I Need To Work On Depressurizing

Ed Zitron 4 min read
I Need To Work On Depressurizing

I feel like I’ve written the same newsletter that starts with “every day is repetitive” 300 times at this point, because it feels so pervasive. I feel so tired all the time, regardless of whether I’ve worked out or not. I don’t know if it’s a lack of sleep - I sleep 8 hours or more every night - or whether it’s just the fact that I am crushed by everything going on, even though in comparison to, say, my life in 2013, things are dramatically easier and better. I think it may be the hedonic treadmill I’ve mentioned before - that we all adjust to the consistent status of our life and thus get the same proportional misery no matter how good things get, or at least that’s my read on it.

Either way, I’ve been trying to break up the days learning piano. I gave up on Lumi, primarily because it served its purpose in getting me to actually like learning, and went through about four separate programs that managed to show me exactly why I hated learning before - ugly interfaces, endless static videos, and an insistence on shoving entire sheets of music theory you can’t read yet in your face. I settled on Yousician primarily because it seems to be the only one that has a balanced curriculum and big, chunky graphics that my baby brain can understand. I’m getting there, but I am frustrated at how bad I am still, despite doing this a month, but apparently it takes years to just be mediocre. Not fair!

I am hesitant to discuss “self care” because I think it carries a lot of stigma based on people using it to excuse behavior, like canceling plans or ordering in food, which is fine, just don’t gussy it up and make it some sort of grand statement when you’re just taking it easy.

But in my case I think I’ve lost the plot about what self care actually is - I don’t really take breaks in the classical sense, because I have work to do all day, and when I do take time that’s not work time, I’m learning piano or on Peloton. I could game, but my brain has become so focused on trying to find time during work hours to do something (because I honestly don’t have time after work because I want to spend time with my family) that my brain just gets annihilated over the hours of 9am through 5pm. I gotta work, I gotta write, I gotta play piano, I gotta ride. And next week sometime I’m gonna add in the Tonal, which I’m really looking forward to, but at the same time I’m like…what am I doing? Am I burning myself out?

That’s the question I can’t seem to answer. Peloton and working out in general feels like a great way to clean out my system - I can’t read my phone during it (well, I can, but I can’t type much more than “On;BIKE, SORry,” which is good because it allows me time away from it all, but bad because even if I can’t do work, I can think about work. At the same time, it gives me time to process, and the harder the ride, the more I can pump endorphins into my body to counteract the miasma of anxiety, as well as my constant feelings of guilt about my weight (that’s a whole other blog honestly).

The piano stuff helps, and is incredibly addictive, but I don’t know if it really counts as a break - it’s work, it’s trying to teach my brain how to do stuff it very much doesn’t want to learn. I feel like I sleepwalk through exercises, only getting incrementally better, but maybe that’s how learning stuff I’m not already versed in. It’s extremely demoralizing, but that’s partly because I have spent my life as a result of my dyspraxia and ADHD actively avoiding anything that I perceive would be a challenge.

The overall annoyance I have here is that I don’t know what to do to relax anymore. Weirdly, I think I used to use the to-and-from of going to meetings in the real world as a kind of relaxation - I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to work as much on mobile, so I took a mental break, listening to podcasts, playing games, and so on for an hour on whatever transit I was taking. I can’t really do that now - if I’m at work and gaming, I feel guilty I’m not working. If I’m off work and gaming, I feel guilty I’m not spending time with my family. The weekends are basically all about spending time with my wife and child, who I don’t get enough time with during the week and are more important than anything else to me in the world. Which is great! And important! But I don’t relax.

And I don’t know how to anymore. Everything has become so productivity and efficiency focused, everything has to be scheduled and organized and hammered into place. I want to get better, I want these skills, I want this knowledge, and I can’t seem to make myself stop. If I stop, my brain is still whirring, looking for stuff to drill into and make me feel shitty about. Someone’s going to say “hey, go to therapy,” and I will tell you that I’ve tried therapy on Zoom on and off for a while, and it doesn’t work for me. I need the physical alienation away from devices, otherwise I won’t focus.

Anyway, I don’t really have a point to all this. I just wanted to get it out there. Maybe I’ll find a solution, or maybe I won’t.

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