This is my first post upon arriving back to the UK (or the Ukraine, if you’ve seen my delightful typo on Instagram) and i’d planned to write something cute and relatable about the holiday season – pardon my Americanism there, the holiday season just sounds so much more damn jolly than anything else, and I like it, mostly because I bloody love the film The Holiday and CANNOT wait to start watching Christmas films.
But today, probably thanks to a sneaky side-helping of jet lag, i’m not feeling quite right. In fact, i’m currently in the midst of a troublesome bout of anxiety.
I hate anxiety. I hate depression. I hate mental illness. I hate that they’re invisible, I hate that because they’re invisible they make you feel like they can’t be real because you can’t see them, that you must be making them up in your head.
And even as I write this an I know it’s a very real thing, I still feel like i’m making it up. I was diagnosed over two years ago, that doesn’t mean I still have it, heck even when I was diagnosed it didn’t even mean I had it. What if this whole mental illness is something i’ve made up in my head, what if it’s just an excuse I feel for wanting to curl up on the sofa, what if it’s just me begging for attention? It’s something that runs through my head constantly, and I can never tell whether that’s because it’s a symptom of a very real disease, or because, well, I am making it up.
I struggled to get out of bed this morning – not surprising considering I was on a red-eye flat from Washington Dulles Airport that landed at Heathrow at about 11am yesterday – i’d had four hours of very, very interrupted sleep – anyone who’s done a similar flight will tell you how difficult it is to get any sleep even with sleeping tablets because you know what? Plane seats aren’t comfortable, even when you’ve been upgraded to Premium Economy (thanks BA, you’re absolute gems). But ever since that feeling at 8am this morning that I should be getting up, replying to unanswered emails, writing posts to boost blog traffic and working on freelance projects, I haven’t been able to do anything. Except oh, I did wash my face and eat some Pringles, so there’s that.
My whole morning has been filled with labored breathing. Not labored in a tight chest way, but in a I NEED TO KEEP GASPING FOR AIR BECAUSE AIR, I NEED AIR. I’ve felt like i’ve had butterflies in my stomach that are all consuming – but it’s not butterflies with excitement, the sort you get before a holiday you’ve been so darned excited for, more like dread – and i’ve felt twitchy and on edge.
My eyes welled up when I saw last night’s dinner plates needed washing. I basically exploded when I saw how dirty the bathroom sink was, and the fact there was no food in the house made me feel pure panic and this immense feeling of being out of control – like there was no way of getting it back. No way of getting food or cleaning the house, like there was so much to do there was nowhere to start – and it left me feeling handicapped, so overwhelmed by every day chores and things that I was frozen, unable to move and do anything except curl up on the sofa.
I think that’s the main thing for me when I start to feel like this, this feeling of being overwhelmed by the little things, as if to me they are mountains that are threatening to suffocate me, that I am out of control and there is no way to gain control again.
There is also this irritating pressure that you put on yourself to snap out of it. And it fills you up with anger at yourself that you can’t snap out of it – you can’t have a productive day, feel sane, feel normal.
I’m not entirely sure that this makes any sense and I won’t sub it, because i’m not thinking as I write, i’m just writing the things going through my head as I continue through each sentence.
A lot of my feeling out of control today has come from this blog. I had a week away, because, well, I was on holiday and obviously I was going to have some time away from it. But seeing traffic dip right down low is scary, it makes me feel like maybe my moment in the blogging limelight has come to an end. Like it’s time to give up, pack away my WordPress account and go back to being a journalist without her own space on the internet. As i’m sure many of you have done in the past, i’ve had many blogs that were fun for a week before I got bored and stopped writing, and i’m scared that because I couldn’t will myself to write today, that maybe that had happened. Like i’d stopped wanting to do this.
I haven’t just FYI, it’s the anxiety talking. I know that now because I did the only thing anyone working through depression or anxiety can do, I took it one step at a time. I walked to the shop to get money out for the carpet fitter (because I had to force myself because I had literally no say in the matter because he was at my house and i’m not sure he would have appreciated me not paying him for the soon to be lovely beige carpet in the hallway). Then I got back and thought i’d check my bank balance, then all the comments and stats on my blog, and then before I knew it id’s started typing this, i’d started to feel in control again.
But I won’t force myself to have a productive day. Maybe i’ll sweep the kitchen, maybe i’ll reply to some emails, but maybe not, maybe i’ll go back to the sofa for the foreseeable future. Because you have to allow yourself the time out your body and brain need. It’s OK to step back from work to make sure you’re 100%, because yes work makes you money, but going without those new Zara heels and that ASOS faux fur coat you’ve been eyeing up (uh huh, that’s aimed at you Hannah), won’t make you unhappy, trying to survive without having your mental health in tact will.