How to explain my daily routine? Waking, thoughtlessly travelling to
work, thoughtlessly doing work, avoiding colleagues, putting on a
front to colleagues, being terrified of colleagues, thoughtlessly
going home, eating, going on the Internet, watching the news and
YouTube and anything else that comes up and then, going to sleep,
listening to the podcast, an episode selected at random. How to
explain my room, with a desk piled with paper, books, cups,
toiletries, clothes, more books, paper, envelopes, medicine, herbal
medicine, dust etc. etc? I leave it untouched, except when
frantically searching for something, such as the mood diary this
morning that I was supposed to have filled in.
The truth is, I think, that my own thoughts are tangled. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t act on what’s wrong. I just sit paralysed, like an embryo.
“I’ve been doing most of the talking – next time can you try a bit more for me?” she said, near the end. I had been reduced to monosyllables. I’m sure it was partly the smallness of the room. I was hiding, I didn’t want to hear the ugliness of my voice and thoughts. The pontificating about this and that as if I understood. I also feared her judgement – I didn’t want her to pity me.
She showed me a diagram depicting the cycle of depression. She made me fill it in and my mind was blurred. I paid little attention but nodded and agreed. I couldn’t blame her. She was doing the right thing. It was me that was the failure.
Why the apathy? Because, if I think about it, I feel that this not the issue. The issue that is holding me back from any progress is my voice. Because it is nearly always bunged and difficult to speak loudly or clearly, I feel vulnerable most of the time. It’s the reason I avoid going into shops or speaking to strangers.
There are certainly other issues – I have serious anxiety. But my voice, I’m sure is preventing me from entering social situations to challenge that anxiety. And, I can’t work on my voice because, firstly, I feel embarrassed talking about it. And, secondly, after a specialist told me that there was no apparently physical issue, I’m convinced that nothing can be done.
Salt water nasal sprays have a temporary effect. Food has a worsening effect. But, mostly, its the same. I’ve developed a technique of speaking from the back of my throat, so that my voice comes out very deep. However, where there is background noise, it fails me.
After work today, I forced myself to go to this Indian restaurant that has a buffet. I had gone in on a previous day just to look in. The staff didn’t seem too intimidating and there were other men eating alone. You just paid and then picked your food and ate.
I ate there but, again, speaking at the counter was hard. Nerves played a part, but my voice was bunged up, so came out weak and strained. I felt immensely vulnerable but stumbled through it, I only had to ask about card payment and then thank the man behind the counter.
I know what the therapist said to me makes sense. We are working on depression, particularly, on two things: behaviours and avoidance. I need to start doing things to lift my mood, which will help my enter social situations, which will, ideally, continue to lift my mood.
But, the voice lies in the way like a fallen tree. What do I do about it? Who do I turn to?
I have other health problems. I have poor digestion, diagnosed as IBS and, I have suffered from irregular undiagnosed tiredness. These too discourage me from social situations and have reduced the mental resilience that I had. I’m embarrassed by my appearance because I often look unwell being very fatigued.
Despite suffering these for years, I’ve not found any ways of improving the symptoms. The tiredness is getting worse. Mostly, I just plod through, ignoring things. I feel so low and self-hating, that I don’t think about myself. I don’t feel I have the mental space to care for myself. I am destroying myself, in a way.
I told the therapist that I was off anti-depressants. This, she said, might explain the worsening depression. I had only taken them for two-weeks. Once again, I’d given up. I feared the drunken effect. I wanted to retain mental creativity and to be myself and to be able to see nature.
Perhaps, I need to take them for a month or two and that will get me through the initial tunnel and I will feel that my brain is functioning relatively normal. Who’s to say? I don’t know what to do but I’m off them for now. My therapist recommended I go back on, to help me find the motivation to work on the CBT. But, I don’t think I will. Not for now.
The 40 minutes or so up, I headed to work, walking into the web of dread of facing colleagues. I felt embarrassed about coming in late. I sneaked past a colleague, mumbling hello so quietly she didn’t hear. One of my supervisors appeared by my desk to check that I had got in. I muttered apologies – afraid, as usual.
Then, I had a relatively easy day, sat at my desk completing a database at my own pace, uninterrupted. I’m very fortunate, my work is relaxed and interesting. My colleagues are pleasant and the manager wasn’t in. But, I have made it too easy for myself. I sit alone, away from everyone else and don’t interact much. It feels safer this way but, it is avoidance. The isolation makes me feel low, when I stop to think about it and my anxiety remains high, an illness that continues to fester and, likely, grow.
If I had been able to explain to my therapist my thoughts of not wanting to exist, I might’ve told her of my self-hatred. I can’t bear to think about myself without a sort of horror and cringing. I am ashamed of my anxiety but, mostly, my falseness. I put on act of assuredness. I make conversation with some of them and play-act to please them. I look intently into their eyes when they talk, I smile, I act very kind and modest. My manager has recently mentioned my thoughtfulness and modesty. “Still waters lie deep” he recently said.
But, where is this thoughtful, modest, kind, intelligent person at home? Not the person who ignores his problem, or, is unable to untangle them and instead lies in a half-made bed on the Internet, day-after-day, as body and mind deteriorate. If my colleagues could see me, how shocked they’d be. Is that the real me? Bedraggled, despairing, directionless, unwell thirty-something year-old?
Note to self: if I’m to keep these notes up, I need to be more rational and less rambling. Rationality will help me, if anything will.