Sometimes, I have these ‘bad days’. But bad day seems to be an understatement to what feels like a nervous breakdown. They don’t always look the same, but they always feel the same, and they always end with me sobbing, and doing a lot of apologizing, and wondering what is wrong with me. During this time, Michael is usually left staring off into the distance, wondering why he just got smacked upside the head with a crap-storm of crazy. Maybe there is a word for this other than mental breakdown (some sort of anxiety attack??), but that’s what it feels like to me.
I never really understand what brings this on. It’s not my normal emotional/bad day where I’m just bummed or crying at stupid sitcoms. It’s beyond that, it’s like having an out of body experience, where I feel possessed by emotion. I feel like a child who needs comforting, like I need someone to make it better for me, but no one does – because no one can – and in the moment, this infuriates me. It’s always full of stress and anxiety, and it’s like I can feel it building in my stomach all day long.
It usually starts out okay, like maybe I mess something up at work, which is not a huge deal normally. But on the ‘bad day’, it’s the first pebble of many in a giant pile of ick. It just keeps building, every tiny thing, adding on and on and on. It’s like I’m actively looking for things to pile on, just so the pile will collapse. I blame every little thing on myself, at work, at home, with relationships. I replay all of my problems, over and over. Things that aren’t even problems become problems. The amount of blame and shame I place on myself is enormous. It’s not fun. Combine this with a sweet, unassuming Michael, and it always results in a huge argument. I then blame myself for the argument, and feel shame, and worry, and frustration, and the cycle continues. The conversation in my head is usually something along the lines of: ‘What is wrong with me? Why do I ruin every single thing I touch’ on a loop. It’s usually an all night affair, as I like to drag out the pain and inflict it on all the innocents.
I have had therapy, and still go to therapy, and the only things I’ve figured out in reference to why this happens to me is that I’m too hard on myself, and I have trouble letting things go. When things aren’t going well, sometimes I try to keep them to myself, so I don’t stress anyone out with my problems. I know this doesn’t work, and I try to not do it often, but I still do it. I don’t really think this is the root cause of my problems, but I do think it makes it worse. I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself. So what if I mess something up at work? So what if it’s my fault we’ve been arguing all night? Or that I missed yoga because I’ve been crying on the couch for 2 hours? Is there anything I can do to fix it? I CAN LET IT GO.
Michael and I were in the throes of this mess last night. He never knows what to say to me when this happens, because anything he does say is just going to be thrown back at him. Almost always, when I’m starting to calm down, I tell him he doesn’t deserve this, and that he should move along and find someone less crazy. This is the point where I go from hysterical to weepy, and apologetic. I apologize for everything until I’m blue in the face, and he just keeps telling me to let it go. Last night, it finally dawned on me, I don’t really know how to let it go. As much as he says it, and I agree to do it, I internalize it. I hold it all in, as further proof that I am no good. That I am not good enough at my job, or my relationship, or at being an adult. And by keeping all of this stuff inside of me as proof, I somehow validate the fact that I don’t deserve to be happy. This is crap. It’s all crap.
I told Michael that I don’t really know how to ‘let it go’. He was all like, wait, with the yoga you do, and teacher training you’ve had, you never really learned how to ‘let it go’?? I agree that this might seem odd, but on some level, I’m still working on that. I can cry it out in child’s pose with the best of them. I can lay in pigeon, and let the tears come, and go. But on the inside, I think I always still think there is something wrong with me. So I made myself a little sign. I put it on the coffee table as a reminder.
I’m working on figuring out exactly where in this process I can find the space to breathe, and distance myself from my reactions to prevent a full meltdown. I usually feel this coming on, but feel powerless to it. There are some things that I do know help, and I sometimes just need to remind myself to do them, even if it feels like the opposite of what I want. I’ve seen what happens when I don’t do them, and that certainly is not working out for me, so I’m going to try something new.
Allow it to happen – if I stop myself, or bottle it up, it will grow, and explode even more. Even though it’s not pretty or fun, if I vent, or yell, or cry, it gets out. It leaves my body and the pressure is gone. I have tried to refocus my feelings through other things, like exercising, or art. While these help lessen my feelings, they never help them go away. The only thing that helps them go away is for me to get rid of them. Maybe I can start making a disclaimer on those days that people should steer clear of me, or they are likely to end up with a pile of emotional garbage thrown at them.
Breathing – focusing on my breath, and letting thoughts fall away.
Yoga – always, always, always helps. Just plopping down onto the floor, and being with myself, even when I feel so on edge that I can’t breathe fully.
Being present – focusing on what is going on in the moment, and not the cycle of shame and guilt that I feel about what has happened before OR the frustration and stress about what lies ahead of me.
I know that these help, even though in the moment they feel miles away. I always turn to someone for comfort, instead of comforting myself. I wonder why no one is there to take care of me, and make it all better. Yet I’m not being there for me, so that is certainly not fair to anyone.
After all of this, when my emotions have exploded all over our house, and I’m left whimpering with shaky inhales like a little girl, it’s calm. I feel empty, and cleansed and I always have a headache. I don’t like what it takes to get there, but when I get there, I feel new and good. Each time this happens – which is not that often, thank god – I learn a little bit more, and become slightly more aware of what is happening in my body. Over time, I hope I can learn to let go, and be present and maybe lessen the severity of these emotional episodes. For now, I’m learning to accept that this is part of what goes on with me. After 10 years of fighting it, and not wanting anyone to know that this happens to me, because they will think I’m broken, I’m just telling everyone. It hurts, it’s embarrassing, and I don’t like myself when that happens. But it does happen. I have learned many times that something loses the power it holds over you if you talk about it…even if you think people can’t handle it, or will judge you. So, that’s my plan. Being slightly crazy is apparently a part of my life, so I’m accepting and loving it for the gift that it is. It teaches me new things, and I am learning more and more about me…so thank you for that, crazy. It teaches me to surrender, and that I don’t have complete control over my life…sometimes bad things happen, and I have to let the dust settle, and pick up my pieces and keep going. It teaches me that expectations (of myself and others) are dangerous, and only set me up for disappointment. So, that’s my flavor of crazy…feel free to share yours!