As I’m sure many of you are aware that World Mental Health Day recently passed. I’ve seen several blog posts on it already, and I’m hoping I can provide my own unique perspective and opinion without boring anyone or beating a dead horse. That’s the phrase, correct? What a disturbing image! How did that even become a thing?
I’ve had several posts where I mention that I have a disorder called Panic Disorder. I spend a great deal of time in a high functioning anxious state and actually worry about having a panic attack (a symptom specific to panic disorder). One thing I do want to preface with is that I am not a time bomb. I’m not on the edge of having a panic attack at all times. Rather, I simply run on anxious and nervous energy. Think of when you’re excited for a big event, you have trouble sleeping and you can’t stop moving because you can’t wait for it to happen. That’s the state I live in normally. Sometimes I’m more mellow, especially if I’m tired or sick, but the majority of the time I can just take off at the drop of a hat.
We put a lot of emphasis on the bad of mental disorders. Yes, there are ones that are truly torturous. But I’d like to say that I see apositives that I have acquired from mine. There are parts of my disorder that I’m truly thankful for.
- My anxious mind is very quick and sharp. When new programs, ideas, or processes are put in front of me, I have the tendency to pick them up almost instantly. I take to learning how to do new things well. I truly think that the anxious state I live in aids in that arena. It’s especially useful at my office.
- I have the ability to handle more than one thing at a time. I’m a multi-tasker. I always have been. It takes a lot to occupy my mind fully and I can often read, watch television and work on a puzzle at the same time. Having that “go-go-go” mentality doesn’t make this exhausting but rather pleasant. I’m not able to worry or catastrophise since I have so much stimulation. My mother used to hate how I could have the TV on at all times while reading, talking on the phone, etc., and when she’d say I wasn’t watching it, I’d be able to tell her what was happening on the show. It’s something I do to this day.
- I constantly push myself past the limits I thought were possible. Don’t get me wrong…under a deadline or a new benchmark, I stress beyond belief. BUT I do somehow manage what I thought I couldn’t.
On bad days, I’m jumpy and can’t focus. I can’t see anything other than what’s triggering me. I can’t think of anything else. If it’s something I don’t have the ability to fix or work on, then I can get highly emotional. I don’t know what to do with myself and end up trying everything and anything. I run myself ragged trying to get the antsy feeling out of my system. I obsess over my trigger, and it’s exhausting. Finding ways to distract myself is difficult, but I have found that puzzles, coloring and other small but detailed tasks are a helpful. They are just enough to not use mental energy but detailed so you need to provide full attention.
I can always tell when it’s going to be a bad day. I normally wake up and feel off. I’m not one of those people who wakes up and has a blank mind as it is, but on these days…I wake up obsessing….if that makes sense. While I have a ton of energy, my mood isn’t as positive as it normally is while I’m bopping around the office. I don’t care to socialize or interact and I have a continuous headache. I just need to make it through the day. I don’t have these often, but if the trigger in continuous, I will have a few in a row.
Ugly days are physically and emotionally exhausting. There have been times I’ve had to leave my office and work from home to make it through. I’m blessed with coworkers and partners that understand that it’s needed at times. I feel crackily, or fuzzy, around the edges. If could imagine how a piece of wood feels while it burns and crackles…that would be how I feel on these days.
These days, I can feel my entire system amping up. I can feel the heat rushing through my body, and my adrenaline pumping. I must get out. I need to leave wherever I am. My whole body seems to be going in different directions. It’s like I’m being pulled apart from the inside out. I try my best to keep myself together. This is how my panic attacks begin. I know when I need to leave and I’ve learned when the appropriate time is to flee if I must.
I ultimately end up in an eruption of energy. Tears are always involved, and depending on what’s going on at the time, I may yell. It’s almost like an explosion within my body. I need to get everything out. If I was one of those girls who could vomit on command, I’m sure I would do that to. The need to expend that energy and adrenaline is at such an apex that nothing else matters. I’ve left work to have a workout session at 11 a.m. before. Again….my office is incredible and as long as I get my work done….that’s all that matters. It does not matter where I do it from.
The fact that these days have gone from happening once every two weeks to may be twice a year is an incredible testament to working with your disorder and finding what works for you. It takes time and patience, but learning how to cope, and possibly utilize, a mental illness can be a powerful moment.
The most important thing to remember on ugly days is that you are not alone. There are millions of people who feel just how you do. They understand and will support to you. Find a group; talk to a professional; whatever you need to do. But there is a large community in this world that are by your side, walking that path. They experience it in their own way, but they are there.