Friday, 12 June 2015

Why yesterday was a bad day

Yesterday was a glorious day for the weather, but a bad day for me.

Actually it wasn't that bad. Even when it was bad it wasn't that bad. And when it was good it was very good. I had some good times during the day, working and laughing with my friends, talking and playing frisbee with my children. I had a run in which I showed bad stamina since I walked the last quarter, but I was fine mentally. And I got myself out on a run in the first place which was good. I had a long nap, and I love naps.

So why do I say it was a bad day?

I felt I was bad at being the person I want to be, and I was bad in various ways that remind me of the person I used to be.

At my anxiety management group the leader often says: "People come here and say they want to get back to the 'old me', but I say it was the old you who brought you here." I don't want to get back to the person I was in the months and years leading up to signing off work, and I recognised a lot of that yesterday.

I didn't get a lot of work done but I felt like I was working all day. That might sound odd because I went for a run and then had a nap, so that's quite a lot of not working. But apart from those particular times, I always felt I had this bit of work hanging over my head.

On its own I don't mind working hard if I get particularly into something and make a lot of progress in a day. I hate pretending to work hard.  And especially pretending to myself. And when I say pretending to myself, it's the cycle of sitting down to get work done, looking at facebook, twitter, youtube, email, replying to an email, getting up to get a cup of tea, sitting down again, looking at facebook (you get the picture).  Yes I know we all do this, and it's part of life and I can deal with that. But then I find it's 10pm and I've made zero progress on the thing I was meant to do, and I've been doing stuff I don't like that much for several hours, and I wasn't doing stuff that I would have enjoyed a lot more during that time.  Even if that stuff was watching tv, but watching tv while knowing to myself that I wasn't meant to be working. After about 10pm I did get some reasonable work done which I am moderately happy with, but then that meant I was staying up late working which I am not a fan of.

This is a pattern I remember very clearly from months and probably years before I had my nervous breakdown (and I don't know if the latter is the right term for what happened). I didn't like it then but I especially don't like it now because I know what I think the result might be if I carry on this way.

Another thing that happened yesterday was getting wound up in my head about mentally composing emails. This thing often happens with me, and in this case involves me writing long emails in my head, then realising I'm best not to send them, or sometimes writing them on a computer and realising I shouldn't send them. Or sometimes sending some version and then worrying about what the response will be. Or all of the above simultaneously. It is a really bad thing to do. One problem I used to have with runs was that I would do this kind of gaming about whatever random email or real life or twitter or facebook argument I was having with somebody. Recently I've found a good distraction technique on runs of just looking around and focusing on the environment - oh look at that tree, that house is white, there are four cars parked outside it ... - the point is not that the distraction is interesting but it's a distraction. But yesterday I wasn't doing this when I was mentally gaming the particular conversation that was winding me up. And what is bad is not that the issue or conversation upsets me, but that I wind myself up about it far beyond what it should.

This is a pattern I remember very clearly ... well I could repeat the same paragraph as above. Except it's worse than that because it's been like that my whole life.

When I was playing frisbee in the garden - which was excellent and lovely - I found myself looking at all the weeds that I haven't weeded, and feeling bad about that (which I suppose is reasonable) and bad about myself for not having done it (which definitely is not.) It's given another layer by the fact that I've been trying to garden more often because weeding or planting often takes me out of myself and make me feel better - so now I can also feel bad about myself for not doing something that makes me feel better.

This is a pattern I remember a bit less clearly, but it is definitely something that happened, and it's obviously not good for me. Plus there's the avoidance problem: if I go and do some gardening then I might feel bad about not having done it earlier while I am doing it now, and so I avoid doing the thing that will make me feel good after I've done it.

Another bad thing was that I drank too much alcohol. When I come to drinking too much alcohol I definitely do things by halves. I don't mean literally drinking half pints, but I mean that I don't get drunk or go on benders. But yesterday I had a small can of beer, a pimms, a large bottle of beer, a glass of wine, and two or three small whiskies. So yeah, read like that it doesn't sound too bad, but I worry that I find myself doing this kind of drinking most days, and that puts me above government health advice. And what scared me yesterday was that I realised it was having little or no effect on me, which is why I kept having another little bit of alcohol. Until I realised that and I stopped.

Actually this isn't a pattern I particularly remember from before my breakdown, and indeed just before then I'd gone on a successful much-dryer period. But it did worry me a bit.

So yesterday was a bad day in a few ways for me. Not disastrous, but bad.

Yesterday was a bad day. If I can recognise that, maybe it's a good thing. And - especially - if I can avoid that kind day, that would be a great thing.

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