My depression and anxiety are always worse in the evening. It’s probably a combination of darkness, fatigue from the day, and a lack of distractions. And lately, it’s become fraught with a question: take off work tomorrow or not?
The thing is that I’m a day-to-day substitute teacher. Now, this isn’t the hellhole job that a lot of people assume it is. It can be tiring and occasionally annoying (I really wish we were allowed to use duct tape as a pedagogical tool for classroom management!), but it’s really not that bad a gig. You just have to keep the kids in the class from 1) maiming anyone, 2) inciting a riot, or 3) starting a fire. Everything else is kind of negotiable. And if you keep a good sense of humor, it’s not that bad.
The problem is that sometimes I just find it exhausting. I’m on very hard floors, and I have fatigue, sometimes joint pain, and sometimes back pain. I wear sneakers to work every day, and I still end up footsore at the end of the day. The other problem is that I’m an introvert (despite having a big mouth), and by definition, a lot of social interaction really tires me out. And substitute teaching is constant social interaction with 20+ students at once for 1.5 hrs at a time for most of the day (our district does block scheduling: UGH). So I am really tired by the end of the day. And lots of times, I come home, get really tired once I relax, and then I don’t want to face getting up at a QUARTER OF SIX the next day to do it all again. (Honestly, the early hours are the WORST thing about substitute teaching. If school started at 8 or 9 instead of 7:25 my quality of life would improve DRAMATICALLY). Add to this the uncertainty of subbing: I might get a call at 5 AM or 5:30 AM to go to work. UGH AGAIN. So sometimes, with my fatigue and my mood disorders, I just tell them not to call me the next day and take the day off. Since I’m a day-to-day sub, I can do this as much as I like within reason and it won’t affect my job: I’m only required to work four days and one Friday a month to keep my employment, and I definitely don’t take off THAT much.
One of the things I really talked to my therapist about yesterday is allowing myself to rest when I need to. I have depression, anxiety, and Lyme (and endometriosis, but since it’s mostly asymptomatic, I don’t normally count it as one of my chronic illnesses). This means I’ve got plenty of things that can fatigue me, and plenty of reasons I might decide not to spend any spoons the next day. But part of the problem is deciding when I need to “suck it up” and recognize that it’s just my evening depression/anxiety talking and that I’ll feel better able to work after a night of sleep, and when it’s a genuine case of “stay home and take care of yourself”.
And I still have no idea which one it is tonight. Not to mention that I feel guilty because I only worked 1/2 day this week (HOW AM I SO EXHAUSTED TONIGHT AFTER ONLY WORKING HALF A DAY?!) and won’t be working the next two Fridays. Then again, I’m traveling and going to a big party Friday–so shouldn’t I rest up on Thursday? Or is that shirking work to enable pleasure? I DON’T KNOW. And it’s stressing me out.
EDIT: I really love this blog. It helps me clarify my thoughts SO MUCH.
So I’ve been thinking about how little real exercise I’ve been getting because of my fatigue and apathy. Also, part of my stress about taking time off of work is that I know my mom is glad that I’m earning SOME money, so she wouldn’t like me to take off work when I don’t have to, and I’m unduly anxious about disappointing my mom.
So after writing the above, I told Mom that I was thinking about taking tomorrow off and making sure I get some exercise etc. It’s Mom’s first day of retirement (!!), and she was planning to get some breakfast in town and go swimming in the morning. So I suggested that I join her and take it as a physical health day, especially since Friday is going to be so exhausting. She had no bones to pick with that suggestion, so no work for me tomorrow! (Except for probably trying to get started on the edits for my book, which will also reduce my anxiety level in the long run.) Plan made!