Man this week has been rough on me.
But that's why I'm here now, actually posting something after weeks of just meaning to, in a very frustrated kind of way.
Normally I try to write something that's helpful, or at the very least, thoughtful. I write with the hope that the reader won't feel like I wasted their time. But lately it's been hard to complete drafts. I've been feeling on edge and I can't sit still enough to finish what I start writing, even when I'm passionate about it (actually that makes it harder -those things are usually longer and stressful to write, especially during these weird times we're having on this planet).
But this time I'm reaching out to writing in an attempt to add value to my own life: this is completely for me this time, a form of self-care. I decided, since I can't write because of my struggles, I'll attempt to write about these struggles. For catharsis, for therapy, I don't know. Maybe to simply get out of the writing rut I'm in.
I have an important appointment coming up, something probably routine for other people, but of crucial significance for me, personally. There's much (perhaps irrational) anxiety surrounding it due to past experience so maybe it won't be the best thing for me to directly summon what is, it that must not be named, so suffice it to say that it's the most probable cause of all this, but it's not what I'm going to write about.
I want to write about the anxiety it's causing, the strange way it manifests this time around, and what I've been doing to cope.
Two weeks ago, I noticed my energy at work being at an all-time high. I did things faster with more focus, and obviously thought this was a good thing! Why wouldn't it be? I probably had adequate rest during the Christmas break. Then early this week, I noticed something else: I felt anxious when I'm still and there was a bit of desperation in the act of doing my work that I thought I was doing gleefully. I felt weird things in my chest. I've felt like I was about to pass out once. I wondered if I was actually exhausted by all the work I've chosen to do and could not sense it for some strange reason. I couldn't sleep soundly. Sometimes I felt a strangling feeling in my neck.
Then I realised (with a bit of guilty Googling I admit) that I've felt this before. It was during the time in my life when I was a terribly anxious wreck and incredibly fragile, something I believe I've moved on from now. I thought I wasn't taking my looming appointment so bad, I've been more or less positive and didn't linger as much as I used to for stressful thoughts, but I guess my subconscious has been having a different experience? Not sure.
But I do believe I have moved on from that and am very much past that phase. It's just, well, I assume that someone in recovery might still regress a bit when exposed to the right triggers and environment. The important thing is, this time around, I've been coping a lot better.
Things I've tried to combat my anxiety:
(that have sorta worked)
- Talking about it, laughing about it - Once I became aware of what was happening, I tried to talk to people I meet everyday, both as a way to express my feelings and feel less alone in carrying the psychological weight, but also to ease any voice that might eventually tell me "Your anxiety is making you act weird and now everyone hates you." I'm going ahead of it now because that's better than explaining myself after the fact. And of course, laughing about it makes the psychological weight get lighter in the first place! Highly recommend especially if you're as awkward as me. Sometimes, this makes people tell me reassuring things, so that's another plus!
- Conscious breathing - It was especially bad on Thursday, and in the bath I felt like I wanted to tear my hair out/thrash around/bang my head against the walls. Then I luckily found the sense to give the Mindfulness Exercise we've been doing at work a try, but less focusing on what I feel (it was working too slow!) and more on focusing on long, drawn out exhales. I imagined myself as having taken too much air inside, the feeling of anxiety as having been caused by excessive inhaling (as it does feel a lot like I'm about to burst at times) and this anxiety deflating/escaping up into the atmosphere and away from me as I breathe out. This brought me back to a place where I could sort of grab my thoughts which before felt like little noisy children running chaotically in random directions. I sat dose chirren down. They were still buzzing and jittery and I was incredibly tired, but I can stop chasing them around now.
- Moving a lot - I noticed that I had difficulty in sit-down tasks that need more than a few minutes, this very blog post included (I started writing this on Thursday)! I also had a hard time updating my planner, which made me sad because I'd been doing such a great job since December. I couldn't write, couldn't draw, couldn't study the software I was meaning to tinker with. I guess this is also why I've been doing chores nonstop at work and at home. I keep finding things to clean. And on Thursday, when it got so bad, I asked Beardy to come run with me upstairs, which of course turned into brisk walking after one lap because I'm no runner. I guess because there's a dangerous room in my brain right now, my whole body is working against coming near it, so I'm mostly staying down here in my body rather than up there. I was hoping this would exhaust me so much that I'd sleep better, but that's not quite working out. It does stop the bad feelings from building up though. Maybe it's endorphins! I don't expect this to help me get rid of my December chubs just yet, because I feel like my body holds on to fat more when I'm scared, like it thinks I'm about to die and it's in survival mode (I just Googled this to make sure I'm not writing complete nonsense here and apparently cortisol, the stress hormone, and weight gain, have a relationship with each other. I don't know how serious it is between the two of them but I just don't want to get involved that kind of threesome)
I do feel like I have to point out that running seemed to have made me sick now, so maybe make sure not to do the running in the rain when you're stressed and probably have lower immunity to viruses and whatnot.
There's still a couple of weeks until my appointment, and I'm hoping the worst is over, but I'm going to keep trying to keep on with these techniques until then. I do feel like I've been doing a better job than I have in the past in not bothering myself with everything at once, in taking things one step at a time. My planner helps me to set days for tasks that can stress me out, so I don't need to worry about them until it's time, and when I fail to write it down, I try mental notes. Unreliable method, but you do the best you can do when you simply can't do the best you can do.