Sick note

Today is a sick day. According to the doc I have a viral infection, or something like that. I’m not too surprised as I have struggled the last few days to manage my anxiety. Born form thoughts of work and various tasks that pop into my head at the most inopportune moments. It has prevented me from resting sufficiently and has certainly weakened my constitution. Strangely depression hasn’t really reared it’s head, but rather I’ve been trying to balance the hours of work and the frustration that lies within that time. Perhaps because I feel I have little control over the situation (other than myself) is what causes this anxiety, or that I have finally published my book and can see what direction I should really be taking.

The relief? Well that’s easy, but part of me has clung on to work. Probably to prove to the voice in my head that I can handle it, that I can change and improve myself and others. Perhaps because somewhere in my head is a voice that says “if you can’t handle this stress, how will you manage when it’s your own business?” Fortunately I know this is a ridiculous statement, because I have managed with my own business in the past and because I never went too nuts when I was responsible for the workload! Another part of my brain reminds me that when it’s your own business there is a greater reason to weather the shit and truly own it. For me that dream is already in process; the goal is to help others become stronger, better people, to help them create their own luck and opportunities. Yes I am a cliché, a cheesy cliché.

As I sit watching the Kookaburras land on our washing line with a tumbler of whiskey in hand, I have the time and mindfulness to appreciate the little (and not so little) things. It’s a necessity for me to do now as a combat tool against depression. Each day I try to look for the little pieces of joy, to open up to those around me and to savour these snippets of time. Without this practice I am most certainly lost to the darkness of my mind that creeps like like a low hanging mist, ready to envelope anything positive. This is my ridiculous battle. On one side of my mind is the Monkey that is aggressive, yet always striving for more. Opposing it is one that is laid back, yet melancholy. Somewhere in the middle is me. Ok so perhaps that is too introspective for this time of day without drugs or alcohol!

Don’t get me wrong I am actually feeling relaxed right now as I write this (whiskey and not working does that). I’ve had a productive day whilst resting, having updated my website with all the exercise photos that accompany my new book and avoided any serious thinking. But it is exactly this kind of time that I need to deal with my head, when I can try to make semi-rational decisions (emphasis on semi). Otherwise I get too caught up in work for anything else and nothing changes. Shit. Maybe I just answered my own question with that last observation.

I have worked out over the years that I have the mental capacity for total weekly work hours comparable to a 70 year old. What I mean by this is that I reach a limit whereby I question what good it is doing for me once I go beyond about 24 hours of work. When you are 70 you aren’t thinking about doing overtime, striving at work to prove yourself or worrying about work outside of work. This is because you’ve already done that and now you are focused on making the most of your time left on Earth, which by current stats is still a bloody long time. If anything you are worried about how you’ll stretch your pension/super/401k to last as long as you, so that you can keep enjoying happy hour.

I say that 24 hours is my limit per week, but it varies, sometimes it’s as little as 8 hours of work! My way of working around this is to either do different jobs or do one where I don’t work consecutive days (thanks Apple), thereby having a mini holiday in the middle of shifts in order to reset my bullshit clock. It’s why right now I am still doing personal training and carpentry work alongside a full time job. However I do reach my limit and as has happened many times before I either get bored and move on or have a small breakdown and quit. (Note to potential employers: don’t worry I won’t be knocking on your doors anymore.) Side note: damn that whiskey is strong.

So I’ve discovered that there is a unique formula to my work mental balance, bravo Tom! Should probably employ that in my current situation. What else have I worked out? Well I don’t like people. Sorry, I mean I don’t like working with other people. At least not as much as I thought. I do like meeting and helping people, it’s just that people do things differently (stupidly) and my Monkey gets annoyed… Obviously I jest! I have enjoyed working with many people over the years (58 different jobs will do that) it’s just that I like being in control. There we go I said it! I’m a bloody control freak, hiding behind a smile when people do stupid things at work. When you’ve had your own business it is difficult to then go and work for others.

Thirdly I have seen that I don’t have time for much outside of myself when I cam consumed by work. I am sure this is similar for many others, but it pains me because I don’t want to be that person that isn’t there for others. I forget friends and family, those that care for me. I don’t do it willingly it’s just that my mind is trying to deal with itself and the information from work. It is trying to manage the balance, to keep peace in the war torn land of my grey matter. I am aware of this for brief lucid moments when I come up for air from work. In these precious minutes I create reminders on my phone to reach out to friends and family, to get away from myself.

It’s funny because I have a reminder I set during one of these times to “text friends”, which does help to kick me out of myself and support others.

Now where was I going with this post? Who knows! My stream of consciousness takes me to some strange places. I think what I was trying to tell myself is how much my work situation has been playing on my mind and that something needs to change. When your body starts to complain as well as your mind then you know something is out of kilter.

Here’s to listening to what your body and mind are telling you.