Go gently

Moody shot of empty tree-lined street

I hit an emotional wall a couple of weeks ago. Looking back, it’s been coming for months, but when you’re in a storm for long enough it begins to feel normal. This is mainly a day job thing, and I don’t talk about that here, but emotionally everything is connected, so of course there are knock-on effects. Anxiety got into every nook and cranny of my life, including family, walks around the block, meal times, evenings, weekends, and dreams.

Some part of me pulled the panic cord. For days afterwards I woke at night with memories of real conversations blended with imagined responses, alternative choices I might have made, alliances I could have struck, things I could have done differently. As a partially-reformed people pleaser, I’m wary of my tendency to always wonder what I could have done better. Asking for what I need doesn’t come easily. Boundaries are hard-won. Part of me was wise enough to jump out of this hot pot before I was boiled alive. I’m grateful for that.

It’s been ten days and I still feel shaky. Before this, I would have said I was an above-averagely anxious person who managed it well enough through tools learned in several years of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. I think that is still true. I suspect those tools, along with strong support at home, have prevented me from having a more seriously damaging experience. When I am not thinking about my job, I’m okay—more lethargic than usual, a bit down—but when I find my thoughts drifting to work conversations, and the fast-paced interactions, the big personalities, adrenaline floods into my body, my heart rate accelerates, my stomach churns, and I’m overwhelmed again.

Dad went into hospital just before I started this project. (My last project went so well!) His vulnerability, three hundred miles away, and his reasonable requests for help at random times, have taken a serious toll on me. So much driving. So much sleeping in a ghost house, away from my family. I feel blasted, roasted, blank and exhausted.

What’s the route forward from here? Keep letting the anxiety go, listen to intuition, ask for help, be patient, be kind to myself. Go gently.