Today started well. I was at my boyfriend’s house, watching TV. It was a nice and relaxing morning, watching some Sci-Fi and having some coffee. I’ve managed to make some excellent, enjoyable coffee lately, and this was no exception! Anyways, I came home in the afternoon and, as usual, felt the emptiness of my flat. Nothing new there, normally I can push that aside by concentrating on some task, even if it’s just something relaxing like gaming or reading.
I sat at the computer for a bit and ended up starting a new creative world in Minecraft. After flying around over some continents, looking for a village to visit, I ended up not really ‘feeling it’. I had some tasks I needed to complete, such as laundry and doing the dishes that I’ve been ignoring for a while (that load of laundry has been re-washed for about 6 times as I keep forgetting it in the washing machine), but I felt too tired and kind of ‘blah’ to start anything. I started feeling like I was not really up for anything at all. There was no-one in the flat but me (well, and my 2 cats), it was quiet, I don’t know how to feel good alone sometimes, and this time I couldn’t shake that feeling. It brought me down.
That’s when I knew I was about to start feeling depressed, so it was best to go sleep it off, even though it was only 5pm. I felt like there was nothing for me in my flat to be awake for anyway. I am always terrified that the full-on depression will come back some day, so whenever I feel a bit down, I try to get rid of that feeling as soon as I can instead of ‘wallowing’ in it (however tempting that might be).
So I went to bed with the intention of sleeping until morning, but looking back, it was definitely going to just be a nap as it was entirely too early for a full night’s sleep. I woke up around 9pm, still kind of drained, but felt better. My cats were gathered around me in bed, waiting for me to get up and feed them.
I was about to do just that when doubt started to creep in, and I didn’t get up after all. The fact that it was already past 9 pm made me feel a bit under pressure somehow. Not a lot of time to complete anything, really, before it’s too late, night time. I can’t be late from work and I definitely cannot take Uber again in the morning. It’s one of my biggest problems at the moment, like an addiction, and I really need to be good next week to start getting used to healthier routines (more about that here).
After that, I realised I do still need to feed the cats, and that’s a fact, so again I was about to get out of bed, and again I froze. I didn’t have a clear list of ‘tasks’ in my mind for some reason, so I couldn’t proceed. My thoughts just wouldn’t work properly. What do I do after feeding the cats? Where do I go? For some reason, I couldn’t picture the journey of doing something in my mind, and the familiar and scary feeling of anxiety kicked in. My breathing got heavier and faster, and I felt like panic was going to set in. My eyes started to sting.
I texted my boyfriend that I didn’t know what to do next, feeling pathetic, and he replied with ‘feeding your cats is a good place to start’. It was so simple and still, I felt like the journey was missing – I needed a journey to be able to continue. So I managed to formulate the next step in my mind – an ability I did not have during the full-time anxiety:
- Go to the kitchen and feed the cats.
- Walk over to the living room, sit down on the sofa, and think of the next steps there.
That worked, and as I got up, put on my socks, and walked over to the kitchen, I started feeling a bit more relaxed. I stepped into the kitchen and walked over to the counter where I usually prepare the cats’ dinner. I looked down as my feet hit the soft rug on the floor, and everything stopped. I was hit by a strong mental image of freaking out on that same rug multiple times in the past. I felt panic, started crying and had to quickly jump off the rug, walk out of the kitchen and into the living room. I felt totally pathetic – I knew I was ok, but the feeling of the rug under my feet, the bright colour, the texture, it all made me remember exactly what it felt like not being able to leave the confines of that rug during panic attacks in the past. I think I have also slept on that rug a few times due to being unable to leave.
I walked around in the living room for a few minutes (I think – could have been just seconds, it’s a bit hazy) until I calmed down, and then walked back into the kitchen, to that rug, feeling it again under my feet. It was fine this time. I finally managed to feed the cats. I wonder what they were thinking when they saw my mini freak-out… I felt hungry and also managed to put a few pieces of frozen garlic bread in the oven for dinner. The anxiety had passed.
I think I know what caused today’s issues. I have better awareness nowadays. When the real world comes back into my head, I can put two and two together. When I had full-on anxiety, there was no room for accurate reflection, just surviving.
I watched an episode of Killjoys last night. Awesome show, by the way, if you like Sci-Fi – you can check it out on Amazon Prime. I don’t want to spoil too much in case you haven’t seen the episode and are intending to watch it, but it touched upon the topic of a parent being abusive towards their children. As it was my boyfriend’s birthday, I had had a couple of glasses of wine earlier (my one day allowance during Sober October), and my defences were a bit lower than usual. I identified with the victim and felt bad. Cried, had to stop watching and go to bed and continue the episode the next day. I watched it this morning with a cup of coffee and felt better about it – still felt bad to see something like that being mentioned, but I didn’t feel any loss of control or familiar chaos returning. I thought that I had shaken it off, but clearly, it somehow stuck with me and manifested in depressive thoughts and anxiety later in the day.
The learning from this incident
I realised that if I’m able to come up with a ‘task journey’ – even one that includes a placeholder task such as walking to the sofa, sitting down, and coming up with the next task there, could be a very helpful tool to have for later. It helped me get out of bed and start doing something.
I’ve been better now for a couple of years. Why does it keep happening like this and is there going to be a point when it stops occurring altogether? I wonder if it’s going to be like this forever, occasionally manifesting. 😔