Today was a pretty sucky day. It’s been a couple of sucky weeks.
And I haven’t posted or written anything in a long time.
And there’s a reason for that.
My last post… just sucked. Really sucked. It’s ok, I knew it when I was writing it and I knew it when I posted it, but I did it anyway because, let’s face it, last year this time was an incredibly huge black hole for me, but then I crawled out with the help of a shit ton of support and work and felt like I owed people something humorous after being in the dark for so long.
And yeah, there were a few things I liked, but most of it was totally over the top and it rang hollow.
So I stopped writing for a while. Because if I have to be a fake me while writing this, then I shouldn’t be writing at all.
So why am I writing now?
After I scratched my way back from the brink, I really, really thrived. And there were a lot of factors that helped with that.
Work was the best it had been in a while. There were, again, a lot of reasons for that, but overall I felt respected and relished connecting with my students. Even when a curveball was thrown during second semester and I was given two new classes to teach, it was invigorating to design units and lessons that I thought the kids would enjoy and learn from. I had an excellent group of kids overall.
I didn’t even go into the May panic (well, not too much) that comes with art shows, awards nights, field days, field trips and spring sports. I truly felt that I was handling things as well as I could.
And then the last two weeks.
Our summer slowed way down. I had a lot of time to work on summer projects, read, relax, and get ready for our big family vacation.
It should be great, right?
But it hasn’t been. And that scares the shit out of me.
The thing with depression and anxiety is that there is no diagnostic test to let you know if it’s coming back.
There’s no blood test, no CT scan, no MRI. Just a random check list of symptoms that could apply to so many situations.
Fatigue? Hell yes. It’s summer vacation, right? Eating more or less? Uh yeah. Can anyone say, ice cream?
Last week I had anxiety over our vacation. Bill and I work really hard and his vacation time is sacred. Usually we head to a beach and just re-energize and re-connect with each other and the kids. But this year, I planned a trip out west— the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Vegas– with lots of hikes and car rides to get from place to place.
And then anxiety walked into my ear.
No WiFi the kids are going to hate this it’s just not exciting enough they are going to be so mad that they’re spending this much time gone from home they are going to miss the dogs and cats and their beds and Bill hates long car rides and he can’t sleep well in hotels and you NEVER sleep in hotel rooms and they better be air conditioned and what if it rains and it sucks and it will be all your fault…
It followed into viewing social media.
They didn’t even ask you to come you’re a downer you’re always negative and have nothing to add to the conversation no one wants to be around you you’re awkward and an idiot.
It decided to stick around and get into my head about a neighborhood directory I worked on.
And these thoughts can only be countered, not controlled. Even though I was really happy with the way it turned out and I felt like I had done the best I could to make things accurate, imposter syndrome prevailed.
For every thank you, like or word of appreciation, my brain countered it.
Well, of course he’s going to be nice, he’s such a nice guy. And she’s going to say she likes it because she’s your friend.
And that made every criticism (real or imagined) pierce my soul, because those felt like the truth.
It sucks, you suck, it could have been so much better, I would have done it this way, it’s hard to read, I hate the font, it’s not centered, and on and on.
For the first time in a long time, I wanted to make myself hurt physically in order to drown out the emotional hurt.
I think I channeled it well though.
I rage-weeded the front yard. And there were made up conversations going. Trying to plan what criticism would be next and how to respond. And if this, then that, but if THIS, then THAT. And when I caught myself, I re-grouped and stopped the voices anew.
By the time I was done, the sweat, the back pain, the skin irritation, the cuts on my fingers felt… satisfying. My head was oddly clear and I felt a sense of accomplishment.
Plus, now it will look presentable for those who are taking care of the animals so they won’t gossip about how shitty our yard looks… Kidding!
(That was really a thought I had, but have since talked myself out of the reality of it, and by the way, who cares, right? Right?!?!?)
I really hope this will pass.
But I’m fearful after the experience of last summer.
Is this a blip? Is it the start of something more serious? Where is the line? When do I worry for real?
I could be exposing a lot of ignorance, but I feel like it’s akin to a cancer survivor going in for a follow up. Or even just every day after being told she’s in full remission.
Is the weight loss from diet or cancer? Is the fatigue from stress or cancer? is the pain due to a muscle strain or cancer? Is the lump a benign cyst or cancer?
Fear, fear, fear, fear, worry, worry, worry, no sleep, no sleep, dreams, nightmares, wake, fear, fear, fear…
I’m going to keep on with summer and do my best to enjoy what’s left of it. I’m going back to my toolbox of strategies. I’m going on vacation with my family and it will be fine, and if it isn’t, there isn’t much I can control. I’m going to read fluffy novels and watch The Office from episode 1 to the end. I’m going to hug kids and husband and dogs and cats.
And try to stay grounded.