Back log – When the red mist descends and then when it rises
It’s been a bit of a mad week, it has been the first of five weeks away from home working towards the final part of a year long journey. This year is a little different as I have more responsibility and have actively contributed to actual segments of the show, this is both extremely exciting and massively scary. Hours are long and being away from our families is obviously extremely difficult, but we love what we do and we do what we do with a flourish and a smile.
However, it would be a mistake to hope that the additional stress and exhaustion wouldn’t have a detrimental affect on my anxiety and mental health.
Do you ever have those red mist moments? When you’re bobbing along, clinging on to positivity and perseverance and something snaps inside you, unleashing the red mist and clouding your every thought and word. Suddenly you’re spouting thoughts and feelings that although entirely true and real (at the time) are not necessarily rational or helpful to be imparted. Directly afterwards I often experience a spiral down into a complete lack of self belief and my instant reaction is to run away and hide, I have an overwhelming urge to pull into myself and put up a hard shell of protection like a metaphorical tortoise. This can be extremely challenging and in a very short moment a choice of onwards and upwards, or reverse and spiral downwards. Either way I am inevitably plagued by regret and embarrassment and I try to justify my actions, at least in part, to try and make myself feel better. Rather irritatingly for me here ensues days where I dwell on a single moment, after a week the memory and embarrassment has dulled but not entirely disappeared, after a few weeks I have undoubtedly forgotten about it in the most part. But I seem to manage to remember things years later and I find myself shaking my head to try to dispel the thought and hoping it won’t return, all of my worst moments mounting up to haunt and remind me of my inadequacies and feeding my insecurities.
What’s truly ridiculous is that my rational mind tells me that it’s an opportunity to learn and move forward and that that very thought should easily overtake the negative one and despite knowing this my mind still dwells in the shade and not the light. It’s so frustrating! It goes back to me, myself and I, with my warring selves battling it out for supremacy within my head. More often than not, I find myself hating my anxiety and the version of myself that I become when it takes over my every thought and word and action, but beneath all of that I have also learnt that accepting my anxiety and by extension that anxious version of myself is the most effective way forward.
Today Friday 23 June
I opened my notes to write a blog post and found this one. I must have written it in my delirium at some point in the last five weeks, there is nothing I can compare my experience to, it was a singularity so far in my life and has left me with some very strange and contradictory feelings.
One of those must have come into realisation somewhere between the above being written and today, because in amongst the sheer exhaustion that I felt, there was also this feeling of timelessness. I had anxious moments and sometimes they were as extreme as I have come to expect, but what they weren’t was drawn out. They didn’t last days, not even hours, maybe minutes and at most 60 of them, I simply didn’t have the time or capacity to dwell in my anxiety or feelings of depression. I cried, and I shouted at myself inwardly for a silly remark or decision but ultimately it passed and where as usually that thought would return with frequency until it didn’t, I skipped that step and have found myself only occasionally shaking my head at my past self. Isn’t that strange? I am now considering the very real possibility that alongside the genuine bouts of anxious thought that I have and continue to experience, that some part of my brain is in the routine of indulging it, allowing it to last longer than it needs and that is concerning to me.
It took me days to properly wind down and today I am experiencing a bit of a slump, I have felt physically and mentally drained for most of the day, despite doing very little but with the above in my mind I have decided that there is a light. Where as usually I might try one of my many well practised coping mechanisms, like drawing or creating or treating myself to a new dress or skirt or some other material item in my unhappiness (a controlled but not necessarily beneficial form of therapy that happens less than other methods) I have instead bought myself something else, something more along the delayed gratification line and not the instant, I have bought myself knowledge and change and possibility.
Something I have wanted to do for a while is a creative writing course and due to being locked in the routine of work, home, work, for five weeks (different than usual because home was temporary accommodation and work hours were all consuming) has meant that I have amounted more savings than in a usual month. I could put it aside towards the mortgage – and some of it will go there – but I could also book myself onto that course that I’ve been considering for sometime but was until this point completely out of reach. And so I took the leap towards to light instead of dwelling in the shade.
It comes down to that post I wrote about self imposed pressure, writing is something I have always enjoyed, reading is certainly something I do avidly but the former, well I just don’t have the confidence or the knowledge, and there is a little dream inside that says ‘one day I will write a book, just like my grandad’, and really I’d quite like to be on that path before I turn thirty.
And so it comes down to this, we will always have those particularly bad days when we feel insecure and stunted in our personal growth and our wider lives, but we have to be the person to say ‘I will grow and I will move forward’, no one else can make the change in yourself it has to be you. That is one of the hardest things to come to terms with in life I think, let alone in a life that is subject to anxiety and depression. This writing course may only be a small drop in the ocean, but it’s my ocean and I will be darned if I will be responsible for the drought. Throughout my life I know there have been many dreams, big ones and small ones that have more often than not fallen to the wayside, unloved and draining that childlike hope I once possessed so much of, but I know the only person to blame for that is myself. So in this instance, I am taking the opportunity and moving in the write (ba-doom-pah-cha!) direction.