We're apparently all a little more anxious these days. That was a comforting article to read, because the world has seemed a dark and grim place indeed of late. I try to be as aware as possible of my own mental health and general well being and have been generally fortunate in that so far, I've had one serious bout of bad depression and that was toward the end of my undergraduate years.
But this... oh man. Suddenly, I just felt emotionally raw for some reason and I couldn't put my finger on why. Attempting to apply rationality to this stuff is always tricky, but I wanted too, because when you really step back and look at your situation, you tend to find that you don't have a lot to complain about in the grand scheme of things. And really, I don't. The vast majority of the world's population would probably trade places with me without hesitation. I have my health. I have a job. I have an amazing wife and three beautiful children. Could things be better? Sure. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the areas of my life that could use some improvement weren't really the underlying cause of all of this.
Don't get me wrong: the ol'student loans have been feeling especially oppressive of late. I'm holding out hope for a Public Service Loan Forgiveness that probably won't be there when my ten years is up. (I'm hopeful, but also expecting to be bent over and screwed.) But they've always been feeling oppressive. They've always sucked. They've always been a chain around my neck. The suckage where they are concerned is far from new.
So what is it then? I really think that I'm just sort of exhausted by the world in general. Since the election of the President, the news has gone to shit in a handbasket. I don't care what your ideological leanings are: if you can't acknowledge that the news these days is absolutely terrible then you're not paying attention. What's worse is that everything has to be dialed up to eleven. If someone's not screaming about the President's latest Tweet or bowel movement or whatever he said today, then they're screaming about something else. And months and months of being screamed at is bound to finally start to eat at your soul a little bit.
To think I was ready to make this post about Iowa's shiny new abortion law, as well. Though that didn't help my general feeling of malaise and darkness either. So many people my age seemed to be ready to give up on this state, shake the dust from their feet and move elsewhere. Part of me is sad about that but part of me also thinks it might be a rational response.
What am I going to do about it all? Here's my notions:
First, I'm going to kick some social media off of my phone. It's an incredible feeling knowing that you can hold the sum total of human knowledge in the palm of your hand. It gets real old when you develop a habit of grabbing your phone every five minutes to breathlessly check to see who said what on whatever social media platform. I want to get back into Duolingo. I want to stop saying, 'hey, I should learn how to code' and actually do it. If I'm going to have the sum total of human knowledge in my hand, I want to use it to improve myself and not as a useless time waster or a distraction.
Second, it occurs to me that in the great hamster wheel of life, either you turn the wheel or the wheel turns you and lately it seems to be latter far more than the former. While my job is stimulating enough, there's very little point to it if it doesn't allow you to carve out some time to enjoy life a little bit. I have no idea what that looks like, but I want to take this summer to try and find out.
Third, all these internet distractions are keeping me from focusing my creativity on where I want it to be: my writing. That has to change as well. (I've got 1/3 to a 1/2 of the next book done and I want to try and get it written and wrapped up by the fall. Which is an ambitious goal, but one I want to achieve!)
In short, it's time for a mental health break from the world for awhile. Not because I don't care, but because it's start to make me miserable a little bit and I have few, if any reasons to be miserable in this life of mine.