Hobbies and Hand Grenades

One of my goals for 2016 is to try and be more mentally healthy.

I have written before about the guilt I feel when I am not working, or doing something that feels like work. I take programming books to the bath tub. I haven’t taken a vacation in three years. I have a panic attack if I don’t check my email once an hour.

I deleted Twitter and Facebook from my phone about two weeks ago. I was going to try and stay off of Twitter completely for like a month, but my blog was hacked and enough people expressed concern about it that I felt it was necessary to explain on Twitter what was going on. I am now checking it periodically, but I am trying not to be on it for more than five minutes at a time and no more than three times a day. BTW, the battery life on my phone has increased to three days from about twelve hours, so #winning.

I am starting back up with reality in a week. I was hoping to get some things resolved during this break so that I could get back to work all refreshed and recharged. I always had this idea that if you took like a day off that it would undo all the damage you’ve done to yourself for the last three years. It doesn’t quite work that way.

Wanted to do an assessment of where I am at before I start my last full week of being AFK.


I am exhausted. I was still running on some nervous energy before I went to RWDevCon, which explains why I have actual programming posts on my blog from that time.

I tried to make some attempts at working on a project so that I would not just fall off the wagon while I was off, but I gave up on that last week Wednesday. I found myself staring at my screen not able to do much, so I turn off my work computer and left my office and decided to try and find something to do that was relaxing so that I could really make an effort to recharge. It’s been really hard.

Today I woke up for a few hours and then had to go back to bed. I have people who want me to go and do things with them, but I know if I do that then I’ll be completely worthless in the following days.

I feel horrible for not taking this time to deep clean my house or drop all the stuff I have boxed up to give away that is cluttering up my basement. I also feel guilty for not working on anything. I feel like I have this opportunity to do something for myself that I am squandering by just sleeping all the time because I am exhausted.

I tried socially drinking at conferences and I just don’t think I can do it anymore. Drinking makes me feel sick. I feel like I am being poisoned. Eating food I didn’t make for myself makes me sick too. I am slightly worried about the business trips I need to make over the next month and I am hoping I can find a way to maintain some physical health while I am away from my house.

I am giving up alcohol completely for at least six months. At this point it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice. I feel lousy all the time. I was treated for migraines about a decade ago and they’re coming back and being persistent. My therapist told me that a lot of the abuse I have put my body through doesn’t just resolve itself overnight. It takes time for my body to detox and recuperate. I am hoping that the steps I am taking right now are a step in the right direction so that I can go back to feeling okay again.


So since I am not programming and it’s too tiring to leave my house, I have been trying to find something to do with my day.

I picked up some of my hobbies that I haven’t done since I started programming.

I picked up cross stitch again. I brought out a project I have been working on for years because I just stopped doing it a while ago.

It was really weird to pick it back up again. I felt rusty and clumsy and slow. After a few days it got better. The things I learned over two decades of doing this came back pretty quickly.

I also started reading non-programming books again.

I have a box of random science fiction books that a friend lent me. I pulled a few books out of that box. I also read through a few books that I had been meaning to read but didn’t get around to.

One reason I got off of Twitter was because I would bring these books to the tub to read but I would only get a few pages in before getting bored and then going on Twitter for hours. By removing Twitter from my phone and just not having it near me when I am reading, I have been better able to stay focused and actually get through books.

I have been doing this for the last five days and it’s getting kind of boring and repetitive. There is only so long that you can do something until it gets boring. I don’t really know what to do from here. I am taking my dog for a walk most days because I need to get out of the house and she needs exercise, but I don’t know what to do to alleviate the boredom. All of the other hobbies I have, like working with electronics, are all very mentally intensive. I talked to a person about helping them build an airplane, but after I went out for a day to see what it involved I was spent for several days.

It’s very aggravating and frustrating to want to do things but not being able to do them. I am trying to continue to rest because I know that exhausting myself at this point is counter productive, but the temptation to just mindlessly graze on Twitter is great.


The last bit is that, since I am not on Twitter, it gets somewhat lonely.

I am living alone. I have my pugs, but they’re not people. I know that I have a lot of friends who would love to see me and do things with me, but I can’t make myself do anything with them right now.

It’s weird. I am lonely, but the desire to be with people is far less than the desire to just be left alone. I didn’t think it was possible to feel both things at once.

I am hoping that the fact that I have nothing to do right now is the source of many of these feelings. I am hoping that because I have nothing else to do besides dwell on all this garbage that when I am actively engaged in a project again that a lot of this stuff will go away. Part of me is terrified that it won’t.

My goal in the future to avoid this is to try and figure out how to disengage and do things that help me relax mentally. I would like to find a way to incorporate my hobbies back into my work life. I want to set up my electronics workshop in the basement so that when I can’t deal with being in front of my computer for a while I have something I can do. When I get done with work I don’t want to just leave my desktop computer in my office to go to my laptop computer in my living room. I don’t want to fritter away my time on worthless Twitter drama. I either want to be fully engaged or fully disengaged.

My goals for 2016 are to begin learning electronics and C++. I need to structure projects for those so that I can be engaged with them, but I will not do that until I am done with this coming week. This is the last time I have to do whatever the hell I want, and right now I just want to be left alone to wallow in my own sense of self loathing and apathy.