For about the last 1.5, 2-weeks, I’ve been feeling restless, lethargic, and irritable. I was wondering what the heck was wrong with me when even the little things drove me NUTS when, objectively speaking, I had nothing to really be irritable about. My husband would talk about work, and after about 5 minutes it would start driving me nuts, and I’d start kind of tuning it out in order to avoid being cranky to him. At work we have a computer that monitors stairwell and exit doors, and during the day, building engineers keep going in and out of this one door, and I have to get up out of my chair to reach that computer, and silence the beeping alarm each and every time. I’ve gotten used to it since I started this job, but suddenly it has been making me extremely cranky.
I kept fantasizing about actually having a psychiatric break or getting injured and going to the hospital and having that sort of forced break from the world. Some little room to distract me from my own mind.
Not that I was going to hurt myself, mind you. It wasn’t like it was two winters ago, where I would actually tempt fate by walking in the stop-light-less crosswalks even as cars were oncoming. Even though they’re SUPPOSED to stop for pedestrians, they barely even slow down, and I knew that. This time, I was just thinking about it, instead of tempting fate.
It still scared me, though. I must be crazy for even thinking about that. I worried. Was this Munchausen’s? No. Histrionics? No. Being the librarian I am, and after a week of this weird feeling, I looked it up in a couple of places to see if the symptoms matched up. They didn’t. It wasn’t a close, but no cigar type of thing. It was a “oh hell no, this is definitely not me.”
I Googled around. All the self-harm ideation kept turning up posts about suicide. That was not me. I don’t feel despairing. My anxiety-mind just keeps focusing on self-harm ideation, and it scared me, but I wasn’t going to kill myself. So that wasn’t of any use.
So I thought about it. What about this feeling seems familiar? Then I remembered sitting in my psychiatrist’s office when he said it sounded like generalized anxiety disorder. I had been telling him about constantly worrying about nothing in particular, this feeling on edge while being lethargic, and worrying that I might hurt myself even though I know I wouldn’t.
It finally clicked. The weird feeling is anxiety. (See? I’m dense sometimes.) Just knowing the name of the feeling made me feel better. It’s like in all the fairy tales and stories about exorcisms–naming the demons greatly weakens them. That said, I still felt extraordinarily anxiety-ridden even since figuring it out. I still worried that I might go crazy and hurt myself, even though I won’t.
Insanity is kind of a foggy idea for many people. When planted firmly in reality, insanity is the “Other” when thinking about it. It’s a possibility, but not a real one. Kind of like thinking about going on a world trip or becoming an astronaut.
During some of the worst parts of this, I felt like I was only a step away from falling into the chasm of insanity. It all depended on whether I said ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I could see it happening. And it distressed me. I was afraid to tell my husband or any friends this because no, I wasn’t going to hurt myself. I don’t need to be hospitalized–just the thought of that made for more anxiety. I also didn’t want to cause worry to people I loved, which I feared would only make the anxiety worse. I just wanted relief, or at least, some reason to be feeling anxious.
I’ve had thoughts about taking this one solid, sharp scissors at work and stabbing my leg. Or of dismantling my razor and cutting my legs on purpose instead of through shaving clumsiness. Or of cutting my arm. (I put a sharp scissors to my skin just to prove to myself that no, I was incapable of causing that sort of harm to myself). Or stepping in front of a bus on purpose. Or going over the handlebars on a bike on accident. (It took a bike ride to put that fear at ease.) And in one particularly terrifying train of thought, while I was roasting marshmallows on my high balcony and looking at the offices in the building across the way, my mind thought about how easy it would be for me to mentally “break” and climb over the railings and try to jump across to the offices and fall. That was probably a panic attack, but fortunately my husband was there–and just his presence, even though I didn’t tell him about this, was reassuring.
That’s generalized anxiety for you. It has no specific cause, like, “I was laid off, and now I’m worried about money.” It just happens. And for me, it’s comorbid with the whole PTSD and depression thing. It made my muscles all tensed up. Particularly my back and neck. It’s making me have restless sleep. I’m having great difficulty concentrating. I’m easily fatigued. (On the plus side, I did drag myself to go for runs a couple of times in the last couple weeks.) Sometimes I felt not entirely “here.” I’m irritable. I’m afraid of losing control of myself. My heart races sometimes, and the rest of the time I just feel on edge. Sometimes my arms and hands are shaky. I feel overwhelmed by many things, which is why the dishes and laundry had been piling up, and why the living room is in such disarray.
It was so much anxiety that the couple of times that I took Ativan, it didn’t really feel like it helped. And once I took a Fioricet for what I thought was a migraine, and while it helped dull the pain, the sedative in it didn’t have any effect on me.
And for such persistent anxiety, I’m a little anxious about taking Ativan all the time for fear of becoming dependent on it. Lexapro, which I’m on for depression, is supposed to help with anxiety and PTSD, and it has–but it’s not working right now. Which is probably why I keep fantasizing about hospitals as a means of peace and quiet and a break from the world.
And because life must go on, I’ve been going to work. I’ve been eating (and mostly healthy, to boot!), and exercising. I’ve been writing. In fact, writing it out in a journal helped me. Writing it out now is helping me–I’ve moved from “I CAN’T HANDLE THIS” to “I need to keep moving but I can sort of focus now.” And I’m going to see my therapist tomorrow. Maybe I need a little extra pharmaceutical assistance to help the natural remedies, like walking (which hasn’t been helping lately), crocheting, writing, reading, bathing, petting the cats, avoiding caffeine beyond my morning cuppa, etc.
To be honest, writing this is causing a fair bit of anxiety because I really don’t want my friends and loved ones to worry too much. I’m stoic, and no, I’m not going to hurt myself.
However, I wanted to let others know that they are not alone. I haven’t been finding much online (aside from forums) about anxiety/self-harm ideation, so I really hope this will help.
We’ll see what my T says, tomorrow.