Unproductive

The last seven days have been pretty rough for reasons that partially elude me. The "Demons of Self-Doubt" have been incredibly loud, but this is nothing new. Stresses at the day job have reached new highs for what is actually a very silly reason that I take way too seriously. A lack of "walking with the puppy" time is also bothering me. In isolation these are all tiny issues, yet they seem to be bothering me a lot more recently than usual. To add insult to injury, I'm seeing a much smaller amount of traffic on 10C-powered sites and services, which means people are moving to better systems that are actively supported and better align with certain goals and expectations. I'm in yet another burn-out-induced slump.

The Slump

With me — and many others I'm sure — slumps often lead to a slight depression that can extend for weeks. This certainly seems to be the case as of late given my state of mind and recent thought patterns. What makes no sense is the lack of a concrete reason for this particular mental state. Life is generally really, really positive right now, and is vastly superior to what it was in 1998 when I slipped into a six year depression and self-imposed isolation period as a result of "stuff". What is there to be negative about?

Unfortunately, being a human is hard. We can be handed the world on a platter and wind up disappointed because there wasn't any pepper to go with our side of fries. When I hit ruts like this I try to spend more time with Nozomi as she's one of the only souls who can bring a smile to my face regardless the situation. She's helped me get through a lot just by being her consistent, non-judgemental self. She has the patience of Job and a heart of solid gold. Unfortunately, I cannot bring my dog to work, so Nozomi spends her days at home.

Maybe I should just start working from home more often? Productivity drops through the floor when I do, but Nozomi is generally right there. More than this, I'd be more readily available for the boy when he needs a bit of extra attention or a different parent to keep things generally calm. In time we could all work out a mostly-agreeable working schedule that would allow productivity to remain high enough that the day job is happy. But would this be enough?

One of the many things that I really dislike about these slumps is the indecisiveness that comes along with it. It's hard to focus. It's hard to make a decision. It's hard to accomplish anything.

It Can't Be That Bad

Over much of the last six months, I've been battling a slow-losing battle with the Demons of Self-Doubt. They sneak into thoughts and ideas, sowing the seeds of uncertainty everywhere. After a number of months, one is left wondering whether there's ever any such thing as a "good idea". Many people all over the world struggle with a ceaseless pessimism, and a high percentage of people likely listen more often than they should. When I'm feeling particularly low, one thing I tend to do is just do a random image search for simple words that describe abstract concepts, such as "happiness".

Happiness

Looking at these top search results, I can't help but wonder if the results would be exactly the same if I were to look for images that describe "freedom". This is what most of the pictures say to me, and it likely goes without saying that people who feel the most free are likely the most happy with life. I'm more like a fish in a Kool-Aid pitcher-sized bowl.

Is This Freedom?

Is this feeling of entrapment the result of life changes involving young people and large mortgages? This most likely plays a large part of it. But the intrinsic pessimism that burrows itself deep into my creative processes isn't helping matters at all.

While it's still way too early to know what 2018 might have in store1, I do know that some changes need to be made at the day job as well as with my personal time management. This coming year simply cannot be as rushed as this one, where every spare minute is dedicated to some fabricated priority. There must be time to sit down to think. There must be time to sit down to play. There must be time to shoo the Demons of Self-Doubt away.


  1. aside from moving into a new house, that is

Clean Hands. Obsession. Madness?

This past week I've been struggling to uncover the reason for a new compulsion that seems to have crept up out of nowhere. It's not a bad problem, per se, aside from the amount of water it uses. That said, I do have concerns that it may be seeded by a deep-seated, subconscious issue that is starting to surface. My (new) problem is that I wash my hands too much.

Running Water

Over the last twenty years or so I've had the terrible habit of keeping my fingernails and toenails incredibly short not by using clippers, but instead tearing at them with other fingernails. I rarely take "too much" nail off, but very rarely will people see more than 1.5mm of whitespace at the tips … unless I'm incredibly relaxed. During incredibly rare periods, my fingernails have been permitted to grow out a few millimetres, right up until they start to cause problems when typing. But this has rarely happened since high school, though. The Demons of Self-Doubt are quite good at stirring up anxiety about just about anything, and that is part of what drives me to keep trying to accomplish things; It keeps my feelings of inadequacy at bay¹.

The excessive hand washing is a little different, though.

I noticed this over the weekend when sitting on the sofa in my living room. Like many people, I don't like the feeling of sticky things on my hand. Normally small bits of dirt can be scrubbed out with friction, but I couldn't for the life of me get my hands to a point where they felt clean. So I went to the bathroom sink and started cleaning … and cleaning … and cleaning … until I recognized the futility of continuing and returned to the living room, where I fought the urge to clean my hands. This is something that is seen in movies and books when a person is beginning to go crazy or is otherwise teetering on the event horizon, but I don't think I'm going crazy. Sure, I really want to eat sugar, I'm feeling dizzy often during the day, and I'm under a great deal of pressure at the day job to deliver results against all odds … but this is normal for many people … isn't it?

Since the weekend's excessive use of hand soap, there hasn't been a repeat of the incident. That said, it's at the forefront of my mind as I go through the day. Am I turning into a hypochondriac? Is this just a nervous reaction to the various things going on at the moment? Is this a sign of something else?

Putting all of this down in words has me wondering if perhaps it's time for a break. A real vacation away from everything² where I just spend time with the people in my life. None of the "professional" goals that I'm working on will disappear or become impossible to complete if I step away for a while. If anything, the time away would let me re-evaluate some of the decisions and directions these projects are taking. Perspective is a wonderful thing, and I mine is both narrow and biased.

The question now revolves around how to accomplish this.


  1. for the most part, anyway.
  2. a real vacation? What's that? Haven't had more than three consecutive days off work in years …