I haven’t updated in a while and I swore that this would be something I really purposed myself to do. I really have to admit that working a night shift job and the shift being 12 hours, really beat me up physically and psychologically. I have now been working a 12 hour shift during daylight hours and my body often leaves work sore and tired, but the recovery is already noticeably shorter. I hope this trend continues and I am able to recover even more quickly. On the psychological front, I am not seeing the same level of results. When I switched shifts I really hoped that it would be the magic ticket and so far it may be a ticket, but it is not magic.
Right now, my right leg is stiff and sore. I only suppose it is from a fire drill where I had to demonstrate the ability to move an adult with no mobility in a rescue chair down 2 flights of concrete stairs properly. I had practiced the use of the chair 2 weeks ago and had a crash course. Needless to say, I had less recall than I thought I would, wheels that should have rotated for a smooth ride were jammed because I didn’t remember or suss out one of 6 different bolt and lever configurations I should have. So, my dominant leg assumed a larger duty in strength and it was just too much. Also, the following day, I had time for morning coffee and oatmeal, but not time to drink any water, let alone the required amount of water. My body has responded in kind to my abuse. The ice and water dispensers were down and it was a long walk to the other side of the floor in my facility to get water from another unit’s working water and ice dispenser. And I wasn’t going to task a subordinate to “get my water”. I don’t regret that decision.
So, overall, I walk more, I lift more, and I am more active at work than I had been. That is not a bad thing for my health, unless, I am skipping totally or falling short on hydration. I don’t have much time to stress eat. I don’t know that I am eating an impressively healthier fare, but my intake of pizza is drastically lowered for sure. I will celebrate that as progress. I have a cafeteria available which offers some variety with hot meals, deli, and salad bar. It also offers “The Grill” which is not for veggie kabobs and chicken breast or filet of salmon. It’s hamburgers, philly cheese, onion rings, curly fries, BLT, fried chicken patty or fingers, grilled chicken filets, and a turkey burger waaaay at the bottom of the menu that I could not fully transcribe. I am doing my best to select from the hot meal menu and avoid a full order of cheese fries. If a coworker is going down to the cafeteria I give them some cash and order healthy so that I can’t make a list minute detour for a “shorter line” or because I suddenly smell salty, weighty, warm, comforting fried foods and decide to “treat myself”. That actually works really well and one coworker in particular is extremely happy to take orders because this gives her a real break – she’s left for a common good and won’t be called on repeatedly while on break since most everyone will know where she is gone and she will need a little extra time for several orders. She deserves it, she is a hard worker and sometimes ends the day a very unsung hero.
On the psychological front I would say the disadvantages so far have been the upheaval of my internal clock as it has been set for the past 3 and a half years. This, like sending the coworker for lunch orders, is for the greater good. I think I misled myself that doing something for the greater good meant it wouldn’t be rough. It’s rough. Any major change is going to increase overall stress. I have new coworkers, new schedule, and many new or at least very different job duties. I have a framework that did not change and so I did not have a lengthy orientation – 2 days – and I can say that if the 2 days was meant to leave me feeling oriented to what is going on and make certain new or slightly different tasks seem familiar, that did not occur. So, that added to my “at work” stress level. And then there is something I refer to frequently as “being-all-people’d-out”.
My job is one that does demand being outgoing, and I have worked hard my adult-life to grow the weaker extrovert qualities because as a child and up until the point I began college, I was a terribly shy and introverted person, terrified of public speaking, afraid of one-on-one with most strangers, and relying on other people to start conversations or a friend to make the simplest introductions. I saw that I would not go any farther in my personal or professional life if I did not put in the work and change how I handled social situations. With years of effort including finding help, following a plan, and doing the hardest part of sticking with it – I am a far cry from where I was. I still feel socially awkward some of the time, but I dwell on it much less and keep working at it, and will probably always will. With that said, I am still at my most authentic level, someone who NEEDS peace and quiet. It’s not just nice or obviously a better environment than chaos. I NEED it daily or I am to the point of pain or feel attack and respond by being defensive.
Point being, I am around much more sensory stimulation after this change. That is stressful to me. It’s not just while at work. Being awake in the day time means shifting from doing things “sometimes” in the day time “when I have to because I can’t do them at night” to doing almost everything in daylight when a vast majority of people are also doing things – driving, at stores, restaurants, offices, etc. That is something I didn’t even think of. I was so focused on what would change at work (where I earn money for bills, luxuries, and health insurance and therefore am very dependent on how I adapt and succeed) that I didn’t much think about what would change in my personal life. I thought of the benefits – better for meeting people, dating, possibly having a monogamous relationship, children, getting back into a church home, more outings and better contact with friends and my relatives – but did not adequately realize or prepare for the culture shock.
So, I still find myself having a need to be alone, not leave my house, not watch TV even (and one of my main pastimes had been keeping up with several TV series), or play video games. I find something to do like cook, tidy up, read a book. If I leave I go for a drive or put on headphone and do my grocery shopping. I just need that space from having to think and talk, carry a conversation, interact with people and really hear what is being said, not just passively listening to noises and recognizing that they are language.
I am slightly better at journaling. 100% not better at reading a therapy book and “working it”. I still don’t do that. I consider it painful ahead of labeling it productive as well. And after 12 hours for 2 days or 3 days of doing something that ends up being painful I am so very easy to talk myself out of doing something uncomfortable. I try to write at least one line every night. I missed it last night. That, however, is the official goal that I gave myself. Even if I am not blogging here regularly, if I can just write a line in my journal about something that happened in my day, something I am feeling, or anything of substance not just a filler to “cross it off the to-do list”, I would be very pleased with myself.
It isn’t all doom and gloom. I have spent more time with friends. I have gone on more outings. I have noticed an upswing in overall motivation. It is easier now to talk myself into household chores. I still like to lay around on the couch or in bed being lazy, but I finally bought a new mattress, I finally got around to taking my money-pit car from high school that I won’t trade in to be serviced, I don’t feel as put upon making healthcare appointments. I went to the dentist this week, found out I had cavities, and was able to book the appointment for fillings for a few days away rather than a week or more. I went almost 4 weeks without a therapy appointment (there was a vacation, the therapist moved offices, the office space wasn’t fully completed in construction so she is a vagabond for now, and busy busy going to work and coming home to crash). But I think I was able to go longer than I would have because I sleep the way my body wants me to and not the way my paycheck dictated I had to.
Fingers are sore so I’m going to bring this to a close. I’m sure I could wax intellectual on more aspects of this grand experiment, but I also have groceries to shop for. Maybe without headphones, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.