I heard a quote yesterday that stuck with me. I can’t remember it word for word but it was essentially ‘Time doesn’t exist in the form we think it does. The past is just your memory, the future is just your imagination and the only real moments in time are now’. I like this quote, I think it’s a great way to remember to live in the moment, that things don’t physically exist unless they are right here, right now. This actually makes alot of sense to me. I ruminate a LOT, it’s nearly always pointless rumination over things that maybe happened 20 years ago or more as well stuff I did five minutes ago and then on the flip side I also try to predict what’s ahead of me just as often. It comes part and parcel with the other foibles of mine so generously passed to me from Meldrew. Cheers Meldrew. Anyhow, I’ve gotten to a point where I completely understand that I need to stop doing this to myself after Therapist Katy helped me to see that it’s a detrimental cycle I’ve managed to get into and still offer some hope that I can get out of the cycle myself. This is a huge thing to deal with. One, being able to acknowledge the problem exists and two, being able to recognise when I’m doing it in that moment so that I can stop. In fact that’s my biggest hurdle for this whole thing; recognising reactions and symptoms while I’m in that moment with them so that I can try to learn to take control. When you live for so long behaving a certain way it is incredibly difficult to imagine being anything different. I mean sure, it’s easy enough to recognise the differences between our own behaviour and that of someone else and make comparisons or even try to mimic a behaviour but to actually change our behaviour for the foreseeable means we need to have a different outlook to start with before we can try to amend our detrimental behaviour. At least, this how I see things progressing for myself.
Why do I get anxious? Why does my body get so tense and tight like a coiled spring ready to release? Why does my skin crawl and I get a sense of dread along with the punch of nausea that hits my stomach? Why do I endure the headaches, the muscle aches and gut issues that follow?
Honestly, I worry and stress about almost everything. I’ve always been a ‘worrier’. Don’t people always say that? ‘I’m a worrier’, ‘I cant help but find things to worry about’, ‘I just care about things’… I used to say similar things myself, I used to worry about things all the time and I considered it normal. I had a lot of environmental influences that contributed to my worrisome nature when I was growing up. I find it hard to look back on my life and acknowledge the moments and circumstances that had the greatest impacts on me, so I don’t. Not properly anyhow. I tend to disassociate myself from my young self. Sure I can say the words ‘When I was little this happened and that happened’ but in my mind I’m talking about a little girl who is almost alien to me. A young, slim, strong, almost cute girl who was studious and articulate; a girl who just happened to experience some pretty tough times. (I’m going to call her Girl for this post – its easier. I always refer to Girl as ‘That Little Girl’ in real life on the rare occasions anything about my past – good or bad- comes up in conversation. She doesn’t have a specific age nor era for the most part. She has never even had a name). In reality if I was to chat with someone else who had dealt with some of the things Girl had touch her life I would be shocked to say the least. I’d make a point of trying to understand and support them and I would inevitably worry for them. Yet when I think back to those times in relation to my youth I brush them aside with an ‘It’s no biggie’ attitude. I know that actually my experiences most definitely have shaped the person I am and do define me in many ways and I know I don’t always hide things well but I don’t feel that Girl affects me in the moment or dictates how I react to something because.. I’m not Girl. She doesn’t even come into it, that part of my life is generally completely removed from me. I do find myself feeling emotionally attached to the problems of other people especially if they are things Girl could relate to. I get passionate and angry when I feel people are failed by the support systems that are supposed to be in place for them, regardless of whether I feel Girl was supported or not. But its quite a mentally surreal place to be in, and I find it complicated to fully explain. Sometimes, on a bad day I feel sad for Girl. I feel she missed out on some things in life and I feel she grew up too quickly. When Girl was a teenager and screaming out for attention I feel frustrated that she wasn’t always understood. Thinking about Girl can set me into a bad mood from time to time but she is very much a separate entity in my head.
Which brings me back to the things in life that I get anxious about. Those proper life altering feelings of actual fear and dread and that fight or flight response is actually sparked by situations that even I can see are not things to fear. As anxious as I can get, as embroiled in the panic I become I can still see that I’m being totally irrational. That annoys me more than anything else.
So, these are my top stomach turners:
♦ My Family. I don’t like them going out without me, I don’t like not knowing they are safe at all times.
♦ The Outside. I don’t like going outside my house. I don’t like people seeing me.
♦ People. This is a big one for me, I can’t deal with a lot of people regardless of how familiar they are.
♦ My phone. Even knowing who is ringing isn’t enough to calm me enough to actually answer my phone.
♦ Walking. I feel vulnerable walking around.
♦ Driving. I feel that I’m constantly being judged, that I’m making the wrong decisions and that I shouldn’t have been given a license sometimes. I’ve even had to record my driving recently just to put myself at ease and reassure myself I do actually drive fairly reasonably.
♦ The Car, The House, My Job. What if the car wont start? What would I do without it? What if it needs expensive repairs? What if it doesn’t go through its MOT in the summer? What if the house floods again? What if someone tries to break in again? What if someone knocks on the door? What if my kids want a friend to visit? What if I lose my job? What if I have to work with someone new? What if someone is outside when I leave?… You get the idea.
Its all stupid things but I worry and ruminate and stress so much over them. What might cause an uneasy feeling for someone has my body reacting like I’m sat in a burning hut, in the middle of the night, surrounded by hungry lions with a thick forest and no idea what way to go. I try so hard to compartmentalise these things, to look at them rationally and to deal with them normally but in the midst of a panic attack, or a state of agitation I don’t stand a chance to think myself out of it. Keeping my anxiety mentally sat on my shoulder helps (https://liritkiraly.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/this-is-meldrew/) but ironically I struggle to keep it there and distance myself from it. Maybe because its so prevalent in my life at the moment, maybe because its still quite raw. Maybe because my anxiety originates from other people and isn’t something I feel I have a lot of control over. I really don’t know why I struggle so much but it’s definitely something I need to work on.
Today I’m trying something new. I’m actually sat at work right now, logged in from the office PC (I shouldn’t be. I’m breaking unwritten rules). I can’t sit still, I can’t calm down. This post is more of an experiment more than anything else. Maybe typing into the ether will calm the incessant finger tapping and fidget cube twirling that I’ve been doing for a solid hour and half. Maybe typing will allow my brain to relax enough to stop me bouncing me knee; something else I’ve been doing for a while now too. Maybe typing to nobody will calm the anxiety that I can still feel building up, getting more intense despite doubling up on my beta blockers. Maybe this page of typing will just purely give me something to look back on when I’m calmer and more collected, an insight into my own mind if you please. Its not that I’m not aware of whats happening to me right now but when I’m shrouded by this cloud it can be difficult to retain information that I can reflect on later. I can already see that I’m struggling to type more than a few words in a sentence, which is much like how I’ve been speaking. Short, direct and very quick bursts of words. I can hear the words leaving my mouth, I know how these sentences would sound if I was spilling them out instead of allowing my fingers to ‘talk’ for me. The familiar crawling feeling through my skin is as strong as ever right now. It’s spread from my skin to being a wiry expansion of rawness emanating through my gut. My arms itch, I feel sick and I just want it to stop.
I have no idea at all what brought this on, its been building for a few days and it sucks…….
…………… OK. The extra beta blockers are kicking in. my leg has stopped bouncing, my typing has slowed, my speech has slowed and quietened. the radio volume has crept down and stayed down. My head is pounding now though, from all this tension build up and I’m acutely aware that I’ve been clenching my jaw. I don’t have an urgency to get up and jig about now and I’ve even stopped randomly and viciously shaking my hands. my skin has stopped itching but it is still crawling and right now I very much want to nap – as though I’ve just had an anxiety attack. Maybe this was sitting on the verge of an attack, maybe thats why I feel deflated and tired now the meds have taken the edge off. I dont fully understand this myself and this frustrates me so much. Sigh. I wont delete this. I’ll post it anyway – in its random, raw uffish state. (Lewis Carroll penned the perfect word for this feeling; uffish. I need to remember this). Maybe it’ll help me, maybe not. maybe next time I’m wired I’ll write again, maybe I cant use this to help myself. Who knows? I sure as hell don’t.