimes unrecognized until much later, because I simply wasn’t ready to hear what they were saying to me, then. We all walk our own hard mile. (You too.)

Life is pretty good these days, even in spite of the pandemic. It’s not about material success (I’m not wealthy), or finding one true love (I’m fortunate to enjoy a great relationship with someone I love very much, but in dark times love does not “cure” our sorrows, or ease the weight of our baggage). Life is pretty good these days because more of my choices take me in that direction, than choices which don’t. Verbs. Choices. Beginnings. Perspective. Sufficiency. These are only words, but the words represent concepts I’ve found key to making my way, a bit at a time, to a life that feels, generally, characterized by contentment, and joy.

I’ve put in many hours of therapy and study. Reading books isn’t enough; the ideas have to become changes in behavior and thinking. The epiphanies and “ah-ha moments” have to become new practices. Practices that work have to be sustained over time. There is a commitment to treating oneself well involved – this may be the biggest challenge (it has been for me).

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

I think I’m just saying… “you’ve got this!”. Unhappy with life? Choose change. Rethink your most basic assumptions. Re-examine your expectations of life, of people, of yourself. Try a new combination of real kindness and firm boundary-setting. Ask the hard questions. Consider all the options. Take care of yourself – because you matter to you. No reason to expect it to be easy, or that you’ll never cry again, or that “the world” will ever be “fair”. Be your own best friend – and your own best self, because you can make that choice from moment to moment, and when you fail (and you will, I promise you that), begin again. Just begin again. Don’t beat yourself up over your fundamental humanity – examine your errors with some emotional distance, gain understanding of yourself (and others) from your mistakes, learn, grow, and move on with increased perspective. Accept that you are human – then also accept that everyone else is, too. Make room in your thinking for what you can’t know, or don’t understand; there’s nearly always something new to learn. Check your assumptions.

There’s a lot of baggage to put down. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go of. It’s easier to give yourself closure than to seek it elsewhere. Don’t drink the poison. Tame your own barking dog. Consider your outlook on life, generally. Yes, it’s a lot of work, I know. It probably seems so much easier to get a prescription for some boldly advertised new drug. I’ve tried that, myself. It didn’t work reliably well for me, which is how I found myself at 50, filled with despair, trying one more therapist, one more time, unconvinced that life was worth living. A huge stack of books and a few years later, life looks (and feels) very different to me. I’ve made a lot of changes – to practices, jobs, relationships; I rebuilt basically my entire life (and lifestyle) to better support becoming the woman I most wanted to be, living a life of contentment and joy. Worth it. So worth it. (Not infallibly perfect – that’s not on life’s menu, right?)

So… what do you say? Are you ready to begin again?