Life update (08/28/2022)

This is the second time that I attempt to write a current update on how my life’s going; a few minutes ago I accidentally pressed the power button of my computer as I was plugging in a pair of headphones, and because Goodreads doesn’t keep drafts, I lost the previous text. More shit for the pile that my last four days have been.

I haven’t written a single word of my ongoing novel in four days, although I have arranged the notes for the next chapter, and trimmed them down. I feel like I weigh twice as much, my thoughts are slow and muddled, everything feels pointless, and I want to disappear either through sleep or through more drastic means. Maybe the black beast is visiting me again.

It can’t be a coincidence, though, that my short vacations have ended, and that last Friday I returned to work. I’m an IT guy at a big regional hospital, but some days I barely have to do anything. Last Friday I wasn’t assigned any tasks. I decided to study a bit for my upcoming public exam in November. However, at about eleven I gave up and imploded in an existential crisis.

You see, I was born with neurological problems, the main one called high-functioning autism. Part of it is an inability to process sensory stimuli properly. I have issues dealing with lights and getting touched in general, but I have a huge problem with noises: even the regular ones of an office stress me out to no end. It’s bad enough that it can probably be classified as misophonia. The best way I can put it is that my brain feels like it’s getting harassed if not downright attacked by sounds, and it triggers a flight-or-fight response. The conscious part of my brain can’t counter any of those feelings nor can it rationalize them in any way, it just convinces me to avoid snapping at whoever or whatever is producing the noise.

It just happens that I work with a few guys who may as well be schoolchildren. The rest of us have to endure hours upon hours every workday of second-hand embarrassment because the aforementioned few can’t shut the fuck up. These are also the kind who would throw tantrums if told off, particularly one of them. I had been spared that experience for as long as the vacations lasted, so when I was forced to face it again, it hit me harder. I considered if I should just self-destruct as I’ve done in the past and quit, or refuse a new contract when they recall me. It’s not just those people or the rest of the noises: the presence of twelve or so people around me, as well as interacting with them and with our users, stresses me out real bad. However, if I were to self-destruct, I would be fucked: I’m thirty-seven years old, my curriculum is full of holes, and I’d have to retrain myself as a programmer.

A few months ago I suffered through my first episode of atrial fibrillation, a physical issue with my heart that was caused by the latest booster vaccine (I started experiencing related heart-hiccups the same day I got the jab). I endured the arrhythmia for a couple of hours at work until I got home because I thought that maybe it would go away, but I was becoming weaker and weaker and felt like I would end up passing out, so I visited the emergency department of the local hospital. They hooked me up to a machine and gave me some hardcore drug that made me break out in a cold sweat and get nauseous unless I was lying down. Anyway, stress could trigger such episodes, which put me at a vastly increased risk for stroke because the organs need a steady flow of blood.

So why the hell was I sitting at work in an environment that I can only tolerate because I’m single and have no social life (when I get home I sit down and rest, and I’m lucky if I can write anything of value for an hour and a half or two hours), that has already made me sprout a few gray hairs, and that can trigger a heart condition that could put me in a wheelchair? Merely having to listen to mainly two complete morons and their child-like interactions for hours every day makes me anxious as hell.

I already bring earplugs to the office, but they don’t muffle the noise remotely enough. I can’t shove some earbuds in and blast music at the volume that I’d need, because I’d bother my coworkers and in the end destroy my eardrums. I browsed for noise-canceling headphones; they come with microphones that listen in to the surrounding noise, then they create sound waves that cancel the noise. On Friday, right after I got out of the office, I went to the nearest store that had them and bought the Sony WH-1000XM5. Four hundred euros. Sound-quality-wise, they are the best headphones I’ve ever owned (also the most expensive), and the noise-canceling feature is impressive; I had them on as I binge watched Better Call Saul for a few hours this weekend, and I couldn’t hear my fan nor the traffic and people outside. However, they seem quite incapable of blocking noises such as typing, sudden banging and stuff like that. For now, however, they will have to do.

So I plan to spend as much time as possible at the office with the headphones on. It will likely bother some people (for example the couple of women who love to walk behind you, talk to you about nothing of value, and touch you without your permission), and it may cause me issues such as the guy on phone duty trying to alert me that someone is asking for me, and instead of just passing the call, informing me from the other end of the office then asking for my number. If my boss mentions it, I’ll remind him that I’m classified as disabled by the regional government (52%), and if he wants details, I’ll clarify that I’m autistic and that noises fuck me up bad.

Last Friday, my first day back, I also experienced the usual disgrace of returning home physically and mentally drained from having ventured through the fucking zoo of society, then finding myself too exhausted to write anything of value. And that was apart from what I fear is another period of depression.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up a bit later, because I’m scheduled for an echocardiogram at my local hospital. I hope I’ll start feeling better in a short while; this is getting old real fast.

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