Published: Saturday November 8, 2014.

Adventures in anhedonics, part one

I set a lofty goal at the end of October. It was one of those things that, in the midst of a mental traction struggle amplified by a season change, seemed like a Really Good Idea.

I was on the up-and-up of a bipolar episode when I remembered that I used to write about a bunch of things outside of the unpredictable confines of my work and, crucially, sort of really enjoy doing it, actually, thanks very much. I remembered it because my written English is deteriorating. It’s surprising (alarming, really) how not doing something so often that used to be a daily habit can make the occasional doing of said thing frustratingly laboured and disproportionately unrewarding.

My goal was to for me to write every day. I’d picked an arbitrary number of words per day, I think it was 800 or thereabouts, including my work writing. The bipolar down inevitably followed and the goal fizzled out. The down has flattened off somewhat and over the past few days the metaphorical grey mist has cleared. You’re reading this, and that fact I had the stones to write it and press the red publish button is testament to some positive progress in the writing department.

Most of the week has been taken up by millstones. They’re back. Well, they were; I’ve dealt with most of them. I’m in an odd position this Friday evening where I think I’ve done everything for a particular project but I won’t know until Monday. Earlier in the week, acutely aware that this thing was sucking up far too much time, I vowed to not get involved next year, effectively washing my hands of it and doing so let it colour the rest of the project in a bad way.

This evening, one of my tasks has been to prepare the groundwork for this same project next year, should it fall to me (it’s looking likely). What took me 12+ hours of reactive and sometimes grumpy prodding and poking throughout the week has been accomplished in about 45 minutes at a higher standard. My rationale is that it’s all fresh in my mind and bashing out a template now will save me a day or more of warm-up in October next year.

I have zero outstanding client work and three big projects I want to get working on. Actually, there are four. Quantifying that projects like like this trivialises them, and only adds to the pressure to accomplish. The balance between client and personal work is also playing on my mind. There’s no practical solution to this beyond playing it by ear and being flexible. What’s more important? The quick turnaround (and cash) of a technical support incident, or the project work that could potentially net an order of magnitude more cash.

You’ve likely noticed that it’s all work talk so far. You’ve also likely figured out that this pretty normal for me. You may recall, dear reader, that since 2010 or so I’ve been trying to rediscover the fun in my life. Existential crises aside for now, Jen told me about a condition called anhedonia which seems to be a pretty accurate summary of what I have going on. I’m not a total textbook match, but it’s heartening to know that my brain glue is not trying to kill me after all and I just need to go for more walks.

I couldn’t sleep last night and spent an hour reading about the legality of LSD. Then I tried to write some words, and it didn’t happen. Tonight happened. Words flowed (600 of them) and now I want some LSD to swirl my brain glue around for 12 hours or so.