Caught between a rock and a dark place

I’m glad I wrote something positive last time I posted here, because now I’m going to balance the scales.

Things have been hard recently. I broke my proud seven-years-since-last-self-harming status; the details aren’t important, but I reached a point where inflicting pain felt like the only thing left I could actually do.

It may or may not be a coincidence that therapy was been very challenging recently. That’s a good thing, definitely, because every time we hit a nerve it means we’ve found what needs to be worked on, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the toll that can take; it’s stressful, and exhausting, and it triggers every childish impulse to run/hide/deny that you have, in ways that it can be hard to explain to other people. At the moment we’re combing back through the really dark period with the suicide attempts etc, and I’m struggling to keep the old feelings at arm’s length. I should tell my therapist, really. I’m clearly not coping very well. But I don’t want to tell him, because then we switch to risk management, which is a sidestep. I want to do the real work.

A couple of weeks ago, my therapist asked ‘Are you glad you didn’t die?’. No. I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suicidal. I have no intent whatsoever. Scout’s honour. And I don’t wish I was dead. I just don’t rejoice in being alive either, if that makes sense.

Perhaps my medication needs tweaking. Ugh. I’m avoiding seeing my GP, again I think because I don’t want to admit what’s going on. Life’s easier if you can disappear.

But let’s be positive for a moment. The fight with anxiety goes on, and I think I’m still winning. I wonder sometimes if that’s being helped by my low mood – how can you get really anxious about something if you don’t particularly care any more?

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A little positivity for once

Life is definitely getting better. More accurately, I realise now that isn’t going to ‘get better’ by itself. Anxiety isn’t a virus where you basically have to wait it out for the right antibodies to kick in. It isn’t a sprain that you compress and ice and rest it until it doesn’t hurt anymore. Instead it’s a monster that broke my all my self confidence, physically and mentally. So now I have to build it back up. I have to learn to trust my body again. Learn to trust my resolve. And slowly but surely, it’s working.

I don’t rock the boat at work too much, because if I screw it up I still have to be there everyday, but every weekend I do something that pushes my boundaries. Drive a long distance. Go somewhere that makes me nervous. Visit someone I haven’t felt able to see since this mess was made. Last weekend, I finally went to the dentist. I’ve been pushing back the appointment for months, unable to stand the thought of sitting in the dentist’s chair for however many minutes. On Saturday I did it (with a lot of ‘Oh I can’t do this/YES YOU CAN/It’ll be over in no time/Stop obsessing and GO’), and guess what – I didn’t die, or vomit, or wet myself, or run away screaming, or even ask to stop before the guy was finished.

I have to be relentless about it, or I’ll lose my progress. It is so tempting, especially after a long week at work, to say ‘I’ll just take it easy this weekend, stay in my house and go nowhere’, but I mustn’t give into it because I know I’ll struggle to step back up.

Progress is hard fought, but I know now I’m not going to achieve it without some serious blood, sweat, and tears. Whenever I feel like I can’t keep going, I remind myself that I do NOT want to spend the rest of my life suffering with anxiety. This is the only way out.

Hear me rattle

This morning I set out my pills for the week as pictured, and felt a bit depressed looking at them all. I currently take the following:

  • Fluoxetine/Prozac – 60mg nightly
  • Mirtazapine/Remeron – 45mg nightly
  • Propranolol – 160mg slow release
  • Pregablin/Lyrica – 150mg nightly, 150mg in the morning

It adds up to a lot of pills, and I wish I wasn’t on this cocktail of chemicals. It’s also frightening to think about what would happen if I suddenly stopped taking them – I’d bet the withdrawals would be horrific.

I decided that I would get the bus into the nearest village today, which would be the first time I’ve used public transport since December. It didn’t happen. As I was getting ready to go, my anxiety climbed too high and I bailed. I’m trying not to be too disappointed in myself, but it is frustrating. As a compromise, I drove to the village instead, and while driving I was looking wishfully at all the people walking past who probably find life 100x easier than I do. Everyone has their own problems, but I doubt most people struggle to leave the house. I did a quick scoot around a supermarket and hurried back to the safety of home.

I really need to overcome this. When the anxiety started in December, I didn’t for a moment imagine it would last this long – I thought a month at most. It’s nearly April now, and I still can’t travel. Don’t get me wrong, things are easier than they were thanks to the pregablin, but I’m miles off normal.

Avalanche

I feel like I’m drowning.

Anxiety is taking over my life to the point that I’m not sure how much of myself is left. I’m sick with nerves from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep, and then I’m physically sick during the day, retching out this nervous energy that I can’t properly shake off.

I had therapy today, and we had to agree to stop doing ‘the deep stuff’ because I just can’t handle it right now. I threw up three times before the session; I was so amped up. Now it’s all about creating a mental safe space, and breathing right. It feels like I’m two years old, but at the same time I can’t deny that my body will not handle anything more.

I am so scared that I’m going to lose my job. I can’t attend meetings anymore, so I’m coming up with excuses to avoid them, but there’s only so long you can do that before people start to notice. I think this meeting thing is in danger of turning into a phobia. It’s so easy to be logical about it, tell myself in advance I’ll be fine, I can sit through it, but in the moment the fear is so strong it destroys my willpower and hijacks my body.

While listening to the radio today I heard a song that kind of sums up how I’m feeling – Avalanche by Bring Me The Horizon. The song was written about ADHD, but it clicks for my current anxiety, and back in the day it would have been true about the depression I had too.

It’s like an avalanche

I feel myself go under

Cos the weight of it’s like hands around my neck.

 

The working day

When I wake up in the morning, I feel so sick with dread that I have to take anti-emetics immediately. I then feel stuck to the loo, and I sit there wondering how the hell I’m going to get to work. After about five or ten minutes, I order myself to get into the shower, and then I order myself through the rest of the getting-ready-for-work routine. If I find myself worrying about the journey in, it means I’m not concentrating hard enough on getting ready, so it’s back to it. It’s a difficult hour, but eventually I get in the car, and not too long after, I’m safe at my desk.

The working day is secretly spent measuring my fluid intake, and calculating an optimal toilet-visit schedule in anticipation of the journey home. I don’t feel hungry, because anxiety has stolen my appetite, but my stomach still rumbles, and I order myself to eat, walk, keep my body ticking over. It’s hard to juggle all of this with actual work I need to do, but the time does pass, and I eventually make it home.

Evenings are free – time spent feeling relieved that my time out of the house is over, and I’m safe for another twelve hours. I can watch TV, play games, drink plenty, and eat properly. Mirtazapine knocks me out pretty effectively at bed time, and then we start again.

What do you do when every day is difficult like this? You celebrate the little things, and take it one day at a time. Yes! I completed another day! Hey, I lasted through that meeting – well done MQ! It sounds phoney, but if you do it relentlessly enough you can absorb some of it – I’ve been in a reasonable mood all day, despite feeling yesterday like I was falling to pieces. That in itself is a bit of a victory.

Going nuclear 

I had a phone call with my GP this afternoon, and I reluctantly had to admit to her that I’m not coping. Things are getting worse, anxiety-wise, and I feel only a step or two away from not functioning at all. The result is that I’m being referred back to the psychiatric hospital. I thought I’d be upset about this, but I’m at the stage where I’ll do anything to try and get back to normal. I guess that tells you just how badly I need help.

I’m now unable to use public transport, so my only option for getting to work is driving – I live too close to my workplace to qualify for a permit, so I have to spend £10 a day to use the car park. Anxiety is costing me big time now, but I either spend the money or spend my day worrying to the point of being sick over how I’m going to get home. I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I even sought out a new therapist, who I met with for the first time on Monday. I like her – she’s can help me make connections like Dr T could, and she’s very keen on me having ‘control’ in our sessions which is a novelty, but the hour itself was hard. I had to skip out twice to use the bathroom. To be fair, it’s hard to talk about toilet-based anxiety without making yourself need the loo, but I felt embarrassed. She was lovely about it though, and I’m hopeful we can be productive in future.

There’s not much more I can do at this point with both drugs and therapy in progress, so I guess I have to sit tight and wait for a ‘summons’ to the hospital. 

A hard day

I’ve had a shocker of an afternoon – I had to attend a work meeting which was about an hour long, and I had to pop out twice to use the loo. It was so embarrassing. It didn’t help that the first time I stepped out I couldn’t even find a toilet, so goodness knows what my colleagues thought I was up to. Then when I came back to the meeting room I instantly needed to leave again, and I had to stop myself sighing in frustration every time someone spoke slowly or asked a question.

I think my boss could tell I wasn’t in a good state, because he let me go home straight after this meeting – getting back to the house was so difficult I was almost in tears. I just needed the toilet constantly, even milliseconds after my last visit. No amount of self-reassurance that I was okay could help, nor the knowledge that I was wearing a pad so I couldn’t make a puddle (not that there was enough liquid in me by that point). I just felt horrible, like my bladder couldn’t switch off at all.

Of course, when I did get home, I felt absolutely fine, although I’m not sure my self-respect is intact. I hate this. I hate it so much. Anxiety has twisted all the joy and safety out of my life, and every hour of every day is a struggle. I used to be so confident, so easy-going, compared to now. I feel so crippled. And knowing it’s all in my head makes it worse – like WHY CAN’T I JUST SORT MYSELF OUT ALREADY.

I’m sorry, rant over. It’s just been a really hard day.