I have been sluggish lately. Those of you who have read my most recent posts have seen that there have been quite a few developments in my life both positive and negative. Whether or not an incident is positive or negative does not detract from the fact that it is, ultimately, a burden of stress. Even the happiest of things can leave me emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed. Still, that’s one reason I have started changing aspects of my life: my diet is different, I am losing weight, I have been working out and being active more frequently, and I have been more social. These seem like relatively normal things for people to work on after breakups, when the focus moves from the couple to the individual. It was amazing how much of myself I had ignored when I kept deciding to stay in an abusive relationship. Once that was gone I started to see a lot of things that I didn’t like about myself, and I moved quickly in order to change them. It’s been 4 months since I left and I have lost 20 lbs and traveled more and hung out with friends more often than I did during the entirety of that relationship. It’s good to see progress.
So why do I still feel sluggish and depressed and hopeless, even with all these changes?
Part of the answer to this may lie in the fact that I deal with depression. I don’t really know whether or not that’s due to a string of terrible relationships (9+ years of unhealthy relationships with different women, with very little break in between) or just something I struggle with normally. I think it may be in part due to a lack of focus on myself, but we’ll have to see if it changes after being single for a while. It turns out that putting off your own growth and pouring all your effort into relationships is NOT the right way to go.
The other part of the answer might be mired around something that I think most of you will be able to relate too; my job. I work nights for an engineering company, on a compressed work week. I don’t switch my shift on my days off so I live on a night shift schedule for months at a time, switching only in emergencies and for special occasions. I have been on night shift for the last three years, and it’s only recently that I have been able to see the impact it’s had on my life. My weight has fluctuated wildly, I’m tired all the time, I’m forgetful and lethargic most days, my mood is usually low and it’s always a struggle not being able to call people at normal times. In addition it’s hard to get out and enjoy life when I work most weekend nights and sleep most weekend days. I wasn’t able to enjoy a single friday night with the last woman I dated because of this (not that it matters post breakup, I’m just using experience to outline an issue). I can’t imagine it has been fun dealing with me at times, I have literally fallen asleep in seconds when hanging out with friends. On top of that, I hardly ever enjoy going out for drinks anymore (I dont’ drink very much to begin with) because when I do I essentially ‘day drink’ and then have the rest of the night to sober up. I get headaches and feel sick, and my health has been an issue since I started working nights. For three years I have felt like I have been trying to run a marathon with weights attached to my whole body, searching desperately for more energy reserves while I inch forward ever so slowly. I’m exhausted, and I don’t want to be exhausted anymore. I have taken steps to change this, both by talking to my manager and submitting applications to other companies for day shift work; time will tell which one of those comes to fruition.
Something my ex-wife said has been popping up in my mind lately. “I took steps to change as much as I could to see if it would make me happy. I changed my job, my shift, started taking better care of myself. After I had changed all those things and I was still depressed I realized that it was the last thing that I hadn’t changed.” Now, she was talking about our relationship, but the principle remains the same. You can change all of the things you want to try and fix an issue, but if you don’t spend time to find out what the actual issue is you aren’t ever going to fix the problem. Now, I do know that sometimes you have to follow a trail of problems before you finally find the root cause of an issue. I work in engineering, this kind of thing happens all the time. I don’t know if something else will come out after I address this issue, but I can tell that I am getting closer and closer to the source. It’s been a long journey, but I’m anxiously awaiting what comes next. Day shift would be a welcome change, as would being able to take my life back. For now, I’ll just stay positive and keep moving forward. Better days ahead, I always say.