Chapter 7: Part II: Warning Signs

IT FELT LIKE BEING HIT BY A BUS, BUT THE WARNING SIGNS WERE THERE…

I don’t exactly know where to start with this. As I mentioned, I was certainly keeping myself busy leading up to the anxiety attacks and depression. I’ve always been a person with many hobbies. I like to write. I like to play guitar. I enjoy reading and home DIY projects. I exercise regularly and love spending time with my wife and kids. I usually adore my hobbies and my life. The thought of having some time to do one of my hobbies after work or spending time with my family would typically put a spring in my step. But I had noticed a change. I had noticed that the thought of these things didn’t excite me in the same way as usual.

I know we all get tired and run down. We all have times where our job feels mundane and life becomes somewhat routine and hum-drum. However, somewhere an alarm bell was going off in the back of my mind. I wasn’t enjoying life as I normally did. Nothing seemed to be firing sparks of excitement anymore. Exercise, music, family time, DIY, reading, writing, none of it was working for me. I was not feeling sad, but I was not feeling happy. The people that work in the enjoyment sector of my brain had clocked out and taken an extended vacation.

“I wasn’t enjoying life as I normally did. Nothing seemed to be firing sparks of excitement anymore.”

I noticed the change. I noticed it explicitly. I actually went to my family doctor about it. I believe that I described it to him as feeling ‘flat’, like I wasn’t really feeling anything. He was concerned. He mentioned depression as a possibility. He said we should monitor the situation and that I should come back in 4 weeks. I didn’t. Mistake. Big Mistake.

“I was throwing myself into my hobbies like never before, but not enjoying them.”

During this time and in the weeks that followed this appointment, I now realize that I was feeling something. It was a rancid mix of emptiness and frustration. I was throwing myself into my hobbies like never before, but not enjoying them. Everything I did had to be perfect. I felt that I had to do a full workout everyday, even if it meant getting out of bed at 5a.m. I had to swim at least 3 times per week or I believed that I would not see any improvement. I would practice my guitar, but not for fun. I practiced to become a better guitar player and became irritated when I was lacking either the time or energy to rehearse my skills. My job was leaving me feeling unsatisfied, as was my marriage. It was like I couldn’t find anything to make me happy or maybe anything that would give my brain the dopamine reward that it craved. I attributed the cause to the activities. I told myself that I had just had enough of my job. It was bland and unfulfilling. I believed that challenges in my marriage were not my fault and were beyond my control. My unsatisfying job was leaving me with insufficient time to spend on my fitness, music and DIY projects. When I did find time for my hobbies, I was always thinking ahead, never enjoying the moment. I felt rushed and focused on what was coming next rather than what I was doing. Things were racing out of control. I was running from an avalanche that I couldn’t see, toward a cliff that I didn’t know was there. The glass was not just half-empty, but half-filled with a toxic mix of hollowness and despondency. My perceptions were altered and wrong. I can see that now.

Coming Soon… Chapter 7: Part III…

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