Having a rubbish day.
Have left the kettle boiling away 4 times now… Kitchen is well steamed. Have no attention span what so ever. And my coordination sucks so am constantly dropping things and misjudging my movements.
Don’t have much patience with myself on a day like this. Wish I could just lie down and sleep and not be aware of anything. But if I lie down I start thinking about all sorts. Especially all the things I want or need to do but can’t. So I am up and about trying to keep myself distracted without doing too many stupid things…
Last week I was in a swamp of exhaustion. This week I am fluctuating rapidly which is frustrating to deal with. In a different way than the full on collapse. Last week I was readjusting to a massive change in ability and energy. This week I am having to constantly readjust to my fluctuating mood, fluctuating energy levels and fluctuating tolerance of my environment. I can go from feeling alright to feeling completely overwhelmed within minutes.
I want steady linear progress. I want certainty and predictability. I want to know that if I do A then I will feel like Z or C… But no. Because factor K, P, X, F, Y etc plays in. It’s a bloody mess. If I do A at one time I might feel Z but if I do it an hour later or in a different room or on a full stomach or after having done B then it affects me differently. There’s no knowing when things are going to be ok for a while and when they’ll suddenly go to pots.
I am forced to be patient with myself and deal with the here and now as it is. Whatever the here and now is at any given time.
I’ve had good days and bad days this week. Good hours and bad hours.
Bad times are annoying. But good times have their own challenges. The temptation to start doing loads and getting a bit high from relief. Where as I should be keeping a low activity level and rest as much as I do on a bad day… But the restlessness has been stored up and is overflowing. So when my energy is better I inevitably do too much and then there is a backlash. I do need to take advantage of energy ups – I need to move and socialise because it helps my overall state. But I need to pace myself. Constant trial and error.
I can’t make plans and I can’t commit to anything because I am not reliable and I don’t like disappointing people. Luckily I’ve got a friend who lives around the corner who is understanding and who I feel comfortable around even when I feel rubbish. It helps me to avoid complete isolation. Because the less I socialise the harder it gets. Socialising don’t come easy to me anyway so I have to keep practicing otherwise it just becomes this massive hurdle to get over and I have to re-train myself to be around people which can take a while.
My therapist has talked with me about a concept called ‘the window of tolerance’ which I am finding quite useful. Thinking about my fluctuating mood and energy in terms of over- and understimulation helps me accept what’s going on and readjust in more appropriate ways. Finding that space where being me feels tolerable. Where I am not understimulated (feeling low and sad) and not overstimulated (irritable and confused). My window of tolerance exapands and shrinks. Sometimes it takes nothing for me to start fluctuating. Other times I can test my limits a little bit.
Having to rest and slow down is a lot hard work…
I enjoyed the British threat levels hashtag that was trending a while ago. And because there was a little truth in a lot of the statements, I started thinking about my own threat levels and how frustrated I get with it.
It was such a relief to chuckle about those little things but it also made me think that this might somewhat explain why I feel at home in England. The social anxiety, political correctness, the tensions and the propriety obsession. I only feel like the odd one out some of the time 😉
Anxiety is more or less a constant companion for me. So any extra added anxiety or stress is tricky for me. I have noticed how other people can seem to enjoy getting stressed, worked up or scared e.g. watching scary films or having to rush for something or getting in to a debate. Like they get a bit high on the adrenaline. I really, really don’t. When I experience heightened threat levels I feel quite ill and it takes me a long time to recover – or get back to my normal uncomfortable but familiar level of anxiety.
Anyway I want to try and look at my threat level triggers and taking a bit of a humorous stance with them. Even though that might not come across in my writing.
So here is the ESMD* threat levels colourcoded overview:
Red alerts (things that make my body feel full of terror. Stress levels out the roof)
- Waking up in the morning and realising I won’t be able to sleep any longer.
- Bus or train arriving and it’s packed and i am having to quickly decide whether to get on or wait for the next.
- Feeling like a tiny spider/aphid/fly is crawling around on my skin no matter how much I try to wipe it away.
- The phone ringing! Here’s how it goes: withheld or unknown number I feel a little relief as I think I am less obliged to respond. Known caller – total panic and I spend so long trying to decide what to do that it goes to voicemail.
- Voicemail icon showing up on my phone – do have to listen to it straight away? If I wait the icon just springs at me every time I look at the phone. I use the phone as a time piece – I start calculating whether I’ll need to look at the time any more that day. I put the phone away and for the millionth time start thinking about getting a pocket watch.
- Looking in the fridge and cupboards and not seeing anything I want to eat. I decide not to eat – panic avoided for a couple of hours…
- Getting dressed and having limited time to get ready and everything I try on just feels wrong and uncomfortable. Usually my hair then starts acting up too and my hands and arms start hurting trying to sort it out. Eventually go out the door ready to have a tantrum.
- People getting angry with each other and saying rude things and I cant not hear it.
- Penalty kicks in football. Or even worse: penalty shoot outs!
- Packing for travelling.
- Getting angry about something and not knowing what to do.
- Something (read any thing) not going according to how I see it in my head.
Orange alerts (things that make me feel nauseated and slightly panicky. Stress levels elavated)
- Whatching a knockout in a boxing match or a bad tackle in a football game.
- A good book finishing.
- My partner coming home earlier than expected. No matter how much I have been looking forward to seeing him. Luckily this rarely happens because he texts me advance so I know I have to make the transition from being on my own to being with him. I am just pure grumpyness if I haven’t had a chance to prepare myself. I am only a little bit grumpy and not for long when I have had time to prepare.
- Being asked to make a spontaneous decision. Or just being asked to make a decision.
- Feeling responsible.
- In sports: The underdog looking like they are going to win but then something changes and they loose. I usually have to stop watching (beginning to think I just shouldn’t watch sports…)
- A plant dying because I forgot to water it or its got some disease I can’t help it with.
- Slugs eating little seedlings.
- Food going off and I am having to throw it out.
- Somebody knocking on the door.
- Forgetting something. Usually after having reminded myself of it twenty times because I know I can’t cope with forgetting it.
- Being around intoxicated people. A little bit easier if intoxicated myself but then of course even mild intoxication is like russian roulette (headaches, brain fog etc) so if I have anything remotely important planned next day it is not an option.
Yellow alerts (things that make me feel restless and uncomfortable. This is actually my everyday state… Thought it was normal till I was 24 and started doing bodywork, see blog on bodywork)
- Opening my email inbox.
- Finding my phone after having left it somewhere where I cant hear or see it for hours.
- Encountering a friendly, chatty person and not remembering how I am supposed to respond because I hadn’t prepared myself for being sociable.
- Enjoying myself with a friend and beginning to feel overstimulated and then getting annoyed with myself because I want to keep hanging out but I know I’ll be grumpy once I come down from being high on social interactions.
- Waking up briefly for the 5th time in the night and feeling like I’m not sleeping properly.
- My morning or evening rituals being interrupted by things like: being to tired to do them, having to get out the door a certain time to catch a bus and be somewhere, my hair being so tangled it takes more than 2 minutes to sort out, my skin being so dry and itchy/painful I have to put moisturiser several times after I have lied down to sleep.
- Feeling ready to sleep after having been up and awake for 2 hours. You know that afternoon dip? Well, mine happens around 11am.
- Trying to have a nap during the day but giving up after lying there for an hour.
- Knowing full well that sugar and coffeine will not give me a boost of energy but trying anyway and then feeling sorry for myself when it doesn’t work.
- Getting annoyed with people talking about having a coffee buzz or a sugar high (oh just go away will you).
- Feeling guilty for getting annoyed with other people.
- Not having interacted with anyone but my partner for a week and when I notice it I am not sure what to feel about it.
- Feeling something and not knowing why.
- Being told to: ‘just come around’ or ‘give me a call’ and then never doing it. Then being told again and starting to worry about how to explain that it’s not that I don’t want to, I just forget, because most of the time I’m fairly satisfied in my own company. Not that I don’t want to come around or have a chat but if it’s not planned, more often than not I just don’t remember.
- People bumping in to me. Especially if it’s in a queue and I cant get away and they keep bumping in to me. I have this trick of stepping slightly out of the queue.
- Bumping into people. It does happen!
- Walking towards people on the street and they don’t move out of the way before last second and then they’d brush against me if I didn’t do massive avoidance manuevres.
- People taking me seriously when I am joking.
- Feeling unsure whether it’s okay to write ‘I enjoyed the British threat levels hashtag trending’ without honouring the painful context it occured in.
- Beginning to think too much about what I write or say…
*ESMD – Elisabeth Svanholmer Most Days
Sort of related:
I found this read below a while back and it made a lot of sense to me and resonates with my personal experience so I thought other people might find it helpful as well.