Friday, September 29, 2006

Bark: Short circuits of the synapse

My managers at work got the surprise of a lifetime when I dumped all my angst on them this week (one of them described it as being "most out of character"), but they're both being terribly understanding with me about the ongoing existential crisis I'm going through. They're putting me in touch with all the support services (Occupational Health and IBM's Employee Assistance Programme), to help me work through all the thoughts buzzing around my brain that are preventing me from functioning like a good little corporate minion. Even taking some time off in sick leave has been mooted, though I'm a little ambivalent as to whether I want to take that or not.

I know that there's clearly something not right with me at the moment - you shouldn't walk around Sainsbury's calculating how many ways a shopping trolley could be used as a sociopathic outlet (like I did this lunchtime - for the record: at least half a dozen; ranging from simple obstruction and inconveniencing people, to actual use as a weapon) - and being able to recognise and admit that a problem is there is a huge step in itself, but getting over that inner reticence to actively seek help from other people is still presenting a bit of a barrier.

Part of it is a fear that these people are going to tell you "Just suck it up and get on with it, you pathetic shit, there's nothing wrong with you" - and that you've been wasting everyone's time; and the other part of the fear is that what's wrong with you is so serious that you've got to spend the rest of your life locked up in a loony bin, rocking back and forth all day against padded walls muttering distractedly "There's no place like home... there's no place like home." The truth undoubtedly lies somewhere in the middle, but knowing this rationally doesn't help. I'm not sure if I like the idea of being analysed, diagnosed, categorised and then packaged and labelled into a neat little compartment of illness (mental or otherwise). I've always hated doctors and hospitals, and I've always had the sneaking suspicion that we "discover" more illnesses not because medicine is getting more sophisticated, but because the way we structure modern society (pushing people closer and closer together, removing traditional cultural boundaries) is simply creating more pressures on the body and the mind and creating new ways for people to get ill...

Part of me doesn't want to know just how serious the problem is - but another part of me knows that unless I find out, the chances of actually getting well again are more limited. So this creates its own paralysis, which manifests itself as me not knowing what the hell I want to do anymore, not being able to keep a thought in my head for more than five minutes, not being able to deal with more than one thing at a time (which is perhaps the most worrying - one of the things I liked most about myself was my ability to multitask a heck of a lot better than Windows can...) and a crippling lethargy and lack of motivation to do *anything*.

I'm even losing the ability to write - I have two pieces to do for gamesTM in the next week or so - but the words aren't coming. Which is why I'm writing this... just to try and put some order back into my skull and sit behind my keyboard and have words, any words, flowing out of my mind and onto the screen again.

Though one good thing is coming out of this - my general apathy for life in general, and my lack of appetite in particular (I've eaten just two sandwiches in the last 72 hours) means that I'm losing weight at a rate of knots... So I may be going slightly/completely/utterly* mad, but at least I'm under 14 and a half stone for the first time in about three years. So hurrah for that.

Right. I'm off to kill people on a Battlefield 2142 server, so that I don't have to do it in real-life. (And who said videogames don't save lives?)

I will leave you with this, a quote from Robert Heinlein's To Sail Beyond the Sunset, which I'm reading at the moment. I'd not touched the book in weeks (it's not one of Heinlein's best, really), but by chance, this was the first paragraph I read after discussing my general dissatisfaction of life, the universe and everything with Fleur.

Happiness lies in being privileged to work hard for long hours in doing whatever you think is worth doing. One man may find happiness in supporting a wife and children. Another may find it in robbing banks. Still another may labour mightily for years in pursuing pure research with no discernible result. Note the individual and subjective nature of each case. No two are alike and there is no reason to expect them to be. Each man or woman must find for himself or herself that occupation in which hard work and long hours make him or her happy. Contrariwise, if you are look for shorter hours and longer vacations and early retirement, you are in the wrong job. Perhaps you need to take up bank robbing. Or geeking in a sideshow. Or even politics.


Kinda appropriate, huh? So if there's a sudden rash of perfectly planned bank robberies across Surrey in the next few weeks, I'd like to remind you that IT'S NOT ME...



*delete as appropriate
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