Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mind Games

After a weekend and a Monday of working from "home," I'm often totally overwhelmed with the thought of returning to the office. Some days it is so bad that I'm just a sliver of sanity away from throwing in the towel. In my moments of vulnerability, I'm consumed by the feeling that there is a demon waiting for me at work in the form of an angry partner or an endless pile of work on the one or two particularly horrible cases that never seem to go away.

On these bad days, just the thought of going to the office makes me feel anxious, overwhelmed, and suffocated. While I have a strong work ethic, I also have a strong awaeness of the transient nature of life. This otherworldly awareness keeps me strongly focused on What Matters Most. It also encourages me to focus on doing things that I enjoy. The second that the anxiety/unpleasantness from my work starts to outweigh the enjoyment, that's when I have a tendency to flee. This may explain why, in the past three years I've had three different jobs.

This morning on my ferry ride to work, I just couldn't get myself to resume working on the motion I had started the day before. Instead, in my ulcer-induced state, I anxiously checked job listings on the internet. I was looking for ANYTHING that would allow me to escape the practice of law and the one or two big cases that cause me to hyperventilate at night. If those cases would just quietly disappear, my job would be much better. Ugh.

And then...I get to work. I tackle a few small tasks. A (.1) billable hour here a (.2) billable hour then and then suddenly it's noon and I've crossed ten things off my ever-expanding to-do list. I stop for a quick lunch and tackle the rest of the afternoon. I suddenly forget my anxiety and decide that I actually do like my job and that I'm actually kind of good at it sometimes. By the time I leave work, I'm refreshed and rejuvenated in my capabilities.

No matter how positive I feel as I leave work, the next day I face that same dread and anxiety all over again. For me, it's like running. Most days I have to play mind games to force myself out of the house and into my running shoes. But as soon as my feet hit the pavement, I've got a gigantic smile on my face and a new outlook on life. It's still hard to get out the door every day. But I find that I enjoy it when it is over.

Regarding my job, I can't really identify my mental impediments. I don't know if it is just these particularly difficult cases looming over my head, certain situations with my work, or the commute. Before I walk into the office, I often feel like I'm not capable of doing my job and by the time I walk out, I feel accomplished and satisfied with my performance. I just can't explain it. It must all be in my head- like when start chipping away at a tremendous to-do list only to find that the momentum carries you ever forward. It's like that....kinda.

I think I know the problem. I should have just married a doctor.


  1. I know you feel sort of stuck where you are, and leaving the amazing family support would be near impossible, but from an outsider's perspective, it sure does sound like the commute is the problem. maybe if you could come up with a plan for moving in X years, it might make it more bearable?

    1. My husband and I have analyzed this to death. Ideally, I would have a job in the same city where we lived. But thanks to the housing market (our home is valued at 60% of what we paid for it), we will not be in a position to sell our house for several years. I've been trying to find a lawyer job in my county but they really do not exist. It's so hard to plan with all the factors up in the air but I agree, we probably should sketch out all the future possibilities. Thanks for your input!

  2. I agree with Anon, when I had an epic commute from San Diego to Los Angeles I was constantly on the verge of losing my sanity (and I only had to do that commute for a month).

  3. I think that's life. I read a great book the other day that said we often wait to feel like doing something. Like if we don't want to do something, we feel like we shouldn't do it until we feel like doing it. When what we really need to do is just do it. And it sounds like you are good at getting up and just doing what you have/want to do even if you don't feel like doing it. The bad news is, if that's true, then your feelings won't ever entirely go away, but the good news is, you already have the ability to get up and get what you need to do done.

  4. It ate my comment, which summed up to a hug.

  5. Marry a doctor is useless ;)