Phew, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I last posted in July and have been MIA ever since. Why? Well, at first it was because I was still getting acclimated to my new job and new apartment. Then, as time went on, I just couldn’t find the motivation or inspiration to sit down and write. And then the lack of motivation turned into fear – because after several months, I felt it had been too long to come back. Who would still care to read what I had to write? I was and still am afraid of being rejected. So I did what a lot of students I meet with do: I froze. I chose not to think about it and whenever I did, I quickly pushed it out of my mind lest the guilt and fear of rejection consume me entirely. But as the pandemic keeps going and my anxiety and depression worsen, I figured it was time I go back to a coping technique that is tried and true: writing and sharing my experiences in hopes that it might make me, and you, feel a little less alone. So today I’m writing about what’s most immediately available to me: habits I recently realized were signs of my anxiety and depression.
This one’s obvious given what I just told you about. But it shows up in more ways than with just my blog. Lately, I’ve been able to do my laundry as in, I can put it in the washer and then the dryer and then…nothing. I cannot bring myself to fold and put it away. Just the thought of doing it results in this really heavy feeling like a brick is sitting on my chest. So I just leave it in the dryer. Do you know how frustrating it is to try and find socks or underwear or a wash cloth in piles of clothing? Because I do! You’d think that frustration would make me resolve the issue by folding the damn clothes but no. Even writing about it fills me with dread. Sometimes, usually around 1AM after waking up from falling asleep on the couch, I get this weird burst of energy where I start putting the dishes away, straightening out the cushions on the couch, everything except for putting the clothes away or getting ready for bed, for that matter. Because I also dread having to wash my face and brush my teeth. Just to be clear, I do end up doing the latter but I hate every moment of it. I’m not sure why certain little chores cause this feeling – I suppose that’s for my therapist to figure out!
Watch the same shows over and over
I’ve been watching Community every night for literal months. I’m not exaggerating! Every evening after work, I put on Community. I usually start within the same few episodes…and promptly fall asleep. The point is, I have a really difficult time starting anything new. With Community, I know how I’m going to feel because I’ve seen it plenty of times before. But in a world full of uncertainty, I’m usually unwilling to take the risk and watch something unfamiliar. What if it’s sad? What if it’s boring? I can’t take that risk! So when I do, as I recently did with Squid Game, I feel proud of myself? I put a question mark there because feeling proud of myself for watching a show that isn’t Community (or The Office) is…an odd flex but that’s where I am right now.
This one a lot of us can relate to. If it’s not the tv than it’s my phone with Facebook and Instagram and TikTok and on and on. I listen to Up First while getting ready. I listen to another podcast or music on the commute to work. I’m listening to music as I write this. In between tasks and appointments, I scroll on my phone – all to avoid a moment of silence because that’s when the brain does most of its thinking and I usually think about what makes me anxious. So to avoid all that, I keep my eyes glued to a screen. Unfortunately, all that does is leave the issue of my anxiety unresolved, to fester for another day until it all blows up in my face at once.
This one I’m pretty relieved about, actually. I always thought that I just had a moody, bitchy personality but it turns out that irritability is a really common symptom of anxiety. Realizing this has helped me be more kind with myself and also more patient. So when I go to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer only to realize that the clothes I washed a week ago are still in the dryer and I get incredibly irritated with past-Danielle, I can take a moment to pause and breathe. Because I realize that I’m not just someone with a short fuse but someone who struggles daily with my mental health – and that’s okay!
On that note, there is a silver lining to all of this: I have to meet my anxiety with kindness, compassion and patience. I won’t always feel this way and that’s a comforting thought. So until then, I’m going to be nice to myself even when I’m doing things that frustrate and irritate me. Oh and I’m going to keep meeting with my therapist because if there’s one thing a lifetime of living with this nonsense has taught me it’s that I cannot and should not go through it alone. And neither should you. So if you’ve been feeling like I’ve been or somewhat similar to it, make sure you reach out to someone, whether it’s your family, friends and/or a counselor.