I find it difficult to reach out to people, especially so publicly, but this shit is getting out of hand, and I need to let it out. Tonight I couldn't sleep because I've lost some sensitivity in...
I find it difficult to reach out to people, especially so publicly, but this shit is getting out of hand, and I need to let it out.
Tonight I couldn't sleep because I've lost some sensitivity in my left arm. You know how you get the numbness in your arm in the morning when you sleep on it at night? Except I haven't: it just started to go off slowly, fully functional but clearly numb in places. Tonight's different because in addition to my arm, like the last time, several other parts of my body express the same symptom: my right foot and my right shoulder. It's one of the most terrifying things I've experienced in a long time.
I think stress is finally getting to me.
I'm pretty sure it's stress because I'm an otherwise-healthy young male with no history of chronic disease – or susceptability to common ones, even – with a stable diet and lifestyle. I haven't had significant changes in my routines or preferences for a long time, except for the fact that I started walking more. I haven't been outside the city, let alone the country, for almost a year.
The only major thing that's changed is my living situation.
I've been trying to make it as an independent creator – writer, developer, designer, modder – for a year now, maybe two. I've been working on several projects publicly and a lot more privately: mostly writing, some development, my website included. It hasn't been arduous but has been very long without much result to speak of. I haven't been marketing myself a whole lot, and frankly, there isn't much to show aside from a lot of peripheral talk (like the production logs of the website or Mythos).
I live alone in a small studio owned by my parents. They also afford me a small weekly fund of about $27, for just about $110/mo.. Even in Russia, where I live, that isn't a lot of money – you get to buy just about enough food for a month, and that's it – but I get it for existing, so I don't complain. On the surface, it's a stable and excellent arrangement that I should be nothing but grateful for.
Last week, I made an error in telling my parents it might be a good idea to sell the studio and use the funds to move to a bigger city and let myself live off them while I develop my non-career career path (they've made it clear with anything but a written statement this studio is meant to be for me, and the ownership is but a formality to avoid paying more taxes). My mother lashed out at me: how stupid of an idea it was to rent when I have a perfectly-good apartment, and where would I end up when I eventually spend everything down to the last dime... I don't remember the rest of it 'cause I tuned it out, for the sake of my emotional stability at the time.
I haven't told them about what I'm trying to accomplish here: they think I'm looking for a site designer position. I haven't told them a lot of things: about my depression, about my anxiety, about what I like, what I want, what I need... I wouldn't want them to know 'cause I already feel trapped in their influence on my life. They've been helicopter-parenting my whole life, and every time I tried to gain that much autonomy and freedom, I've been met with resistance, and blame, and "what will people think of you", and even fake tears. There's no dialogue to be had, and the energy it takes to make any kind of meaningful progress is the energy I don't have.
So, I've been trying quietly to make it on my own.
I've been using depression-induced mood swings to maintain some degree of order in my life, but recently it's become impossible. My apartment is a mess, and I keep up only what I immediately need; even that takes a lot. I had a brief few days of victory recently when I push through sleeping later and later until I started waking up very early, when I feel most energetic and positive – and even that eventually washed away. It's a good day when I'm able to get one thing done. The rest of them I weather out as best I can, including spending much more on comfort food (and gaining proportional weight) than I should. It also usually involves a lot of gaming and mindless watching of Internet videos, for what seems to me obvious reasons.
I've been through periods like these before, but they've never felt quite so hopeless. I need to make money to get the freedom I need, which I can't do because I barely have the energy, which is because I can barely afford to live through the week with the vices that keep me steady, which I need because I don't have the freedom I need...
I'm not lazy. I can work long days. I have been working long days on projects that promised some degree of "more freedom". Back when I thought Intergrid would be my saving grace, I'd work studiously to make it happen by a set deadline. Earlier still, I'd work for $80/mo. on a website redesign that didn't go through. (It was for a friend, and what may be a quarter of rent for you had been almost double my monthly allowance, and it was perfectly enough 'cause I was enjoying the work.) I don't waste my days on senseless entertainment if I can help it: I have several projects I'm working on when I can, that I enjoy doing and would do for free if I had a financial base otherwise.
So why not find a job?
The jobs I did hold previously – a couple of days each – gave me no hope for finding something locally. I live in a semi-rural region of Russia where modern job opportunities aren't very present. People here work hard physically but not intellectually. (First-world problems, I know, but at this stage I can't afford to waste what little energy I have.) Jobs elsewhere? I don't think I'd cut it. For all my experimentation and trying things out and showing bits and pieces here and there, I don't have a portfolio worth a damn, and the last time I tried making one felt like grinding my teeth on a metal rail. That $80/mo. job I had, I had because I mentioned to a friend that I could take that thing he wanted to do for him, and he said "Yeah, okay, you've been talking a lot about web design so far, handle it for me". I don't think someone who doesn't know me would be that trusting.
So it feels like doing something I enjoy – which doesn't take away what little energy I have – is the only way for me, at least at the moment. Make enough to be able to move out to most places in Russia and not have to worry about food and the roof over my shoulder.
What I'm going to try is stick to a schedule. I prefer to take my time, work out the kinks and iron out the bugs before publishing something. Given the circumstances, however, it may be time to employ some mental tools. I've heard advice before about publishing a story, or a sketch, or an episode of the podcast every month, or ever week, as long as it's on rails. Good story? Bad story? It goes out. I have a few stories I want to tell, but I've been keeping 'em "unlisted" for a long time now, hoping to work it all out beforehand. Maybe rough as they are, I'm better off with them seeing the light of day. Like I said: I'm not lazy. I just need to find a way to make it work.