In which I decompress

It blows my mind– even given that video games have been one of my primary leisure activities for basically my entire life– just how much of my time I have spent sitting in front of my PlayStation in the last several weeks. I continue to be obsessed with Nioh 2, which I’m playing through again on the (new) highest difficulty level and still has one more DLC coming, presumably in December or January. I’m scared to look, but I bet I’ve got 250+ hours into it by now … which if I choose to look at as a return on my $75 investment, is actually a pretty good use of my money, if nothing else.

I downloaded The Surge 2 on Friday; it’s basically Nioh or Dark Souls except with a techno-organic skin over it. I think I’ve put twelve hours into it in the three days, probably, and I imagine I’m going to go right back to it once I’m finished with this post. I’m actually quite enjoying the book I’m reading right now, but lately I’ve not been able to read during the day. If I’m not working or eating or (occasionally) watching TV with my wife, I’ve got a controller in my hand.

(Note that I did spend my traditional 2-3 hours today finishing my grading and pulling together tomorrow’s lesson plans, and it’s only that short of a time now because since everything is online I’m doing all my grading electronically.)

The PS5 comes out on Thursday; I won’t have one on Thursday unless some sort of miracle occurs, which is fine, because I can’t put the PS4 away until I’m done with Nioh. I will likely buy one as soon as I’m able to, but given how these things usually go that could be next week or it could be months from now. Apparently the plan is that they’re not going to be available in stores at all because of concerns about people waiting in line or camping out and the virus– which I’d be fine with, as I’m doing neither of those things, but it seems what is happening instead is resellers are using bots to buy them and then jacking the prices up online. Whatever; it’ll be a few months before I get bored with what I have, and by that time things will have calmed down.

As of yet, I’m not feeling the sense of relief I was hoping for from the election. I feel better, don’t misunderstand me, but better isn’t good. My wife described all the video games as a coping mechanism, and that’s probably what’s going on. I figure so long as she’s not pissed at me and I’m doing my job at work I don’t have anyone else I need to impress.We’ll see how long this lasts.

In which I require psychiatric help

I am going to be continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future. New Covid cases in Indiana and in my county have skyrocketed since our school board made the decision to return to school, (scroll down and select the state) and I don’t actually expect the kids to be back for very long, but I am going to keep teaching from my house, and I’m currently working out exactly how that’s going to work with my various and sundry co-workers who are affected by this decision.

Now, this is not the reason that I’m working from home, but as this whole thing drags on it’s becoming more and more of a problem: masks give me panic attacks, and nothing I’ve been able to do has been able to fix that. Furthermore, none of the masks I’ve found have really made much of a difference, although some are better in some ways than others. Now, to be completely clear: this absolutely does not affect whether I wear a mask in public! I’m just fucking freaking out while I’m doing it. If I’m outside my house and not in the car, I’m wearing a mask, and I’ve noticed that if I’m talking to people it’s generally not bad, so it might be that an eight-hour day where I’m constantly talking to students might not be as bad as I think it is. But I had to go into my building twice today (don’t ask) and I discovered a new wrinkle to this whole thing: even the mildest physical activity makes it a lot worse. Like, say, climbing stairs to get to my classroom. Both times I went upstairs today– a single flight, mind you– I was damn near ready to claw my face off by the time I got to my classroom. I start focusing on my breathing, which leads to heavier breathing, which quickly turns into a really nasty spiral that I don’t like at all.

This is not a call for excuses to avoid wearing masks (and, for the record, my issues with them date to well before Covid-19 was an issue,) it’s a call for strategies for dealing with panic attacks. I’m already on Effexor for anxiety issues, which I continue to think is a lifesaver, but I’m not going to up my dose just because of mask issues, and I’m not convinced that would help anyway. I need, like, concrete strategies for how to trick my brain out of falling into a panic spiral every time I start thinking about my breathing. Because one way or another this is going to keep being a thing for a while, and I need a way to deal with it. Anybody have any suggestions?