My mood journal hasn’t looked this bad for months and to be honest, I didn’t really notice it until I filled it out tonight with another Fugly mood report. That’s 4 days out of 6 where I’ve felt really incredibly low. In all four cases of ‘fugliness’ this week, I’ve slept through the majority of the day. Sleep has always been my greatest refuge from anxiety and depression. It’s somewhere for me to hide from Black Dog as he attempts to sniff me out and maul me to the ground. Sleep is where feelings are suspended in infinite darkness for a few glorious hours of numbness. I know, inevitably, all the same problems will be there when I wake up, but for those few perfect hours, I can exist without fear and sadness, assuming they don’t devolve into a night terror. I’ve tried other coping mechanisms, like mindful meditation, but the constant chatter in my head won’t shut off. It’s like turning a radio dial through an AM channel at speed, and picking up bits of conversation here and there that doesn’t make any sense at all, which is hardly conducive to meditation. I’ve tried Progressive Muscle Relaxation, but as soon as I bring awareness to certain parts of my body, they trigger compulsions for me to flex particular muscle groups and I end up in a loop because the stretch doesn’t ever feel quite right so I have to do it over again. Just writing about it then made me have to do it, damnit.
Sometimes I sleep because it keeps me safe from the thoughts I have to end it all. When I feel like that, I generally curl up in bed and sleep until the urge isn’t quite so dire. Or I sleep to avoid engaging in my compulsions to check things or pick at my face or consult Dr Google. Sleep keeps me safe from myself. God, isn’t that a terrible thought? That I’m my own most poisonous enemy and I’m constantly trying to escape myself? When I was younger, I used alcohol to avoid feeling negative emotions. But I knew it could turn into something dreadful, so I gave it up before I turned 19. About 7 sober years later, I found myself using cannabis in the same manner. At first it was just to make myself feel like I did before I was medicated, creative and able to laugh and feel emotions that weren’t pure misery. But eventually, it caught up with me and only served to exacerbate my negative emotions like fear and paranoia and sadness. I knew at that point, I had to stop. In the few years since I stopped smoking, sleep has become my dominant escape. I know I need to find a new coping strategy, although I’m not entirely sure what that will be. I know whatever it is will mean having to sit with negative emotions that I find distressing and not relying on booze, or drugs, or sleep to manage them, which is in itself a particularly scary proposition for me. I’ve never been particularly good at self soothing. In the hospital, we played with kinetic sand and play dough during a lesson on self soothing. They suggested we make a box full of things to help us cope when we’re feeling low. Things like a nice snuggly blanket, a few dvd’s, something to do with our hands like playing with the aforementioned sand or dough, something that smells nice like an essential oil or a favourite perfume. I’d planned to do it, but I just never got around to it. I think it might be a good time to find the time to make one for myself. Whether I’ll utilize it when I need to is an altogether different question, but at least it will be there if I decide to make use of it.
This week coming, I’m going to try not to sleep through my emotions. It could get really ‘fugly’, so be warned. If you have any coping suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them.