Oh guys. Yesterday was a doozy.
I started out the day feeling ok, actually. I did all of my normal Sunday morning things: I walked the dog, did the laundry, had my bagel. But as the day went on, I just got more and more blah. I watched Top Gear (a favorite) but it wasn’t making me laugh. I read my book – The Night Circus, which I’ve read before and love – but it wasn’t helping me escape. I took a nap curled around the dog, but when I woke up I felt worse than before.
So I got up, put on my leggings, and found myself sobbing halfway through yoga. By then end my mat was covered in drop marks from my crying. When I finished, the dude came over and wrapped his arms around me, not saying anything. The dog came over and licked my face. I got up, showered, got dinner ready, and as I was talking with the dude, found myself crying into my tacos.
Before I go on, I have to say that the dude did everything perfectly, and if you have a partner who struggles with supporting you when you’re anxious, his behavior was an excellent model. When he noticed something was up, he checked in. I didn’t elaborate or really engage further than “I’m just kind of blah”, so he asked if there was anything he could do. When I said no, he left me alone. When he found me crying after yoga, he sat behind me on my mat and hugged me. He didn’t pester me with questions, he didn’t make jokes, he didn’t try to fix it. He just sat with me and non-verbally let me know that he was there for me. He asked if I wanted to do something together, accepted my answer, and then left me alone instead of pushing me to do something. He balanced being compassionate – checking in with me, hugging me – with letting me maintain my autonomy. A lot of times what’s hardest about being the partner of someone with a mental health condition is that you want to fix it. You want to distract them, to make it better, and so you make jokes or you tell a story or you ask questions. And as amazing as that is, it’s not helpful for most of us. What that means for us is that not only are we feeling what we’re feeling, which is plenty intense, but then we also have to manage our partners. When we don’t react the way they expect us to, that can create some resentment or some offense. But we can’t be responsive in the way partners want us to be when we’re feeling anxious, and it can be hard as a partner to really understand that.
Yesterday was the first time since this summer that I’ve had a bad day. Like, a whole day, not just a few minutes or an hour or two. And while I’m glad that bad days are few and far between, it also was kind of jolting. I’d forgotten just how shitty it can feel, and I got really wrapped up in that. It was so hard to drag myself up and do yoga. All I wanted to do was sleep and be sad and cuddle the dog. And to be honest, today is better in that I’m not walking around feeling like I want to cry every second, but I’m also not really myself. I feel kind of dour and impatient and irritable. I’m thankful that I’ve been through this enough times now that I know this isn’t how the rest of my life will go, and I know that I’ll start to feel better. I’m also glad that I know what will help me feel better, and plan on doing some yoga and having some time with the dude when I get home. And I can see everything I do to manage anxiety working: even though yesterday sucked, it was still much preferable to having a panic attack (or two or three). That’s the direct result of yoga and therapy, and it’s good motivation to keep going.
I guess I just want to say that even though I’ve been doing really well, I still have tough days. I still get disappointed in myself and frustrated with my brain. I still get sad for no discernible reason. This is not over; it will never be over. And I will slowly learn how to be ok with that.