In Which I Make an Extended Metaphor

Today is a difficult day. An impossible day. A day that I wish I could’ve stayed in bed. The noises of the office, the buzz of people talking, typing, laughing, chewing–living their lives–feels too big and too loud. Even the sound of my own fingers hitting the keys as I type this is Just Too Much. Today is a day I’ll cry on the way home, out of exhaustion and frustration and sheer sadness.

Today is a day that I have to deal with my monster. Well…Every day is a day that I have to deal with my monster. She never goes away, really. But sometimes she is small and easily sated. When she is medicated, she is a Good Monster, a Watchful Monster. Other times, like today, she is big and bossy and horrid.

And yet.

And yet, I have to teach. I have to walk into a classroom full of college students (two rooms, actually), and command respect and diligence from my students. I have to talk to them, and I have to listen to them. I have to be attentive to what they need from me. I have to do my job. At a time when every noise I hear makes me wish I could curl further into the fetal position, I have to be upright and on-task.

And that’s what life is like for me–knowing that I must be upright when there’s a literal weight and heft to my anxiety pushing me downward. Being out of bed and out of home instead of being bundled under the covers, my pup curled next to me. Even when it’s difficult to move through the day, I must move through it. This is what I must do, not every day, but many days.

There are lots of days when just getting out of bed, going through the routine of bathing, getting dressed, and getting the breakfast-and-medication routine finished, zaps whatever energy I have. That’s today, a Monday that has brought both a rise in anxiety and some PMS symptoms. Those are beasts, both of them. Big, ugly monsters–bossy ones, at that. But I can’t stay in bed, and I can’t avoid the things that need to be done. I either have to do what needs to be done or forfeit some part(s) of my life, a thing that I am unable (and unwilling) to do. The bills still have to be paid, the child and dog still need to be taken care of, my students still have to be taught, and I still have to keep going.

I’ve been reading up on the Spoon Theory today, wondering if I can use it to help explain how my anxiety and depression work. And to a certain extent, it does work–I have a finite amount of energy each day, and I must consider which tasks have to be done and which can wait. But my illness deviates from Spoon Theory, perhaps because it is of a mental rather than physical nature–or perhaps just because we’re all different, and there is no one-size-fits-all way of explaining what it’s like to live with an illness.

Some days, I wake up and bounce out of bed, moving through the getting-ready-to-be-out-in-the-world phase pretty quickly and easily. Some days, it’s easy to face my classroom full of students–and there are times when it even gives me some spoons back, almost like re-charging. On those days, the monster sits quietly by, attentive but not active. Leashed. (Modern medicine is a Wonder, and it is Key to Keeping the Monster on a Leash.)

And then some days (like today), getting out of bed feels like slogging through mud–with an unruly, awful critter screaming at me to hurry up. That I’m not doing well enough. That I’m weak. That the world is big and ugly and always will be. That I’m insignificant. These taunts make me so afraid that I start dropping spoons. And once I start dropping spoons, it’s difficult to get them back. Everything is scary, and nothing is good enough.

Some days (like today), I start thinking about how I’ll have the energy to parent, because if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that I need spoons when Little Jedi is home. I need spoons when he’s home so that I can find him something to snack on, help with homework, and give him the emotional and mental support and care that he needs from his mother. And if there’s one thing that I’m afraid of, especially on a day like today, it’s that I’m doing him a disservice by using up my spoons on the rest of the world. And so the monster grows louder, needier.

That monster–that loud, mean monster–is more difficult to quiet on some days than others. And while I am lucky enough to have a wonderful, supportive spouse and a fantastic kid and a comfortable home, none of those things can make the monster quieter.

On these days, we wait for the monster to wear herself out.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m sorry that you are having such a bad time of it today. I understand exactly how you feel. Monday thru Friday I too have to spend all my energy on functioning. Saturday and Sunday often find me curled up with my pets under the covers and hiding from the entire world, if it lets me hide. Feeling anxious and depressed is no walk in the park and sometimes it seems like the medication isn’t working at all. Hang in there! We’ll get thru it…
    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    • says

      Thanks, Deb. I know you can certainly relate. I’m always impressed by how honest you’re able to be with people about the way it feels to live with anxiety and depression. We’ll get through it, indeed. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • says

        Thank you for the unexpected compliment! I think anxiety and depression go hand in hand. I have an anxiety episode and then the depression sets in. Sounds almost manic doesn’t it? I do hope you are feeling better. Take care.

        Like

    • says

      Thank you! The rest of the week was somewhat better. My anxiety and depression are exacerbated when I have PMS symptoms, and that was a big part of the challenge this week. Once I got through that, things were much easier.

      Liked by 1 person

      • says

        Somehow I didn’t have to go through that. I had bad hot flashes but eventually diminished gradually. I do have subconscious anxiety because of my high expectation of myself. I learned to relax with headphone on, listening to music. One night, I had the phone phone on until morning. But clinical anxiety and depression are different. Sometime medication helps to go through the spikes, then go off the medication. Med. for depression has bad side effects.

        Like

  2. says

    Really sorry you had a tough day. This all makes a lot of sense to me and I never imagined it would. After my husband lost his job and I had to remain behind at the same place for two more years, I experienced so much of this. I don’t remember having days and feelings like you describe until after that happened. It was a horrible situation all around. I completely understand. Hope you’re resting well now and you find tomorrow easier. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. says

    There was a time, in my teens and early twenties, when I was plagued by my own monster. I called her the woman-child. I feel for you and empathize with what you are going through. It’s tough adulting because we have to find ways to push through these days and past these monsters. I wish you the best of luck and all the strength.

    Liked by 1 person

    • says

      Thanks, dear. Woman-child is a fairly good term for it as well.

      This week the PMS just exacerbated everything, making it more difficult. On a day-to-day basis, things have been easier lately, but the combo of stress and PMS was a double whammy. Alas!

      Like

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