My mood has completely sunk today. For the past week I’ve been running on a sort of anxious energy. That doesn’t feel great, because it’s a hyperactive and insecure place. But I was coping with it because I could keep myself busy and not get dragged into my usual cycle of depressive thoughts.
While that energy was around, I started to think that I could manage my therapist being away and it wouldn’t be so bad. I was distracted from all the internal crap that I usually talk about with J. Plus, not having therapy was making it easier to avoid thinking about the stuff I find most distressing.
After having a load of family visit me yesterday, I’m experiencing what feels like an emotional hangover. I was massively anxious when they were all here. I could feel myself being highly vigilant to how they might be feeling, and also to everything that wasn’t said. With my grandma, cousin, dad, sister and all the metaphorical elephants in the room, it felt claustrophobic. After an hour I was desperate for them all to leave, but they stayed another four. It felt like an endurance test.
Now I am feeling wiped. I feel lethargic and nauseous. It’s like this cold, heavy melancholy has wrapped itself around me. I want to make a warm blanket nest and go to sleep so I don’t have to be with these thoughts anymore. I’m craving something and I’m not sure what. It could be alcohol or self harm. Or maybe it is just comfort. I want to talk about what’s circling in my head and feel safe and held, but it’s almost two weeks until I see J again. I feel desperate when I think about that. It’s like the part of me that needs her has no grasp of the fact that time passes and 12 days isn’t forever. That part of me just feels abandoned.
To make this all worse, I have to go to my office Christmas party tonight. I despise enforced fun. Especially enforced fun when sober; it is just awkward. In my drinking days I looked forward to it because there is always a free bar and it’s easy to have a good time when you’re all drunk together. Now that drinking is unsafe for me, I feel like a spare part at these events. While I get on well with my colleagues at work, I feel self-conscious when out of context with them. I want them to like me and find me entertaining, which feels impossible when I am sober (aka boring) and nervous.
My instinct is to flake on the party and hibernate. But logic tells me that’s more avoidance. I won’t feel better for it, in fact it will only feed my feelings of failure, making me feel even more crappy about myself. Plus, I don’t want to be seen as unreliable, particularly since I’m still striving to prove myself at work after taking six months of sick leave last year. So I will go, show my face and make strained small talk for as long as is tolerable. As soon as it seems appropriate I will make my escape. Then I can hibernate.
Photo: See-ming Lee, Creative Commons.