Seeking joy and meaning in a joyless mind and meaningless existence

Sunday, December 24, 2023

He's an Emotional Man

He's a desperate man in a world so cold
Ooh he's emotional
So emotional
He's an emotional man
He's got tears in his eyes
Watch him break down and cry
{Falco, "Emotional"}

    I certainly haven't gotten less curmudgeonly as I'm hurtling through my 50s. For most of the time I've worked at my current job, I've been able to keep an even keel and my emotions under control; however, I've really struggled with it in the last couple of years. I think the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic along with my generalized anxiety disorder morphing into full-blown panic disorder has a lot to do with it. In my past two performance reviews, I've been dinged a point for "not keeping my emotions under control." I, let's say, passionately voiced my frustration with a substantial problem that everyone acknowledges and yet no one in authority will do anything about on a team call that included my new boss. He wasn't upset with me but commented that he was "concerned about my blood pressure." He later printed out a copy of the first part of the Serenity Prayer and gave it to me. He meant it as a joke but the undercurrent of comment on my behavior was there.

    I'm not exactly the poster child for being adaptable and have been dealing with a lot lately, which hasn't improved my emotional volatility, irritability and anger issues. I have ambitious goals to change my current meds and eventually eliminate as many of them as I can. But the mental turbulence this is causing me is fucking me over, including resurgent daily struggles with anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. The day after my last post I decided I couldn't deal with the side effects from Buspar anymore and quit taking it. Even after stopping, I'm still getting episodes of tinnitus, which is disappointing and adding insult to injury. They're not as frequent or severe, so hopefully they'll eventually fade away. I managed to get worked in at my psychiatric provider, and I'm trying yet another medication. Theoretically, it has a lower potential for anorgasmia, but I'll just have to wait and see.

    There is also a serious issue going on with a close family member, and I'm doing my best to be supportive and as helpful as possible. Unfortunately, there is some corollary and (in my humble opinion) entirely unnecessary pedestrian family drama BS going on as well that I am characteristically caught in the middle of. Sometimes I feel – probably unfairly – as if I'm viewed more as a function in the family dynamic than as a whole person, but then no one in my family (by design) really knows what goes on with me. So it's hardly surprising that I don't feel "seen" and not entirely the fault of people left purposely in the dark.

    In addition, work has been uncharacteristically stressful lately. It's the best job I've ever had, and it has rarely been a source of stress in the 7+ years I've been there. But we are in the midst of a period of rapid change and upheaval. The uncertainty – where even the executives in my department don't know how everything is going to shake out – is unnerving to an "individual contributor" like myself when the future of what will happen to my position is unknown. Turbulence in the workforce also means that less people in my department are handling more tasks, and recalibrating the scope of what we're able to offer our internal customers and the need for greater reliance on other departments facing similar issues means navigating the new normal can be taxing on my emotional equilibrium.

    In spite of it all, I've been pushing ahead with daily self-care (frequently a challenge) as well as moving forward with my self-improvement goals. Considering my mental state lately, this is nothing short of astounding. I don't know why I've managed to will myself into motivation while dealing with profound anhedonia and spikes in anxiety. But I'm grateful and have made an effort to practice gratitude, reminding myself of all the many blessings I enjoy to redirect myself from obsessing over the inconsequential inconveniences and annoyances. It can be as small as being grateful for the technology that allows me instant access to music and audiobook entertainment to ease the time as I work on improving my life to as large as reminding myself of how the people in my life show me I am loved instead of just focusing at the disappointments I sometimes feel by the actions of flawed humans with as much going on in their lives as I have in my own.