I’ve been feeling very restless since Friday, grumpy, irritable, unable to do anything but unable to sit still. I had no idea what caused it at first, but later figured it’s an excess of my amazon energy (I’ve switched to that term over saying masculine energy because I’m about as masculine as a tomato). I haven’t had a struggle in a while and I’m somewhat used to there always being some serious unpleasantness breathing down my neck. So when there isn’t, when all I can do is sit back and be chill, some days my brain starts missing my battles.
It’s not a healthy longing but there it is. I only cheered up this morning when I remembered I could make myself a boat licence and discovered they had course material up online. Then I wrestled with that some, full of spirit and dreams, but it seemed so hard for a total outsider to enter into that world, so the excitement soon wore off and was replaced with the conclusion that a paddle board is my limit.
On a good, even great and awesome, note: I discovered I got a button to turn off anxious responses. I cannot use it, of course, but who’d have thought I even had it? It’s like this: I start thinking of something I want to do, then a cascade of anxiety drowns it out, I’m terrified and decide “I can’t do that, oh no way!”, and then, one time I glimpsed a new path, a path that completely cut the anxiety and made me feel brave and able. Just a switch of a button and the thought changes, with a parallel road opening up.
This vision has appeared to me twice recently. It’s no more than a pretty vision at this point, I cannot press that button to take that path, but it’s a new hope. I’m so very convinced that recovery has to be a bottom-up process. I could never have made any progress with my social anxiety if I didn’t build up confidence first. It was always completely ineffective, these countless times I told myself “You be brave, you talk more, don’t be a coward, don’t be shy, you go and do this hard thing”. It never worked. I tried and I failed or immediately went back to the same level after my feat of bravery. It was just operating on a fight or flight mode. It wasn’t doing anything to the source of my fear. Now when I’ve dealt with the roots of it for the past years, things are showing improvement. Not massive great improvement, of course, but it’s at least hopeful.
Also and furthermore: I haven’t been depressed since December. I remember how astonished I was last summer about getting a depression-free month. Now I’m going on my fourth month and I don’t know which is the normality any more. Is that a good thing?
Back in June I was certain I’d be losing it and pinched myself every day – mentally – not believing it is still there. Maybe I did that in December or January, but I’ve stopped by now. I still don’t dare to think it will last because I’ve been struggling with depression my entire adult life, but there are moments when this depression-free state feels like the new normality, whereas the times of depression have acquired the taste of slight alienness. Oh, I remember them well, but there’s an element of looking back sometimes.
Of course I still feel negative emotions and anxiety but that’s a different matter and much more bearable because it doesn’t last very long.
I think I just have to keep myself away from new “battles”. I’m quite certain I’d be depressed in no time if I started car school in April.
All this is awesome progress. There’s been regress too. What started out as an effective strategy of not worrying about exams or presentations in advance, by blocking them out of my mind until relevant, has turned into excessive avoidant behaviour with all things I consider potentially emotionally impactful. I simply won’t do them. I push them far far far into the future, ignore them and excuse this behaviour with whatever excuse is available “I’m too happy today to be dealing with THAT” or “I’m anxious as is, I don’t want THAT on top of things”. This sort of thing has gone too far. It’s not good I push going to buy glasses forward a year or don’t read an e-mail I fear I may not like for two weeks. I understand why this behaviour developed. It was the only way to stay sane under heavy stress, but it’s gone too far. On the other hand, it doesn’t feel like the most pressing fault, even if there’s a lot to be said in favour of getting unpleasant things over and done with quickly.
Such news to report now.