I’m considering spending the day in bed, hoping the anxiety that’s currently choking me goes away and I stop wanting to cry. There’s no reason for either, it’s just how I feel today. I have things to do; I should be working on my short story, or reading one of the three books I need to review, or writing ky next ’30 days…’ post, or going to college to finish the assessment I started yesterday, or apply for that lab job in Leeds I’ve seen advertised, or eat something sensible, or take my dogs for a long run, or…you get the picture.
It’s really frustrating that I have things I need to get done. But I just don’t want to leave my room. My room is safe, everything else is scary. There are people outside; I’ll have to speak to them or otherwise interact.
This is the point where I need to tell myself a story. You can hear it as well. The story is about getting better.
A few years ago, when first got officially diagnosed and medicated, I was also having therapy. My therapist said that I have to try to do things that trigger my anxiety or I’ll never get over it and be normal (I’m paraphrasing a bit, she didn’t say it quite like that, but that’s what I heard). So I used to go out with my mum and auntie some Saturday nights, because social interaction has always been a trigger and one I desperately needed to work on. The result on one memorable occasion was me insulting everyone in the room, putting my drink down and going to hide in the toilets. Scared the crap out of my mum and auntie because I wouldn’t come out. I ended up going home after about an hour. That was in 2010.
I’m getting better; on Christmas Eve 2013 I went to a pub with a different set of relations, and managed to not insult everyone. I did that mainly by talking only to the people I was with, if I spoke at all, and getting very drunk very quickly (thank you Uncle Ian!). By the time I was invited back to a small party I was able to socialise.
I’m only half joking; I didn’t drink that much and alcohol really isn’t that sensible a choice when you’re depressed. It’s a depressant. It’ll make you worse if you use it as a ‘therapy’. What alcohol does do is suppress inhibitions. In fact, while I was in public, at the busy, loud pub, surrounded by strangers, I was deeply uncomfortable and anxious. I spent most of my time texting people who were not there.
But I didn’t hide in the toilets or run home.
That is progress.
I’m glad I stayed, because that small party I mentioned? It was fun. I spoke to people, admittedly I’d known all but two of the people for ever and felt comfortable with them (they know how odd I can be). I could have a conversation! I don’t do small talk but get me on a subject I’m passionate about, or you know just take an interest in my life, and I can talk for England.
It’s a matter of baby steps. It’s taken me four years to get this far. My aversion to leaving the house to do normal tasks is similar to my dislike of society. I have to work up to it and different conditions, like where I’m going, who with, noise levels, probability of interaction with other people etc. will determine my reaction to it. I can’t control my physiological reactions to an idea or situation, but I can control how I’m going to act when they occur. At the very least I know I have to try, but some days just leaving my room is a struggle.
Today, this afternoon, I want to cry. Writing this, showing myself an example of how I’ve improved (running and hiding -> not running, not hiding, in similar situations) and giving myself the space to look at my physiological responses – the choking feelings of anxiety and tearing up – has helped.
Right now, I feel less anxiety than I did when I started writing almost an hour ago. I still want to cry, but I can probably manage getting dressed and eating. From there who knows? I might manage a quick walk to the post office and back to get some fresh air, provided I don’t have to speak to people.
The really irrational thing about this stuff is it doesn’t happen all the time. If it did I’d find coping mechanisms, like I did before I got back on my medication last March. Now, it just hits me, usually when I’m not expecting it. And that messes everything up. For instance, yesterday, I had solid plans for today. Up at half seven, breakfast, dress, read ‘Fargoer’, write ’30 Days…’ post, dinner, walk to college for 1pm, home at three, walk the dogs, tea, write more of short story, read a chapter of ‘American Gods’ before bed at ten.
So far I have done none of that.
It makes me feel lazy, I don’t like not doing something ‘productive’ with my day, and I worry that I’ll be perceived as lazy by people I care about, because they don’t understand. Trying to explain to some people that no, actually I’m not just sleeping late, or lolling around the house in my jamies because I’m workshy, I can’t physically work more than three days a week, nor can I cope with all the noise interaction with the rest of the world entails, is a waste of time. But their judgement, especially from people who are meant to care about me, hurts.
I also feel kind of guilty. There are people so much worse off than I, at least I’m not suicidal. I feel like I’m making a fuss over nothing, and people will read what I’ve written and think it’s self-indulgence.
I also feel guilty for the burden I place on my family because they have to support me financially; I’m thirty years old and fairly intelligent, I should have a decent full time job, live in my own home or rent somewhere and be able to travel as much as I want. I don’t do any of that. I live at home with my mother who has to pay for almost everything, work two days a week, and struggle to go anywhere. This is not the life I had planned!
Should I shut up now? I’m rambling. Going to go have a cry, then eat.