One Foot, Then Another

I had to make a small confession today to boy s, and that was to let him know that I hurt myself during my anxiety meltdown the other day. In my distress I dug my nails into my left arm and back of the hand and raked at myself.

It’s a very dysfunctional grounding technique that I spent years getting rid of after I became very ill about twenty years ago. I’m deeply annoyed at myself for doing it again after all these years. At least it has only left me with scratches, and in this heat and humidity the itch of healing is irritating enough.

Being a Monday, I’ve also had work to distract me, so I’ve started back as I mean to go on, and done my best to balance myself while also supporting my staff. So far, so good. The irony of recommending EAP support for other people is not lost on me.

One foot, then another, then another, repeating as long as needed.

Recovery

I’m doing better today. This morning I was still a bit hazy and jittery – and various muscles felt like they’d been locked in struggle most of the night so that’s been fun in this heat.

In general then I’ve not felt able to socialise and my weasel brain has of course grasped on to that as another failure on my part. Objectively I know that it isn’t. Battling guilt over the strange turns my brain takes is difficult but it is part of being, well human.

Part of growing up with my background included a stoic mindset and reaction to what life brings. Not complaining but just getting on with it played a large part in the models around me, and while that is largely helpful in keeping my wits about me, it does bring its own stresses.

Being stoic in uncertain times lets me be a beacon of calm for those around me. It also fuels a leaning towards life as a service to those around me that I sometimes struggle to keep in a healthy balance. It’s something I’m actively prodding in my current counselling sessions. Anxiety over not meeting my own impossible standards is nothing new; kicking associated guilts into the long grass is a newer fight.

Well hey, isn’t self awareness a fun rollercoaster?

Brainstorm

I’m having a bit of an uncomfortable afternoon inside this skull of mine. As you probably already guessed that means its very chaotic in here right now. I’m not entirely sure why and part of why I’m writing this is to try and get it down out of the lump of rarefied gelatine in my head and down on paper where I can see it and try to nail it down a bit. The anxiety and random flashback images started while we were driving home this afternoon from a quick trip to Kingston. The Hampton Court Garden Show (or whatever the official name is) was kicking out so the traffic was horrendously backed up and stationery as we queued, music played, and blessed air conditioning kept the heat at bay.

And then the anxiety came out of nowhere – with snippet scenes from childhood, school, work, previous relationships all vying for attention and overlapping. Random thoughts about empathy, remoteness, connections, the masks worn to deal with situations all started crowding and even now I’m home now and sat on the sofa with coffee and laptop I’m finding pinning thoughts down like stabbing inside a cloud – or there being an open hole at the top of my head where emotions and concepts, and focus keep bubbling out and swirling like a fountain.

I don’t know if its my mental health having a moment, or that I’m just more aware of how oddly my brain processes things and the disruption to my planned journey has tipped me sideways – yay possible autism brain, thank you. All I know is I’ve needed a big hug from Lady M, I’ve ripped and clawed at the skin on my arm and the back of my hand, my eyes feel like they’re burning, and there’s a remoteness behind those eyes disconnecting me from what feels like a screaming storm in the next room.

I was due to have counselling tonight as well, but that’s had to reschedule – maybe that’s another element but its not a reaction I normally have to changes of plans on that front. I’m up to date with my medications, and even picked up renewed prescriptions this morning. We spent a fair bit of money in Kingston, but well within my anticipated budget – and there’s also the satisfaction of having both got some great reading material but also sorted out some presents for people’s birthdays and Christmas. I did get a copy of a letter back to my GP saying he hadn’t given the ASD team enough information for them to make a decision, so I feel I’m going to have to do some chasing on that avenue.

In the meantime I’m clenching my feet and fists repeatedly, resisting doing any more scratching (and the stinging now filtering through is also uncomfortable but at least I haven’t broken my skin enough to cause bleeding.

Maybe that’s all that is – a confluence of multiple stresses that has hit some sort of switch and now I want to retreat/withdraw from everything and am panicking because I can’t define it or explain it because my spoken words can’t keep up with the torrent of thoughts, tangents, imagery, and emotional cross-links that are cascading through and ricocheting like bullets inside my brainpan. Its like my whole body wants to scream but using my voice won’t be enough.

This is very uncomfortable – but I do feel better for being able to put this into some way that someone can read – there’s at least this way of communicating even if anything else just freezes. I’m telling myself it will pass. I will find a distraction – I will write more, I will draw, I will put on a game, something.

It will pass.

No Game Tonight

We’ve got a general approach with the D&D game that if someone is unwell or hasn’t the reserves to play that we pause. While we stream and do charity events, it is after all just a fun thing to do rather than a job.

On a purely selfish level, the creative writer in me is a bit relieved this week as I’d been struggling with story beats and potential set pieces for the next section. I’ve at least been able to use this extra time to do some poking around in various wiki sites like https://eberron.fandom.com/wiki/World_of_Eberron and the various books I’ve accumulated.

I almost have a plan. It could always go sideways if (more likely when) the adventurers go off on a tangent, but I believe they’re invested enough in the story to be curious about where their current path takes them. At the moment that path is taking them to Thorin’s home and a mounting tangle of mysteries.

The summons home came from Thorin’s long-lost sister. His father’s axe was delivered in the mail. A paladin-Inquisitor of The Silver Flame tracked him down and started asking veiled questions about his sister, and now there has been an assassination attempt.

Like the group, I can’t wait to find out what happens next – this really is part of the joy of collaborative play.

Post-Pride Month Thoughts

I’m tired. I don’t really feel like I’ve had a Pride month to speak of and I’m not sure if that’s down to being incredibly busy, being worn out in support of Trans partners and friends, or as a bi man not feeling particularly part of the community at the moment. Everything feels just that little bit more of a struggle this year – even as I acknowledge that good things are also happening, at least on the personal front.

I think in part, to be fair, this has been down to being focused on family and childcare – these have always got to take priority, and as an extended household that includes cover during half term for smaller people who aren’t quite old enough to be home alone for a couple of hours. It means I’ve been doing a lot of time slicing to help out. I’ve written about how supporting each other is a big part of the spirit of Pride – this year seems to have had that element land squarely on my shoulders – swings and roundabouts I suppose, at least in the microcosm of what my parents have called ‘The Entourage’

A lot of the public focus has also been focused on the Jubilee – a major public event across the nation – so it sounds petty to point fingers at that in any way because it has been a major unifier of communities. I think as I’ve been so involved in supporting my staff in setting up and running events related to it I’ve missed most of the holiday buzz that so many have enjoyed.

Plans on the work front are now focusing on Pride In Surrey, and on some work I’m doing for the libraries on Equalities, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). There’s a lot to do, especially balancing with the day job, but when isn’t there?

So – looking at my social media streams, people are generally enjoying their Pride Months and events – and I will no doubt enjoy the August event when it arrives in Camberley, but none of that buzz and excitement is currently swimming round either me or those immediately around me. As if to illustrate that, I just looked at my phone and saw a reminder that its London Pride tomorrow – and my internal response was a resounding “meh”. Maybe the burnout is coming from being so front and centre in being an active voice – the feeling of banging my head against a brick wall feels particularly ubiquitous at the moment.

I obviously need to get out much much more