Okay, I’m back. As my last post may indicate, last week was not so good. Between a lack of sleep brought on by my younger daughter’s never-ending cold, a resistant older daughter who refused to go to sleep for three nights in a row (and each night ended up in a room with me holding the door shut while she screamed and kicked for about half an hour), and who incidentally is still coughing, a snapping and irritable wife, and then stupid stuff like my multimeter malfunctioning and my car having issues, I kind of short circuited. I tried to follow some of the tips from my (man)bag of tricks but either they didn’t help or I couldn’t expend the energy to try hard enough. I walked down to the beach during my lunch break which normally helps, but I was still in such a foul mood. The “killed by muggers fantasy” that I mentioned is a reoccurring one in which I get held up at gun point and rather than hand my wallet or whatever over I just start screaming at them to kill me since I hate my life anyways. The idea behind this is that suicide makes it harder for the family to collect life insurance (though not impossible) and in my low states I see my only worth as the money life insurance would provide my family. Anyways, what was interesting was that the previous weekend and beginning of the week had gone so well. I was actually going to post on how having a concrete task or goal (at work at least) really made me feel good. After the depression kicked in nothing really helped until I attended a social event later in the week.
The beginning of the week was such a contrast. I had been very focused at work the prior weekend and into Tuesday preparing a presentation for a conference being held this past weekend. Everything involved in preparing the presentation such as generating figures from the data, making videos, editing the presentation slides etc, made me feel like I had some purpose. A lot of my issues at work stem from feeling so inadequate compared to my co-workers. I don’t seem to have the same drive or perseverance in coming up with new ideas and implementing them. I also don’t seem to have an expertise. Most of my duties fall in the support realm; at times I think I am just an overpaid technologist. Not knocking the technologists, they do a lot of work and have to put up with inane management decisions but it’s not my job title. I’m supposed to be investigating more, coming up with new ideas, creating new things. To repeat, I feel inadequate compared to my colleagues. I gave my practice talk on Tuesday morning to the group, and was so surprised to get such good feedback. I don’t know what I was expecting, and I’m generally confident on my public speaking abilities, but the critiques were minor and well thought out and people really seemed to like it. After that I was feeling capable and confident for once. Maybe I was a good speaker! Maybe I could do science! Maybe I do enjoy what I am doing!
That warm glow faded by the time I got home due to all the craziness. I’ve mentioned this before but I don’t do well when the kids are sick. A controlled experiment in which the kids are sick but I get enough sleep would be interesting, but back here on Earth, I have a hard time handling it. When adults are sick, there is much less whining involved, well usually, and especially if you don’t count me. Okay scratch that, we just seem to get sick less often. Also with my kids, I usually feel useless. They don’t stop crying when I wake up to tend to them, so that forces my wife to get up, which makes her more tired , which eventually leads to her snapping at me, which makes me feel worse, which leads me to make snide comments, which makes my wife angrier. It’s a lovely cycle.
It’s now a few days after the conference and I’m doing better. The conference was in our city, so the night before it started a colleague hosted a dinner at her house with our group and some visiting ones. There was good company, absolutely amazing wine and food and the view was pretty insane too. I got to see some friends I hadn’t seen for awhile. It was fun. My talk went well (I was the only one in the group to give an oral presentation) and I got some good feedback and interest from people outside our group. Also breaking up the normal routine and being at home so little made me appreciate my kids again. I even(wait for it!) initiated sex with my wife on Sunday night! We both commented on how when we have sex we remember how good we are together, but we are usually too stressed or tired to get around to it. It was nice to feel connected for a short while at least.
I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. The obvious points for me are that having a very clear task on hand at work makes me feel much better. I tend to enjoy and do at least a decent job of public speaking. I am able to miss and appreciate my family when I am away from them for at least two days. Also, doing something social with people I know seems to help, perhaps it’s feeling connected that does it. I’m actually going to add that to my tricks list.
Unfortunately it seems my wife now is coughing and is tired and stressed, so I’m already noticing a decline in my mood. Since I’m not deep into depression yet(really don’t want to get mugged), and I’m getting some more sleep I’ll see if some of the (man)bag tricks help. I hope so, since I don’t have a conference to escape to this time around.