I Aten’t Dead

I Aten’t Dead

Still here. Just having trouble gathering my thoughts into a shape coherent enough to write lately; makes me wonder if the cracks are showing. Not enough hours in the day, nor enough days in the week to find time to undertake all the outstanding jobs. Ninety degrees weather and I’m snowed under!

There are times when the work piles up faster than I can manage – I’m working flat out and the backlog is growing by the hour. There’s a tipping point – a critical mass – beyond which I start to spend more time thinking about the sheer number of things to do than actually tackling them. I feel overwhelmed – under pressure – and start to panic.

I have found that I have a limit to the number of items I can maintain in my memory – my mental to-do list. If it grows beyond that limit then it is like adding too many apples to a fruit bowl: I put one in and it dislodges one or two that were precariously balanced, so I have to catch them and try to replace them into the bowl. (Akin to what I’d call thrashing in the day job.) My time and effort is spent trying to fit all my apples into my bowl, so to speak, rather than eating them.

Imagine opening a door – not a normal door but a portal to another place, more like Alice’s looking glass. It is door-sized and -shaped – about 2’6″ wide and 6’6″ high – but just stands there like a window hanging in space. All I have to do is walk through it to be instantly transported to a peaceful land of solitude. I stand on the lush green grass, feeling the breeze and listening to the birds, and look back through the portal at the world I have stepped out of. Hang up a “Do not disturb” sign and lock the door. If only it weren’t a fantasy…

An idealized past haunts my waking thoughts; I look back through the haze of distant time to halcyon days of childhood when the weight of responsibility lay less heavy upon my shoulders. But time flows ever on like a river to the sea, carrying me in its currents farther and farther from the tranquility of my source whence I sprang from the earth pure and untainted by the corruption and filth of this world above. Feels like I need a vacation.

PS: Thanks to Terry Pratchett for the title…

Rising Stress Revisited

Rising Stress Revisited

A couple of days ago I mentioned a major cause of worry but couldn’t go into detail. Well, it’s to do with my wife. She had the results of tests on a tennis-ball-sized lump that was removed about three weeks ago and it was not good news. She doesn’t want me to go into detail so I can’t be more specific.

She has been very ill since the operation – internal bleeding causing a swelling as if she had a butternut squash under her skin and acute, chronic pain. I don’t know how she has managed to stand it so far – I doubt that I could.

But the worst part for her as a gregarious, outgoing person has been the isolation of being stuck at home apart from my company when I’m not at work and occasional visits from friends. This is causing depression.

Now I feel selfish talking about my feelings when she is going through so much but I need to write it down to help me get through. I am mostly coping, thanks to the distraction of work, but it is her depression that I find the hardest to handle. I see and hear how she is feeling and I come so close to being overwhelmed that I feel as if I’m on a knife-edge where the slightest push will tip me over the edge.

I came within a fraction of a meltdown tonight – ended up punching a door frame. I’ve got my equilibrium back now but I feel under tremendous strain. This situation is very likely to continue for weeks if not months and I’m worried that I’m not going to be able to cope if I’m having difficulties after only three weeks.

I’m telling myself that I have to keep it together for her sake but I feel as if I’m failing because she is suffering. I’m not managing to meet my own expectations as regards being there for her: I have work commitments to meet to make sure we have money coming in to keep the roof over our heads and make sure the bills are paid, so as much as I’d like to I can’t be with her 24/7. My employers have been very understanding and supportive and I thank them for that, but obviously I can’t be absent long-term and expect to still be paid after my annual leave has all been taken.

So I’m putting myself under pressure to care for my wife adequately, to keep going in my job, and also to try to help keep the household running by doing as much as I can. I try to keep telling myself that I’m not doing too badly for someone who has struggled to look after himself in the past. But I still feel as if I’m being selfish by taking time out for myself – some down time on my own to try to unwind and help myself keep going. I feel as if I could and should be doing more for my wife, but at the same time realise that I need to make sure that I am here over the weeks to come. I really can’t afford to let things get on top of me so that I overload. I’m worried as hell but I can’t let that distract me until the situation improves.