Bad Day Blues

Thursday was just a Bad Day. A prime example: I accidentally spilled crumbs on my laptop keyboard when I was initially getting ready to write this post, and even hours later my keys keep sticking. I have to press very hard, often multiple times, to get certain keystrokes to register. It makes every word I type painful.

I woke up – or so I keep telling myself, maybe I didn’t really – feeling tired and completely unmotivated to do anything. I was sad for most of the day. I didn’t have fun playing a game I usually enjoy. I wanted to do something, but nothing seemed appealing enough to be worth the effort it would take. I kept falling asleep, having weird vivid dreams, and waking up feeling disoriented. I felt frozen with fear and stayed very still for what felt like long periods of time. I didn’t want anyone to see me, so I hid in my room and stayed as quiet as possible. My thoughts wouldn’t organize themselves.

I realized human interaction might help, but I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out to anyone. Quite the opposite: I wanted to withdraw from everything and everyone. I wanted to die. When I’m at my most vulnerable, interacting with others is like walking into battle without armor. Even the most well-meaning people want something from me, and in those moments I have absolutely nothing to give. I need a hug and permission to be miserable.

I scratched myself, leaving a solitary long thin red line down my left forearm. I tried really hard not to do it, to use non-harmful pressure and rubbing instead, but those sensations couldn’t cut through the depression fog. The pain did, at least partially. At least temporarily. Everything became clearer; I was in the world again.

None of the strategies I’ve developed or had suggested to me were even relevant. How can I refute harsh thoughts when they won’t form themselves into words? All I had was feeling sad and lifeless. How can I direct anger outward when it’s barely glowing ashes that refuse to form a flame? All they do is gnaw at me and hurt. How can I use tools when I don’t even have the strength to lift them? What good is it to think about what I can do, if I lack the energy and motivation to get out of bed? All those choices just overwhelm me and I end up doing nothing – and feeling worse.

All I could do was give myself permission to be a bum all day. To feel miserable. And if I did manage to get myself to do something, I picked an activity that would get my mind off my emotions. It sucked.

But at the end of the day I’m still here. I’ll be really impressed if Friday manages to be worse. It’s a lot more likely to be at least a little bit better. That gives me some hope.

Christmas Eve: An Emotional (and functional) Rollercoaster

On Christmas Eve, I awoke knowing I hadn’t gotten enough sleep and determined to claim the last hour or two I required. My fiance got up, got dressed, and tried to wake me gently. Eventually I acquiesced, had breakfast, and took my morning pills (Zoloft, omega-3, vitamin B, and vitamin D).

Then we launched into baking cookies. I did most of the work mixing the ingredients while my fiance cleaned and got some Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas music playing. We worked together to put the cookie dough on the trays and get the trays in and out of the oven in a timely manner.

I was on top of the world through the whole process. Between the music and sharing a favorite holiday tradition with someone I love, I simply could not imagine anything better. And the results of our labor were some of the most delicious, satisfying, euphoria-inducing cookies I have ever had. I couldn’t wait to share them!

I felt like everything was right again and I could stop taking my medication.

Then my fiance took about half the cookies and left to spend the holiday with his family, an arrangement we’d agreed on days earlier. I worked on a project with my best friend over Skype, an endeavor which was fun and satisfying but also more stressful than I think either of us had anticipated. Once we finished, it was time for me to get ready to go.

The plan was for me to spend Christmas Eve with my best friend at her parents’ house, then go to my mom’s that night so I could spend Christmas Day with her. I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of not only getting ready to visit with people, but also having to plan what I would wear for another day or two and put together an overnight bag.

I’m moving back in with my mom in a couple of months, so she had suggested that I bring some things over with me as part of that transition (which is stressful in its own right). Deciding what items I could live without for a couple of months – and packing them so they’d be manageable to carry, along with the other items I was bringing – was just too much for me to handle. I decided pretty quickly to let that one slide; there will be plenty more opportunities for me to go through things and bring some of them to Mom’s.

I showered, then sat down on my bed with my towel draped over me. It’s an organizing tactic that admittedly slows me down, but feels necessary when I’m stressed about going somewhere. My roommate was watching a movie in the other room with the sound so loud it was making the whole apartment vibrate.

I froze. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t tell you what emotion(s) I was feeling.
I was stuck.

All of my energy went into holding my rigid position and taking things in through my senses: I saw the objects within my range of vision, heard the catastrophically loud music and sound effects and walls vibrating, felt the bed under my hips and legs and the towel draped over my shoulders. I was aware of my heartbeat and respiration. That was all I was – that, and a sense that I should be doing something else.

Finally, I got myself to move. I stuck out a leg, suspended it horizontally from the bed, and froze again. My intention had been to get up and start getting dressed, but I became stuck in this new position. My leg shook slightly with the effort of keeping it in place, but I did not move. Waves of fatigue, sadness, and anxiety washed over me.

Eventually, with much effort, I was able to get dressed, put together an overnight bag, remember to bring my viola so my friend and I could play string music together for the first time in seven months, check the weather and decide I should wear my winter boots in case of snow, etc.

I forgot to get gas so I had to drive around in a circle. Then I got boxed in at the gas station. Then when I was about a third of the way to my destination I realized I had forgotten the one Christmas present I’d managed to pick up – my present for my mom. I felt horrible. I was already an hour late for dinner, the weather was getting gross, it was dark, and I was tired. I kept driving toward my friend’s parents’ house, furious with myself for “messing everything up.”

The thought of committing suicide entered my mind, but I fended it off with the conviction that it would be horribly cruel to subject my loved ones to that much sorrow – especially on Christmas Eve.

People were still eating when I arrived at my destination, so I joined their meal and conversation. It was very pleasant. My best friend and I played a few duets, then it was time to exchange presents. I felt awkward receiving presents when I had none to give, but I was happy with the gifts I got and enjoyed seeing the exchanges among family members and friends.

Once the exchange was complete, we went back to making music together, which at least started out as an enjoyable activity. I felt insecure about sight reading, but did my best and had some fun playing Christmas duets.

Unfortunately, I had to stop playing viola before long. I’d fallen back on bad habits, was holding my left wrist in a very awkward position, and had pain shooting down my left arm whenever I moved my fingers. I felt depressed and tired, but my friend was understanding.

We sat down on the couch to listen to some recorded viola music and I fell asleep, occasionally twitching.

Soon after I woke up we watched The Muppet Christmas Carol, one of my most favorite movies ever. I love the music and I resonate with the message behind the story: no matter how much pain you have experienced, you can still find love and cheer if you’re open to it.

I sang along to all the songs and felt fantastic!

Visiting with Mom after that was very enjoyable. She didn’t seem angry that I had forgotten her present. I enjoyed opening the presents she had gotten for me and expressing my gratitude for them. Eventually we went to bed, tired but content.

Today Mom and I were late leaving to visit with family, but otherwise had a pleasant Christmas. Yes, I took my medication. My mood – primarily content – was a lot more stable than yesterday. My energy levels fluctuated from moderate to low enough that I had to fight to stay awake. Speaking of which, this entry needs to end because I’m losing my current battle. Good night!