For all intents and purposes, I had a good day on Tuesday.
I woke up to an Etsy kit order after a 10 day dry spell. Work was productive, we had a Mardi Gras party with potluck food, and I crossed some big things off my to-do list. Then I went to a Galentine’s Day party with some friends and had more good food and good company. I came home early enough to package the Etsy order and give my skin some TLC. I prepared for the next day: clothes picked out, lunch packed, and workout planned. There is nothing that is stressing me out, or should cause me to feel uneasy.
Yet for the fourth night in a row I am overwhelmed with anxiety. Tonight I can feel it in my bones like a dull ache. I keep rolling my shoulders like it’s a soreness I can stretch out. Every few breaths it feels like I have the wind knocked out of me and my mind is hit with an incoherent panic. I am on my couch, which is theoretically my favorite place, but I am still so uncomfortable. I really want to pace just to move around but I don’t want to be that person who has to pace, you know?
I have given up that I will ever be “cured” of feeling like this. A few months ago my doctor said she thinks she’s done all she can do as far as pharmaceutical help, which was disappointing to hear. I know we get bashed for being a “toss a pill at it” kind of society but for years I still hoped I would find my miracle medicine that would offer respite from rough patches like this without totally making me feel like a zombie. I recently said to my mom that people who are addicted to drugs or try drugs get thought of as bad or weak people but I totally get it. There is an allure when you feel so crappy but there is something that can momentarily cure you. I’ve gotten drunk as a response to anxiety on a few occasions (and deeply regretted all of them, by the way, I don’t recommend it) but in the moment when it feels like the legal drug isn’t fixing it you wonder if something else would. When I start to feel like that I’m really glad that recreational drugs frighten me more than anxiety. Panic attacks are absolutely awful but at least I know I’ll always wake up after it.
Not only is anxiety uncomfortable, but at this point it feels hopeless as well. Maybe this is how I will always be. I can have fun to a certain extent but I will always be on a leash that I can’t unhook myself from. Sometimes I feel like a dog running free only to be expectedly snapped back by the neck. Even on good days I know that more often than not when I go home my mind will try to settle and this indescribable dread will set in. Sometimes it pretends to have a reason (“Did that joke I made sound too mean? Did my question at the staff meeting sound stupid? What if I don’t order enough lunches for the meeting next week?”) or it comes without warning and I drown in discomfort. And I honestly don’t know if I prefer one or the other.
I saw my first therapist in college before I knew what was happening to me. I described to him that I felt like I lived two lives: Bad Kelsey could not see the light and could not connect with Happy Kelsey or the things that brought her joy, and Happy Kelsey would look back at Bad Kelsey and think she was ridiculous for feeling the way she did when her life was so great. The two were not friends. Bad Kelsey sobbed in stairwells while on the phone with her mom while Happy Kelsey posted about how much fun college was on Facebook. I was 18 when first described this and was told that my “episodes” were anxiety attacks. Now it’s almost 8 years later and both Kelseys still fight for my attention.
This was all just a long-winded way of saying that I’m frustrated. I wish I had something uplifting to say but I am writing this with no solution or neat conclusion to sum up. I had a good day today, but still am ending it with deep breathing exercises and tears. I had a good day but it wasn’t a good day. And tomorrow might be a good day but could also not be a good day because I never know which Kelsey will show up. I wish they would RSVP so I knew what to expect.
To end this, let’s chat. Tell me about yourself. I want to keep talking about this because I know I’m not the only one who feels this way and feels alone sometimes. Let’s share and get these feelings off our chests.
- Do you have mental health challenges? What are they?
- How do you deal?
- When did they first start? Has it changed?
- Do you ever get angry or frustrated? How do you manage those feelings?
Or tell me something else mental health related in the comments, and reply back to another. Let’s have a real conversation, okay?