My mental health has been taking a beating lately.
Maybe it’s the simple act of turning 55 this week. Wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility, lots of people do feel crappy about another trip around the sun. The slow feeling that as I turn 55, I’m one step closer to a dirt nap, and as I become increasingly aware of the limits of my body, I’m not entirely sure I want to fight to the end. MAID, perhaps. Something more accidental looking before that. It weighs on me more this year as I figure maybe another 25 years if I’m lucky.
Maybe it’s the realization that instead of being able to retire in about 2 years, it’ll be closer to 4. I’m already tired. Some stupid ass crap keeps happening at work, and it bothers me more than it used to. Things that would roll off me before are making me downright irate. I’ve even started managing things different so that it won’t get to me. Let it go, Disney style, perhaps. I haven’t had to do that in a long while but if I could drop my papers tomorrow, I would. I don’t even mind being back in the office, it’s just a loss of control perhaps or a reduction in my span of control. What seemed like a decent job with good support from above and a solid foundation for the future seems reduced to toeing the line, ideas be damned from anyone else. Not overly a great environment, but you do the job you have, not necessarily the one you thought you had.
Maybe it’s an increasing feeling of isolation and aloneness. I’ve always been somewhat of a loner, I like doing a lot of things that are not really “group activities”. Writing. Reviewing. Reading. But after the pandemic, and what I tend to think of as a Facebook divorce for Andrea and I, I don’t have many friends left on Facebook, I mostly just follow groups now, or a few memes shared by friends. There’s no real connection there for me anymore, although perhaps there never was, perhaps it was just the illusion of connection seeing some stuff people I knew posted as opposed to real friendships. Andrea asked me if I wanted to have anyone come with us for dinner for my birthday and it’s a bit embarrassing to admit there really isn’t anyone. Which isn’t exactly fair, there ARE people I COULD invite, some of which would probably come. But it’s also a risk management technique to NOT invite people. If I do something small, it looks like my choice, even enough to fool myself perhaps. On the other hand, if I invite a bunch of people, and nobody shows? My mental health would take a hit that I can’t really afford right now.
I often feel that in times of crisis or stress, the only way out is through. Just keep pushing through. Except I’m not sure I’m strong enough to keep pushing through right now. One foot in front of the other is about all I can manage. And it isn’t even necessarily huge things the universe is smacking me with. Some of it is small.
We just spent tens of thousands of dollars to redo three bathrooms — one upstairs for an ensuite that is mostly for Andrea; one that is for Jacob (my old main bathroom); and a basement one with a shower that is now functional enough to use. Truth? I don’t really like any of them. The ensuite looks nice, really they all do, but one thing that I hate was the placement of the toilet next to the wall and a vent, and we didn’t end up fixing that because it was too much work. Most of the stuff in the bathroom area is taken up with Andrea’s stuff, so not a great solution for me for things like water for my BIPAP machine. I’ll figure out some option over time I guess, but not great. J’s bathroom looks great, but the water pressure for the shower is almost non-existent. It used to be good with the old showerhead, but I’m the only one who likes that one, and Jacob deserves his own bathroom to look after his lens stuff and everything. So I’m using the basement. Toilet is good, sink is okay, shower is smaller than it should be for a person of my size (which is nicer than saying I’m just too fat for a small shower), but I also can’t really get the shower head angled the way I want it to consistently. I’ll eventually fix it with something from a 3D printer, but it’s annoying. We spent all that money and I feel like I have less “functionality” than I started with. It’s telling that we did 3 bathroom renos consecutively, the people were here for weeks, and I never really blogged about any of it.
Tonight, we had to call 911 for a fire in our kitchen. Yeah, sure, I buried the lede, as they say. It wasn’t super serious. We had housecleaners in today, and because we didn’t quite have all the dishes and extra stuff clean to go back in cupboards, we temporarily stored some stuff in the oven. Lots of people do it, we do it often too. Except of course that practice doesn’t work well if you forget and later ask Jacob to turn the oven on to preheat only to find out later that a plastic cutting board eventually catches fire. I used the fire extinguisher to put it out, Andrea called 911, we sat outside waiting for fire department who arrived within a few minutes. They checked, yes indeed all out, yes indeed we were right to call, etc., etc., etc.. We rolled with it, joked a bit, nothing too precious lost, no damage other than to the oven we want to replace, a relatively minimalist intrusion of the malevolent universe into our life.
Except the whole bottom floor of our house now has a thin layer of white crap all over it. Which isn’t a big deal until you go to make a lunch, clean the counter for a second time, and it is STILL not clean. I gave up. I’ll buy Jacob a lunch for tomorrow. We have some electrical inspectors coming for something else tomorrow (related to the reno work), and house cleaners who will come clean EVERYTHING tomorrow afternoon to get rid of the white coating. But it is EVERYWHERE and it’s going to be showing up / annoying us for a long time.
Sure, I can tick the box about how minor it was or how lucky we were, blah blah blah. But I felt that only right afterwards. Now I’m more like, “Really? I can’t even make a lunch right now?”. Crapola on steroids.
And it doesn’t feel like I’m pushing through. It feels at best like I’m crawling out or squirming out from under crap that is piling up a little more rapidly than I would normally like. If age brings wisdom, I really hope it arrives soon, I could use some insight about now.