I started this week with a session with the psychologist and we reviewed how I was going with my medication. I suppose what I can say is that I feel more easily agitated. Less sleepy during the day, generally speaking (not accounting for burnout as described below). Less tolerant of social and sensory overwhelm. Still no real resurgence of medical anxiety or panic attacks.
I often like to know ‘how long’ something will take, or last. So I wanted to know how long I would give this new dose to know whether it’s the right dose for me. After some jokes about ‘how long is a piece of string?’ he said that six weeks would be a good time frame, so at least I know that I am still within an adjustment period. And we both agreed that with all of the ‘stuff’ going on lately, it was a good sign that I hadn’t fallen into the usual patterns of anxiety and panic, and that my bigger concern was losing momentum.
But as another week comes to a close, I am wondering if the lower dose is part of my lower tolerance to life, and if over time it will build up and my mental state will worsen. But before I go projecting too far into the future, I remind myself that I am going to weekly appointments, so I am being closely monitored and am not doing this alone.
All the small things added up
Sometimes things that seem really small to NT people can seem really big to me. Especially when they accumulate. So in reflecting back, here are some of the things that added up to set me into exhaustion.
I am still working on eating better. Sometimes this is so difficult. Having Easter chocolates all over the house hasn’t helped.
I still have people at home a lot. My kids haven’t left the house much without me over the school holiday period. My husband has been home more than usual as many of his clients have gone away. And I’ve also had to deal with a lot of uncertainty in his schedule – so many last minute changes have left me unsure of what to expect.
Even bedtime hasn’t given me much respite because my 9 year old has come in nearly every night to tell me that she can’t sleep. Her lack of sleep and everyone being home together so much has probably contributed to the constant bickering that has been going on between my girls. Which is another auditory assault – and there’s also the stress of conflict.
Sometimes I just don’t get why being around people is so hard. I grew up with six siblings and had to tolerate a lot of busy, noisy stuff between school and home. Why am I so intolerant now? Is it the addition of responsibilities I didn’t have as a child? Is it the changes in our society where there is an expectation of being available and ‘plugged in’ all the time? I could really go down a tangent here but I won’t. Maybe that’s another blog for another time.
I suspect that there is some hormonal stuff happening too, as I am around that midcycle time where hormones are changing. I haven’t coped well with my sugar, carb, and chocolate cravings.
I am still trying to move forward with my poetry / book projects and I feel stuck, so I have had to reach out for help. Yes, it’s a success in that I have made that difficult step of connecting with someone – but there is the concern about having to ‘build a platform’ and participate in social media again; and there is also the concerns that it doesn’t matter how good I may be at writing. There are millions of good writers. What always comes up is that I don’t want to play the games required to be a success.
After working in the very early days of social media marketing for bands, I got very burned out. And I learned that it doesn’t necessarily matter how good you are at what you do, how creative you are, how talented you are, etc… It seems like you have to ‘play the game’ and I hate playing games. You have to network. To know ‘the right people’ and often kiss ass. I just cannot do that. I feel physically ill when I think about it. And that’s not to say that all networking or social opportunities are disingenuous. But even when they are positive and authentic, I get really exhausted. Even if I don’t have to mask.
Burned the fuck out
It’s Saturday, just after noon. Today I laid in bed until about 9:30 am, which is unusual for me. But just a couple of hours later, I am back in my bed. I was a little torn between pulling the blankets over my head and writing this blog. But I kind of felt like if I didn’t write, I would just be creating this blog in my head, and that would keep me from being able to relax anyway. So I decided that I might as well type it out and then pull the blankets over me and shut the world out.
Last weekend we had Easter, and there was a lot of stuff going on, as I mentioned in my blog from last week. So I felt really prepared to mitigate the sensory and social overwhelm. But this week, I was kind of taken by surprise by how drained I felt by Friday.
As I mentioned, the week started with a psych appointment. As for the rest of the week, I really don’t know what I did that was so exhausting. I guess there was a lot of shopping. Groceries on Tuesday. A trip to a shop that my daughter wanted to go to on Wednesday. On Thursday I had to take my daughter to the mall to get some new shoes. I kept to my usual routine of taking a rest every day.
But by Friday I was completely drained anyway.
Yesterday, when this took me by surprise, I had to ‘give in’ to extra rest. After a very busy week doing stuff out of the house, I figured that Friday would be a great day to catch up on things around the house, and with work. But I was wrong. Instead, I found myself having one of those days where I just do as little as fucking possible. Funny enough I had just saved this comic because I used to have those days a lot, and I figured they would come again. And it was a good reminder that, yeah, ND people just can’t ‘people’ the way that other people can. And we can’t do all of the things that we want to – even when they are things we really like doing. And that we need to have these kinds of days where we are just staring at the wall, or laying under the blankets by ourselves. Where we might have a cry. Or listen to our favourite music, or watch a comfort show or movie. And we can leave the fucking guilt behind already.
I really do hope that the artist can accept that to do better, some days you need to do nothing. I have found that for me this is absolutely true, but it seems so counterintuitive and wrong, and has taken me a long time to accept. I still don’t always like it, and sometimes I forget that it’s what’s happening, but it is something that I have come to accept.
And so, yesterday didn’t turn out as I hoped. I did a lot of laying around and still felt exhausted. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to make dinner. I fell asleep when I would normally be cooking. But once I got up I felt a lot better and I was up to making a simpler version of dinner than I had planned. I made comfort food (chicken soup). After I ate, I had enough left in my energy reserves to be present with my family until I went to bed.
I had hoped that a nice sleep in, and a night with no kid-terruptions would have meant that I was energised today. But nope. I felt those familiar feelings of agitation and burnout. I was still overdone, as noted above.
Agitation sets in
If I had to describe the feeling, the best I could say is that it seems like I am a raw nerve. Like so many basic things are so difficult. My ability to cope with noises is really low right now. Voices speaking at normal volume seem too loud. I can’t stand normal household noises; hearing my husband brush his teeth. The opening of a container. The closing of a door. The kids bounding down the stairs. It’s like the volume on everything is turned way up and I can’t turn it down. I can even hear the silence at a much louder tone than I usually hear it. I am going to get some active noise cancelling headphones soon, but I don’t have them yet.
This kind of agitation makes me feel like scratching at my skin. Not necessarily in a self harming way. But it feels like there’s some kind of internal energy that needs burning off. It’s like I am feeling my internal ‘self’ jumping up and down, but from the outside I look calm. Clearly, part of me needs movement but the irony of it is that I cannot do the things to burn it off because my body has no energy to move. Typing this is about all I can do.
But at least I have been able to escape into my room for some time alone before I flew into a rage! God I just hope nobody crunches food near me today. That might just push me over the edge.
Where’s your compassion now?
This morning when I was lamenting how the people who are willing to play the game get the rewards, accolades and recognition that I was promised as a ‘gifted kid’; and admitting that I was angry at the way the world works, but also at myself for not being able to play the game; when I was angry that I felt like I couldn’t do anything today… my husband kindly reminded me that I was not being very compassionate to myself.
Yeah, that is totally true. And I do agree that I need to be compassionate – but I also want to allow the anger because I know that there are lessons in it. And that it needs to be acknowledged. I am not hurting myself or others, or destroying property. But blowing off a little steam by venting my frustrations in this situation is actually a sign of growth. It’s hard at times for me to admit when I feel envious of others because I was always taught that envy was a sign of a ‘bad person’ – but come on – that seems like some real denial to pretend that everyone doesn’t feel envious at one time or another!
And I probably will go back and have a compassionate inquiry type conversation with myself around that feeling of envy. But I am just too fucking tired to do that just now. The agitation has given way to that bodily fatigue where I feel like it’s too hard to lift my limbs. So I am going to cuddle up with a hot water bottle, and pull the blankets over my head and stay in my bed until I am ready to get moving again. To be honest, it will probably be hunger that gets me moving. Good thing I have some more chicken soup to heat up when I am ready.