Today I had planned to do my weekly recommendation/things-I-read-last-week post. But instead, I’m going to talk about just the fact that I actually did read last week and how much that means to me. (I’ll have to talk up Motor Crush some other time – but feel free to share in the comments if you’re reading it too and what you think of it!)
Thanks to Facebook’s flashback feature (or whatever they call it, it seems to have gone away since I already looked today), I was reminded this morning that I posted a link to this comic 1 year ago. I also commented that I needed an office job and that I was “thiiiis close” to the end panel (just quitting on the spot with some obscenities).
It’s not even that the job I had was terrible. I worked third shift and the people, including the managers, were pretty great. But it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, I felt stuck in it and feared I would never get to move on to the things I wanted to do, and it was so draining that even though I only worked three days a week I never had the energy to do anything else. My life was kind of falling apart.
This picture of my “to-be-read” stack is one of the most obvious and visible results of that. Obviously there are much bigger and more important issues, like keeping up the house and applying for other jobs and taking care of my health. But this is really stark.
Because when I was younger I read all the time. Even after seminary, I had trouble sitting down to read pages of just words and would naturally start to skim and zone out because that’s how I read for research, but I still read comics every day. When my friendly local comic store opened up and I started subscribing to the ones I liked, I would bring home stacks of 5-10 comics a week and just sit down and read them all that day (or within a few days if there were really a lot).
And over time, I just…stopped. And didn’t even really notice. I kept going to the store when I could spare the time and energy, slightly less frequently than the once a month the store technically requires. This stack just kept growing. I gradually dropped my subscriptions after I finally quit that job, down to just The Wicked and the Divine when I was at my lowest point and really feared I might never find another job. But still I didn’t read. Without really noticing that anything was different, my depression and anxiety had crept so high that even without a job I didn’t think I had time for anything fun. Or anything necessary. Just no time, no energy, no point in ever doing anything.
Now that I’ve been working for a few months in a job I love and taking medication for the anxiety, things have changed. I’ve started to notice how bad things I accepted as normal really were because I don’t feel them anymore. I feel like I have the time and motivation to do things. And slowly, this stack is shrinking. I make time not only to read a little every day, but to read more than my self-assigned reading for the day. I’m keeping up with the newer series I’m just starting and slowly making my way through the ones that I’m most behind in reading.
My job wasn’t the problem. I’m completely certain of that now, looking back on how much things continued to pile up even after I did finally reach my breaking point and quit. But it had become the focus of a lot of my frustration and anxiety and disappointment, and the decision to leave it behind was the first step I needed to take in dealing with the real problems.
Things are getting better. And it just seemed really important today to recognize that and to broadcast this tiny picture of hope. If you’re stuck, even if you think it’s normal and you don’t have a right to feel down about it because things are generally good, take the time to acknowledge how you feel and see what you can do to make yourself and your health a priority.
And reach out to people. One of the things that really affected me and made me able to take that first step was friends (and even people at work I barely knew, eventually) supporting me and backing me up on my feeling that things just weren’t right. They let me know that it was time and that things weren’t going to change for me unless I made them change. It’s so simple from the other side, but at the time I was so lost in all of it that I couldn’t see the whole picture and I really needed to hear that.
Thanks, friends (both offline friends and bloggy-types). I’m better than I’ve been in a long time and you helped with that. I hope that if you’re ever in a similar situation and need help, I can do the same for you.