For a long time, I prided myself on my ability to do more. To take on a new challenge, to volunteer for another task, to offer help to someone, to write more blog posts, to pick up a new instrument or a new hobby. I spent my time this way because it helped me to grow, gave me a new perspective, looked good on a resume or would help someone else. This has never been a problem for me. Despite all I wanted to do, I would let things naturally flow up the priority list and back down based on what was needed. This year that all changed.
Early in February. I was promoted to a position I've had my eye on for a long time. It was great because I would be able to have wider influence while still being able to write code and contribute technically. The initial transition required a lot of time and thought and took a lot of my leisure time. Despite leaving work at a reasonable hour, I would find the time I would use for writing or school taken up by thinking about work.
It seemed natural to me to have work take more of my mental energy, and I just assumed it would wind down and I would be able to think about my book, my blog, my photography and other things in short order. As the weeks went by, this didn't happen at all. I started falling behind in school, I found myself unable to write when I had chunks of time and my other civic responsibilities started being neglected as well.
At the end of March, my wife and I suffered a tragic loss. During this time, I was busy with work, preparing conference talks, trying to write some blogs in preparation for my book launch and I never really had the mental or emotional reserves to process the loss. I was getting used to my new job and hoped that I had my opportunity to get back on top of everything. Despite my best efforts I never got back into my cadence.
Flash forward to last week, I found myself feeling constantly dizzy with neck pains and headaches. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I tried resting more, taking Advil, stretching and playing NBA 2k18. I had a looming deadline for school, a blog post to finish up, a talk for Open West to complete and my job to do. I talked to my wife about my constant dizziness and she recommended seeing a doctor but thought it might be stress and suggested I just take some time away from everything. On her advice, I took an afternoon to go see Avengers: Infinity War. I had 2 hours to just enjoy a movie and I got myself a candy bar on my way home (I didn't want to overpay for one at the theatres).
I spent last weekend in a state of "self-care." I spent a lot of time with my wife and our daughter, spent a long time at the gym, ate good food and caught up on TV and movies. By Monday I was motivated to work on an old blog post I started and stopped many times. My dizziness and neck pain was gone and I felt normal again.
I'm trying to find a new rhythm. One where I can do all the things I love but not feel mentally drained. I'm not sure how long it will take but it felt good to get this out there.