I’m happy to report that I’m doing a little better than I was the other day. Not amazing, but better nonetheless.

Over the last couple of days as I’ve struggled with mental stuff, I’ve done some reading and spent a lot of time thinking about my own actions and triggers, so I thought it might be useful to write up a few of them to share…

Although for the most part my anxiety is situational, not chemical, I find it kind of interesting to analyze and try to visualize how it is that my brain processes being overwhelmed.

For example, I read a description that I really took to heart where a guy stated that he had trouble looking forward to things – birthday parties for the kids, having company over, etc… – because in his mind, each of these things got framed as “more stuff that I’m going to have to do.” So having family visit balloons into this big mess because the house is dirty and needs to be cleaned, and the sheets for the spare bed need to be washed, and you’ve got to figure out what they want to eat and go grocery shopping … a methodology I can kind of relate to because when you’re already feeling overwhelmed, the last thing you need is people adding more stuff to your list!

I’ve also noticed that some people interpret being quiet as being upset, which makes things more challenging for me because A) I’m not really a very outgoing person anyways, and more importantly B) when I’m struggling, sometimes underneath that quiet I’m actually fighting against myself not to explode over things that I know shouldn’t bother me, but for whatever reason right now are just rubbing me the wrong way.

It’s definitely a true statement that when I hit those ugly lows, sometimes I lash out at people who’ve done nothing wrong except for be in the proximity when I’ve hit my breaking point, which is why I think I’d rather either have people not engage with me at all or just try to have a normal conversation with me instead of asking, “What’s wrong?” because I seem quiet or don’t have a beaming smile on my face.

Of course, that said – sometimes I just need a break from people, to say nothing about the people themselves, but sometimes talking with other people is mentally taxing and I need some alone time to unwind and let things mellow out again.

That’s the real crux of my anxiety, I’d say – because when I’m getting more and more overwhelmed by a situation, the key is to take a step back from it, not try to force myself to power through and be social anyways.

It’s interesting because the other day when I was particularly low, I thought about the end of the day and how I was going to finally relax and unwind once I’d gotten through it all. I dreamed about lighting a nice, relaxing ocean-scented candle and turning this app I have on my phone to the sound of ocean waves, and just laying back and unwinding for a bit…

…and yet instead of doing that at the end of my day, I wrote this blog post about it insteadand that ended up being just as therapeutic.

One thing I’ve definitely learned from going to therapy for something like three years now is that getting things out in the open is a much better way of dealing with them than keeping them stuffed up inside. Sometimes that just means talking about them with my wife or my therapist, but as I get older I’m also growing a little bit braver in talking publicly about my anxiety issues, and if someone else stumbles upon these posts and they help them through a hard time, then that’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned!

Don’t be surprised if I start writing about mental health here on my blog a little more, both to work through issues that I’m experiencing as well as do brain dumps of the random pieces I’ve gathered in my head from time to time. As long as they’re positive and productive, I don’t mind comments on these pieces, but I am going to maintain a zero tolerance policy if someone sees this as an opportunity to bitch about how therapy is for the weak or it’s all just in your head.

I mean, it is in my head … that’s what I’m trying to work out here on paper … but I don’t need anyone being a dick about it while I’m going through the process. That’s all.

The Longest Day

March 23, 2018 2:27am
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I don’t normally write about my problems with anxiety & depression, but today was probably one of the worst days that I’ve ever had, so I wanted to take a few candid notes here to read back to myself at another time…

There were parts of today where I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the day.

There were parts where I felt like a failure, both as a parent and as a husband.

There were parts where I had to beg my kids with tears in my eyes to do what I needed them to do because all they wanted to do was fight back.

I’m still recovering a bit from my kidney stones earlier this week, but I don’t think that was it. This is in my head.

Today my life completely and utterly overwhelmed me. It felt like I had 1,000 things on my plate to accomplish, and I was capable of accomplishing approximately zero of them.

It felt like I met every form of resistance along the way, most from the kids because toddlers just know how to push your buttons before they even know that they’re doing it. Not wanting to eat. Not wanting to put on clothes. Not wanting to stop hitting one another. There was just no end to it, to the point where I felt guilty of just how relieved I felt when I got the first two down for their nap … at which time the third started to up his game to make up for his sleeping brothers…

I screamed at one of my sons – multiple times – not out of anger, but out of desperation. And I knew before I was even done yelling that I was in the wrong by the way he winced and clamped his hands over his ears.

I don’t want to be the type of Dad that my kids fear. EVER.

Some people tried to help along the way, but I declined it – I think because accepting help for something that I felt like I should’ve been able to handle made me feel like even more of a failure.

I tend to get overwhelmed when I realize that I have more tasks to do than I can actually get done, and it’s much worse when more and more tasks continue to get piled on top while I’m already standing there staring with my hands up in the air.

What helped me to inch my way through the day was to stop and take a breath, and then choose three things that I was going to work on next…

  1. Take my pills.
  2. Feed the kids.
  3. Start the laundry.

The mountain was infinitely larger than that, but the list protected me from the mountain as long as I focused on it because nothing new gets to tumble down from the mountain onto it until it’s clear.

  1. Find clothes for the kids.
  2. Pack a bag with diapers and bottles.
  3. Start getting them dressed and ready to go, one at a time.

  1. Get the kids in the car.
  2. Refill the tank at the gas station.
  3. Drive-thru to pick up something for dinner.

Looking back, I don’t yet know how to prevent days like today from happening again, but I can tell myself this – I made it.

It was one of the worst episodes of depression that I’ve ever faced, and I survived it.

And I’ve got lots of follow-ups to do, and I’m sure I’ll talk a lot about it in therapy tomorrow, but that’s why I go. Because my brain has issues, and sometimes they grow to be completely and utterly overwhelming.

Tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully it will be better than today was, but if it isn’t … I’m capable of surviving that, too.

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