Friday, 30 August 2013

Anxiety Diaries | Tomorrow

At the beginning of the week everything went strangely pear-shaped. One evening it was as if a switch was flicked; I'd spent the day feeling gloriously happy and positive, only to very suddenly feel completely numb. There was no logical explanation, no immediate specific reason and it felt different to other times I've felt deflated over the past few months. I didn't feel anxious, or sad, or angry. I just felt numb. 

My body felt heavy and tired. I couldn't seem to feel any emotions at all. I didn't feel a need to cry, nor shout or pace the room or express myself in some way. I've never felt quite like it before and it was absolutely terrifying. Anxiety, I'm used to. Adrenaline rushes, a heightened alarm system, I'm used to. In fact, even though anxiety makes me feel sick and makes my head spin, it seems to heighten everything, meaning although I feel anxious in am amplified way I can also feel happy and excited in an amplified way. There's a fine line between anxious and excited and I find it easy at times to flit between the two, as exhausting as it eventually is. This felt very different. 

I didn't care about anything. I went through a check list of things that usually bring me joy: wedding planning, blogging, social media, writing, reading, watching Breaking Bad with my fiance, going out on adventures together. I felt... nothing. It was if all capability of experiencing emotions was gone, both the good and bad. Gone. Just like that, in the space of half an hour, out of the blue. I began to panic, although even that felt like I was trying to rouse myself into a panic and failing. I messaged Megan from Little Miss Average, my anxiety cheerleader, a jumbled string of sentences trying to make sense of how I was feeling. She did her best to calm me down, and I'm so grateful for that. It helps enormously to have an anxiety buddy to support you when you've hit a rough patch. Slowly, though, one emotion did begin to emerge. 


I've never experienced anything as frightening as feeling numb. It was frightening because even the good things, the things that make me smile and warm my heart, didn't seem to be 'working' anymore. If you can't experience joy, if joy is suddenly out of your reach, what do you have left? If even the very best things in your life fail to raise any emotion at all... I latched onto one thought: 'If someone can't experience the bliss of happiness, small moments of joy, then what is the point?' I wasn't feeling suicidal or anything like that; I wanted to live and feel alive. I was simply being rational in a way. Because without joy, everything seemed grey. And the thought of everything remaining grey forever felt awful. 

Megan, along with Chris, reassured me that this would not last forever. Who knows why it happened? I've learned through CBT that there usually is some sort of trigger for me when tipping into depression or anxiety, so I had a hard think about what might have set me off; but it isn't always clear cut and there simply isn't always a reason. I'd taken my anxiety medicine late for the past two days, and I'd seen some minor spats on Twitter between other people that had for some reason sparked some sort of fear. How I felt wasn't at all anyone else's 'fault'; I just for some reason felt very sensitive to all sorts of outside things and felt oddly paralysed. I told Megan I couldn't imagine tweeting or writing anything ever again, and the thought of composing a tweet literally made me feel sick. I was scared of how I would be perceived and of saying anything that would be judged or ridiculed. It was as if I was one step away from a panic attack, yet couldn't quite break through the blanket of numbness dulling my thoughts. 

What can you do when episodes like this occur? I've learned some self care techniques that help me steady myself when experiencing periods of low mood, and some of these strategies really helped me through the two bizarre days I had after this episode started. With anxiety you sometimes need to 'parent' yourself and so I took a break from blogging and refused to put pressure on myself to write. I started reading a book, watched silly TV programmes and tried my best to eat healthy meals. I made an effort to get some early nights as I hadn't been sleeping enough and suspected this might have contributed to how I was feeling. I spoke to Chris about how I was feeling and just having someone listen and reassure me helped calm me down. I became obsessed with the idea that if I tweeted or blogged, I would be judged and would be perceived as something I'm not. I don't fully understand why this suddenly became a fear but I reassured myself, using the Anxiety Cycle, that this most likely wouldn't be the case. And even if it was... who cares?

I woke up two days later feeling pretty much back to normal. The numbness didn't last forever and I no longer felt afraid. I was no longer worried that I couldn't experience joy anymore; I planned, I blogged, I went and viewed wedding cars, I scrap-booked wedding hair ideas. I felt happy. I felt more like me again. There were so many things to be joyful about, and I was celebrating them. It felt like such a relief! 

The point of this week's Anxiety Diaries is to reassure you that nothing lasts forever. As the saying goes, 'the bad news is, nothing lasts forever. The good news is, nothing lasts forever.' The good moments unfortunately don't always last but the flip side is that neither do the bad moments, thankfully. I may feel joy today, despair tomorrow, and joy the tomorrow after. I'm learning to accept that my emotions are fluid and that I don't need to freak out if I feel 'nothing' sometimes. I'm able to be my own parent and get a little strict with myself, taking steps to steady myself such as taking my medicine on time, working on positive Anxiety Cycles and generally taking it easy on myself when the shit suddenly hits the fan. It was a crappy experience but I'm glad I understand now that bad episodes like that don't last forever; there is a tomorrow. If it happens again, hopefully I'll feel a little more prepared and a little less afraid.

Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow. One step at a time.
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  1. I love how perfectly you expressed the 'dip' mental illness sufferers sometimes go through. It took me forever to accept that there isn't always a reason, and that the reason sometimes doesn't even matter. What matters is how you manage yourself, and you're obviously doing that really well! Well done <3

    1. Thank you, that means a lot to me. I was worried that I was the only one having such strange, 'numb' moments but like you said, sometimes we have to learn to accept these dips and keep focused on tomorrow being a better day xxx

  2. I get the numb feeling every once in a while usually just after I've been stressed about something or desperately wanting something. Not materialistic things but for hopes and dreams to come true. I've never told anyone about the numbness or the fear that comes with it. As you say, it doesn't last forever and so I just try to remind myself of this.

    This post did so well in articulating that feeling and it's nice to know that m not the only one. Although, I'd rather neither of us felt that way at all!

    Debi x

    1. It's interesting that you said you get the numb feeling after you've been stressed or wanting something, as that makes a lot of sense to me too. When I spend my time focusing on thoughts of dreams and hopes it can sometimes tip me over into fear or paralyse me in a way. You're definitely not alone in this, and it really is great to realise I'm not alone either!xxx

  3. Wow this was so inparational. Well done for speeking it out. You're a great writer and you expressed yourself really well in this...congrats. Big hugs xxx



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