Category Archives: Operation Remodel

Operation De-Stress: Relapse

This was a bad week.

I had a lot of work to do for my job as Ray Wenderlich this week. I had deadlines for the update to the book that I forgot about and obligations for my talk at RWDevCon along with my regular duties for the Swift Team. I deluded myself into thinking that because I don’t have a conference for a while that I had a period of freedom that was premature.

Instead of doing cleaning in the mornings I was catching up on work for these various obligations. Things went downhill from there.

I didn’t do my yoga any morning this week. I think I did my meditation once.

I was going into this holiday weekend thinking I would have dedicated time to work on my graphics projects. I forgot that I had social obligations.

On Thursday I spent all day making pie and spending Thanksgiving with my other family, so that day was shot. Then on Friday I had Thanksgiving with my actual family. I got some stuff done, but being away from my house and in an unfamiliar environment made it difficult for me to focus. I also felt under the weather because I wasn’t drinking enough fluids because I didn’t remember to when I sat down to work.

I feel very silly talking about this stuff, but if I get off my schedule I get sick. I set up routines for myself to stay healthy and take care of myself because if I don’t I forget to. If I don’t make my tea in the morning I forget to drink fluids. If I don’t schedule a walk or some kind of exercise then I don’t do it.

Black Pixel is having a holiday party I was planning to go to in Seattle on my birthday, but I realized that the disruption of trying to work in an unfamiliar place was going to interfere with my ability to function.

Here is the reality I deal with when I travel somewhere.

I have to make sure I have access to hot water or else I don’t get my tea and it throws me off my whole day because I won’t drink fluids. I have difficulty at conferences when they have breakfast that is just pastries because if I don’t eat protein in the mornings, specifically warm proteins, I have difficulty functioning. I used to bring a lot of things to conferences with me to offset some of these issues. I have found that most conferences have tea, so I don’t need to bring my tea brewer and my loose tea. I haven’t figured out a solution for the warm protein thing yet. I should just bite the bullet and get breakfast at those conferences rather than just feeling grumpy.

A lot of people have somewhat made fun of my request that someone make sure I buy food for my train trip back from 360iDev. I need people to help me find food because when I am off my schedule and in places I am unfamiliar with I get very discombobulated and it becomes difficult for me to function. I get paralyzed by choice. Surrounded by a lot of restaurants I don’t know. Having to choose one. Then further having to choose what I want from the menu. I usually look over the menu at a restaurant before I go so I know what I will get because if I don’t, I will spend half an hour pouring over the menu trying to figure out what I want and that is rude.

The thought of going to Seattle, trying to figure out how to get to my hotel and from the hotel to the office every day and trying to figure out how to feed myself without access to my kitchen or a working knowledge of what is around me was too daunting for me to deal with.

I was supposed to go out with people yesterday. One person was having a joint birthday party and another person was having a game night. I lied to these people and told them I had a migraine because the thought of trying to leave my house yesterday not once, but twice, was too overwhelming for me to deal with.

I lied because people don’t understand. I told everyone I had a migraine because that is something people understand. They don’t understand the complete and total exhaustion of losing an hour just traveling to and from Madison. Of being in a place that is not mine, that I don’t control. I find being in public to be incredibly overwhelming. I didn’t used to, but it’s gotten harder.

Most of the conferences I attend are relatively small with a lot of people I know. I usually have a hotel room I can retreat to when I get overwhelmed. I find doing a talk in front of a hundred people easier to deal with than having to spend time at a restaurant in the mall where it is noisy and chaotic and I have nowhere to escape to.

I have no idea if this will get any better. I don’t know if I am making it worse by doing things like working from home. I don’t know if this is because of the divorce or getting older or what. I think I used to be able to deal with this stuff, but I never really immersed myself in large crowds of people for concerts or other events.

I just know that some days I cannot fucking deal with anyone and I just want to stay in my house. I get overwhelmed and I stop doing things I need to do. I am seeing the clutter in my house accumulate because I need to clean it but I can’t. I am spontaneously buying books from Amazon because that is what I do when I get stressed out, which adds to the clutter. Just because I know I have a pattern of behavior doesn’t mean that I can keep myself from doing it. It’s simply a symptom I can see that tells me I need to do better.

So I am hiding in my house. I am going back on my schedule tomorrow. I am going to get myself back into a stable state so that I can hopefully be able to go to the grocery store and get lemons for my tea before I run out. I am hoping to get all of my food cooked before more is delivered on Tuesday.

I am replacing my yoga with a long walk. The yoga wasn’t really working well and I didn’t do it every day like I was supposed to. I also have gotten rather sedentary and my watch keeps cutting my calorie burn target each week because I barely move. I used to walk when it was warm out because I didn’t have to put on socks and my shorts were what I just normally wore around the house. I don’t want to put on jeans and socks and shoes every day, which is why I really should be doing that. I might have trouble being out in public, but I can take a quiet walk around my neighborhood without being bothered and getting out is probably good for me.

Also, as much as I want to get on my graphics stuff, I should go back to cleaning in the morning before work. It was working well for me and it made me feel better, so I am going to go back to doing that, even though it means there is an hour of productivity in the morning that I am giving up. If I have obligations for Ray, I will do those, but I am trying to reserve that time to cleaning up something.

I know I can’t control every aspect of my life. There are holidays. There is my periodic trip to the grocery store to get things I don’t want to have delivered. There are the days where I will feel overwhelmed by loneliness and will need to get out or else I will go crazy. I don’t know if I want those days to happen more or less. I have friends I never get to see who I will make time to see because they are important to me. It’s a balancing act to see how far I can push myself before I retreat back into my cave. I pushed myself too far this week and I am in damage control mode. Going to try to spend today recovering so that I can focus on my job tomorrow. I also need better coping strategies rather than just letting myself spiral downward until I smack into something that breaks my fall.

Operation De-Stress: Week One Assessment

I wrote on Monday about my attempts to refactor my life. I am really stressed out and I feel kind of lost, so I am trying to figure out how to take care of my own mental health.

Scheduled Activities

I was on various medications for about a decade. I really did not like how I felt on them and I wanted to fix whatever the underlying issues were. I figured out that I needed a schedule for myself that I needed to follow and I needed daily meditation to be able to properly deal with my anxiety.

After I moved in with my husband, I stopped doing things I needed to be doing for myself. I didn’t meditate because my pugs would jump on me. I also had difficulty carving out time for myself because when you’re part of a couple it’s very difficult to say you need your own time. Most of the time you feel like you’re supposed to be doing everything with your significant other and I didn’t think to really push for what I needed to do to keep myself healthy.

I had kind of thought I should meditate, but I would only do it like once a month. I realized I need a schedule. I need something to remind me to do this regularly or I won’t do it.

I was really hesitant to try and set up a system for doing things. I am suspicious of systems, which is something I would like to write up as a blog post at some point. I tried to figure out what the simplest system is that I could implement that would allow me to be productive.

I started out small. I created alarms on my phone. I started with two, one to do yoga each day and one to do meditation each afternoon. I want to start with small changes and work out from there.

This week was not so good for the yoga. I only did it on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I went to the grocery store before work. By the time I got home and settled for work, I had only been focused for five minutes. I didn’t want to interrupt my focus, so I missed that day. I had trouble focusing most of the rest of the week and I just didn’t do yoga.

I only missed one day of meditation. I found it very helpful and necessary on the days this week that I was lost and couldn’t focus. I am also trying to figure out when I need to go to my boss for help when I can’t focus. I had a bad few days and I wish I had come to her after the second day rather than waiting for her to ask me how I was doing. I am going to learn to be more proactive with asking for things I need to be productive rather than trying to just muddle through it because I am afraid to say I am having trouble focusing. After I spoke to my boss, she focused me and I felt much better.

Going to give this schedule another week to see if I can get on track with it. If I still have trouble I am not going to add anything else until I do better with what I am doing.

Food/Cooking

I hate going to the grocery store. I find it exhausting to go to the store. I needed to go for nearly a week and I kept thinking I would go after work, but I was too tired.

I figured out when I went on Wednesday why I find it so exhausting.

When I go out in public, especially to places like stores, I find it mentally exhausting. I want to do a surgical strike, go in and get what I need as quickly as possible. The grocery store is populated by people wandering around in ways I find unpredictable. They will stand in front of the stuff that I need. They will weave back and forth in the aisle so that I can’t pass them because I am afraid they will veer in front of me and hurt themselves because I am going to hit them with my cart.

Going during the work day when there are fewer people is helpful, but it still takes a lot out of me to deal with.

I had tried to figure out why I don’t like driving long distances and spending a lot of time in highly populated areas, and I think this is why. It’s helpful to know, but I don’t really know how to filter this stuff out. When I was married to my ex, I would follow behind him. It always pissed him off because he thought I was being submissive or something, but it was mentally easier for me to only have to keep track of and anticipate the movements of one person. One of our biggest fights happened when he started to behave randomly, stopping for no reason with no warning. I would smack into him because he wasn’t behaving predictably.

After figuring this out, I decided to try something I was tempted to do, but couldn’t justify the expense of: I am subscribing to a food service.

I chose Plated for my food service. It’s a little expensive, but right now I am just trying to make my life as easy as possible. If I don’t have to go grocery shopping as often because I am having a set of meal ingredients sent to me, then it’s worth the cost to me for my mental health.

My friend Kiera Herbert suggested I try CookSmarts which is a meal planning site where they send you a menu and a grocery list, so it’s like Plated minus the food. I noticed I never looked at it because the idea of having to leave the house to get the stuff I needed and possibly forgetting something was too demoralizing.

Based on my observation of my own behaviors, I expect I will start having meals and ingredients accumulate in my fridge in about two months, so we will see if this is something that works out or not. I am hoping that it will at least be a temporary solution to my mental exhaustion about figuring out how to feed myself. Also, I like that I am only getting enough ingredients for two servings of food. I am wasting a lot of food because most recipes and ingredients are targeted for families of four and I get tired of things before they go bad.

At the very least, this will be a good hobby project where I get kits of components where I can make things. I find these things to be very mentally soothing, so I am excited to see how this works out. I am counting the expense as not just the food, but as relieving myself of having to worry about things and being able to have a ready supply of things I get to make each week, which makes me feel better.

House Progress

Earlier this week I posted some really bad photos of my house. I also set an alarm on my phone in the mornings prompting me to clean the house a little.

Surprisingly, this alarm worked out much better than the yoga and meditation ones did. Even on mornings where I decided I would not clean my house, just planting the subliminal message into my brain about needing to clean was enough for me to do some incremental amount of cleaning.

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I dealt with all the laundry that has been on my floor for the last few months. Some of it needs to be rewashed because of pugs. I was kind of surprised that there were things I just didn’t let myself see because I didn’t want to deal with them. I noticed there were wrappers on the floor in my pictures. I am like, “Seriously? I was so intent on filtering out all the clutter around me that I couldn’t be bothered to pick up trash in my room??”

It was kind of hidden, but there were a lot of books and video games under the laundry. I boxed and organized those things and moved them to the basement.

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When I couldn’t focus this week, I managed to put the office chair together that I had sitting in the living room for a while. I vacuumed up the pug fur and at least deal with a little of the clutter in here. There is less I can do with this room presently, but I can at least deal with the obvious stuff like breaking down boxes I don’t need.

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This doesn’t look like much, but this was a lot of work. This corner of my office had a lot of clutter in it. I had two boxes of business cards explode over the floor. I had a bunch of office supplies and a lot of books in this corner. I boxed the books and finally bit the bullet and threw away all the business cards. I kept a few from the first startup I worked for on the off-chance it actually becomes a big deal one day.

I kept having to sweep and clean this corner because there was a lot of pug fur that has accumulated over the last few years. This doesn’t look like a big deal, but this was a lot of work.

I am moving a lot of things I want to get rid of to the basement. The basement will likely be a huge project at some point in the future. I don’t want to just play musical clutter and move the clutter to the basement, but I do want to get it out of my living area and I do have a dedicated portion of the basement for things that I plan to get rid of.

General Thoughts

So figured out that scheduling things really helps me make sure that I get things done. I have been meaning to join a maker space, but I always felt too tired to come visit. A friend made an appointment with me a few days ahead of time to come visit and it helped me make sure I reserved enough mental energy to show up.

I am going to join the maker space and make appointments to go on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. I would like to work on my electronics stuff when I go there. There is a wood shop and I would like to learn how to make electronics enclosures there. I think getting out of the house to interact with other people will be good for me. I also have boxes of books I need to get out of the house. Instead of trying to offload them all at once, I can grab a box at a time and process them incrementally.

I also would like to learn how to make French pastry and it will be nice to have a place to take my experiments to because I can’t (and REALLY shouldn’t) eat all the sugar I am planning to work with.

I am also not going to travel for a while. My company is having a Christmas party in a few weeks that I was going to go to, but it would require me to fly to Seattle for a few days. I really need stability right now and I think making that trip would be very disruptive to my mental health at the moment.

My trips the last few months have been amazing and it’s been great to meet people. I hope to see people enough to maintain my relationships with them, but not being home and having a regular schedule has caused me a lot of mental distress. I have not been doing things I need to do to maintain my mental health because I talked myself into thinking that I didn’t need to do this anymore.

I feel this week was fairly successful. I am looking forward to sharing more about how I am going to fix myself over the next few weeks. Sorry, but there are going to be a lot of blogs about cooking. I promise to get back to tech at some point, but I really need to deal with this stuff right now. I miss learning new tech stuff to write about, but I can’t deal with it right now. Hopefully I will not lose too many readers because I am talking about this now. I promise tech stuff will come later!

Operation Remodel: Before Pictures of My House

Hi.

I have been writing recently that I am tired of living the way I have been living for the last year or so. I spoke yesterday about how I am going to try to stop myself from stressing out. Today, I am going to talk about one of the things I have been terrified for people to know about.

I have been asked how I feel comfortable talking about my struggles with depression and a lot of other things. I am less terrified about talking about those things than I am about showing pictures of my house. With depression, I can talk to people when I am not depressed and I seem like a normal enough person that it’s easy to forget I am depressed, so it worries me less than showing visceral, physical evidence that I am depressed and my life is a mess. I am tired of living this way and I have been terrified of anyone ever actually wanting to come to my house.

So, here are pictures of my house that I took this morning:

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That laundry on the floor has been there for about nine months. It used to be in a large tub, but I realized I wasn’t putting it away, so I dumped it out. It actually used to be worse this morning. I spent nearly an hour putting laundry away before I realized I should document how bad things are.

This is the master bedroom. I do not sleep in the master bedroom. Right now it’s basically being used for storage for my clothes. This is the only room with at TV in it, so my PS3 and PS4 are in here along with a large chair. But this room is basically shut up and I never spend time in here.

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I do sleep here. This is the only room I was allowed to keep anything in during my marriage. I would come home from class and find my things unceremoniously dumped in this room while I was gone. I got used to it being like this and I have been too depressed to do anything about it.

I have been sleeping in the bed that I have had since I was seven. You can see the pugs milling around in here. I did clear a nice path to and from the door so I don’t break my neck.

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Since I had to keep everything in here and it isn’t very large, I got creative with my “organization.” When I get depressed I tend to buy a lot of books. I stored a lot of books under the bed. Sadly, since they are under the bed, I can’t get access to them to organize them or clean under the bed. There is a lot of pug fur embedded in everything because I can’t clean under here. My mom is concerned about me developing allergies to things because I sleep near this biohazard.

One of the projects at the top of my list is to clear this area OUT! I am probably never going to read 90% of the books under my bed, so I need to box them up and take them away. I have some books boxed up to take away, but I have trouble leaving my house to get rid of them, so that is another project I need to schedule. I can fill my car with books, drop them off at the used book store, then do my grocery shopping and just add it to my routine.

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This was my desk in my old office back when my bedroom was my office. That desk used to be clean because I had to put my laptop there. Now that I don’t use it for anything, it’s covered in crap.

The iMac’s operating system is from like 2010. I use it for watching movies in bed.

There are boxes on the right hand side of the desk that are full of manuals from Final Cut Pro 5 and Logic 8 that I really don’t want to get rid of but I don’t know what to do with.

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This is one of only three book shelves in the house. I made an attempt at organizing it at one point, but that failed pretty spectacularly. I made room for an entire shelf of Flash and Actionscript books.

I have had trouble figuring out how to organize my books because I don’t know which ones I will keep and how to separate them out. I have three general types of books: Programming/Tech, Cooking, and general reading. I would like to keep the programming books together and the cooking books together, but I don’t know where or how to do this and it paralyzes me from being about to do anything about it.

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So this is my chair. It is part of a set of chairs and a couch that my ex and I bought. He took the other chair and the couch. I think he just ran out of room for my chair. It is primarily used by the pugs. Speaking of the pugs, that large box on the chair used to hold their food. I haven’t broken it down and recycled it yet.

The shelf in the background is the second shelf I have in my house. I was putting my tech books on it because it’s technically part of the “office”, but then I also started putting cookbooks on there and now it’s all discombobulated and it bothers me, so I ignore it.

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This is where I spend most of my day. The large box in the middle of the room is a pink office chair I bought from an office supply store that was going out of business that I have been too depressed to put together.

From my spot by the computer, my area LOOKS nice and clean and organized because I can strategically place things in a way where I don’t have to mentally deal with the clutter and disorganization. Yay denial!

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This last picture is a picture of my wall. It is covered with bare hooks because my ex-husband took a lot of the artwork we bought during the marriage. I got to keep the only piece I cared about, which was more expensive than the stuff that was taken, so it isn’t like I got screwed here or anything.

This is also the last bookshelf in the house. It started falling apart and it needs to be put back together again. So right now it’s this giant wooden piece of clutter that I mostly use to keep my stuffed animals away from Olive. I would eventually like to buy a lot of shelves for my various anime and video game figures and frame some of my nerdy art work and paint that wall. That will take a bit of an investment in planning and money that I just have been kicking down the road for a while.

Why I am Posting These Embarrassing Pictures on my Blog

I was asked by a lot of people this year how I had time to do all the things I have been doing. This is the answer. I have been working on books and conferences and a lot of other things not actually doing the things I need to do in order to be a functional human being.

It was easy to ignore this crap when I worked out of my house. I basically just used this place to sleep. I was never here and when I was here I was too tired or busy to do anything to make this place livable. I also was very conscious of my financial situation and I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars that I didn’t have on furniture or organizational stuff for a house I never spent time at.

I used to daydream about taking my pugs to my parent’s place with my computer and for us to come home and find out the house had burned down. I hoped that the problem would just go away without me having to do anything about it. I just wanted everything wiped clean so I could get out from under this.

I refuse to believe that learning programming and writing a book are easier than figuring out how to organize my house. I have not given this the proper consideration I should have and I have to fix it.

I plan to come on here periodically and show progress in the house. If I don’t show progress then I really need some help. I am tired of living like someone in a mental institution. I am not going to turn into the crazy hoarder lady who dies because she got trapped under a pile of books.