Misery

I don’t want to eat

I don’t want to cook

I’ve done both but have had no joy

From sticky sweetness cloying in my mouth

Sticking in my throat.

I don’t sleep but

I don’t want to be awake.

I don’t want to read

Don’t want to watch TV:

They can’t numb my mind any more.

I don’t want people

Though, I don’t want

To be alone.

Indoors I’m angry

Outdoors I’m bitter.

I don’t want sunshine or

Sounds of birds.

I don’t want my bed, or sofa

Or a refreshing shower.

What I want,

Is to not feel like

This.

Letting go… Just a little.

I want to say that everything is alright, but it isn’t. No matter how many ways I force myself to look at it, it isn’t.

Yesterday started off well. There was still an edge to him but he called as usual in the morning and we even laughed about our antics the night before.

In the afternoon I decided to text him as I was missing him. Just a little text. Maybe I shouldn’t. Who knows? But I was missing him so I did.

I got a response a few hours later: he’d been asleep. I called him and we chatted. Or, I should say, I did most of the talking, filling him in on my day. He was half asleep as he had just woken and he didn’t say a great deal, other than ask a few questions.

The call ended and my stomach sank.

He called me after he had eaten. Once again he was quiet. We spoke briefly then he said he would go. So, with my new impetus on being honest I asked why? He said he had nothing to talk about and he wanted to watch something. So, we are still doing this, are we? I said that there were lots of things we could talk about and I felt like he wasn’t even trying. His response? ‘Like what?’

I told him that I just wanted to be with him (he said ‘I know’) and this was making me feel that he didn’t want to be with me.

“That’s your problem, not mine.”

By this point he’d gone into defensive position (eyes shut like he’s going to sleep which he may well have been) and I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere. I said it was our problem as we were in a relationship. I told him I would go then. He shrugged his shoulders and said ‘If you want.’ I told him I didn’t want to.

I attempted another conversation with limited success and then I just gave up. I said goodnight, that I loved him and blew a kiss. I barely got a response.

I took an hour to reflect. If he wants to go, I just need to let him whether it’s because he’s still making the point, sulking or just wants to be alone. I’m getting nowhere otherwise. By pursing it, I’d once again nearly started an argument with him when he wasn’t in the mood.

So, I text to say I was sorry, that I just wanted to be with him because I missed him. I said goodnight and sent a kiss. An hour later, he sent me a kiss back.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking since then. As I said, it’s not good, however you look at it.

I can’t keep making excuses for his current behaviour. Maybe he is a little depressed – with the situation in his country I can hardly blame him. Maybe he’s still sulking. Maybe he is pulling away, despite what he says. Fact is, his moods at the moment are hurting me.

Perhaps I need to be stronger. Perhaps I need to have more faith in his insistence that he doesn’t have a problem with me. One thing I have realised, is that I can’t keep chasing him. It’s getting me nowhere.

So, I’m letting go, to an extent.

Courtesy of me.me

I’m going to text in the morning as I always do. But then, I’m going to give him space to contact me. I will check in with a text in the afternoon if I don’t hear from him. I still want him to know that I miss him, that I’m there if he wants me which is important if he is low.

If he wants to end a call, I will let him with a smile on my face. I can’t make him want to talk to me and so making an issue out of it is counterintuitive.

If he behaves in a way that upsets me or I am worried about anything, I will let him know. But at the moment, I’m not expecting him to want to talk like he did – if he is low, then he’s not going to want to. Likewise, if he’s pulling away this will just be more fuel to the fire.

My strategy is to check in, remind him that I’m here and I love him, but give him the space that he needs or wants at the moment. For whatever reason.

And in the meantime, I’m going to work on myself and my own resilience.

If he’s pulling away, there’s nothing I can do other than remind him occasionally that I still love him and want him but let him make his own decision. I need to use this time to prepare myself for the end, if this is what it is. It’s going to destroy me so mentally I need to prepare and limit the damage.

If he is low then he needs space not further problems. So again, check in, let him know I’m not going anywhere, but watch from a distance and see how this pans out. Having experienced poor mental health myself, I’m not going to run from him – these are unique and challenging times. But I need to learn about him and whether our relationship can be sustained. Maybe it can’t.

And if he’s still sulking? This is a red flag. It’s big enough that I need to decide whether I can cope with it or whether it’s a deal breaker. I’ve apologised enough. I’ve let my feelings be known. So if it is sulking, it will blow over, and I need to use this time to work out if I can deal with this in our relationship.

The caveat to this is that Ramadan and lockdown are having a major impact in many people’s lives. I can not under-estimate that. In my heart, I need to be sure that it’s not these things that are causing the issue. Which is why I’m letting go, for now. I’m stepping back and letting this play out and giving myself some space to think.

We learn and grow from relationships. Learning isn’t easy. We learn when things are not easy. This situation is giving me opportunity to learn about myself, about him and about us as a couple. That’s the normal part of a developing relationship. I just need to keep going. Whether this is the end or a crack in the plate (read my previous posts to understand this reference), maybe it is happening so I can learn from it. To calm down, refocus, prioritise myself again.

All I know is, nothing else seems to be working consistently so this is worth a shot. And whatever the reason for his behaviour, I still love

Sulking off the pedestal.

In a vain attempt to pull Wild Card out of his sulk, or at least learn how to deal with it better, I of course have read whatever I can.

Anything you read online has to be taken with some caution. Just because someone claims to be an expert/doctor /whatever, doesn’t mean they are or even that they’re any good. At least though, it makes me feel some control and gives me a distraction – – even though the distraction is still him. Weird but true.

These are the highlights from my study:

Sulking in adults usually comes from learnt behaviour as a child.

It is passive-aggressive and non confrontational. But designed to create the most impact and irritation for those on the receiving end whilst the sulker is feigning innocence.

Sulking happens when someone feels betrayed or let down by someone close to them. Someone they thought knew them better. Someone that they love.

Sulkers act this way because they are hurt and angry and don’t know how to express these feelings appropriately or how to deal with them.

The purpose of sulking is to get the other person to feel what the sulker is feeling. Their intended’s attempts at reconsoliation or apology will be ignored or denied a number of times.

Real reconciliation will only happen when the sulker feels that their intended has learnt their lesson, understood their wrong doing. This is often a power or control play. It is manipulative. The intended will need to show a high level of distress or anxiety for this to happen.

At this point, all is forgiven as the point has been made.

Sulking involves silent treatment, one word answers, eye rolling, tone of voice, sighs. They will respond to questions about what is wrong with ‘nothing’. Any irritation shown by the intended will be used as extra fuel for the sulking because the passive aggressive behaviour makes them look innocent.

Despite its manipulative outlook, sulking is actually unpleasant for the sulker too. They are in distress, feel let down and alone.

My last conversation with Wild Card tonight proved that he is still sulking with me but still claiming there is nothing wrong.

But you know, today was more than that. It wasn’t just malicious sulking with the design of teaching me a lesson. That was yesterday. Today, I actually realised how low he was.

I don’t know if our altercation has caused this low mood. But he’s not just sulking, he is unhappy. So maybe, he is not the only one who has fallen off his pedestal. Maybe I have for him, too.

I took something we both loved and enjoyed and devalued it with an angry, flippant comment. Which I don’t even mean. So, yes, I probably have fallen off my pedestal too.

Soundless house –

I creep down the stairs,

carefully, carefully.

Outside, the wind howls and rains harass:

inside is quiet, calm.

Curtains open: the dreary day

threatens to invade,

rain rivulets distorting the dismal grey.

But inside, inside, the glow of the fire and the warmth of the coffee fight back.

And then a sound.

Small feet descending the stairs,

the door opens, the face smiles,

always excited by the promise of a new day.

Like a burst of sunshine, the dreary day is cast away.

Just one

Tomorrow is my last day before I go back to work.

I have felt nothing for days about this. No anxiety or dread. No fear or sadness. No excitement or anticipation. Just, nothing.

Ironically, this confused me but my counsellor discussed this with me and I think I have thought it through now.

A thought has been developing the last few days though, like a rosebud slowly opening. I feel different. I’m not the same person anymore.

I can’t quite tell if that is because this experience has changed me or whether the fact that I battled so long with my stress and anxiety before my breakdown has meant that I couldn’t remember myself before that.

Will I be the same person on Thursday? Will I slip on my teaching persona like the suit I will wear? Or have I been tainted or altered by my experience?

Will I be better at recognising and controlling the stress or will my newly healed mental wounds be susceptible to reopening?

I don’t fear seeing anyone. I don’t particularly care what they think about me or my absence. What is important is me being able to do a good job, enjoy it, but protect my fragile sense of self.

Yes, I am mother, daughter, sister, teacher. But I don’t want to be defined by those things anymore.

I want to be defined by my own self. Those parts of me are facets on a diamond – they add to it, help create it – but do not define it. The facets help to make it special, to shine. But they do not create it. The beauty is there all the time.

So, what am going to do with my last day? I’m not sure yet. But I do know it will be what I want.

The seated man

He is taunting me. He sits there, smugly mimicking me with his expressionless, emotionless face.

Apart from getting up with my children and then later to check on my dad, I have been in bed all day. I told myself that I was just going back to ‘get warm’ (we have no heating until the fire is built) but each time I have found my eyes drooping and then have dozed.

I have ignored the vibrations of my activity tracker, the seated man taunting me repeatedly as I lay inactive in my bed.

Work has played on my mind most of all, but also the things that I had planned today. I have accomplished nothing.

As my sister said, in the short history of this depressive episode, this is the first time I have spent all day in bed. One day. Hopefully the last. And if it isn’t? This article may help:

https://www.blurtitout.org/2017/09/21/depression-wont-let-us-out-of-bed/

Tomorrow, I plan to laugh in the face of the seated man.

Frozen.

Bad day today.

My kids’ dad was off today so offered to take them to school. So, I woke up and got the kids up then when I heard his car, went back to bed.

I woke a couple of times but despite an intention to get up, fell back to sleep. It was 11.30 – yes, you read right – until I got up.

I went downstairs, made some breakfast then just sat.

It’s hard to describe this mental state but frozen goes some way to describe it. I just sat and occasionally I would turn to look at the clock, willing myself to shower and do this, that or the other. I didn’t do anything. Sure, the TV was on but I wasn’t taking it in. A pervading numbness had taken over. It’s not…. relaxation or in any way relaxing. It’s not consciously done. You just are. You feel like something inside you has been switched off. You’re still in there, somewhere, but hidden behind this frozen facade. There’s things that you want to do or need to do but you just can’t. You can’t make yourself do anything. You’re just frozen.

Everyone and no-one

Interestingly, last night I ached to be touched. Considering my default position in the last week has very much been that I want to hibernate away from the world, this was unexpected.

As I lay in bed, I wanted to feel the warmth of someone beside me. I wanted the feel of their skin on mine, their breath caressing me rhythmically and the smell that is uniquely theirs. I wanted arms wrapped around me and legs intertwined.

As I read this back, I can see how some people could find this description sexual but believe me when I say that is the last thing I’m trying to describe. I’m thinking more about sensual intimacy and that feeling of vulnerable closeness that you only get when you given yourself heart and soul to someone. But there is no-one.

I know I am not in the right place to try to find love. And in the cold light of day, another person to have to answer, to explain, to interact with… well, that’s the last thing I need. I’m tired of trying to explain my downfall. I’m sick of hearing how tired I look or how pale I am. Everyone around me is being very supportive but somehow that makes it harder. I see pity and worry in their face and it makes me feel guilty. Makes me feel weak.

Strangely, everyone keeps telling me that they ‘saw this coming’ and that ‘you haven’t been yourself for a while’.

Did no-one think of telling me earlier!?

Sure, I felt pretty exhausted recently and I was clinging on to coping with all that I had, but I had put this down to circumstances… Winter…dad being ill… New role in work…. I don’t know. I suppose I felt no real difference to how I feel from time to time normally, just a bit more tired. I thought a good sleep was all I needed and perhaps some time to sort a few things out that I hadn’t had time to do (still haven’t if I am being honest). A breakdown/meltdown/burnout was not even contemplated. And yet everyone else seemed to see this coming.

Somehow though the pressure of time is still there despite being signed off. I do not want to be off work but am well aware that I need to be off. There’s two weeks to Christmas and I feel panic that I need to sort myself out before then. Ridiculous, hey?

Where do I begin? Where do I start to untangle the complexities of my life? How can I make my life simpler whilst trying to maintain a good quality of life? Did I have a good quality of life? Lots of unanswerable questions.

The biggest one being of course how I can be so lonely and yet want so desperately to be alone. The madness that is madness.

Family

I’ve been off work since Monday. After the torent of tears and anxiety, I have felt somewhere south of numb ever since. Low. At different points in the week – before emailing work perhaps or before I walked to the counsellor’s door – there would be a surge of anxiety that bubbled from my solar plexus and radiated through me.

My antidepressants have been increased significantly and I have been given two weeks off which will carry me through to January. The counsellor told me not to rush back. I can’t tell you how I feel exactly. A fraud. A failure. Lost…. Relieved. Scared.

The Me that was ‘coping’ a week ago is still there. She’s questioning what is going on. She’s doubting the advice of family and friends, and a counsellor and a doctor. They don’t know how you truly feel. It’s a blip, that’s all. Get back to it. Keep your head held high. You can do this. You’ve been doing this for years. It will be alright.

This Me is a lone, quiet voice though, buried deep within at the moment. The outside is a cold, hard orb until the sparks of emotion begin to fly from within and cover the surface dancing lightening of fear, pain, guilt, doubt, anger, frustration.

I’ve been told that this has been coming for some time. That I have pushed aside my exhaustion, my stress, my pressure until finally it has overcome what was left of my spirit.

How can I go back to work? How can I face the people that are no doubt talking about me and my failure? How can I look people in the eye? And this is the irony of the situation: I could hold my head up high if I go back soon. But I can’t hold my head high until I have recovered the strength to do so.

Tonight I watched “The Family Man”, a Nicholas Cage film from 2000. I love this film, not just because you get to see a very toned Mr Cage in his underwear but because it just makes you think.

Cage plays Jack, a highly success single business man with the penthouse apartment, Ferrari and sexy one night stands. One morning he wakes up to the life he could have had if he hadn’t put his career before love: a marriage to his college sweetheart, two children and a family home. Jack gets to live the life he could have had and as in all good stories, he learns about himself in the process.

Is this my moment? My chance to learn about myself? My chance to stop and reflect and improve? This is what I have wanted since my separation. This is what this blog is supposed to be about. But it hasn’t happened. Instead, I have fought hard to cope. Fought and failed, apparently. I haven’t changed anything. I have done what I always do: worked harder and longer in the hope that I will come out the other side on top. Thing is, you NEVER do. You come out the other side a mere shadow of yourself. A tired, fed up shadow. One thing that I know is that things have got to change, for me and my family.

The dark.

The curtains fell down a while ago. After many attempts at trying to fix it, I gave up: deciding instead to let the light of the morning wake me naturally (until I get round to getting someone into fix it).

Tonight there is a cold glow to the sky which makes the branches of nearby trees dark and intensely black in their leafless form. Other nights can bring a magical light from a full moon: I see her hover beautifully as I look up from my pillow, disturbed perhaps by the ethereal light she has brought to my room. At these times I can understand why countless civilisations have been enamoured by this celestial beauty.

Recently, the nightly view from my window has served only as a small distraction; a momentary lull in the racing thoughts and fears of my mind.

I was balancing on a knife edge, forging onwards and hoping that I could fight my way clear. Instead, I’ve descended back into the darkness. I’m low, monotone now, but it started with a crushing anxiety that froze me. I was helpless. Hopeless.

I want to be well. I want to be in work, fighting on day after day. Does that sound strange? Instead, I just feel like a failure. Someone who isn’t strong enough. Someone who can’t cope. Every well meaning word, every piece of advice telling me to ‘take some time’ or ‘put yourself first’ is just making me sink further: they see my weakness now.

And so I just feel lost in the darkness. Tomorrow I face the doctors and the anxiety that comes with trying to explain how I feel, what has happened. Friday is counselling where I fear the pain of honesty and identifying my fears. After that, hopefully, I will begin to see the light again and I will draw closer to it much like I’m drawn to the moon on those nights where she blesses us with her beauty.