Time Alone

There’s a convention on this weekend focused on Streamers and YouTubers up at the Excel and so most of the household plus E2 the niece and nephew are off to visit their various favoured people. I am working so haven’t accompanied them and so last night I had a rare night on my own curled up with a montage of Mock The Week video clips and a pile of bacon butties as I used up things from the fridge. I may also have indulged in a bottle of wine too.

I needed the time alone. This has been a very stressful week at work with a new set of systems and processes coming online alongside a number of site and personnel issues that have left me with very few reserves to then deal with a rambunctious plague goblin. I suppose I shouldn’t call him that any more as he has tested negative and can now go back to school. Either way, being a typical ten year old he is busy pressing buttons and pushing boundaries and I’ve come very close to snapping and losing my temper. I can at least take a measure of comfort that I didn’t, and instead stepped away and got boy s to take over.

I have since been feeling awful about it, but I am reminded by several people that feeling angry is valid and that the important thing is that I didn’t lose control or do anything harmful – I retained the presence of mind to step away and ask for help so shouldn’t be beating myself up over something I didn’t actually do.

So, having a night to myself, and a day working alone in the office before I go join them for Sunday is a good thing and I feel a lot calmer. I imagine the nurse reviewing my blood pressure on Monday will thank me for taking care of myself – which reminds me, I need to submit a week’s worth of readings tonight as part of my review. There’s always something to do…

After that, paperwork for sorting out a referral for further investigation of my stomach issues. What joy… I suspect the various threads are related.

Covid Life

Well the little plague goblin’s PCR came back as positive but as the rest of us are double jabbed we don’t have to isolate – just him. We’re going to organise PCR tests anyway just to double check even though our lateral flow tests remain negative.

That would be enough on its own but this week seems determined to throw obstacle after obstacle in the way, which is probably why I’m currently sat in a closed library waiting for a BT engineer to remote fix an issue that has in traditional fashion been bounced between several different services to try and fix – and that it feels like the least stressful part of my week to date.

Mostly I’m just reminding myself that I need to keep time and energy for myself so that I can support colleagues and family and friends. Its a very familiar refrain and so if sitting on my own in an empty building forces me to do so then I’ll accept the unexpected respite time with as much good grace as I can muster.

New Tech Please

Lady M and I decided that Christmas would come early this year as the home IT setups were frankly ancient. My collection of ancient laptops are practically steam powered, while her desktop PC is a Frankenstein’s Monster of salvaged parts from my old kit and occasional extra bits bolted on over the last ten years. Want to talk about Theseus’ Boat? I have a modern-ish day example propping up a desk in the spare room.

It all rather got pushed to the fore by the cub monopolising the spare room with his PC, and my increasing frustrations with trying to run the gaming sessions through www.dndbeyond.com and www.roll20.net with a side order of www.syrinscape.com for good measure – there may have been regular swearing and frequent use of theatre of the mind to keep people occupied while waiting for things to load. By the same token, Lady M’s podcasts and blog work had been utterly derailed by the presence of our beloved goblin.

And so we went on to Lady M’s employee perks website to see what discounts we could find, set a budget, and smiled sweetly at the credit card. It is some measure of how far we’ve come in the ten years of our marriage that we have the budget to do this and not break down in sweaty tears at the cost and guilt of spending money on ourselves.

So, a little delayed from the initially promised delivery date, we’re busy setting up and engaging with various projects that we’ve had on hold for some time. The cub is serenading us from the other room as he plays Geometry Dash and makes up his own theme tunes, and its a pleasant backdrop as we sit in geeky, nay nerdy, bliss on the sofa.

It’s also a much needed distraction from today’s date and the many firework explosions outside. I’ll need to venture out later to retrieve boy s from his workplace as he’s on a late night covering an event at Thorpe Park – though Lady M has offered to do that as a kindness, depending on how rambunctious the cub is. I may take her up on it given how broken my sleep was last night.

Your friendly neighbourhood dodgy wizard, perhaps..?

Oh, one particular joy with this new piece of kit is that it’s a convertible HP Envy, which means I can fold the screen back and the machine turns into a tablet – it has even come with a stylus pen that I had to charge up earlier.

It felt rather rude not to test this and take advantage of the form factor, so I scribbled a little something earlier – the WIP version can be seen in the Instagram feed on this page, but the final version is here in all it’s dubious glory. Cheery old geezer with possibly a wand of some description, and the world’s bushiest eyebrows.

I’ve even updated Scrivener and transferred all my files over and it takes less than an ice age to open the app and documents now – so I’ll restart editing the short stories to get back into the swing of things – again, a good distraction.

I was tempted to have another crack at Nanowrimo this year but launching myself at the intensity of that straight from nothing would be setting myself up to fail – so short stories it is. I really need to get back into the habit of writing longer pieces than these blog posts on a regular basis. Trying that while also battling the black dog wouldn’t be a kindness, so while I don’t have a deadline I can move at a slower pace.

As the saying goes: what’s the worst that could happen?

And Now For A Break

As of this evening I’m on holiday, both to celebrate Lady M’s birthday next week, and for mental health self care. Admittedly this year its also to recover from last weekend’s shenanigans and anything else that decides to rear its head in the meantime.

We’ve got an early start in the morning so I can take Lady M for an eye appointment, while the cub is staying behind to look after boy s who is not enjoying his seasonal cold in the slightest.

In the meantime I’ve found an old sketchbook page that has tickled my creative itch, so I’m relaxing in mindfulness mode by adding to it

Probably not coming to a tshirt near you

Worry

The one thing about being off sick but in that semi-recovery stage is that the brain weasels like to pop out to play. The latest conversation with my GP has basically set me on the path to investigate what they suspect are stomach ulcers, but so that the first set of tests aren’t skewed I need to stop taking the drugs they put me on to stabilise me.

As a result, the worries about the next week are about a repeat of the weekend rather than on looking after everyone else, and the what if scenarios that are mugging for the camera despite my best efforts to remain grounded. In no particular order I could be facing a regime of pills, diet changes (again), or surgery, or the discovery of nastier causes of the blood upto and including cancer (thank you brain for that very unlikely option)

So, I’m focusing on being well enough to at least work remotely the next couple of days before my booked leave, on celebrating Lady M’s birthday next week, and on not letting fireworks freak me out, and generally getting past this year’s unpleasant memory day. Yay for complex PTSD.

So, big lad pants on, focusing on the positive, here we go.

Musings

It’s the end of my week, and I’m exhausted, but it’s more of an emotional exhaustion than anything particularly physical.

For the most part it’s concern for the people I manage at work and the unsettled period we’re in. Everyone is feeling under pressure, unsurprisingly, and I am trying to set boundaries so that I don’t burn myself out.

Don’t get me wrong, I am hugely enjoying the work and the challenges. I’m still trying to let go of the old one, and the urge to sort everything myself rather than letting my staff handle it.

Boundaries. They’re important. Damn hard work though.

Certified in a Good Way

I had the assessment today for the Mental Health First Aider course I was on last week and I’m pleased to be able to say that I passed.

I of course spent most of the morning beforehand in an anxious read and re-read of the course materials and nearly set off an anxiety attack with my brain catastrophising wildly.

Gentle breathing exercises and customer enquiries to distract me kept me going, but I’m now exhausted. Who knows what’s in store for tomorrow…

Brain Fizz

Somewhat fittingly I’m currently quietly stressing about the assessment tomorrow afternoon for the First Aid for Mental Health certificate. I’ve every confidence in my ability as its basically what I regularly do for staff and customers every day – I just worry about acronyms and jargon.

I know it’s just my brain pulling its usually tricks, all will be well. Even if I don’t pass I’ll still be supporting people as ever.

Oh, and I applied for a thing speculatively in the restructure but I’m not expecting to hear anything on that front. Still a minor stress to throw into the mix but there you go.

Mental Health First Aid Training

Today was pretty intense with a concentrated combined learning approach to teaching mental health first aid. I should specify it was me getting trained rather than imparting my wisdom to the masses.

As a technical note, the course is the FAA Level 2 Award in First Aid for Mental Health and so there will be a formal assessment on Thursday before I can earn the qualification. Essentially the training is in how to be the initial response and advocate when mental health needs addressing – and formalises the sort of general pastoral support I do with staff and public as well as friends and family.

Most of it is common sense and appropriate signposting and de-escalation, but it’s still been heavy going with a lot of my own issues raked up in the process. Still, if it means I can help people it’s worth it.

Ow ow ow

As is traditional, a few days after exercise, muscles are complaining bitterly. Sadly that exercise was my being violently ill so the painful muscles are the ones connected to my ribs and diaphragm and it hurts when I laugh.

Those who know me, will appreciate how much this is an irritation. I like laughing.

A lot.

And yes, that’s in no small part due to being very familiar with depression, which is always lurking in the background.

So, hopefully I’ll feel less tender in the morning and I can enjoy my day off.