Ever have one of those days when something trivial happens that completely ruins your day? It catapults you into a negative space that you just can’t shake? Feelings of worry and fear just seem to take over every fibre of being, and no matter what you try or how hard you wish to go back in time five minutes you’re stuck there?
This happened to me recently, I checked my email and there it was. An innocuous little message in my inbox that had the power to derail everything. Suddenly all my thoughts raced to worst case scenario and panic set in. My heart raced, my breathing laboured and my palms started to sweat. No matter how I tried to rationalize my overreaction, my body and 90% of my brain wanted no part of logic and truth. The false thoughts upon seeing those lines had taken complete control of all systems and I was on red alert.
This is something I still struggle with quite regularly. Anything that would suggest someone else has power in my life, or control over any aspect of it sends me spinning. When these things pop up I beg and plead just to be left alone. All work I do with my therapist seems useless and I’m left feeling powerless. Stuck. Trapped. Suffocating.
Nine times out of ten the panic inducing thing is trivial, a nothing in the grand scheme of life and time. Even that one time of ten really isn’t that earth shattering, but that doesn’t matter in the moment. This is life with anxiety, overgeneralizing the trivial and seeing only worst case scenarios. Usually after the matter is resolved I laugh and laugh at myself. Then comes the shame and guilt of not being able to ‘normalize’ and calm the storms in the moment. Recognizing that I’ve overcome many challenges and will have a lifetime of challenges to face ahead.
None of that matters however, all the logic and reason in the world wont stop the hurricane that rages through me. Knowing in the moment that I will feel like a fool later for allowing myself to be consumed by worry doesn’t alter my state. Then it’s over and grief sets in, feeling like I’m back to square one despite all the work. All the ups and downs, all the trial and error, none of it matters in those moments. Analyzing the situation and my feelings, I still can’t reconcile which is worse – the anxiety and panic or the utter defeat and hopelessness that follows.
These moments don’t feel like a roadblock, like the grocery store being out of an ingredient for dinner. No I feel derailed, like I’ve been hit by a train. My whole being wants to cope by climbing back into bed, crying and sleeping until the awful bad thing has somehow magically disappeared, as if that is even possible. While this is possible, that 10% of my brain that is throwing logic, facts and rationale at me won’t let me climb under the covers. It reminds me that this is something I need to learn how to confront and work through. Tells me that I can’t just shut off the world when I don’t like something. Hiding is not living, it’s surviving and I’m determined to live my life. Therefor a duvet day whenever something scary happens is not a viable option.
What are the options then? I honestly don’t know, I just have to live in the moments of panic, then grief. I have to soldier through, even though I’m not a fan of that approach in life. Sometimes the options are limited and this is all I can do. Which frustrates me because not being able to do something, or ‘fix’ my reaction in the moment makes me angry. Then I’m caught grieving for not being ‘better’ already, and angry because I can’t fix things. Did I already say suffocating?
This is my consistent struggle, fortunately not daily however it can last for a day or two if the matter isn’t resolved quickly. Patience being something I usually have founts of now seems non-existent. Yet another fact that frustrates me and just adds to the anguish of my state of mind. From progress and growth back to all-or-nothing thinking in the blink of an eye, uncontrollable and derailing.
If anyone has suggestions on how to work through these days I’m all ears. This is something that I still can’t accept even though I understand how irrational it is. These are the days when I feel defined by mental illness, cornered and boxed in. A feeling which I fight at every turn, usually successfully. Guess for all those good days my psychologist is right, I’m still a work in progress and being in control of this illness will take time. Until I’ve got a better handle on it, I suppose I will just try to focus on what I have accomplished and hope that the belief in better days will keep me moving forward.