My mental health Task Manager – It’s not pretty

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my computer lately.  Strange black screens of death when I wake it up.  I’m able to press a function key and it will carry on…but it’s unbearably slow and I worry that it’s dying soon.  I know I need to make a backup and a plan for what to do when it dies.  In the meantime, though, I need to figure out how to clean it up so that things can run at a useable speed.

Which brings me to the Windows Task Manager.  Many of you may be familiar with it, but if not, it’s a Microsoft program that allows you to see all of the applications, processes, and services that are currently running on your machine.  In my case, I have only one application ope – my web browser – but I have 79 services running.  These services are slowing down my computer and eating up precious CPU resources.  In theory I will wade through all of these to determine which ones are necessary.  In theory (again), deleting the unnecessary ones will speed up my computer and generally make me happier.

Well… let’s not get carried away… but it could make me a happier computer user.

I feel like my brain looks much like my Task Manager window these days.  The good news is that I only have a couple of major applications open – kids home for the summer, husband branching out to a new career, family adjusting to life with Puppy, coping with Older Sister who launched into a verbal attack at me over the weekend.

Only a few applications – that’s good news.  The bad news is that I have 79 services running in the background.  And all of those 79 things – whatever they are – drag me down and hamper my ability to cope with everything else.

I probably know what some of those things are.  Like not getting to bed early enough for a good night’s sleep.  Or eating too much crap.  Or failing to set aside time for myself to just BE.  Or even berating myself for having to list these same things over and over and over again.

But there are some things that probably aren’t immediately obvious to me.  Like maybe not having enough time with friends.  Who would have guessed that, coming from a misanthrope like me?!?  With the school year done, I have limited – VERY LIMITED! – time when I’m not with the kids, and that means no opportunities for lunches out.  Maybe not having that interaction is bogging me down.

There’s even more simmering in the background that I can only peek at before looking away.  It’s too much to process.  There’s anxiety over changes in my husband’s schedule and how that will affect the family routine and dynamic (which, by the way, is working pretty well for us at the moment).  There’s worry over my oldest daughter’s transition to middle school and friends who are more “worldly”.  There are lingering twinges of pain/sadness/anger over my former friend.  And countless other things that aren’t immediately pressing, and aren’t even in my conscious awareness most of the time, but they’re running in the background and consuming critical resources.

All of this is merely observation.  It feels as if the perfect storm is building, and I’m doing that self-sabotage thing again, at least with the obvious stuff like sleep, eating, self-care.  But I’m not taking the time to look at each issue, process it, and hopefully press the magical “END TASK” button.  I’m not even sure whether that’s the right answer – which is how this gets stuck at the observation stage, rather than the action stage.

Of course I should be pleased that I’m not writing this from under the covers because I can’t get out of bed.  And I’m not writing this while breathing fire and consuming everyone in my path with my anger and irritation.  So this is good… but I’m kind of scared of what comes next.  It feels a bit as if I’m hurtling through space and eventually I’m going to hit something – but I haven’t hit it yet so I squeeze my eyes shut and wait for the BAM! that will knock me flat on my back.


7 thoughts on “My mental health Task Manager – It’s not pretty

  1. So, I read your apprehension over upcoming summer holidays (vacation) a couple of days after I read Sunny Spells and I wonder is this me in 4 weeks time? (we have a time lag until ours starts).
    At the moment the summer holidays are a far off concept, a goal, a thing to survive the rest of a very long term to get to, when I won’t have to do the school run in the morning, something to look forward to. I guess when you get nearer to them the reality of it sinks in, the nerves, the What Am I Going To Do With All That Time Alone With The Kids feeling that can eat away at your confidence.
    I guess this particular service is trying to make sure you’re planning ahead for the changes that are coming. The trick is, as ever, to let it run long enough, so that you’re well enough prepared (in my case this will be some play dates organised, swimming lessons booked, local what’s on list perused) and then use your task manager stop it, before it starts eating away at your confidence.
    Of course, the timing, the balance, the judging what is an appropriate amount of worry/planning and when it’s time to move on, is the elusive key to all of this. Easier said than done.
    If it’s any consolation, your 4 major subroutines (cos I can count, your list is longer than just the couple it claims to be) sound like quite a lot to be going on with. So send your Inner Critic a message that things are likely to be running slow for a while and ask her to back off.
    And maybe plan what you time you can have over the summer. Is it possible to meet up in the with friends in the evening and leave the kids with hubby? Or at a weekend? Or can you sit them all in front of the same dvd for an hour whilst you do summat in another room on your own. Or bribe the older one to keep the toddler amused for a bit?
    Good luck!


    • The short answer to your first question is yes, this is you in 4 weeks time. I wish I could give you another answer but honesty prevents me from doing so. 🙂 Summer is a BIG stressor for me.

      I find it interesting that you mentioned confidence a few times in your reply. I don’t really think about it that way but maybe that’s what’s happening, at least with the summer kid stuff. My anxiety over it, and my feeling like I SHOULD be doing something different, eats away at my confidence. Which then increases my anxiety, and increases my expectations of myself (oddly enough), and it all spirals downward. I’ll have to chew on that confidence bit for a while and see how that piece fits with the rest. Thanks for the insight. 🙂

      You’re right that I need to be more proactive. I feel like I’m just holding my breath and waiting for the explosion. Methinks I should probably have another approach…


      • How about you ask the each of the kids what their top 3 priorities are for the summer? Maybe you’re stressing about the wrong things. If they just want to have time to hang out with friends / chase each other around the garden with hoses / read/ build lego / whatever then maybe knowing that would help you to find it easier not to stress about how you should be making rainbow spaghetti / home made icecream / helping them do complicated craft projects / whatever it is that your inner critic decides you SHOULD be doing.
        Or all 4 of you could have a day a week when you pick what the activity is (I’m counting you too, Mom choice today is that we have a trip to the museum / sort out the closets / you lot watch a dvd and leave me alone to do something “useful” / we all do some yoga together).
        Oh, it’s so easy to think of answers to other peoples problems. I’ll stop now before you get really annoyed with me.
        Good luck. And give me your top tips in about 3 weeks time 😉


        • Great suggestions! We had talked in a general way about what the kids wanted to do this summer but it would be a good idea to put some more specifics to it.

          And I can’t wait to see pictures of your rainbow spaghetti next month! 🙂


  2. I like your description of life. It certainly feels like that. I have more than a few things running in the background that I need to delete. I’m pretty sure I don’t need them to operate.


    • Thanks. For me there must be something about the process of deleting that is difficult. I can kind of peek around the corner, see all the stuff running in the background, but I can’t do what it takes to actually delete them and free my mind from them. Just another thing to work on!


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