Friday, October 5, 2012

So what I really need is a few more hours in the day. And time off. But mostly yoga.

Here I go again, starting another post with every intention of finishing it. I feel like there's a long story or confession to tell here and I don't know how to do it other than however this turns out... But if I wait for this to be perfectly edited, I won't post it at all.

The truth is, I think I'm depressed. I've never felt this way before. No professional has ever declared, "You are depressed." I'm not crying all the time or anything. Most of the time I operate basically fine, in terms of immediate tasks and life interactions.

But since shortly after I started this job, I've been falling out of touch with friends and family, and not doing much of the things I love. There are reasons for this.

• My commute hours: I'm away from home essentially from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Riding the train is rarely a positive experience, with chatting day-trippers, seat-sharers who are oblivious to the mores of personal space (the seat delineations are color-coded, for goodness' sake), and people bustling up the aisles whacking me in the shoulder or head with oversized bags. The slightly later, non-express train is much more mellow when it arrives at my station (no guarantees for riders at later stops), but I can't get to work by 9 (I'm there by 9:15, though) if I take it. Same is true for the ride home. This would seem to be a good time to catch up with friends via phone, but convention holds that talking on the phone on rush-hour trains is rude. I could stand between cars and call, but no one would be able to hear me. Try as I might—by reading, listening to lovely meditation podcasts, listening to new, interesting music, trying to nap—I have yet to find a way to make the train ride restorative. Last night I was lucky enough to have a river-side window seat, and I took some pictures of the incredible stormy skies on the river. That was nice, and I'm pleased with some of the pictures, but it was definitely a one-off. Believe me, I am grateful for that moment.

• My actual work hours: When I worked nights at the newspaper, I could (and did, lots) hike on Mount Beacon with Leo and do yoga at home and cook complicated things and complete extensive chores and blog in the big-ass chunk of DAY I had before leaving for work at 4 p.m. When I got home, I'd take out my contacts, brush my teeth, and go to bed. Done. Now, I try to cram a little bit of everything into the space between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. It doesn't help that I am a horrible multitasker, and exhausted when I get home. Home is fabulous, but is also so much boyfriendbarkingdogbarkingotherdogcatwhohatesmedustyeverythingpilesoflaundryanddishes. Weekends are a little better, but it feels like there is just so much to do. I am not one of those people who glories in being a "busy person": "They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence." This is not me! This could not be further from me! Gardening is a choice, yes, but it is directly a food source (a big deal, with the paucity of funds for comparable [kickass] produce).

• My actual work: My job is deeply difficult right now. Not my actual duties, but the situation. I feel stuck in this because of financial obligations. Also, my boyfriend and co-mortgage holder was laid off a month ago. Some people are bold enough to "take the leap" and jump into the unknown and trust that things will work out. That is awesome, for those people. I have evaluated situations in the past where that has worked out for me. Right now, I am not comfortable doing that. Debt is a bitch, kids. (Too bad I had to go and move cross-country a few times, and have medical problems, and get divorced. My first credit card purchase in 2002 was a pair of glasses. I still have them, and they are just strong enough to keep me from running into sharp corners early in the morning or late at night at home.) (Also, my 850-square-foot home's monthly mortgage is less than apartment rent would be, and I get tax deductions! And a yard where I grow food!)

• My former work: Working at the yoga studio was hard, physically. It entailed being away from home from 6:45 a.m. to after 11 p.m. on Thursdays, and 7 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. on Sundays. Yes, I loved taking classes for free, and yes, it was even greater after I started getting paid for the deep cleaning I did. I took pride in it and I appreciated the extra cash. But the hours were killing me. And more physical work after class was killing me. I'm glad I stopped at the end of March, it was absolutely the right decision, but I need need need the yoga. It has never been more clear. (The money would be nice, too.)

• My intertwined senses of compassion and duty: The political climate and local and national events have really taken a toll on me. "The personal is political," the '60s feminist line goes. And while I believe in taking a step back and re-orienting oneself if news events get to be a downer—I am all for temporarily sticking one's head in the sand if that helps—I also believe in the importance of activism and strength in numbers. So this summer, amid all of the sexual-trauma triggers, I felt like I had to be strong and stand up with other women. Talking about and processing trauma, "legitimate" or otherwise, is hard work.

• Health problems: Something that is personal and painful, that doesn't have ribbons and stand mixers and to-go coffee cup lids. That is unresolved. That is expensive.

Also, the Angels had a kind of rollercoaster season and missed the playoffs. (I'm just being honest here.)

Some people will see all of the above as time, money, silly excuses for being down. I've been hard enough on myself to see them that way, too. But I'm the one living them, and taken en masse, I believe they amount to more than the sum of their parts. There is no way to quantify the expenditure of psychic/mental/emotional energy.

Attention span? What's that? The lack of it is the main reason I haven't blogged, or replied to emails. Lord knows how long this post will take to write as I jump among writing and staring blankly at work stuff. (ETA: I did end up getting a few work things done in the six hours I've been writing.) It's one reason I have tapped into Twitter with such force over the past year. The briefest, ADD-est of interactions on there with friends, many inside the computer and some outside of it, allow me to feel like a functioning, valuable, connected person. Thanks to the incredible Twitter yoga community (mostly Bikramites), I did the first two weeks of a September 30-day yoga challenge. I was inspired to commit to an October one, too, but it's off to a rough start.

So yesterday, on the train home, I found myself in almost-panicky tears, scared that I will always feel this sad and stuck. I am dreading winter's pending arrival and with it, only ever being home in the dark. I couldn't shake the dread.

This is of course almost silly, because I have lived in places with "real winter" for more than 13 years now. This logic is how I know that something is actually wrong. My muscle pain (irrespective of activity) and skin/nerve pain have amped up in the past few months. But alllllllll of those stressors, less B's layoff, have been ongoing, for probably a year, more for some.

The difference? The main, obvious, glaring, flashing-neon-sign difference? Yoga. This feeling, this withdrawal has amped up since the late spring. Yoga does not solve my problems. But practicing yoga helps me deal with them. It helps me detach from them, in a healthy way: Distance and perspective are what I need most when I am feeling down in it.

Earlier today, a Bikram yogini-teacher-friend tweeted something that instantly brought everything back into focus for me: "Learn to listen to your body. Focus on the feeling. The mind is a trickster but the body never lies." My head feels like a swamp that is the backdrop to a rave right now — why on earth would I trust that? My body is telling me that no, I don't have it all under control. Her next tweet contained the solution: "People who experience FLOW on a regular basis are happier than those who don't." So, as always, the solution is get back to the mat and allow that flow.

It will come at the expense of sleep, whether I practice in the early morning or late at night. But it will be worth it. Two of the toughest, saddest moments in my life happened in October. By re-committing to my yoga practice, I hope to enter November a little brighter.

(Dear god, how did you read this far?)


  1. You and I have very different definitions of a long blog post. This was not long. Not at all.

    I am so sorry that you're having a hard time, and that you've been having a hard time for as long as you've been at this job. (Which is a long-ass time.) What I'm reading here is that you are burned the fuck out mostly because of this job, and that's not good at all. I don't read any of this as excuses or whining. It looks like life is grinding you down. That's not trivial.

    I'm so surprised and saddened that you haven't been able to find a way to make train time work for you. That is majorly horrible. I wouldn't do a non-restorative long commute again for all the tea in China.

    Remember what Sugar said - that you are only defined by your debt if you choose to be. I thought when I read that column for the first time that this was all well and good in hindsight but was bullshit when you are facing down monthly bills. I don't believe that anymore. Think hard about this: about the excuses you're making when you look at the pile of money you owe. Think hard. Don't just automatically listen to the self that tells you the debt is the master. Think harder than that. Take it from someone with [much] more debt than her yearly salary.

    Is B looking for jobs on the other coast? I don't think that would be a crazy thing to do, nor do I think it would be a step down for you in terms of lifestyle, let's say.

    And remember what YOU told ME a year ago: it all works out. Sometimes, even when you're panicking and crazified and running in little fear circles, something else steps in and life works out.

    I am your friend and you are loved.

  2. Thank you for posting this. The things you list are most certainly NOT silly excuses for feeling down. At least not to me, since I can closely relate to 90% of what you wrote about, work, commute, feeling stuck, weekends not really being "free time" but rather barely rehabilitation from the week, no time for yoga which was the only thing holding it all together before.

    I do not have any advice, but I will keep you in my thoughts and hope hope hope that you soon find a way out of being stuck. Your post has made me feel less alone. I too am trying to find my way out. There is definitely hope, but I also know it will probably not change for 6-12 months for me.

    All the best!