San Francisco, California

Neglect and the Shepard-Risset glissando

I’m obsessed with work. It’s the first thing I wake up with in the morning and it’s the last thing I think of before I fall asleep. Well, “sleep” wouldn’t be fair because it’s a shattered, partial, broken half-trance that I slip into these days. Throughout the night I’ll wake up with my jaw clamped down as if a wire has been pulled taut in my body and my back will scream as if a violin string is being pulled through me.

Something’s...wrong. But it’s impossible to say what.

It’s like my body is ringing all the alarm bells but there’s no reason to feel this way. No one is telling me I’m doing a bad job, no one is telling me I should be feeling this immense bout of guilt and shame. But it doesn’t matter, because I feel like I’m constantly half-assing everything and I’m letting everyone down.

(Heck, this week I’m Smashing Magazine’s person of the week which is very kind and generous of them, but the very first thought I had when I saw was “wow, I’m doing a terrible job. If only I did something worthy of all this.”)

The quality of my work and my writing has been slipping for the past couple of weeks—yes, and that’s okay—but my body’s response is disproportionate to the scale of the problem. I’m going to have a few off days/weeks and yet my body is responding as if it’s an utter calamity. Yet nothing horrible is happening to me, I’m just not proud of the work I’m doing...and that’s somehow leading to this feeling of imminent doom and disaster? What gives? Why do I feel this way?

This wouldn’t be so bad if these feelings only impacted my work. But I notice that when this happens then the rest of my life falls by the way side. It’s pure neglect; I notice less of the world around me, I stop calling friends and caring about my diet, I begin to write less and my apartment becomes an embarrassing mess. The world around me gets smaller, it tightens up in moments like these until there are fewer jokes to make and giggles to be had, there are fewer brilliant books to read and there is much less playful, excitable typing to be done.

And I’m not sure what to do.

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