I just started three different sentences and deleted them all. I have too much rubbish flying around my head to write straight.
Yesterday I felt really brittle, ready to shatter at the slightest provocation. It was partly tiredness, partly codeine hangover (sorry to any boys reading this, but period pains. Yes, they are codeine-bad. They hurt like hell even WITH codeine, but at least I didn’t collapse in a puking heap on the metro), partly the prospect of a weekend spent lugging recycling from my old house to the recycling village, and partly college on Thursday. College was a bit of a bitch yesterday. I turned up late because of metro delays, in agony because someone was wringing my uterus out, sleepy from the painkillers and generally exhausted from my busy week – and then our tutor sprang Freud on us. I am not a fan of Freud. I sat there glowering and trying not to clutch my stomach for ninety minutes before launching into an impassioned speech about the potential for iatrogenic harm in a view that only nurture causes mental health problems, the concept that environmental triggers includes thing like viruses, prenatal nutrition, drugs and other biological things, and something about epigenetics that I can’t quite remember. The tutor agreed with me but I think I alienated most of the class in the process. Or maybe that was just me being paranoid and grumpy because I was exhausted and in pain.
It didn’t get better when half the students started bitching about the CBT lecturer at lunch. I think she’s fabulous – she has a calming influence on me because she’s very reflective and laid back. She always makes sure that everyone who wants to say something has had the chance to do so, which is great for me because I’m one of those people who will be sitting on the edge of their seat for ten minutes waiting for a gap in the conversation, only to be foiled by things moving on before I can find the confidence to speak. But some of the others hate it, and just want her to get on with things. It made me paranoid that they are all going to want to move over to the psychodynamic half of the class, folding the CBT side up – one of the CBT students did so last week, but that was because she’d been umming and ahhing for months and had picked the wrong side for her personality. Assuming that they would ALL do it was extreme and irrational of me, but I think I was worrying that the college, degree and career which I’ve already invested so much hope in were going to be taken away from me again. Up until a couple of years ago I was too scared to make plans for the future or allow myself to hope that something would work out for me, because I’d had too many disappointments before. Dropping out of my OT degree in particular was crushing, because I felt so accepted by the other students and the course was such a good fit for me. I’m terrified of something out of my control taking this course away from me too. When I am feeling particularly stressed out and vulnerable, as I was yesterday, I am far more susceptible than usual to these deep rooted anxieties. Which is actually a very CBT thing to say – that certain of my core beliefs like to poke me in the eye when I’m run down and freaked out 😛
Now – Saturday morning – I am feeling better. The cramps of doom have gone, work went okay yesterday (it’d been a difficult week), I’ve caught up on sleep a bit and don’t feel so batty, and Moontree and her partner (and partner’s car!) offered their help with the pile of recycling at my old house. Now I can move it in an hour or so rather than spending the whole weekend doing it by hand. Since it was Moontree who pointed me in the direction of a friend who needed a housemate as well I am accumulating a bit of a debt of gratitude towards her! My weekend is looking much calmer and more restorative than I feared it would be, and I am very glad of that. I think next week would have been near impossible to cope with if it had been as hectic as this one.
I feel better just for the fact that I’m sitting in bed in my lovely warm new house. I hadn’t realised how much my old home was affecting my mental health. I found it hard to get to sleep there because the size and emptiness of the house resonated with the remnants of my PTSD. It was always cold. I could never get through an evening without desperately wanting a drink to calm me down (not that I drank every evening, but it worried me that I wanted to). Living alone in that house became something I had to tough out to prove myself, not somewhere that I genuinely felt secure and happy and could develop my independence. It hardened me in the wrong ways. It made me swallow my anxiety and loneliness and try to drink it away, because I didn’t feel I would be able to cope if I felt it and stayed with it. I could never get off the internet because I so badly wanted company, and I would just sit there refreshing Facebook and Twitter when I had a hundred things I would be better off doing. I felt brittle for most of the time I was living there. Maintaining a façade of coping, but becoming more negative and scared the longer I stayed. The area was quite grey and run down too – it has a lovely rich history but has always been hit hard by unemployment and poverty.
When I first started recovering I was determined not to end up creating a hard outer shell of coping while feeling chaotic and self destructive underneath. I’ve lived like that for years in the past and it never worked. I tried really hard to mend myself from the inside out, and I did start to do that. I just interrupted the process when I moved to Newcastle, and was suddenly in a drastically different and more stressful situation without a support system. I ended up surviving the move – which is great, because every time I’ve moved away from home before I’ve been back there within six months, and I’ve been up north for fifteen so far now – but only just surviving. Not gaining any pleasure out of my life and struggling with that horrible low level depression which can so easily turn into a major breakdown if a little more stress is applied. Now I feel safer and happier, and I feel like I can exhale for the first time in over a year.