Perfect Storm

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Right now I’m in a headspace that I haven’t been in for some time.

For starters, today has been spent unsuccessfully fighting a persistent, nagging, unproductive cough left over from the cold. I feel constantly just on the edge of a coughing fit that makes me dizzy and causes pain in my right shoulder during the bad coughing jags. That’s been a wet blanket on my whole day, and honestly there’s nothing I can do about that except continuing to throw cough medicine at it and hope that it works for a while.

I’ve spent half the afternoon and evening being supremely frustrated at my algebra homework, and that’s led me to avoid reaching out to someone for help with what’s got me stumped. My brain’s been telling me “you go see the instructor tomorrow morning anyway, bring it up then” when there are multiple people that have offered to help me with any questions I may have. Continuing to avoid the situation has only served to make me more irritated at myself, which just serves to lock me into place regarding reaching out to someone. To top it all off, I’ve been dealing with someone online that I really dislike, and my mood from earlier has got me feeling quite confrontational – something that anyone that knows me well can tell you is very much not me – which is further aggravating my own anger at myself.

It seems practically everyone and everything is capable of getting under my skin tonight, and I’m apparently leading the charge.

It’s been months since I felt like this. I used to feel this way fairly regularly not that long ago. Since my mental illnesses have subsided in recent months, I’ve been virtually symptom-free, and it’s been glorious. To be going through this now, after such a long time of not experiencing this anger and frustration, feels like a bit of a setback.

But.

I know that what I’m going through is temporary. I know that even though I’ve basically lost most of today in productive study, I’m not quite yet in over my head, although my weekend plans are at risk if I don’t get this resolved quickly. The assignment that I feel so far behind on isn’t due until a week from tomorrow, so there’s time to recover, even though I’ve only barely started the assignment. (Note to self: time management skills are your friend. Use them next time.) Tomorrow morning instead of going into the classroom close to a half hour early, I’ll stop off at my instructor’s office to get things figured out, even though that means admitting I’m pretty much behind schedule. It’s not the end of the world. And my online frustration can be mitigated by not participating in and ignoring the conversation that’s got me so worked up. That’s an easy fix.

So while they’ve taken a little bit of time to get on board, my coping mechanisms are finally in place and my frustration and anger is easing off. Writing this post helped immensely with taking the edge off my emotions. Besides, the evening’s almost over, so it’s time for me to work on unwinding before bed and letting go of all that stuff that’s trying to ruin my day.

Tomorrow is a fresh start. I should be back to normal then.

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September 30, 2015: Three Good Things

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1. I got a chance to use a coping skill today while waiting for the car to be repaired. When I walked into the large waiting area, there was a woman speaking loudly on the phone in a foreign language. I have nothing against that, but because I didn’t understand what she was saying, and because she was speaking so loudly, it became cacophonous quickly. At the table behind this lady, there was another woman on her phone. This woman was speaking softly on her phone – okay, well, not ON it, AT it, because she had it on speakerphone and the volume was turned up as high as I think it could possibly go. There was very little conversation going on between the woman and the person on the other end of the phone – mostly because the other end of the phone was a constant barrage of two children playing as noisily as they could, up to and including screaming at one another. Both of these conversations went on simultaneously for over 45 minutes, and I was rapidly approaching sensory overload, to the point that I almost – almost – swallowed that part of me that is terrified of confrontation to go ask the woman to please take her call off speakerphone. Being so agitated, I did the only thing I knew to do – I went in the bathroom and hid for about ten minutes until my nerves were less frayed. (To be clear, I wasn’t agitated at the woman speaking loudly – some people just have a voice that carries – but subjecting an entire waiting area full of people to 45 minutes of screaming children blasted through a tinny sounding phone speaker was just downright rude.) Managed to survive just fine and both conversations ended within five minutes of one another, leaving the waiting room almost eerily quiet for the rest of my stay. (TL;DR: I got sensory overload and used a coping skill to combat it.)

2. My recall on the first portion of the poem that I’m performing next month is just slightly rusty today. I recited the verse that I’ve memorized (there are four) to my wife, hesitated on a line, handed her the poem without looking, then went out on a limb and tried what I thought was the line. I was correct, so technically, despite the bobble, I can still remember it after a day.

3. Today will be the third straight day that I’ve completed my checklist in its entirety. The last time this happened was during a period when I had “commute” on my checklist, something that I didn’t do every day. If I didn’t drive my wife to work that day, I just marked it as non-applicable and considered doing everything else as a complete day. This was over ten months ago. This is the first time in the eleven months that I’ve been keeping this checklist that I’ve straight up done everything for the day for three days running. I’m rather proud of that.

An Interesting Exercise

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As I related yesterday, I’ve been given a new tool to try and center me in instances where I’m irrational or frozen (think fight/flight/freeze) and last night I had an opportunity to put it to the test.

Therapy was very rough on me yesterday. (I wrote about it in detail yesterday; be aware there are sexual assault triggers if you wish to read up.) By the time the evening rolled around I was tired and lonely and feeling exceptionally isolated – the perfect recipe for me to become both frozen and irrational.

I told my wife that I was in bad shape and she responded by asking me “what do you see/hear/smell/feel/taste? I responded the best I could, even interjecting humor into my responses (my sinuses were completely closed, I couldn’t smell a thing). And by the time we’d made it to the final question, I was feeling considerably better. I was still lonely, but I was registering the reality that she’d be off work and home soon, and the loneliness and isolation I felt were tolerable for that short period of time.

It’s only one test, but it worked beautifully.

The next step is going to be learning to ask myself those questions when I start down that path toward irrationality.