It’s been a rough week.
The thing about anxiety and depression, as I am learning, is that the symptoms change from day to day. And they always feel like I’ve had them forever, and they will never end. Some days I have a constant racing heart, and feel a buzz of adrenaline in my body. Other times it’s uncontrollable tremors. This past week, I felt an incredible tightness squeezing my neck, sometimes in the back, sometimes in the front where it felt like choking. Sometimes my thoughts will race uncontrollably. I feel like a ghost. Nothing is real. Nothing matters. I’m useless in my job. I have no friends. I’ll be alone forever. I’m standing on the edge of an abyss that I will fall into.
Here is what I have come to accept this week: I will not blame myself.
For years, I had stress in my life that went unacknowledged. For years, I would come home tired, upset, and angry with a hard, sour knot in my stomach. I was constantly irritated by everything. The only times I felt happy, and like myself, was when I was on vacation. I would cry when I had to go back to work.
I refused to do anything about it. I refused to acknowledge it.
This summer was far from the beginning of my troubles when you take a long view. It was the terrible end to what was already a fairly miserable period. And it came at a time when personally, my life was going off the rails. Once more, I did nothing to alleviate any of the stress or acknowledge my feelings.
So here is where I take some comfort: as much as it feels like it, I’m not sick or crazy. My body simply said, enough was enough. It was going to take charge whether I liked it or not. Whenever I feel a panic attack, or derealization, it is my body defending me from harm. It is saying: this situation is too stressful. Get out, or I will make you feel like you need to get out right now. Or: your getting so emotional about work in the past was harmful to me. So I will make you feel so detached you won’t even worry about all the details you used to. In fact, you will feel completely numb to all emotions.
How do I, then, move forward?
I have to make my mind and body trust me again.
I have to start taking care of myself. Decrease my stress. Do nice things. Eat well and exercise. Laugh. Jettison negative thinking. Get all the love and support I can. Make a better plan for my life.
Then, and only then, will my mind and body let me take over the steering wheel again.