In September, I wrote a post called “Pace Yourself”, and the gist of that post is that I must learn to do so, as much as I want to take advantage of the energy I have when I am in a hypomanic state.
The other day, the hypomania reared it’s ugly head and said, “We are going to cook dinner tonight, tomorrow and make spaghetti and meat sauce this weekend, and that is that,” even though the rest of me wanted to say, “But we are so tired and don’t have energy and feel sad.” I am experiencing what they call a “mixed state” right now, so I actually have the pleasure of feeling hypomanic, impulsive, chatty, and unable to sleep while also being depressed, anxious, exhausted and very sad all at the same time. My brain feels like it’s on fire, and the migraine I have had for 2 weeks does not help.
I actually did make dinner 2 nights in a row and I will “take advantage” of the fact that it is Family Day tomorrow, which means a day off of work, and cook a batch of sauce. Not because I actually want to, but because in the long run, it means I can have something in the freezer that easily converts into a dinner during the week.
As a result of these symptoms, I can’t trust my memory. Last week, I was convinced I left my straightening iron on in the morning, couldn’t stop thinking about it, and rushed home at lunch to check. Of course it was turned off, and unplugged, but I literally could not remember if I had turned it off or unplugged it (thankfully I don’t live too far from work).
I begin to doubt my memory and that I finished things at work, and am constantly double and triple checking to see that I did finish tasks, send letters out or whatever it was I had to do. I also have to check multiple times to make sure I take my paycheck home with me on Fridays! I am going to hope that it’s just a case of “This is your brain on stress” and nothing more sinister, because obsessive thoughts can be dangerous. Which brings me to a new type of thought that has been plaguing me for the past while: GERMS & VIRUSES.
I am one of those people who has emetophobia. It’s something that is very hard for me to say out loud because it makes me so anxious, but this is its definition:
Emetophobia is an intense, phobia that causes overwhelming, intense anxiety pertaining to vomiting. This specific phobia can also include subcategories of what causes the anxiety, including a fear of vomiting in public, a fear of seeing vomit, a fear of watching the action of vomiting or fear of being nauseated.
So, my new obsessive thoughts are about germs – where they may be laying in wait for me, how I may accidentally come into contact with them/ingest them, and what if someone who was sick touched my food or touched something I touched etc. I am not so terrified when it comes to colds, but you can imagine what types of flus scare me. I know that anxiety causes nausea and vice versa and it’s one of those chicken and egg situations where sometimes I don’t know what happened first. If someone near me at work or a friend mentions they have had the flu recently, I panic.
Eating out at restaurants is very hard for me because of this; there are certain foods I will not eat and I have a restricted diet as I am gluten free! I am afraid of undercooked meat and contaminated foods. But I don’t have the time to cook every meal, so I have to trick myself into believing that restaurants are okay to eat at/have clean surfaces to prepare their food on. If you have ever seen the movies Road Trip or Waiting you will understand why I have an irrational fear of what goes on in the kitchens of restaurants and am afraid to send my steak back if it is underdone! And we all know how powerful the mind is in tricking your body that you are going to be sick. If the brain says you are, you most likely will be.
My brain is being so mean to me! I think it’s punishing me for being overworked.
Okay back to what this post is supposed to be about…Part of pacing myself means finding a balance somewhere, and I currently am struggling to find balance. I am emotionally and mentally depleted. I spend way too much time worrying about work, my family, germs, the future, and anything else you can throw in there, that I am not living in the present.
Telling myself to pace myself didn’t work. Telling myself to take a mental health day (as per my last post) didn’t work either as that day turned into a “Melanie doing work from home” day and not much pleasure or relaxation was had that day. Then I spent the rest of that week bitter and angry.
I had a massage this weekend and for the first 5 minutes, I was convinced I was about to have a panic attack and would have to leave. I kept trying to think of something funny, or do a breathing exercise but I was so scared. I thought to myself, “Maybe if I start a conversation with the masseuse it will distract me enough to forget I am anxious,”and sure enough it worked. I know massages are supposed to be relaxing, but what can you do?
I admit that I am not okay right now, and I don’t know when I will be, so everyone stop asking! “Finding motivation”, “pacing myself” or whatever else someone would say to me is easier said than done. Baby steps? Have you ever seen how unsteady a baby’s first step is?
I just want to tell someone that I feel like I am being swallowed right now, and that I would like to hibernate. Hibernate and stop the clock, put everything on hold for now and just find time to breathe. Breathe so that I can breathe deeply. It’s hard to tell your friends and family to go away and leave you alone. People who care about you don’t always understand what “space” is, and how important it actually is. I should have a sign that says “handle with care”.
I always smile when I think of this Dr. Seuss quote:
This quote could not be more true, and it reminds you of who your true friends are.
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!