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The morning after the night before

February 2, 2013

An empty day, though clear and bright,
Is just as dark as any night.
– Anne Frank

Yesterday was rather full of ups and downs. I woke up early-ish, but by 10.30am it felt like the day was closing down. I was extremely depressed, and for no reason I could pinpoint. Well no, not exactly depressed, as much as bored of life. Nothing was holding my attention. I was reading and that was fine, but I felt like it was just a distraction from what I should be doing. Only I had nothing I should have been doing. It was a horrible feeling, and one I’ve not felt so strongly since possibly around May last year, when it got so bad I solicited the help of Mormon missionaries, as I thought religion would give my life meaning. (It offered distraction until the feeling passed, at least.) I recently read a book about the kamikaze pilots of the second world war, and the description of how they lived weeks prior to their sacrifice reminds me of how I’m feeling – a state of no attachment to people or places or possessions – only I have no mission to prepare for. That’s the problem, really, everybody needs a goal, a sense of purpose.

I don’t know if I’m growing up, or evolving spiritually, and this is the void between states, but I’ll talk more about that another time.

So, not wanting to give in, I caught the bus to Pontypridd. I knew if I’d stayed home I’d just go back to bed and sleep through the day, then wake up at night and feel physically awful. I asked a friend if she’d like company for when she goes to Cardiff later in the day, and she said yes, so after I walked through town a couple of times and got myself something to eat, we went and wandered around Cardiff for a bit. Nothing really worth sharing about that. I was still feeling quite low, but at least had the occasional laugh in conversation, and I really like Cardiff and it felt good to be out of the house and doing something.

Problems arose on the bus home. I wasn’t on a familiar route – the X4 to Abergavenny. Where’s Abergavenny? I had no idea where it is geographically, so had no backup if I was so engrossed in my book or dozed off or whatever and missed the stop at Pontypridd bus station. Extremely unlikely, but anxiety doesn’t work on logic. At some point it occurred to me that I didn’t recognise what little I saw out the window, it was too dark and the window was steamed up from the outside, but my mind snapped to thoughts of “I’ve missed the stop, I’m lost, I’m stranded.” I felt shaky and sick. So I tested my blood sugars, and they were a little on the low side, 4.2, so I took a little glucose and tried to relax. The feeling didn’t go away, and now there was something else laced through it. It was vague but undeniable – in a way, the worst kind of discomfort.

I made it to Pontypridd, a half hour journey almost to the minute as I was told, and as I got off the bus, my last bus was just pulling in. I smiled, felt fortunate, and hopped on.

The bus arrived where I wanted to be and I lumbered off. I reached the corner and leaned into a shop’s shutters to get my breath. The shaking was getting worse and breathing seemed to have no effect on my oxygen intake. I thought I should eat something, so zombie-shuffled over to the burger place across the street. When I handed the guy the money I didn’t have the strength to take my arm away. It fell limply to the counter, where it proceeded to shake violently. I felt like an alcoholic who’s gone too long without a drink. I found myself crying. I could barely speak and I couldn’t walk straight, the anxiety growing. I kept telling myself I’m fine now, I’m home, I’m safe, I have nothing to worry about, but it wouldn’t stop.

I somehow made it up the hill, and barged through my front door, scaring the dog. I legged it upstairs, dumped everything on the floor, and ran to the bathroom to throw up. I sat down in my room and took some deep breaths, and abruptly everything was fine.

This was extremely frightening. I’ve had anxiety attacks before – a couple of years back waiting for a friend to pick me up so we could go see a play in Cardiff I honestly thought I was going to have a heart attack, my heart was banging so hard and fast it hurt. But I knew it was just anxiety and that I’d regret not going, so I made it through it. This time, I was well within my comfort zone, I wasn’t thinking about anything negative (I was reading Terminator, which isn’t exactly uplifting, but even so!), it came on hard and fast with no warning and no reason, and that’s never in my life happened before. I thought I was getting better, now I’m not so sure. It seems every time I make a step or two forward, something happens to remind me, “hey, where you going? You’re ill, remember? You can’t make it on your own, come back to your comfort zone, it’s warm and safe, you like it here.” Just another mental barrier to get past, but climbing over them is so exhausting.

To leave on a positive: I went to a martial arts class on Wednesday. I let myself be thrown. I’ve been afraid of throws since my 17th birthday, when I was thrown over someone’s shoulder and landed unfortunately (I broke my fall but landed on my hand, and my knuckle hit the weak spot in my thigh.) I thought I’d broken my leg (one of my fears I hope I won’t be facing any time soon!), the leg was completely disabled. This wasn’t the same throw, but it was a similar throw – hip level rather than shoulder height. It didn’t feel nice, but it felt good. Sadly I’m too sore still as a result of Wednesday night’s class to go Just Jhooming today. I could go along and take it easy, but I have to earn my sweat, or I feel I’ve cheated myself. Better I just walk the dog and do some stretches to ease the muscles today. There’s a rugby match on in Cardiff anyway, and I really don’t feel like getting caught up in that mess.

Maybe, this random anxiety is preparation for me. It was extreme and aggressive, but I got through it. I got news the other day that CHAT requires a separate training course now (extra stress courtesy of the government, cheers a lot) before I can be a facilitator. I have a .. huge amount of stress and anxiety coming my way. Maybe this random anxiety attack was my mind’s way of playing Kato, as it were, attacking me when I’m caught unawares to train my reflexes and coping methods. Things to make you go, “Hmmm…”

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