Saturday, March 10, 2012

How to prevent "death by a thousand cuts."

This is not a typical rockstartri blog post. Feel free to skip this - I'm posting it for purely selfish reasons as something to look back on. It isn't an uplifting story. It isn't sarcastic. It isn't amusing. Probably not that informative and definitely something I never thought I'd craft. I realize that all blogging can be viewed as done for selfish reasons but this post is something new for me. I've turned off the ability to comment on this post. Again, selfish but that is that.

My blog quality, content and frequency have suffered recently and some have even pointed it out to me. I thought this just a byproduct of running out of nonsense to pontificate on with my Ironman behind me or perhaps the simple answer of just a general lack of desire to continue. I've been posting this blog for a few years so all this sort of made sense. Sometimes the obvious answer is the answer.

But sometimes it isn't. The blog problem was really a symptom of other stuff going on.

Work has been a series of bad experiences for me lately and I'm not handling it well. This is from someone who did OK while watching a previous employer become the poster child for all that is wrong in the economic world as they crashed. Hundreds of people who worked for me were impacted. I've physically felt the WTC towers collapse as I watched out them fall from my office window before running, slowly, under the fighter jet sortie. Those times I did ok.

This case is a different experience for me. It isn't just one thing. It seems like petty issues keep coming up and my day is dealing with this noise. I'm caring less and less. I described it recently as death by a thousand cuts. Perhaps an exaggeration. Perhaps not.

I need to transform the culture at work and I don't believe the culture wants to change. This isn't an easy thing to do. I know that. The downturn in business has meant that I've had to layoff some folks and feel at some level I'm being set up myself. Being laid off isn't the end of the world for me - I've been laid off once before. Yes, it would suck but I'm sure my family and I would get through it.

I wake up at 4AM dreading what the day will bring. In my mind I've tried to make surviving it through a day, a week or month end the goal. I get home from work exhausted. Everything seems to hurt: my back, my neck, my shoulder, my head, my knees, my feet. Sometimes go through the motions of doing a workout but most times not. I've found myself going to bed before 9pm but can't come close to a sound sleep. This has been going on for a while and getting worse. I tried a vacation and while a good time, didn't help.

Something needs to change and that something is probably me.

This is not a way to live. I felt that this was either burnout, stress exhaustion, or something worse. I kept imagining what that could be but realized facts would be better than fears. Step one was to go to the doctor to get checked out to see if something physical was clouding my outlook.

DrK found that my blood pressure high. Not a surprise due to the stress and recent weight gain. He said to lose the weight I've gained recently and add in more exercise. He did say that the aches and pains are probably due not handling the stress.In other words, common sense and no smoking gun but it did make me focus on handling the stress.

I also made an appointment with my cardiologist do see if there was an issue there. I've gone through a whole bunch of cardiac testing in the past due to family history and all previously was relatively clear. My uncle though recently had a heart attack and this only made my family history go from bad to horrible. He did an EKG and an echo cardiogram and all seemed like it was before. He also said to lose weight but this level of testing, along with finishing an Ironman a few months ago, gave him a good feeling. Of course, a good feeling doesn't mean much so an official stress test is scheduled. I'll be doing these periodically for the rest of my life.

The summary of the medical stuff was that there is no reason to not train and training itself will help. Losing weight will get my blood pressure under control again and that really needs to happen. I think the decrease in my training volume is contributing to not handling the increased stress.

So, what to do?
  • I do need either need to fix my job (if even possible) or find a new job if not. That'll take time since there aren't a lot of jobs these days.
  • I need to be more conscious of my outlook and behavior. If things are looking bad, they are probably not as bad as they appear. Don't walk around as if a black cloud is over my head.
  • I need to be aware of the stress and what it is doing to me.
  • I need to increase my training to burn off the stress.
  • I need to let me family help me. No need to be superman here.
  • Realize all the good out in my life more than balances out the bad. This is most important.
I'm also going to be more diligent about the blog. The quote of the week will start up again - this isn't that hard since I seem to always have a back log of quotes. Additionally I hope that I'll have some interesting things to share. If I do, that will show progress.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Sorry if this brought you down a little but this one is for me. Stay tuned - it'll be a different, but interesting, journey.

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