As of yesterday, my mental health started to rapidly deteriorate. I had sensed it slowly coming in on me, but never thought I could be taken back to that state.
Yesterday, it was precisely one year since this crisis began – when I thought my brain injured, close to possible death, on a traumatic journey to the hospital. I had been dreading this time quite a bit.
But correlation does not imply causation. It could be some kind of PTSD symptom, or it could be closer to a coincidence. The weather has been consistently bad, things to do have dried up a bit, and the person I am currently living with (not out of choice) has spent the last week or so being extremely critical and occasionally demeaning, herself clearly in the throes of depression and misery.
Whatever the reason – and I strongly think it is more a recurrence of old anxiety – I could barely sleep last night and am in no fit state even to volunteer at a community garden. Its back to being quite debilitated by anxiety – a tremulous state that is also strangely gratifying and earthly. My body is taking over again, and it is pulling me away from the mind.
I used to fear a recurrence of agoraphobia and severe panic, something I found very crippling and humiliating last year. But its impossible to reach those depths again. This time I know I will get out of it, and that by exposing myself I can heal the worst of it quicker. Still, these days are deeply uncomfortable and harmful to my wellbeing. Like anyone I think I would rather be able to turn feelings off for a bit, or take a break from it all.
There are a few silver linings. My resilience is much higher. I can’t turn off the feelings of absolute shittiness, but I am better equipped to endure them. I also know I have no medical emergency, this is a disorder of the mind. I know what anxiety is, and some strategies to tone it down. Mantras and little phrases have been helpful (anxiety is adaptive, exposure is excellent, and so on). In short, I at least know the limits of how bad it can get now that I am more confident and trained. I have also discovered my limits quite well – such as how much I can do after a night of insomnia, and fear the outcomes of such things less (I can at least write a decent blog post!)
Recurrence means I was right to hold on to my medication! I thought getting off the meds was the sign of some linear progression, but obviously not. Two tabs of Valium go back into my pocket and here we go again.
Perhaps this is a sign of the life which awaits me. Periodic debilitating anxiety, triggers and high stress levels. Perhaps this marks a new phase which will force me to adapt or suffer.
But in spite of all the shit, I am making headway with psychotherapy. So much is unconscious, hence why it seems so hard to explain why we feel a certain way at a certain time, why things trigger us, and so forth. I find it hard to constantly stay at this level of depth – no wonder people like their distractions and routines! But going deep is something I must do, for I am a delver and this is how I work my way out of tunnels.
Ultimately it is better to be thoughtful and sensitive, suffering your extra share of the world’s woes then to be an absolute, out and out drone. Better to be yourself than to conform to the destructive paradigm of the age, and better to be moral and live for your community than be a self-centred prick.
I don’t have many regrets – in a way I have brought myself here. What I must not do is get complacent again. Things had to change, which is why my inner-child is screaming and not letting me sleep it all off. Until I find the keys to the subconscious mind, it is limbo and occasional hell.
A delver, I have no choice but to dive in…