Breaking The Silence

My goodness, it’s been quiet here for far too long. Even though ‘write a new blog post’ was on my to-do list almost every day, it took me this long to actually get back to writing again. And the reason? Good old-fashioned chronic fatigue, a lack of inspiration for a post that doesn’t require the usual mental gymnastics, and a healthy dose of other responsibilities. Because, let’s be honest, there’s quite a few things that should take precedence over spending my time writing a new blog post. We’ll just ignore for now that most of my days over these past two weeks were spent crocheting and watching – or actually more like listening to – Breaking Bad.

Even though I made a gorgeous batwing shawl in a week that I’m really proud of, I feel like I haven’t done much these past few weeks. Breaking Bad has a total runtime of 62 hours or so, and if I wasn’t eating breakfast or lunch, I was crocheting. I went through all five seasons in just over a week’s time. Did I get much work done? Crochet-wise, absolutely. Work-wise, not so much.

It’s hard to admit these kinds of things publicly, but it’s the truth, so it just is what it is. And the good thing is that I’m making a change this week, and I’m going to try and get things back on track, pick up my good habits again, engage in some healthy self-care that doesn’t involve wasting hours on Netflix out of self-pity, and make sure I get my productivity back in working order.

This morning I had a call with my therapist for my chronic fatigue syndrome, and it was kind of clarifying. I thought I was doing well by working as much as I should and then taking a day of rest, but as it turns out, that’s not quite beneficial for my recovery.

It’s kind of like going to the gym and working out until you can’t possibly do one more rep and all your joints and muscles are hurting, and then compensating by waiting longer until you go back to the gym again, so you can nurse your sore and possibly damaged muscles. You can see why that might be a problem.

The scary thing is that the conclusion was that I maybe have to tone it down a few notches, and take a step back. Right now I should be putting in about 20 hours a week of studying for my C# certificate and working on a little side project to aid in my revalidation process, but I haven’t even gotten close last week.

I noticed that, if I work for 4 hours, which is the amount of hours I have to work daily to get to 20 hours weekly, I feel burnt-out the next day and have to take it easy that day. I’ve been instructed to organize my activities in such a way that I always have the feeling that I could’ve done more, or that I could handle unforeseen events should they arise. In other words: I have to make sure I keep some fuel in the tank instead of using it all on one day, and making myself vulnerable to any unforeseen energy saps.

Though I had the feeling that I could’ve done more productivity-wise, I’ve been absolutely spent emotionally. Definitely no room for unforeseen events there. And I was also too tired to get myself to work, even though I would’ve had the energy to work, so there’s a problem. And that’s why I have to tone it down a little, however scary that is.

You might ask why I find that scary, and the reason is simple: if I’m not back up to at least 32 hours of functional labor availability by October, I won’t be able to pay rent anymore. I have had the tremendous privilege of getting 100% of my salary during the first year of illness, but after that, I’ll get only 50% over every hour that I can’t directly work for the company (so that excludes home studying). And according to my calculations, that would mean I won’t be able to pay rent if I work any less than 32 hours. And it’s almost August, so I’ve only got two more months, so only eight or nine more weeks, to get from barely being able to do 20 hours at home, to being able to do 32+ hours in the office. And yeah, that scares the living crap out of me.

I’m trying to buff up my savings account so that I can hopefully bridge the gap for a few months to give myself a little more breathing space, but even though I can probably buy a month or two of extra recovery time, that sword is still hanging in there right above my head.

So going back to 10-15 hours a week instead of 20 is a big deal, but it’s necessary for my treatment. If I stop burning myself out on peak days, and manage to spread my activities a little better so that I don’t run out of energy on a given day, I’ll be able to slowly increase my activity to a more functional point. And that’ll take time, maybe too much time.

You can’t hurry recovery, so there’s no other option except doing what’s necessary for my treatment and accepting the consequences, but you can hopefully imagine the amount of stress that thought gives me. Combine that with the fact that I’m more or less turning my life upside-down with this treatment by very closely inspecting my habits and patterns and thoughts, and you might get why it’s been hard to get myself to sit down and write a new blog post. I tried, but the fatigue fog was too heavy and I couldn’t gather any words that would make a cohesive sentence. And now this is probably not the most interesting or engaging blog post, but at least I’ve written something again, and those who want to know more about how I’m doing hopefully know a little more about how I’m doing.

I’ve still got so many topics I want to write about, so many people I’d like to help by teaching them more about mental health and personal development, but I have to put it on the back burner for a while. It’s my honest hope to have written another, more informative blog post before the week is out, but since my mental health and energy levels are definitely my top priority right now, I can’t make any promises.

Right now I feel like I should stop writing if I want to have some energy left to get through the rest of the day, so maybe I’ve already gone too far. But I’ve put in two hours of good work, trying to figure out how to configure our SQL database for that side project I mentioned, and I’m really proud of that. I’ve taken the time to get a good stretching session in there, and I’m already improving on a lot of things that went out the window last week. I’ve only watched one episode of Better Call Saul during breakfast, and only played Civilization VI for one hour around lunchtime, and that’s already a major victory for me and my chronic lack of self-discipline. But now, it’s time to take a break again, but this time it’s a break that I’ve earned fair and square.

I hope you guys are all hanging in there happy and healthy, and I hope to let you hear from me again soon. Thanks for bearing with me during these trying times. Stay awesome, people!

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