“Surprise!” screams a Panic Attack.
I have had a string of really good days. Let’s get that out of the way first.
To begin with I believe the augmentation drug my doctor prescribed me is working. Generally — NOT FRICKIN’ RIGHT NOW — but generally my Anxiety levels have been lessening over the past couple weeks. And I think I’ve been on the additional medication for a few weeks. So, how I’m feeling generally is a good thing and likely attributable to the new med. Plus — awesome-sauce — the rare (potential) side effects never hit me. I’m not more jittery. I’m not gaining weight. I am feeling better. My mornings especially are feeling pretty super compared to where things were just a few weeks ago.
So why, why, WHY does right now suck so much?
I kind of felt the Anxiety approaching me earlier in the day.
Well, wait, that’s a lie. Last night, I felt the Anxiety. My social media feeds were filled with really nasty things being said about vulnerable people — refugees fleeing for the life should apparently all be feared despite what the good books teach us. And I started feeling some really depressive thoughts.
I managed to get myself to sleep. But I was up by 12:30 am and never fell back asleep.
Now, that was a problem because today was supposed to be a big day for me. Big advocacy plans.
So I didn’t risk taking any extra meds that might make me feel drowsy — calm me down. I could have fallen asleep at work possibly. Not a good thing when you’ve got big advocacy plans.
So I grinned and bared it. I plowed through the day getting good stuff done, but feeling crappy about nearly all of it.
I felt weak. Not anxious — YET — but depressed and weak.
By mid-afternoon I tried to trigger thoughts that would make me feel strong, and that worked surprisingly. My mood did pick up for a couple hours.
And then those big advocacy plans kinda just became so-so advocacy plans. Nothing wrong happened. But other world issues got in the way and my big advocacy plans couldn’t compete for the attention I wanted them to receive.
So what? … “SURPRISE!” screamed a Panic Attack, in what at the moment felt like out of nowhere.
“Michael, YOU SUCK!” Anxiety yelled at me.
“YOU ARE A TERRIBLE ADVOCATE! … AND I MEAN THAT WITH CAPITAL LETTERS” I felt It say to me.
I was all like, “Where did you come from?!? I’ve been doing good. I did not mess up —“
“YES YOU DID YOU STUPID FOOL.”
Anyhow, this isn’t a call for help. I made it home. I took my meds. I will fall asleep. Tomorrow will — well it should — be better.
But it’s really, really hard to be on the upswing and then your Anxiety plunges upon you and drags a little Depression along with it. So hard.
I do not want to feel this way tomorrow.
POSTSCRIPT: It’s 2 am the following morning. I did get about 4 hours of sleep. Hopefully after trying to meditate or something I will sleep again for an hour or two before the official “wakey-wakey” time.
I know I’ve internalized too much. I see photos of all these scared refugee children, and I am like “I know I can only do so much to help in this situation. But the social justice guy in me does that social justice turn of phrase and says the popular thing amongst us social justice folks, “Michael, you can do so much!”
It’s a blessing and a curse … a call to action, but for some, like me, a call to have unhealthy expectations. (Me to self: “Michael, you can only do so much.” Me back to myself: “But I have to do something.”)
It’s also unhealthy for me to think that I — alone — can accomplish anything. Social justice has the word “social” before it for a couple reasons, I think. It requires many people acting together.
My therapist would tell me, “Michael, you need to do what you can / want to do and then be okay with the fact that you lived and acted based on your values. Accept that. But you cannot control everything. Accept what you can do today; don’t expect that you can control the outcome.”
Those are tough words for a social justice advocate to process and to live with.
I need to schedule another visit with my therapist.
We kind of left things at a “Okay, do some homework and then come back to me.” I still need to do some homework. But I need to schedule that visit so I can come to her with a sheet of paper with two columns: things I can accept (i.e. things I can do today … live according to my values) and things I can(not) control (i.e. the arc toward justice moves slowly; I can only do / expect so much.)