I can’t think of an appropriate start, so this’ll have to make do.
On Sunday I had my most difficult set of questions in for that evening. I naturally had left it all to the last day which, when combined with a deadline, is perfect for anxiety to take control. The nature of my course is that there are a few difficult questions, meaning that often there is either full progress or none in a question. As soon as it appears I won’t make any, I’ll try and avoid it (entirely natural to avoid what’s partially causing the anxiety) which then makes me feel bad for not doing the work and more anxious about whether I’ll make the deadline.
This got very serious at times. Thoughts have gotten as bad as “I want to die, but there would be too much suffering from others if I killed myself”, “I’m lying to my parents that I’m happy, this is how bad things are getting” and “I’m emotionally disconnected from literally everyone”. I can comfortably say it was the worst experience I’ve had in my memory. There is such a sense of powerlessness – I genuinely believe these things are true, I can’t change that, so I’m left with so little.
So after having such terrible thoughts, on Monday I was trying to do more of the exercises while having two problem sheets in for Wednesday. On top of that the physical symptoms of anxiety and depression played up, making me extremely restless at times and at others very low on energy, as well as having regular stomach upsets. The negative thoughts were around but not emotionally felt to the extent they were on Sunday.
I can’t really believe how well I came out of it though. The logic work I’d done half of turned out to be not much to catch up on (nor would I have gained much by working harder). The tutor completely understood and was in some sense pleased that I was worrying over my work – and the work I had done was of good quality. Also I was by some miracle given an extra day to do the other two problem sheets – alleviating so much difficulty. That work was then also fairly good and I’m past the deadlines for the week so am relieved.
Once I had found out about the extended deadline and insignificance of not fully doing the work my week was remarkably good. I was really positive and felt happy about things. Not truly satisfied – I still have underlying issues of course. But I was living a happy and normal life – like I seem to for 90% of the time when not stressed from work.
In amongst this there is a strong link between going to social events and suffering a depressive episode. When I went with a friend to the Jewish Society, I had a depressive episode afterwards; after watching a film with friends I had another, and most recently meeting up with a few friends very nearly caused one. I’m not sure what to make of this – perhaps being around a normal social occasion makes me feel aware of how distanced I can be from other people at times. But when the episode starts to come about there’s no real thoughts attached to it, so I ought not to really speculate about some deeper meaning when it’s most likely an emotional reaction – for whatever reason.
What’s most frustrating in all of this is the complete inability to tell if I’m making progress. I can be happy and then the day after have a suicidal phase. I maintain the belief that I can get through this, but there is a sense that this could go on for my entire life. It’s daunting in some way, so I must not dwell on it, no matter how much my anxiety wishes to focus on the worst case scenario.