Worth 1000 Words #14: The Top of the Stairs

At the tail end of a dismal 2020, I vowed to make 2021 better. For my personal life, professional life, and mental health. I can now safely say that not only was 2021 exponentially worse, but 2022 isn’t off to that great of a start either. The downward spiral has continued. I am sure that many others echo this sentiment as the past couple of years have not been beneficial to many. And I spent $67 on gas the other day, which caused me physical pain.

In the midst of the dour 2021 doldrums, I was struggling to find the elusive balance balance in my life between work, personal relationships, family, and hobbies. I barely wrote anything. I didn’t go to the movies that much. I’ve only read one or two books since the start of the pandemic in 2020. I stopped going to the gym because I threw my back out at work and now go to a chiropractor once a week. At work, everything irritated me and I felt like I couldn’t get anything done to my usual standard. I spent entire days (when I wasn’t working) in bed doing nothing but watch YouTube videos and sleep. I felt like I was drowning. And to be totally honest, I’ve not yet found the surface. Almost three full months into 2022, mere DAYS away from turning 30 (a whole separate can of worms) and I am scrambling to gather control over my life. It’s a consistent cycle of self destruction that has been going on for at least the last three or so years and just when I think I am seeing the end of it, my train details and sets me back at square one. To top it off, I’ve begun suffering from compulsive behavior again so I am (TRIGGER ⚠️) peeling the skin off my hands (END TRIGGER ⚠️)and obsessively checking light switches, locks, and power outlets at home AND at work. So I see another cour of behavioral therapy in my future.

But there was a place where I found comfort when the world’s worries weighed me down. A place that may seem somewhat atypical as a sanctuary, or a haven of respite.

Many days, during the holiday slog, I would return home from work, exhausted (I did a lot of 12+ hour days this past season) from trying to stay afloat in an understaffed, overworked environment where irritable, inconsiderate customers continuously pecked at myself and my coworkers like vultures scavenging a carcass, and I would trudge to the top of my stairs, throw my belongings down, and lay down and fall asleep. This often happened at 2 or 3 AM, sometimes at 6 or 7 PM, and various times in between. One time, I spent a whole night at the top of the stairs and woke up very confused and in a LOT of pain.

nap time

The top of the stairs has, thus, become a bizarre place of comfort for me. I doubt that it is healthy to nap there, though I continue to do it – sometimes after work, sometimes after a social event, sometimes just because the crushing burden of stress has ground me down and I simply cannot bear to make it to my bed, and must rest right then and there, like a sad potato. Usually the cat stops to give my hair a sniff and then she goes about her business, totally unbothered by my plight. She will occasionally nap next to me, which is nice.

I thought, after the holidays were over and 2022 began, that it would get better. Sadly, it has not improved in any meaningful capacity – and it seems that this is where I’m at in my life. The other day, I got home from a 14 hour day where I still didn’t finish my work and felt like a complete failure, and when I got home, I curled up at the top of my stairs until the Chinese food I ordered arrived. I also got home from running errands with my sister and mom this past Saturday, and took an hour long nap at the top of my stairs. Unfortunately, I also had my balcony sliding door open and Mother Nature chose that precise moment to throw a tantrum and a torrential squall doused my living room carpet but, I assure you, I slept clear through it. I only woke up right at the tail end, when it also knocked my power out. My cat was not pleased with me.

I am truly fortunate to have (many) coworkers who are patient and understanding and family/friends who love me. They are what has made the past several months semi-bearable. And many have been going through similar tribulations, so they can understand my, admittedly bleak, outlook. And perhaps they have naps at the top of their stairs, too.

I know my life will not be like this forever. I am not quite the Queen of Doom and Gloom I seem like, sometimes. I know there will come a time where I am not continuously exhausted, and looking at each new day with an unsettling mixture of anxiety and dread. There are steps that I must take to better myself, and I am trying, but the steps have been tiny thus far and I still spend entire days in bed when I’m not working. I have struggled before, will struggle again, and there are definitely times where it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel is perpetually out of reach. That there is no other side to the riptide I’m stuck in. That the downward spiral is eternal. When I feel that way, I drag myself upstairs and stop, drop, and take a nice little nap. Usually with residual back pain, afterward.

But I am not going to deny myself credit where credit is due. At least I make it to the TOP of the stairs. And that, no matter how small, is an accomplishment.

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