This weekend was a bit of a disappointment to say the least, and I’m going to write a whole post about it because it’s my blog and I can!
My mood has been only just about okay-ish all week – my mood tracker tells me that it’s been “meh” most days, with a dip into “bit miserable, actually” on Thursday. Then the weekend arrived, usually a bit of respite from my usual low-level constant misery.
Saturday the weather was fine, and, as I had planned, I went into Oxford to go to the library and buy a couple of things. However, they didn’t have any of the books I’d hoped for, so that was a bit of a blow. I walked back to my car, which takes quite some time, and usually I don’t find it bad, but on that day is just gave me too much opportunity to ruminate about how much I dread the week ahead, and how much I hate my life in general. I spent the rest of the day in this sort of mood, which is still bearable. I even managed to complete a couple of household chores.
Sunday started okay. The weather was fine again, I had a leisurely breakfast and read the paper for 2 hours. Then I had a shower, then I read some more, and then I decided to go to the supermarket. That’s when I discovered that during the shower, I had missed a call. A Person I know had left a message on the answerphone, threatening me with things we need to talk about. (This is not as sinister as I’m making it sound, this Person is from one of the associations where I’m treasurer, and they only want to talk over some association business.) For some reason this completely tipped me over the edge. I tried to call back but only got their answerphone (on which I refused to leave a message). Then I started to cry. Yeah, I know, a missed call, what’s the big deal? I hate missed calls. I hate getting phone calls, period, but missed calls might even be worse, and voicemail messages. A missed call comprehensively bursts my bubble, the bubble I need to keep the world at bay, the bubble I depend on for survival. A normal call bursts my bubble as well, but at least once it’s over, I can start with the repair work. A missed call however is like a pebble in your shoe. It nags at you, it’s always there at the back of your mind, chafing. If you missed their call, they might call back. When? Who knows! You’ll just have to sit there squirming for a few hours until they do. Or they have left a message, saying “I’ll call you again but not before 5 because I’ll be out”. You day is going to be a write-off until 5, because you are always thinking “what did they want? what is this about? what will they say? what am I supposed to say?” etc. etc.
It’s difficult to explain, but that missed call felt like such an intrusion into my quiet private Sunday life that I just lost it. I sat down for half an hour, tears streaming down my face, and didn’t move. Going to the supermarket was now out of the question. I couldn’t even get out of my chair! Eventually I scraped enough energy together to go upstairs and lie on my bed. And there I stayed for over two hours, crying occasionally at how much my life sucks but otherwise reading a book. When I got up again, the weather was still fine. I should have gone outside to make the most of it, but seriously: outside? Outside is hot, noisy and peopled. To get to the nearest bit of nature, you have to walk through half the town first. And when you get to that bit of nature, it’s full of people, and kids, and dogs. Kids that scream, dogs that bark. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, it’s what they do, I just don’t want to be around when they do it. That’s the problem with nature: any bit of countryside that I can easily get to is always full of other people, which pretty much negates any relaxation factor. Or else it’s got crow scarers. To get further away from it all, I’d have to drive somewhere. Think about it: deciding where to go, getting into the car, driving somewhere UNKNOWN, sweating with fear because you can’t find the car park (it’s not like they’ve got sat-nav friendly postcodes), then walking somewhere unknown which is probably full of crow scarers as well…you’ve got to be joking, right? Much better to stay in the house, where there is at least a certain degree of safety.
It’s often said (and rightly so) that a walk in nature can lift depression and such. It’s true, it can really boost your mood. But to do that, you have to get to nature first. And when you don’t even feel capable of leaving the house, it’s not going to happen.
Autism, anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. I don’t know if that is what’s happening here. It’s not even “proper” depression. This low mood will persist for a week or so, then it will probably improve. Actually, it goes up and down within a day – mornings are the worst, then it gets better as the day goes on. Often when I’m really down I think “maybe I should talk to someone about this” but then by the time I could get, say, a GP appointment, it will be better and there is nothing to talk about. I’ve picked up a leaflet for an anxiety and depression helpline months ago, but I haven’t used it. I think I don’t have it bad enough (yes, that old chestnut). Besides, a phone call? To a stranger? I don’t think so.
My father understands what I’m going through, because he gets these short periods of depressive mood as well. According to him, so did his mother, so in a way I can blame my genes. My mother is sympathetic but thinks I need more friends. She thinks I’m alone too much. She believes me when I say I’m not lonely, but she fears that I will be lonely in the future and then not have any friends to call on because I didn’t make any earlier. She also thinks that I should just push myself to do things I don’t want to do when I’m down (like go outside) because I will see that it’s good for me. I really really don’t want to force myself to do anything when I’m feeling miserable. What about self-care? But then doubt sets in. Do I really know best? Perhaps my instincts really can’t be trusted here. Perhaps I do need to force myself to go out because the result will prove me wrong. Perhaps I should force myself into more contact with people because humans are hardwired for companionship. Perhaps it’s a similar mindset to that of an addict who can’t admit that they are an addict. I think I know what’s best for me, but perhaps I don’t? Could I be harming myself without knowing it? Does mother really know best in this case? Where is the line between self-care and self-indulgence? I don’t know. I just can’t imagine that it can be good for you to push yourself further if you need all your spoons to stop yourself from crying.
Anyway. I stayed indoors for the rest of Sunday, doing only the bare minimum and hoping for improvement overnight. It is now Monday afternoon. I did manage to go to work, and I will do so for the rest of the week, but oh man, I am not looking forward to it. I’m still standing, but I’m teetering on the edge. I feel as if the smallest thing could push me over.
And what of the future? This is just going to be a bit of venting now, so be warned. I think the future looks bleak. Even when I’m not completely down in the dumps, my mood rarely rises above “meh”. I don’t get happiness, I just get the occasional absence of unhappiness. I haven’t been truly happy for years. There have been happy moments, I can’t deny it, but the base level has just been indifference at best and misery at worst. Any such moment of happiness is also spoilt by the knowledge that it is transient, and that the same old sh*t is going to catch up with me soon enough. I’m the sort of person who get’s the Monday blues not on Sunday night but on Saturday night, because my mind fast-forwards through Sunday in the knowledge that it is only a single day and almost doesn’t count. Most of the time I don’t feel like that my life is ever going to improve. I think I used up all my happiness in the first half of my life, and now there’s nothing left but scraps. Life is pointless, futile and without meaning. I might just as well disappear. I’m not talking about suicide, I’ve never contemplated that. But if I could snap my fingers and just make myself gone, preferably with altering the past in such a way that I never actually existed, so no one would miss me – I sometimes think that would be neat. But since this would require more magic than I’m capable of or, I don’t know, pressing the reset button on the universe or something, I guess I’ll have to stay around. I won’t do…the other thing. No, I’m committed to another 30 or 40 years of misery and futility. I’ll live my life, never fear – it’s just that I don’t expect anything from it.
Sorry for all that bleakness. In all honesty, in a week or two things are bound to look marginally better at least. But I have a truly sh*tty week ahead of me, and it’s only Monday, and it feels good just to unburden myself a bit. “It’s good to talk.” So I did.
Image: Clouds over the Wadden Sea in Schleswig-Holstein, on Germany’s west coast. Photograph by Friedrich Haag via Wikimedia.