Tag Archives: Anxiety

Vacation Sucks Part Deux

I have already written a post about why I cannot for the life of me enjoy vacations, but I thought it would be a fun experiment to write another post about it. It seems I cannot figure out why I am so miserable on vacations even though this misery has occurred year after year for more than a decade: I still have no clue why I hate vacations so much. So I thought it would be fun to write a new post without reading the previous post. It might be fun and enlightening comparing and contrasting these two posts, so let’s see what happens.

As a quick introduction if you haven’t read the first post: I hate vacations. For some reason while I can’t wait to take vacation actually being away from works leaves me on-edge. I feel like I should be doing something and my general mood is one of being lost, undirected, and antsy. It’s like a perpetual feeling of having something you need to do without there being anything to actually do. I find that I cannot relax as something is always prodding around in my head telling me that “You should probably be doing something right now, shouldn’t you?” It’s even worse because the feelings are so contradictory: how can you be both bored and feeling like you have something to do?

I’ve always been this way and the problem only gets worse year after year. You see, I work a union job and when I started I was given two weeks of vacation: one week was a mandatory vacation week and the other was an optional week. This wasn’t too big of a problem because I only had to be gone one or two weeks out of 52. The problem is worse now that I have three weeks of mandatory vacation and one optional week: I’m forced on vacation for 3 out of the 52 weeks in a year (5% of the year if that helps). Considering this it’s no wonder that my vacation anxiety has increased as my vacation weeks have increased. I now have almost an entire month every year where I have unavoidable anxiety, antsiness, and uselessness that I dread every time a vacation week comes up. It is a shitty feeling.

I want to also note how stupid it is to actually complain about taking vacation! Most people don’t get jack shit for vacation and are nearly forced to work every week of the year. Complaining that you’re not happy on vacation sounds like a rich person complaining about their house being too big. Like, wow bro, that sucks but it sure is hard to feel sorry for you when you own three Ferraris.

So I have this predicament every year where I’m forced to take off work and am mostly miserable while off. This had lead me to try various techniques to make myself feel better and none has really worked over the years. My first technique was to spread the weeks out evenly through the year; this allowed me to “enjoy” my vacations throughout the year while breaking up the flow of constant work. This just allowed for multiple shitty weeks to appear throughout the year. I’ve tried making “to-do” lists while I’m on vacation but this only seems to pressure me into doing chores all the time; I end up feeling busy and pressured even if I am off work. My usual go-to technique has been to simply drink: by drinking you keep yourself entertained, busy, and preserve your sense of self-worth (mostly because you’re fucking drunk and life is fun and confusing and you can do random shit). I used to think my vacation drinking hinted at something deeper psychologically; I now think I drink just to not be fucking bored.

Making matters worse is having anxiety about going back to work! You’d think that being miserable on vacation would make work seem appealing, but it doesn’t. It seems that after I actually go on vacation I do enjoy something about being away from work. So that going back to work also gives me anxiety. What the fuck is wrong with me? Am I just never happy?

My new theory is that I hate adjusting to new things. It isn’t so much going to work or staying home from work that I hate, but that I hate changes to my daily/weekly routine. This could explain why I have a mild hatred of the weekends to. It isn’t that I’m bored or used to being busy or needing projects to do but with just flip-flopping from “work mode” to “vacation mode” and back to “work mode” over and over throughout the year. Obviously placing vacations separate from each other would only serve to worsen my mood as I’d have more “adjusting” to do. This seems to be the case with past experiences. I simply hate adjusting to new things that break my daily flow.

The obvious solution to this problem is to take all of my vacation weeks at the same time: instead of having a week here and there off I’d take an entire month off! This initially sounds like it would be bad as you probably don’t want to go back to work, but according to my theory, this should minimize the number of “adjusting” phases. When you go on vacation you hate life but — as people do — you adjust to your new norm. After you adjust you can enjoy your time away from work! The same is true for when you go back to work; yes, it’ll suck at first but after a few days you adjust to the new normal and you’re more or less happy able to deal with life.

A small problem appears here though: I don’t have enough seniority to pull off a block of vacations! While I tried it this year I simply couldn’t. My vacations this year are all a week or two apart. I take a week off work, I work a week, then I take another week off, and back to work…and so on. Luckily my weeks off are still close enough together that I can sort of “remember” the vacation mindset and each week of vacation is slightly more enjoyable than the weeks before it. While I haven’t solved the problem I seemed to have minimized it this year.

Another thing that I’ve found that helps is to have a “suggested to-do list”. I bitched before about having a “strict to-do list” because this makes you feel obligated to do things on vacation. It just feels like a chore list. My “suggested to-do list” is merely that: a list of thing that I can and should work on, but they’re more like large projects than simple “to-do” menial shit. For example I had things like “finish a painting,” “finish and ebook,” and “write blog posts” for my list. If I’m bored, antsy, or depressed I just look at the list and begrudgingly sit down to work on a project even if I don’t want to.

This “keep busy at all expenses” has lead to a unique few weeks off of work. A few of these are large projects, but most of them are just random shit that I decided to do while not having anything better to do. Boredom leads to creativity, even if it is a stupid sort of creativity. Here’s what I actually did do during my past three weeks off of work:

I’m really proud of this so, yeah, shameless self promotion.
  • Finished Facebook Sucks ebook
  • Paint a picture of Princess Zelda
  • Wrote a few blog posts
  • Washed and waxed my car
  • Changed my dad’s car’s brakes
  • Helped put my dad’s car’s tire back on after it randomly fell off
  • Helped put my dad’s car’s lug nuts back on after the tire almost fell off randomly a second time
  • Got high on cough medicine
  • Helped my dad buy/install a car battery while high on cough medicine
  • Listened to music
  • Went on a 34-mile bike ride
  • Went on a bunch of shorter bike rides
  • Got high on cough medicine a second time
  • Figured out the meaning of life while high on cough medicine
  • Forgot the meaning of life because I didn’t write it down
  • Read some books
  • Cleaned and greased bike bearings
  • Put a new AC on our shitty Dodge Caravan
  • Change brakes on my friend’s car
  • Shitposted on Facebook
  • Went to (and hated) Six Flags
  • Made candles
  • Finished and published a book on options trading
  • Mowed the yard a few times

That was kinda a rambly post, so to wrap things up a little bit: I hate vacations and have always hated vacations. I’m always bored/unmotivated and feel anxious/on-edge with a persistent feeling that there’s really something I should be doing. Over the years I’ve tried various techniques — like making lists and breaking up my vacation — in a futile attempt to enjoy my vacations. This year I’ve realized that, maybe, my vacations suck because I need to adjust to being away from work. My anxiety is mostly from having an extra five hours of free time a day that I don’t know how to utilize. Going back to work also has one of these “adjustment phases” so my grand idea was to take all my vacation at once to minimize these “adjusting phases”. I also wasn’t able to do this this year. And to keep myself busy on vacation I’ve resorted to various random things that sound really stupid when you write them out. So that’s it: vacation sucks because you have to adjust to being on vacation in the first place to enjoy it.

Looking back on my last vacation post wasn’t as interesting as I expected. I didn’t get into the nitty-gritty psychological details as to why I can’t enjoy vacation. I mostly complained about the fact that I never do anything on vacation and how I squander the entire week off. Something about having too much free time causes you to procrastinate endlessly. I also hinted at some deep interplay between anxiety and productivity that I touch on in an upcoming post. To hint at: apparently I’m more productive and motivated the more stressed out I am, which is counterintuitive.

Birthdays Suck: Part Two

Now that the first part post is finished, posted, and part of history I can move onto the real cerebral reasons as to why birthdays fucking suck. In case you didn’t read part one it was basically me bitching about how bad my birthday was just because it was a generally shitty day. Any day that went the way it did would suck, it just happened to also be my birthday. I was tired, insomnia-and-anxiety-stricken, felt like an ex-coke head (I imagine), and was all-around miserable. Now onto the actual reasons for birthdays sucking.

The first thing to complain about is the arbitrariness of celebrating a year of life. If you get down to it we could celebrate every day (or week, or month, or whatever) we’re alive but that would lead us to unnecessarily high numbers rather quickly. For example I’m apparently 12,058ish days old, but that number doesn’t mean very much because it doesn’t give you any reference frame to compare it to. We all know what a year is so when you say someone is 25-years-old you have a good idea what it means. An 9-year-old might be is likely an immature brat while a 90-year-old is likely frail as fuck and about to die. A year makes good enough sense and I don’t know what else we could use to measure age. But where does a year come from anyways?

Age is just counting how many orbits you’ve personally made around the sun after you appeared outside your mom. A year makes intuitive sense with seasons and stuff like that, but when you think of it as “laps completed around the sun” it seems rather strange. Think of most of our laws that are age-based: you can’t drink alcohol unless you’ve orbited the sun 21 times. You can’t vote for our country’s leaders until you’ve done 18 laps around the sun. And if you’ve orbited the sun 67 times you don’t need to work anymore.

A key gripe here is that laps around the sun doesn’t equate to actual knowledge, wisdom, or anything important really. Some ten-year-olds could probably operate a car as well as an adult, and some adults shouldn’t be allowed to vote or drink no matter how old they are. I don’t know how we would set an age for “wisdom” and have it actually mean anything, but ideally it would be a better measurement than solar orbits. A 25-year-old could be a successful millionaire or a heroin addict and the only similarity these people would share is the fact that they’ve orbited the sun 25 times. This just further makes the idea of a birthday seem kinda meh as age itself is a poor “progress of life” counter or whatever. 

Also the fact that we celebrate the day we came out of our mom’s vagina seems kinda…strange when you word it that way. Obviously this exempts people who were born via c-section but even that is celebrating the day you were cut out of your mom’s womb. I mean it makes sense to use that as the “starting point” of your life, but it’s also kinda strange. You could also use the point of conception as your “birthday” I suppose, and I’m kinda surprised that pro-lifers haven’t jumped on that idea yet. I mean I did exist in some form 8 months before I was actually born. (Getting all deep and shit I’ve existed — my atoms at least — since the universe began. Woah. mind-blown.gif) By giving you a “birthday” on the day you were conceived you’d seem more an actual person than “a fetus” would; this would play right into the “life begins at conception” idea. (Really if they take up that idea and actually go with it I’ll be really upset. Like I was joking guys don’t take it seriously.)

Outside of all that bullshit, birthdays also suck because I’m an adult. I just turned 33 (in case you didn’t want to do the math with my age in days earlier) and anyone within ten years of 33 will know that it’s not an important birthday by any stretch of the imagination. 33 is an age where nothing actually happens while the closest “special” birthday is 30, followed by 40. But the 40-year birthday is going to be a ton more dismal than 30 was. I got seven years to go and I already know that fact. But before that? 21. Because you can drink at 21.

We all know birthdays are cool as a kid, and to a lesser extent as a teenager, mostly because you get shit you want. As a kid you are showered in toys and birthdays/Christmases are great opportunities to get the things you want. This is especially important given your paltry $10/week allowance that makes it impossible to get the really good shit you want. These gifts gave you something to look forward to on your birthday and made the day special. As you age these gifts magically disappear and the day becomes a mundane affair.

Teenagers get the “gift” of knowing they’re making progress through life: at 13 you’re finally a teenager, at 15 (in Illinois at least) you can get a driver’s learning permit, at 16 you can get an actual license, at 17 you can go see rated-R movies (Not a big deal. The shitty teenager birthdays are 14, 17, and 19.), and at 18 you’re an actual fucking adult! The “progress factor” of your birthday quickly tapers after that. At 20, well, you’re 20, and at 21 you can drink. That’s it. At 24 (I think) you finally get booted off your parents insurance if you’re attending college so no one cares about that, and at 25 you can run for congressional office (yay!). Then 30, 40, 50…blah blah.

Even if teenagers might not get really cool gifts and experience the fun that birthdays as a kid used to hold, they still get to feel like they’re getting somewhere in life. Hell, even senior citizens sort of get this “birthday glory” back as they can look forward to retirement age or getting fucking senior discounts at restaurants and shit. Somehow I don’t think I will be very enthusiastic about that crap when I’m that age (if I’m alive). Also your impending death kinda puts a damper on things for you.

Remember when I mentioned something about “progress in life?” Well, for me at least, that’s a major downside for birthdays. Birthdays give me that “looking back on life” thing that New Year’s usually does to me (and the 4th of July as well…) and I don’t know if it’s me or if everyone deals with it. It definitely gets worse as you get older as well. As you get a year older on your birthday it becomes a perfect time to process that you are in fact a year older and that, well, you’re getting older. It’s natural to look back at all the time and think of what you’ve accomplished, or in my case, what I haven’t accomplished.

I remember leaving high school and knowing that I was only 18 and that I had plenty of time to actually do something with my life. The day I graduated I went to my grandma’s and planted grass. A day as notable as graduating high school was capped off by quaintly planting grass in the afternoon with no thought given to my future. At my 30th birthday I really realized that “hey, I haven’t done a fucking thing yet. What am I doing?” and I resolved to actually get off my ass and do something, but progress has been slow.

My supervisor pointed out that some people accomplish their life’s work at a late age. Late-bloomers and all. Charles Darwin was near 50 when he published his landmark book on evolution so compared with him I still have 17 years to do my thing. I don’t like that mindset though because it seems easy to use as a crutch to justify not doing anything to myself. It’s the same “I got time” mindset that ended up wasting most of my 20s. I think I need the self-loathing and anxiety that birthdays bring to keep me moving forward, even if the self-loathing is pretty shitty.

This is almost made worse by well-meaning family members who want to see me have an amazing birthday. This creates a dichotomy where people are being very enthusiastic and joyful about my birthday where I’m just feeling like shit about it. It almost makes it worse because if all of these people are happy about my birthday, why the hell aren’t I? I just makes me hate myself more because I’m feeling shitty about getting older and not doing anything with my life while everyone else is yelling at me to be happy because it’s my birthday! Blow out the candles and make a wish!

I don’t know if other people feel the pressure of time on their birthday, but for me it is inseparable from the day itself. Any fun, positivity, and celebration is always outweighed by my constant looking back/forward and it makes the day depressing no matter what happens. It’s one of those things I wish I could shut off but it has been lingering around for every birthday and New Year that I’ve since being a teenager. This sucks because the idea of a single day being your birthday when you “turn a year older” is silly as time is constantly moving forward; there isn’t really one day that you age but this day still drags me down and makes me feel like shit about my life. Couple this with the fact that birthdays are generally bland and pointless when you’re in your late 20s and 30s (and onward I’m assuming) makes any upcoming birthday something to dread and avoid. Like I want to shut my phone off and deactivate my Facebook page until it’s over in an attempt to make the day as normal as possible. It’s like a storm to hide from or something. So yeah, birthdays suck.

Birthdays Suck: Part One

Note: I was in a strange mood when I wrote this; namely I was sleep-deprived and fairly drunk. So it’s a bit different from my most posts that are a bit more “thoughtful.” In fact this post seems to just be a trainwreck of bitching. But in the spirit of just doing whatever the hell I want though, I’ll post it anyways.

To start this post off let me state that I’m typing this on my phone. Yeah. I’m typing this on a Samsung Galaxy S7. Why? you might ask. Well, it isn’t because I feel like doing it, that’s for sure. I’ve written a few blog posts on my phone when I’ve been struck by inspiration and unable to make it to my laptop, but I always sit down, get comfy and in the zone to edit and post them from a real electronic device meant for doing work. Ya know, a proper keyboard and sometimes a USB mouse if I really need to get shit done. Working on a phone isn’t a choice here though: it’s a necessity. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ll make it to posting this from my phone/tablet. But we’ll see. If you read this on June 23 or the 24 I probably persevered and posted it totally from Android products. But I wasn’t happy about it that’s for sure. 

(Spoiler: My computer did start working so I am editing this on a proper device. But the original draft was written on a shitty S7.)

What led to this was my son (a two-year-old) spilled one of my birthday-beers all over my laptop. This didn’t seem to be a problem at first as it still typed okay but after about 20 minutes the keyboard ceased to work at all. This sort of spurred me on with this blog post because I wanted to write about how shitty birthdays are and as the actual day went on I just got more and more fuel to dump on the fire so to say. This event was the final “holy fuck birthdays do suck” event and solidified my will to write a post about it. So to android it was even though I fucking hate typing something on a phone while plopped down on a goddamn couch.

What started the idea of a birthday sucks post was basically me whining and bitching to a coworker a few hours before my birthday actually began. I’ll cover it in a little bit a separate post but it was basically the typical stuff I cry about most of the time: the arbitrariness of how we measure time, how as you age it makes birthdays sucks even more, the (useless) self-reflection that comes with the day, all mixed in with some fairly moderate self-loathing. Some of these themes are already featured on my New Years’ post and my Daylight Savings post. What was a surprise was the fact that I didn’t even have to make it to my birthday for things to start falling apart.

The downward trend started when I was told I needed to take one of the kids to Drive-Right (a driver training school in case they have a different name in your area) at 9 a.m. My birthday was on a Saturday so it should’ve been a relatively carefree day: no school, no work, no doctor appointments, no dentist appointments. There was no reason to have to worry about anything! It’s Saturday after all. This early job of mine kinda threw me off before I even went to bed. I famously need my sleep and anything less than 10 hours fucking destroys me. I also can’t fall asleep unless I lay in bed for 3 or 4 hours. Realistically I think I’m a cat or something. I’ve tried my damndest to change these habits but they seem to be as a belligerent part of me as my DNA is. Me trying to wake up early is like me trying to be taller or something.

What happened around 2 or 3 a.m. was the dread that I wouldn’t get enough sleep. I’d eventually fall asleep and instantly be awakened by an alarm, miserable, tired, and groggy at 8 a.m. or so. That’s only 5 hours of sleep and with every minute that passed that number became less! What happens is you get hit with the anxiety about not being able to sleep. Even while I was physically tired my mind was awake, alert, and dreading the early alarm and the certainty of being tired and miserable. This creates a terrible feedback loop where you can’t sleep and are stressed out about the fact that you can’t sleep and this makes it even less likely you’ll be able to sleep! Around 5 a.m. I quit trying to sleep and got up to play some video games.

So right away my birthday was starting with me suffering from insomnia listening to the birds chirping at 5 a.m. as I groggily played Twilight Princess. I’m not even fond of the game and bitched about it here but it was something to do. Fuck, I even did the Princess Agitha bug quest because there is nothing else to do that early in the morning. I had to pass the time somehow and even though I wasn’t exactly having fun I toiled away finding those infernal golden bugs.

Proof.

From that point on things got really foggy and my past days blended together. I wasn’t sure exactly of the flow of time and the hours seem to both crawl along and jump ahead at the same time. It would be 11:05 and then 11:07 and then 12:15. What the hell was going on? i was able to complete the trip to Drive-Right and from then on I tried to pass the time as quickly as possible. The main goal then on for my birthday was to make it until 110 or 11 p.m. where I could actually get some fucking sleep.

Somewhere in the uncertain flow of time I got that stupid ass moon in Super Mario Odyssey: the infamous jump rope moon. As I mentioned in an unpublished post I had to glitch out the R of the MARIO letters in New Donk City and cheese the fuck out of the game. This isn’t a really important matter but it was seriously one of the highlights of my miserable day. I’ve been utterly dreading this moon for the past half year, and today I got it! On my insomnia ridden hell of a 33rd birthday I got that goddamn moon. Finally.

There’s no way in hell that I was doing that the proper way.

I took about a three hour nap between 12:30 and 3:30 thinking it would help my condition — and it did somewhat — but it didn’t get rid of it completely. I still felt miserable: sleep deprived, jittery, anxiety-ridden and feeling like a bum by “sleeping” until almost 4 in the afternoon. I couldn’t explain it any clearer than by saying that I felt “dirty,” whatever that means. Like my sink felt grimy, my hair felt greasy, and my brain was covered in a toxic fog. My sister mentioned that I sounded like I just came off a cocaine binge and I’d imagine it would feel about the same. The only problem is that I didn’t get the high from actually doing cocaine. I just felt like shit with no upside at all.

So that’s where I am right now, or sort of am. We went out to eat and I had some beers and even though they’re a depressant they seemed to wake me up a bit somehow. About 4 or 5 beers in I almost feel normal. They gave me some focus and motivation towards my goals such as writing a blog post about how shitty birthdays are. But even after the day started to look up the entire beer incident happened and the day went to shit immediately before it almost ended on a high note. On top of birthdays sucking for some higher-up, cerebral matter I’m dealing with the fact they my birthday has been total bullshit for totally mundane matters. This still doesn’t change the fact that birthdays suck for legitimate reasons: it just means I’ll write about it in another post. This one has been rambling and Thompson-inspired enough that it should end sooner than later. Birthdays suck and more on that in a few days.

Hangovers Suck: Existential Anxiety

Hangovers Suck. Obviously. If there was ever a “low-hanging fruit” post on this blog it would be about hangovers. What is really shocking is that it’s taken over a year for me to actually acknowledge that Hangovers Suck. Why’s that?

The fact is that since hangovers are so obviously shitty there’s little point in writing about it. And like most things in life you probably have to experience one to fully enjoy appreciate how shitty they are. I could go on and on about headaches, aversion to light and sound, dizziness, shaking, nausea, and all around “feeling shitty” but that won’t make you feel how physically awful a hangover really is. And even if it did, most people probably know it anyways so whatever.

In my 20s hangovers were primarily a physical phenomena. I’d feel like shit as described above but that was it. I would take some pills to help the symptoms, drink some water, take a nap, and I’d feel much better. At the very worst I’d just drink more as that instantly cures hangovers if you can believe it. Something happened when I made it into my 30s though; hangovers have suddenly became much worse and not just physically worse. Now they have shitty mental effects too. And boy, those make the physical effects seem like nothing.

Alcohol, being a depressant, makes it quite a bit easier to fall asleep. Hell, the term “passing out” is what happens when you just randomly fall asleep because you’ve gotten to drunk, although you probably wouldn’t qualify it as a healthy normal sleep. Alcohol is a depressant and it makes you sleepy. After a few days of drinking I find I that can’t fall asleep as easily for the next day or two. I’ll be tired and sober but unable to sleep. What happens is usually this: I lie down and then I think and eventually a thought like this comes into my head: I’m going to die someday.

What?! Where did that come from?

What’s worse is that the train of thought, once started, continues down the tracks towards total and soul-crushing existential anxiety:

I’m going to die someday. What’s that going to be like? I’m not going to exist? What? What does that even mean? What will not existing feel like? It’ll be like before I was born I suppose. Huh?!? Do you know you’re dying when you’re dying? Will I die in a surprise accident or will I waste away from cancer fully aware of my impending doom? It seems so far away but it will happen eventually. Hell, I could die at any moment, even right now. I could have a heart attack in the next few moments. What if I do? Listen to my heart, it’s beating pretty hard and fast now. Oh shit, what if I do die right now? What happens to my family and friends? They’d be destroyed like I would be when my loved ones die. Oh shit, when’s that going to happen? My family will die someday. Even my kids. HOLY. FUCK. LIFE IS TERRIBLE.

It’s not a fun time. Try to fall asleep after that flies through your mind.

I mean I’m aware of that stuff because it’s simply part of life but usually I don’t think about it in that way. Usually it’s there as a sort of background or backdrop to everyday life and I continue on aware of my mortality but not burdened by it, if that makes any sense. I know I’ll die but I just don’t worry too much about it. In a way I think it’s nice being aware of your mortality because you enjoy life a bit more. You don’t sit on the couch and piss your life away if you know you’re going to die eventually. It keeps you motivated and it shouldn’t leave you crippled like my random overnight, hungover thoughts do. They’re just a whole new level of anxiety from what I usually experience.

I blame this on being hungover because there’s nothing else to explain it. When I haven’t recently been drinking I go through life pretty happily. I go to sleep at night. If I can’t sleep for some reason I go play video games or read a book until I am tired. I don’t lie in bed and think about how and when I’m going to fucking die. It only happens a day or two after drinking so of course I’m going to blame the alcohol. I always feel “off” a few days after drinking so it’s no surprise that my existential anxiety is probably due to drinking. And I should probably quit drinking.

Everyone knows hangovers suck and they usually bitch and whine about the physical aspects of it. The physical aspects of a hangover aren’t shit though. The really terrible part of a hangover is the feeling of being “off” and the random existential anxiety I get at 3 a.m. that makes it impossible for me to sleep or feel comfortable. Once again, I’m pretty average so I assume this happens to other people as well and it’s no surprise if no one really talks about it because it’s terrifying. Hangovers Suck.