A quick check-in showing my current emotional state. (Higher numbers mean greater degrees of emotion.)
- Depression 10% 10%
- Anxiety 50% 50%
- Stress 50% 50%
In an effort to correlate how my writing is being affected by what’s happening around me, I plan on doing occasional Personal Life “check-ins” which will all share a similar format.
(First, there will be an index of these pervasive emotions at the top followed by a brief explanation of the scores):
I can gladly say that as far as the depression goes, things are actually going pretty well lately. This is a huge relief as things weren’t this way for a while.
About 6 years ago I left a job that really did a number on me. My confidence was almost entirely wiped out, I felt abandoned by a lot of friends and we ended up moving across state, leaving me feeling totally isolated. (I don’t think this was a “bad” move, however, and welcomed it at the time. I still think it was for the best. It’s just that the isolation only deepened the other negative feelings I was having.)
What made this job loss worse for me was that it was a highly creative job – yes, it was small, 15 hours a week, but it fulfilled that need to feel like I was doing something that mattered. Without it, my mood cratered. I stayed in the pit until April of this past year. It’s been a rough time with a few ups and a lot of downs:
- Through Obamacare and Medicaid, I was able to get into therapy and on some meds
- We had to give it up when my spouse found a job (without insurance) that put us over the financial limits.
- My mood deteriorated and I ended up briefly hospitalized for depression to get stabilized.
- My spouse got a better position with better insurance and we moved closer to Seattle.
- His position fell through and we ended up evicted from our apartment.
- We eventually lived in a tent for 6 months on some friends’ property they were renting.
- They had to move and we once again had to scramble to find shelter.
- We eventually found an agency that provided funding for seniors to get into subsidized housing.
That was a year and a half ago and we’re still there. I continue to tend to blame myself for all of our problems but the stability in our lives has provided some relief. This helped lift my mood and I was able to find part-time work that was both low stress and low human-intensive. Right now, things are improving and I feel a lot better about myself.
This site has also helped a lot as it’s the most creative thing I’ve done in a long time. And I know that this creativity will continue as I keep updating it as well as work on this novel.
Anxiety and Stress
Both anxiety and stress, however, still play a somewhat prominent role – thus the 50% rankings:
- The political/social situation in the US hasn’t helped – I find myself sleeping in 3-4 hour chunks at night, waking up to lay in bed and scan through the news sites on my phone for an hour to make sure things haven’t gone to hell since I last checked.
- Personally, I still find dealing with people extremely difficult. I work a low-key job: I go in on Saturday and Sunday nights at 7 p.m. for 12 hours checking people in and making sure they have the proper ID. I see maybe 10 people all night during the first 11 hours and then an additional 15 people or so that last one. In the down time, I can do whatever I want (which is where I’m doing a lot of this site building). And yet, on the 45 minute drive to work each night I go in, I can feel the anxiety growing inside until I have to force myself to just get past that front entrance. 95% of these folks are nice, polite, and friendly. However, if someone happens to get upset or make a rude comment, I crumble and spend hours reliving the interaction. (And it’s just not that interaction either. I find myself reliving other interactions – ones that became more intense and violent. Someone’s bad night can inadvertently send me in a tailspin.)
- It shows up in other areas as well. When my spouse goes to work, I have to hear that he’s made it in ok before I can settle down again. If he doesn’t call, I start to panic. The longer it takes to hear from him, the more it grows.
- Sometimes, just being out among people is overwhelming. A trip to Trader Joe’s or Costco becomes a nightmare as people rush around us to complete their shopping. A lot of times I have to find a quiet spot against the wall where I can stand out of the way and calm down. And occasionally, just losing my spouse in the store can be a real heart-stopper.
(After a discussion of these indices, I plan on briefly listing anything major going on in our lives to see how that shows up in the writing also.)
For the time being I’ll just say that both my spouse and I are dealing with some health issues. Surgery is likely for at least one of us. Our 13 year old dog is showing further signs of old age and has her own health problems. Both of these are making me look at issues of abandonment and questioning my ability to cope if something happens to either one of them. They are my sole support at the moment.
Also, we live in a seniors-only apartment building. Thus, COVID-19 seems more real since we’re one of the more susceptible populations. At least every 3 days (usually more), there are firetrucks/ambulances present to deal with residents’ health issues. (Once I was even waiting for the elevator and the doors opened, revealing workers bringing out a corpse in a body bag). And still, folks are sitting around the lobby, laughing and chatting, not wearing masks or taking any precautions like social distancing. The office staff are baricaded back behind a temporary wall and you’ve got to make an appointment to even ask a simple question but it seems like they’ve given up trying to enforce any type of prevention elsewhere. Leaving the apartment can feel dangerous at times as you never know who’s going to stop you and what their health status is. And, like with a lot of other folks, it’s hard not to let the isolation get to you.
I can definitely see each of these items feeding into the story somehow as abandonment and isolation are a couple of it’s themes. It’s also making me question the age of my main characters as part of me wants to make them older so I can explore these issues more in depth.
Photo by Gia Oris on Unsplash
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash
Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash