Moving mountains

Why is it that depression and anxiety leave you feeling like the smallest things are like moving mountains?

As if life isn’t exhausting enough, just getting up in the mornings and getting to work leave me feeling like I’ve run a marathon – mentally as well as physically. Of course, being at work is another Olympic event altogether these days. Of course, there’s the hammering I’m getting from the bosses, but also all the “little” things I struggle with each day, like talking to colleagues, making phone calls, attending meetings, getting my brain to function in a manner that vaguely resembles how it would normally … they’re all like climbing Mount Everest.

Don’t get me wrong – most of my colleagues are just delightful, and there isn’t a group I’d rather work with. I guess it’s just my tendency to Hermitville and feeling like every little thing is an assault in every possible way that leave me reeling. I become so focussed on the assaults that I forget the grounding stuff; the being ‘in the moment’ stuff; even the breathing thing, which I know just compounds it all.

I’m trying to remember to “celebrate” the small steps forward – like the getting up and the getting to work parts; even talking to other people can be a milestone. But for a medal-winning expert self-flagellator like me it isn’t easy. Sigh.

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A hard week

You know, I think I’ve just had one of the hardest weeks of my life. I’m more exhausted than exhausted can be. And I’m sick – still or again, I’m not sure which. I’ve been at my mother’s house with her, cleaning, tidying, sorting, getting ready to put her house on the market. Much of my time there disappeared in a dissociative haze, and I’m still not sure I’m really “back”. Whatever went on, I felt the familiar claws of depression latching onto me. 😦

For the first few days I had to keep reminding myself that my father wasn’t there and that wasn’t going to say something nasty. I have to admit this was a giant head f**k. I know he’s dead, but everything around me was just the same as it was when he was alive – his chair there by the TV, his other chair out on the verandah. I kept expecting him to ark up, complain, say something horrible, be nasty. He didn’t, thankfully.

My mother and I spent some time going through her things – working out what she wanted to keep, what she didn’t, etc. Part of this was hard – learning about things that had meaning for her, or had been passed down through the family. Although sometimes it was just downright funny, like when she *finally* threw away the half-done macramé projects that belonged to my grandmother. The one who died 31 years ago!!!!!

Despite the odd funny moment, Mum again proved that she’s an emotional cripple. Not only did she deny my needs the entire time we were there, but also several times invalidated what I was feeling. Just as an example, the weather was unbearably hot for much of the week. I don’t cope well in the heat. I wilt quickly and just want to curl in a ball and sleep. Mum just told me to “get used to it”. If I’d had some wits about me, I would have said, “No, Mum, I won’t get used to it, or get over it. I’m 41 years old. I’ve never liked the heat and I’m not about to start. You don’t like the cold – I don’t ask you to get used to it. It’s how I am. YOU get used to it.”

Most of her behavior was the same across the week. Instead of saying she was tired, or finding it difficult, or whatever, she just took it out on me in some sarcastic, acid-tongued way. I knew it was about her, but it still threw me back into the cesspit of negativity and criticism, and needless to say pretty much did my head in. I quickly felt myself slipping to the edge of the abyss.

On top of that was all the physical work – gardening (in the heat), painting (in the wee small hours to miss the heat), lugging rubbish to the tip, and second hand goods to charity. Of course my mother’s still not up to very much physically, so I did most of the heavy work. I have no idea how I did it – except by disconnecting myself, physically and emotionally. Not healthy, I know, and kind of scary to think how quickly and easily I slipped backwards. I feel like I’ll always be skirting the edge like this. It feels completely pointless. I know that’s not good, but I’m having trouble stopping.

I’m coming back, now that I’m home, but slowly. The darkness is still there, and the darkest of dark thoughts still appealing. I’m hoping a weekend of nothing much will help. I’m due to go back to work next week, and it’s just about the last thing I feel like doing. I’m wrecked.

How quickly we forget

I think I’m struggling. In fact, I KNOW it. I recognise the signs: the poor sleep, the constant anxiety and dread in the pit of my stomach; the skittish thoughts; the thoughts and emotions put on hold because I don’t have the time or space to deal with them. I’ve started drinking again. Nothing you’d call a problem, but I do like a little something at the end of the day to quell the anxiety and keep my mother’s voice from boring into my head. I like the calm; the almost-peace that comes it, and my ability to forget that now my house feels like the cess pit of negativity and cynicism.

I went out with some friends the other night and got absolutely hammered. I loved it. It was the first time in ages I’ve forgotten – or almost forgotten – all the cr*p that’s going on in my life. I also contemplated taking drugs – something I’ve not thought about for a long, long, LONG time.

This isn’t about doing myself any harm. Not really. In fact that’s just about the furthest thing from my mind. I just want to block things out, forget about everything for a while. Understandable, I suppose, given that my mother is now out of hospital and staying at my place* and given that she potentially has another type of cancer on top of her original cancer. Not a spread – a new cancer. Entirely separate, they say, just a “coincidence.” Cr*p huh? She’s having another biopsy this week, so we’ll know more in about ten days time.

I was flicking through some old blog posts this week, when I came across this one. It’s about coping and all the different things I’ve done over the years to cope – the good things, and the bad. I realized how much work I’ve done with the Wonder Therapist to develop new coping mechanisms, and how quickly I seem to have forgotten them.

A nice realization, but it hasn’t really helped me. I still wanted to spend my weekend blotto or unconscious. I know this is something I should discuss with my therapist, and I will. I do feel a bit embarrassed, though, given I thought all these maladaptive things were pretty much behind me. I guess not. Sigh. Hell, I guess at least I’m not cutting myself, right?

blah blah

* Her proposal to move in is as yet unresolved. I’m pretty much ignoring it for now. At least until we get the results of her latest round of tests.

A scary time

I got back from my holiday last week – it was lovely. The warmth of the sun, the beautiful tropical gardens, the wonderfully gentle people… all blissful, except for the cold I picked up while away. No biggie, right? Well, apparently not.

A day or two after I got home I couldn’t breathe.  I was gasping, rattling, wheezing, or not depending on how shallow a breath I took. I get asthma, so I took the reliever puffer thingy. It didn’t work so I took more. It still didn’t work so I did an “emergency boost” (four puffs). Still nothing, though by now my heart was racing and the rest of me jittery, my hands shaking.

I couldn’t talk more than a few short words at a time. This made communication with the mother difficult and tense and endlessly snippy.

And my thoughts raced, like they’re guaranteed to do in the wee small hours. My thoughts became scattered. I wasn’t thinking clearly. This must be the worst combination – physically unwell and mentally on edge. At least when it’s only one, you have the health of the other to help you through. Both at once? That’s just wrong.

I hoped that by the morning I would feel better, wondering what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately I didn’t. I contemplated going to the ER, but let myself be talked out of it by the mother – she thought some “inhalation” would help. It didn’t. A warm cup of tea? Momentarily, but not enough to make a difference. And of course the communication continued to be stilted – her thinking I was in a bad mood; me just unable to breathe.

By midafternoon I’d had enough and headed for the ER. I was scared; I hate hospitals – especially when they rushed me through triage and straight into the medical bit, no waiting (much to the chagrin of the other punters in the waiting room). And then they wanted to admit me – “my god no, I’m not that sick,” I thought – “you look sick. You need to be here,” they said, though they were really lovely about it.

Drugs, monitors, breathing devices, blood tests, injections. Rinse and repeat.

A couple of days later I’m home. Better, but still not great. I’m still not thinking clearly and my head is filled with ugly thoughts. My night time anxiety is growing as I know the next few hours are the worst for asthma. Will I get to sleep? Will I have to make another dash to the ER?

I’m sorry to say this is making the bliss of my holiday evaporate pretty quickly. 😦

My head hurts

Does this image hurt your head? It does mine.

This is what it’s like inside my head at the moment – thoughts racing this way and that, too many things to deal with, it’s all a blur.

Yet again I seem to have taken on too much, and yet again it’s left me feeling overwhelmed. Although for good reason, and not necessarily my fault for everything that’s happening. There’s work issues, my mother’s cancer, my own health issues, issues with friends, blah blah blah. It’s not like I’m freaking out over spilt milk.

The thing that’s most consuming my thoughts right at this moment is work. My relationship with my manager has sunk to an intolerable level, to the extent that I would label her behaviour bullying and harassment. It’s brought back a whole lot of “stuff” from when Things Fell Apart – interactions with her (whether by phone, email or in person) literally now leave me shaking and panic struck.

The good news is that I’ve been offered another job. I have resigned and start my new job in about four weeks. I’m looking forward to the new work – it’s more up my alley, I’ll be working with people like me in a professional sense, and I have worked with the boss there before, so I know it won’t be all triggery and yuck.

At the same time I’m upset at the way things have gone in my current work. I think about my boss and I start shaking. That’s not good. I’m also scared of the new job – I’m wondering if I can do it, I feel like a failure where I am (though I know I’m not) … these thoughts just keep racing through my head.

And then there’s my health issues, which don’t seem to be going in the direction I’d hoped. I need to think about some options, but I can’t. There’s just too many and I’m not ready to deal with them. May be the work issues are taking up too much space?

And then there’s friends, some of whom have said insensitive things to me. And one of whom I’ve said insensitive things to and now I’m in a panic that I’ve ruined our friendship. I’m really sorry I hurt this person, it certainly wasn’t my intention, and I don’t know what else to do about it. I am hoping she’ll forgive me.

It’s noisy and messy in my head, and I don’t like it. I want to run away, never come back, crawl into a dark hole and stay there in the foetal position. I know none of that will help, so I’m just trying to sit with how I feel. Man, that’s hard… and then the thoughts race again and it’s all a blur.