I have noticed over the past couple of weeks I have been a bit less enthusiastic about things, exercise and healthy eating in particular. Other things still spike my interest from time to time, but it's dwindling by the day. Having taken a week or so off from exercise etc following my trip to Wales recently, I thought it might be a little slump due to inactivity, and I would swing back into it in no time. However a couple of weeks later, and nope, it's just getting worse.
Over the past week I have done a half hearted run, body in it, mind disinterested. I did a nice bike ride through town the other day, I enjoyed that a lot, fresh air, open spaces, and things to keep my mind busy. Then the past 2 days I have done a ramp test (ftp power test on the indoor bike trainer) and an indoor effort on AdZ (virtual version of the Alpe du Huez). Both times I pushed hard, but at a certain point my brain just said "that's enough" and turned off the power supply to my legs.
It is almost as if my brain is allowing me to do these things, just til it gets the distraction and satisfaction it needs from the excessive physical exertion, then just says, "ok, that's me done", and suddenly my body says WTF are you doing to me, and cuts me off.
Now I can say the above with quite good confidence, as I know I have been here before. Running and cycling myself into the ground, to mask what is really going on, and distract myself from it all. It is my coping mechanism for when things are not going right in my head. So I guess it is time to check in with my brain and see what is going on to cause this behaviour.
Also, another reason to jump on sorting it out ASAP is the other side effect. Eating comfort food! Horrible habit, one likely to undo all the good work I have done over the past year, so something I am keen to get control of quickly. Some of the food it to replenish the shed loads of energy I have expelled while flogging myself for my brains entertainment. The rest is just excess, and needs to be sorted out. *he said eating a chocolate pastry twist while writing this.
So, what is wrong? Well, to be honest, I think the whole Work From Home thing is really getting to me right now. Before there is any confusion, by that I mean, the uncertainty of knowing if we will be allowed to continue working from home. I love my own space, the peace and quiet to work in, my own environment, my own equipment choices to work with. In fact there is nothing I dislike about working from home at all! So the thought that it might all end soon is bringing my world crashing down right now. We are due to hear by the start of Sept what is happening next, but there are no clues whatsoever what that plan may be.
I know certain work groups are being called back in to the offices, I know the word "flexible" is being banded around a lot, but I have no idea what that all means for me and my group. I was hoping we were going to hear something this week, but alas, at the time of writing this on Thurs 26th Aug 2021, there is no word.
I have run through the possibilities in my head a thousand times, and continue to do so. True to the definition of madness, doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. It feels like I am going insane, but the truth is, I am just exhausting my mind with pointless thoughts. It is what it is, and ultimately, I can't really control what the next step is. All I can do is influence any flexibility I may be given, by staying positive, and being a team player. Showing I can do what I do, from where I am now, with no issues. Not that it really needs proving, given its been about 18 months now.
Previously I have said that whatever the decision, whatever the company decides, I will just knuckle down and get on with it. But if the truth be told, I am not sure I can! The way my mind is right now, I am on the edge, and ready to really start to fall apart. I am far from sitting in the corner of a dark room, rocking back and forth. However my brain is going flat out, 110% and starting to wobble a bit now. My fear here is things getting too out of control, and ending up in the hell hole I have been in before, taking a long time to get my head straight again. To be perfectly frank, if I am told that we are going back to the office in anything like a full time capacity, I am not sure I can now!
I know that sounds a bit arrogant, and might even make me sound like I am trying to control things, but it's just how I feel. If I ask myself honestly if I could work 5 days a week in my old office environment, and function at the level I do currently, my honest answer right now would be no. Not a chance! It feels empowering just saying this out loud, so I am glad I am writing this to share. The only problem is, what difference does it make? Honestly, probably none at all.
I am not trying to set ultimatums, nor trying to be in full control of what comes next. Instead I am simply recognising my limitations, and setting out a line in the sand for myself, to protect my own sanity and mental health. Simple fact here, I don't like working in my old office environment. I could not put my finger on one single thing that is the problem. The commute is fine, it's not far and I enjoy cycling in. The idea of having to travel, whilst a bit of a bummer is the harsh reality of life. Being away from home, and losing the convenience of being home for contractors or deliveries is a sucker punch, but such is life.
The main thing it comes down to is the office environment. People, personalities, noise, hygiene (that's a huge one !!), and the ability to create an environment that I thrive in. So, pretty much everything that comes from being in a shared office! Not a good start I know. Of course, there are variables to consider, such as capacity.
Depending on the plan of return (if at all) there has been some talk of reduced capacity, and only spending X% of the week in the office. This sadly requires an investment in equipment, which makes it a little less likely in my opinion. However I would add that I would happily put large chunks of my own money in to procure said equipment, if a split office/WFH was decided on. Just thought I would get that in there. I have done so already to make WFH more comfortable, so why stop now. Although I would rather spend the money on making my home office even more comfortable to be honest.
But for now, I wait. We wait! We are all in the same boat, all hoping for what works best for us. And my brain continues to burn itself out, filling itself with negative thoughts, worries of being told to go back to the office, and panicking over what I would do if that happens. Could I cope, would I be better finding another job? Could I ask that I work in my own environment in the office? Is my mental health relevant enough to allow me to have an open discussion about remaining at home? Of course there would be compromises, which I would expect, but is it even valid and relevant? Is it going to be one rule for all. Will other peoples actions affect what happens to me next.... Jeeez I need a lay down here!
So, as you can see, my brain is not having a good time recently. These thoughts are just a 30 second snap shot of what is happening in my head over and over for every waking moment. Of which there seem to be more and more each day, as my ability to sleep dwindles away. Urrgh, mentally exhausted. But unlike when I am punishing myself physically, my brain doesn't cut itself off. Instead it just keeps going until its not functioning properly. Trouble finding the right words in a conversation, struggling to maintain focus on things, drifting away into my own little world mid conversation. Forgetting what I am doing, so many signs that all is not well. But what do I do?
That is my quandary right now, what do I do?
I guess this is my plan of action for now...
- Wait and see what happens next, at least until the road ahead is a known thing.
- Keep a limit on the amount of physical exertion, it's not fixing anything.
- Watch what I am eating.
- Get into a healthier routine of sleep and rest
- Speak to the doctor if things persist
- Consider my own road ahead, once the company announce theirs.
The main thing here is recognition of what is happening in my head, and this is it. I know I am struggling a bit right now, and have to be mindful of how I proceed. Not wind myself up with unknowns and things I can't control, but instead focus on what I can control. Consider and plan conversations I can have with people who can play a part in alleviating my struggles. I know what I want to say, just not how to say it. Something along the lines of quite simply "if we are going back to the office, I don't know if I can stay in this role". Sounds SO dramatic when I put it like that, and see it in writing, but the truth is, it's how I feel right now. As I say, what difference that makes, I don't know, but I have to say it, and put it out there for my own sanity. No point bottling it up, or pretending that isn't how I feel.
Oh well, I think I will leave it there for now. Step 1 done, recognising and taking action. Now to see how well I can keep a leash on myself, and resist the calling for more self destruction.
Thanks for reading 🙂
PS, I just realised I managed the whole blog entry without saying "anxiety" once. All whilst being full of it!