How I suddenly have ALL THE TIME and feel paralyzed

If you read my previous (password-protected) post, you know the details about my current predicament. I am on forced unpaid leave due to the government shutdown (and there are some frustrating details involved in my case) and I am trying to be my always positive self in dealing with my situation. While it sucks, I am trying to look at the silver linings:

I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow – yay! I can stay home in my pajamas and drink coffee all day if I want. I could  finally read more books, or watch some episodes of the (three) TV series that I have been simultaneously watching on Netflix (and which I have to seriously catch up on). Heck, I could even get a head start on my Christmas card crafting.  Also, have I mentioned that I have yet to miss any of the post-season Red Sox games, because I have been home in the afternoon. When does that ever happen?

It must seem as if I have time to do ALL THE THINGS that I usually complain about not having enough time for. People keep telling me that I should make the best of it, enjoy the time off – except, it’s not that easy. I know they mean well, but it’s hard to relax when you’re in limbo. I feel oddly paralyzed by the uncertainty and unfairness of my situation and I simply do not have the peace of mind to enjoy the unexpected time off as much I want to (or maybe even should). What is it about the human psyche that keeps you in a gridlock when things go off track and denies you to at least enjoy the often few, but still noticeable benefits of an otherwise all-around shitty situation?

Have you ever felt that way?

I almost feel like I have less time, because my mind is so preoccupied. Believe me, I am fully aware how utterly ridiculous that sounds when I am spending 8+ hours more at home every day than usual. And it’s quite frustrating to have this extra time and feel like you’re not able to really use it. It’s not that I am not trying to be productive every day. Most days, I am up early (although not early enough for it to be still dark outside, which is nice), I make my coffee and get my day going. I complete chores, clean up, declutter. I have a to do list, because it’s just how I operate and because I need to feel like I accomplished something at the end of the day.
Some people have suggested we should go on a trip, but that’s not really an option, because we’re officially not allowed to go on vacation and must be available to return back to work within 24-hours. Besides, when you’re on unpaid leave, that’s not really the time you feel like you should spend money on travel, or anything, for that matter. So, I spend a significant amount of time in front of the TV instead, following the news, trying to find out if anything on the political stage has finally shifted towards a resolution.

One good thing about this shutdown: I’ve been running more in the last week than I have run in the last three months. Oddly enough, running is a frustration-outlet for me (and it’s free!), so when things are weighing on my mind, I go on the treadmill.  I love this phenomenon and hate it at the same time. I don’t only want to feel motivated to run when I am frustrated, but on the other hand, it does give me some sort of purpose right now. Maybe, I’ll finally become a legit runner. (When are you officially allowed to call yourself that? When can I be accepted into that club?)

  1. Well, I can totally relate to how you are feeling right now, but for different reasons.
    I have worked in my company on a temporary work contract which has run out on Sept. 30th. While my boss would have probably renewed the contract I told him back then when he asked that I don’t want that for a few reasons.
    First off, I had surgery on Sept. 18th, a pretty huge one and estimated recovery time as the doctors told me is up to three months. I didn’t want to feel rushed to go back to work as soon as I am deemed healthy enough and I know myself pretty good, I put myself under pressure thinking I need to recover as fast as possible because work could pile up on my desk.
    Secondly, we had planned to moved back closer to my parents by the end of the year/early next year right after I am fit again
    Thirdly, work was kinda boring me half the time, my boss had bad mood swings (think I told you about it), projects were cancelled and it didn’t look like I would have had a job much longer anyways

    So lets talk about the time after the surgery. The first few days I couldn’t do anything on my own and needed help with everything and the pain-level was pretty high. But, things have been getting better fast and now I am bored as hell, I feel useless and helpless because I am not allowed to do almost anything (lift or carry stuff, clean, do laundry, bend down…), I am having bad/depressive mood swings because I wake up and the day ahead feels like a big void, every day. The choices I have are: Endless hours of bad TV shows, surfing the net, reading, eating, sleeping, laying around on the couch staring at the mess in the living room but not being allowed to clean it up…
    I know, my best friend said “That doing nothing is called HEALING AND RECOVERING” but while it is going faster than I thought it is still not going fast enough. I am a very impatient person.
    I honestly thought about asking my boss to come a few hours a week as soon as I am allowed because I hate the feeling of being “arbeitslos/arbeitssuchend”, even though I do get money for doing nothing from the health insurance until I am able to work again and that will probably be more than I get when I work a few hours.

    Being forced to do nothing just plain sucks!

  2. UGH. I am sorry that this is happening :( I live very close to those morons (as you know) that are causing all this trouble. Trust me, we here in the DC metro area are VERY angry and frustrated with Congress. I don’t think people who live in other parts of the country (except those who have been furloughed) really understand how crappy this situation is because it’s not impacting their daily life, yet. (But I could totally be wrong.)

    I keep crossing my fingers and hoping for a resolution SOON.

  3. You are basically worried about your existence and I mean financially and all. That’s huge. While we all think this thing won’t last 3 months, we don’t KNOW that and I am sure in your Unterbewusstsein, it’s rough! So…yeah, I had times in life where I was in similar situation…and felt restless despite having all the rest in the world. It’s tough!

  4. oy i’m so sorry you’re furloughed right now. i’m so annoyed for so many of my friends. but at least you’re making the best of a bad situation right now!

  5. Ich kann das Gefühl auch gut nachvollziehen. Als ich letztes Jahr 6 Wochen vor Mutterschutz krankgeschrieben wurde, war ich auch nur so “Ähhh, und was mach ich jetzt bitteschön??” Ich bekam auch nur zu hören, dass ich das doch genießen soll aber das ging gar nicht. Irgendwann habe ich mich natürlich dran gewöhnt, vor allem, als dann wirklich der Mutterschutz in Kraft trat. Aber das war trotzdem eine echt merkwürdige Zeit für mich. Zu viel Zeit zum Nachdenken zu haben ist einfach nicht gut – und vor allem nicht, wenn man in einer unsicheren Situation steckt.
    Ich drücke immer noch die Daumen, dass sich bald alles auflöst und Du wieder zurück in Deinen Alltag kannst. Vielleicht ist es auch ein bisschen deutsch, dass wir so ticken :-)

  6. This is such a sucky situation and I am so sorry you have to deal with this. Every day I am hopeful for good news and I can’t even imagine how you are feeling right now, not knowing WHEN you will be able to go back to work. It’s hard to enjoy this time when you feel so anxious!

  7. Yuck yuck yuck all around. A friend of mine who is also affected by the shutdown said he is so sick of most news outlets (and their spin on this situation) that he cannot handle watching/listening/reading anything other than NPR and the Washington Post.

    I can remember when I was getting ready to leave my last job. I had a couple job offers and was considering which direction to take. A lot of people wanted me to come out, to celebrate, to be happy I had some good options! But, I was weighed down with the decision and it totally overwhelmed me. I was a total chump for weeks until I finally decided which direction to take.

    Hang in there. You’ve got a lot of support in your corner … and because of that, I think these blasted politicians will come up with something that will allow you to return to work very soon.

  8. You can call yourself a runner when you feel like a runner, when running starts to mean something to you.

    Also, fingers crossed a deal has nearly been reached and you can go back to work!!

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