Loopy, Lonely and Lost

Posts Tagged ‘anxiety

Panic

Posted on: November 4, 2013

Another job has become available at my workplace. The day it was announced, my boss’s boss came up to me and asked if I’d seen it, if I was considering it, that she thought it would be a good move for me. My boss is determined to help me, mentioning it regularly, trying to help me make plans for the application, saying he’ll help where he can and get others to help me too. I feel like maybe this is more a sign he’s good at his job, than anything to do with my chances.

It is a good opportunity. Probably better than the other one I applied for so disastrously. But how am I supposed to apply? How am I supposed to go to an interview? Most days, simply saying, “I am good at A, B and C” is an impossible aim. I feel that I could do this job, although I don’t have all the requirements, but I don’t know how to express my suitability, or how to convince anyone to give me a chance. I usually just let my work do the talking, but that isn’t good enough in a situation like this.

The people I work with closely see something in me that isn’t really there – or, if it is there, it’s sullied by shyness and self-hatred.

I don’t know how to say no. What excuse can there be for not applying for a job I’d like to do? A job my superiors think I can do. A job involving more responsibility and more freedom and more money. A job opportunity that’s arisen only a couple of weeks after the company gave me an award, which has resulted in everybody at work knowing who I am and what I’ve achieved.

Talking of the award – it stares at me accusingly from across the room. The feeling of not deserving it, of not being worthy, is like a weight on my shoulders. I know I sound ungrateful but I can’t help but think a terrible mistake has been made. It can’t have been meant for me.

I feel pretty close to hurting myself. Something to balance out the undeserved reward. Something that would prove to me that I know what a fraud and a failure and a useless person I am. And if I could do something drastic, injure myself or make myself ill, so I could avoid work tomorrow, then all the better. Because I’ll get in and my boss will look up and give his hopeful smile and ask if I’ve thought about it, if I’ve printed off the job description and drafted the application, and I don’t know how to get out of it, or if I want to.

I don’t know how to explain that to apply for a promotion feels like arrogance. I don’t know how to explain that I feel completely worthless, and that some weird process in my brain means that praise only enhances that feeling. I don’t know how to explain the rushing of the blood round my body, the frantic thud of my heart and the lights that flash in my eyes when I think of doing this.

I really want to run away right now.

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A vacancy has become available at work. A management position. More responsibility, more money, more interesting work. Everybody keeps telling me to apply for it.

I don’t know what to do.

Professionally, I’m probably not going to ever be in a better position. I do a lot of aspects of the job as a part of my current role anyway, and I’m surrounded by people, peers and bosses, who like me and want me to be a manager, so there’s a lot of good will, and I’m confident of a good reference.

But personally…I don’t know if I can do it. The application process. The interview. Sitting there, being asked about my strengths, having to explain my successes (all in the shadow of my fucked-up degree and my wasted opportunities and my empty, useless life). And then, if I don’t get it…I don’t know if I can handle the disappointment. It’s easier, I think, to be the person who everyone thinks should be better paid and have more influence, than to be the person who went for the promotion and failed.

I’m scared to want things. I’m afraid of being honest enough to say, “This is my job”. In my current role, I feel a bit like my brain is atrophying, like there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go and I’ve reached the pinnacle of what I can achieve. But if I apply for this, and don’t get it, I don’t know how I’ll recover. The possibility of doing something else keeps me going now, but what do I do when I’ve eliminated that possibility?

The job itself, I’m not really afraid of. I know that I could do it, even if I find it difficult to put into words why I’m the best person for it. I’m just so fucking scared of daring to want something, and making myself vulnerable. Because I’ll feel like such a dick when it all falls apart.

I get a text from a friend. We’re going for pizza. Want to come?

Simple question. Yes or no. But then I have a massive fucking debate in my head, because I like pizza but I really don’t feel like leaving the house, and obviously no-one will want me there anyway, they’re only asking to be polite, and maybe I should leave the house because my mother’s pissing me off and I’m not working this weekend but I’m not doing anything else either and time is just draining away. I really like this friend, and the other people who are going, but what will they talk about? What if it’s a subject-matter that makes me uncomfortable? What if it’s something I don’t know how to talk about? What if it’s silent and awkward? Maybe I should text back and say I can’t go, but what if they want to know why? I can’t say it’s because I just feel weird and I’m anxious about conversations I can’t predict, that sound stupid. Maybe I should just go? But fuck, I feel like I’ll cry if anyone looks too closely at me. Maybe I should just ignore the text, turn my phone off even, and then next time I see them I’ll pretend I didn’t get it until too late – but I feel uncomfortable about that, too, like they’ll see right through me and know I’m making it up. I start wondering if my friend gets delivery reports.

I agonise for 10, 15 minutes. I can’t go but I don’t know how to say no, and I turn my phone over and over in my hands, not knowing what to say. Eventually I text back, make an excuse about having family stuff to do (nobody knows that my family is fucked, that we don’t do stuff together, that there are few things I wouldn’t rather do than play happy families). I feel sure that my friends feel relieved, and – duty done – can now enjoy an afternoon with the people they actually want to spend time with.

I know it’s stupid. I’m just finding other people difficult right now.

Everyone seems kind of disappointed in me. Everywhere I go, people are telling me that I need to do something different with my life. Some of them have specific plans for me (there’s one person who insists, every time we bump into each other, that I’m born to be a librarian), but mostly they just say that I’m wasting my life and that I need to make plans and move on and do something better. I know they mean it well. They mean it as a compliment. They see me as intelligent, and they want me to succeed. They say, “come on, Laura, what are you going to do?” Whether it’s good friends or acquaintances or people I hardly know (at work, a manager from another department came and spent a couple of hours with me, getting to know what our department does. By the end of that short time, he was trying to inspire me to hope and dream and push forward, trying to work out my aspirations and encourage me to go for them) – everyone wants me to be ambitious.

It’s not that I lack ambition, as such – I like being good at things. But being ambitious involves thinking of the future, and that puts me on shaky ground. Everybody means well, but all I hear when they try to push me is that how I am now isn’t good enough, I’m worthless, stupid, useless. The people in my life see potential in me and they won’t stop talking about it, and it makes me feel like a fraud, like I’ve somehow lied to them or tricked them into thinking things that aren’t true. Their faith in me feels like a burden. People ask me what my plans are, what I’ll do with my life, and I shrug and look lost and stop being able to form sentences. They think they’re being helpful, but they’re not. They’re just reminding me how much I’ve ruined my life.

How can I think of the future? How can I plan or hope? I’m clinging to a sinking ship: whatever I do, I’m fucked, so I’m holding on to the familiar. 

I shut myself in my room. I try to find meaning where I can, but I struggle (I remember when I would listen to music, and memorise the lyrics that touched me. I remember when I would read books, and see myself reflected in certain characters. I remember when things meant something to me, when I could make a connection with something outside my life. It all seems so long ago). I avoid my friends and I avoid my family. I avoid thinking about the future, and the past. I take deep breaths and I lie in the dark and I don’t cry – too tired for that. I don’t even really think about anything. I’m just hyper-aware of time passing and nothing changing and I feel trapped.

(With all the melodrama I feel able to muster,) the only thing I hope for is death.

That’s it. A life, wasted. Even if I had the energy to get out of this, I don’t know what way to go.

I’m sleeping really badly (it’s half past three in the morning and I’m wide awake and wired).

I’ve been going on long, rambling, self-righteous rants (mostly, but not exclusively, at my mother – pointing out hypocrisy and idiocy and everything that makes me angry).

I’m getting quite badly anxious, as well. My friend invited me out for his birthday, and before I could go I had to bombard him with texts: Who’s going? Will we be going on to anywhere else? What should I wear? What time should I arrive? When will I be going home? I’m so angry with myself that I can’t just get an invitation, say yes, grab a bag and go.

Another friend said she was going to come to my house to drop off a Christmas present. I stayed awake for 36 hours in blind terror that I might be asleep when she arrived. It made absolutely no sense, and I kept telling myself that, but I couldn’t switch off my brain.

I’ve got some time off work for Christmas, and that’s probably a good thing because my head isn’t in the right place, and they’re all expecting me to be good at my job (I got the pay-rise, by the way. Now they keep asking me what I want to do next, and letting me coach other people, and stand in for managers) and I’m terrified of being found out, of them realising that it’s all a lie and I’m useless. But maybe if I was at work I’d have something to concentrate on and my mind wouldn’t be whizzing around like a Catherine Wheel stuck on a fence.

I just want to relax. I want to spend the Christmas period hanging out with friends and watching TV and eating and drinking too much and laughing and chatting, calm and lazy and enjoying that I don’t have anything to do. Instead I’m twitchy and irritable and nervous, biting people’s heads off and over-thinking everything.

This week at work I’ve had to take a few tests. Everyone in my new team has to take them once a month to make sure we all know what we’re doing.

The results got back, and my results were second best in the team.

My manager says that’s phenomenal considering I’ve been in the department less than two weeks. But all I can feel is failure.

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I can feel the tendrils of anxiety creeping their way around me again. It’s not as bad as it was a few days or a week ago, but it’s rising, and it feels like it’s going to build up to another epic crescendo.

I wish I had something I could do. I’m standing on the tracks and I can see the train approaching and my feet won’t move, I don’t know how to get out of the way, and all I can do is stand and watch and I’m trying to breathe deeply and distract myself but it’s unbelievably pointless.

It’s coming in wave after wave lately, and even when it recedes I know the tide will come back in and I’ll be swept away again.

I’m not really being myself. I’m being quiet and small and constantly bright red in the face. When I try to communicate with people, my words come out too loud or too weird and every comment misses the spot and leaves people looking confused, and it’s because I’m trying too hard, I’ve forgotten how to be around people.

My new department at work must be disappointed. My new boss must feel like he’s been duped. My previous boss thought I was loud and cheerful and efficient. He said I had good leadership skills. My new boss says he’s heard good things about me, and all I can think is that he will have been told I’m confident and competent and organised and sociable, and I’m not being any of these things, I’m just sitting around like I’m lost and scared.

Work are sort of doing everything right, though, and I feel lucky in that respect. Yesterday, my boss’s boss arranged for me to have some special coaching, because she knew my training had been rushed. And she was kind and reassured me that I hadn’t done anything wrong, and said she didn’t want me to feel worried and like I couldn’t do my job because of a lack of training. I think that’s good. But the anxiety isn’t really work-related. Work is just something that’s complicating it. I suspect that if I spent all my time in the house, I’d feel exactly the same, the only benefit being that fewer people would be there to witness the way I’m disintegrating.

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Last night, things got quite bad. I spent several hours pacing my room and silently crying, then quite some time stood next to my bed, holding a pair of scissors, on some sort of precipice. It was so hard to make a decision, every fibre of me was pulling in different directions.

In the end, I gave in. I feel a bit bad about it now. But it was small. Just a few small scratches, hardly any blood, only just about visible now.

I feel like I have to be careful, writing this here. I don’t want anyone to think I’m encouraging people to hurt themselves. I hope anyone who reads this knows I’m not any kind of a role model.

But it did help. It took the edge off the panic. It made me blank for a few hours. It weakened my racing thoughts and my shaking hands and my head and stomach and back ache.

I don’t want to need this. I don’t want to have to take a maintenance dose of sharp things just to function. I hate dependency, on anything. It’s like, when my insomnia was really bad, and I realised that alcohol was the only thing that’d give me a decent night’s sleep. So I stopped drinking. I was too scared of needing it. If I think about it really hard, I resent air and food and water, because they’re things I rely on, things I need, and by extension things that might be used to hold me to ransom.

I don’t want to have to hurt myself to get through the day. But empirically, that’s another day over with and yesterday I thought my heart was going to explode or I was going to jump off a bridge before the end of today. I’m trying to find the hole in my logic. I’m trying to find the reason not to do it. But what works works and I am still alive.


Hello

My name is Laura. I was once told that I have cyclothymia. This blog is mostly where I write about living as a person with extremes and instability of mood, and the history of a life that led to the development of those symptoms.

I complain a lot, I'm very repetitive, unreliable, and I tend to contradict myself.

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