Smallhouse Log

the Sunday after Fall Trimester

In UX design, there's this concept of graceful failure: the word processor that saves your work before closing unexpectedly, the game that reverts your keybindings upon crashing, the error message that gives a unique crash code you can feed to tech support. Basically, a sudden shutdown that does as little damage as possible. And this is mostly done by preparation: autosaving frequently, keeping the game's keybindings separate from the system's keybindings, and so on.

And in the pandemic-and-small-children struggles with my mental health, I've started trying to adapt this philosophy to asking for help. I used to just push ahead as long as I could until I had nothing left, hoping that I'd have enough in me to complete whatever I had to do before I ran out of spoons. And usually, I could. But sometimes I'd collapse, and either an essential task would go uncompleted, causing damage elsewhere, or I would exceed my limits to complete it, absorbing the damage myself. And that damage has been building up. So a change needed to be made. Now the idea is to shutdown a little earlier, while I still have something left for emergencies -or better yet, to ask for help with an estimate of how long I can go without it so those around me have time to adjust and reorient.

But this is not natural for me. Or maybe better to say, it's not simple. It's not difficult or strange, it's just complex. And it foregoes the possibility of just solving the problem. Correspondingly, I'm adopting the practice inconsistently, still trying to find the right threshold where I ask for help early enough to get it (or adjust my expectations to avoid a crash) but not so early that I'm complicating things that should be simple.

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