This is something I feel pretty much on a daily basis. Trapped.
It’s a horrible feeling, especially since every time I try to reach out and grasp onto something meant to help pull me out, I seem to get trapped all over again and have to struggle to find my way back out again.
It’s exhausting. It’s depressing. And it’s often unexplainable & unrelatable to a lot of people in my life that I wish understood it better.
A few weeks ago I had a bit of a rough day (to say the least) and I cried to my boyfriend about how I felt so trapped in my head, and I was so exhausted all the time of having to be aware, or trying to remember what skills to use to help me in what situations. I tried to explain to him that even just small things that most people do without thinking about them take a lot of concentration & effort, especially I’m feeling unstable. Simple things like making a meal can sometimes go wrong so quickly, and he has a hard time grasping what is going on in my head & why it’s so hard for me.
It’s not his fault, of course. He tries his best, and he’s oh so patient with me. And I’m honestly glad that he doesn’t really understand, because it means that he hasn’t had to deal with this sort of frustration and pain on the level that I am.
He has learned the skills to deal with his anger, and he’s dealt with it so many times in his life that it’s second nature to him. He doesn’t need to remind himself to stop and take a deep breath, or that he shouldn’t say something snappy in a brief moment of anger that he’ll regret. He can resist that tiny urge to throw a spatula across the room if he accidentally overcooks something, or drops food on the floor. But for me…when these things happen they are big and they consume me. And it’s hard for me to try to multi-task when my emotions are taking over. I can either try to deal with the emotion, or I can continue what I’m doing and let the emotion slowly take over. The middle ground is still not in the picture yet, but I’m working on that.
He doesn’t realize that I have a hard time leaving the house without him on a lot of days because my anxiety is so high that every ounce of my being is consumed with just keeping it together. All I can think about is that I need to keep breathing, and reminding myself over and over again in my head that it will be okay, even if it feels like the world is closing is on me more and more every second. Going out on days like that is often only possible because he is my anchor, my rock. I do manage it sometimes on my own, but it’s incredibly exhausting and I usually need a few days to recover from it.
Even recovering from a small incident can be exhausting and take more time than everyone (myself included) would like. Sometimes I can go out and be social for a few hours and I am okay, but other days even an hour is so long…and my entire body & brain are just so exhausted I have a hard time being present. I have a hard time paying attention, my responses become short & I get quiet and try to find some excuse to leave because I am just done. Then I feel guilt. “Why are you only visiting for an hour? I thought we made plans to hang out for the afternoon?”. I did, and trust me…when I made the plans with you I really wanted to & felt capable. But now I’m so exhausted and I need to be alone for a few hours (at least) to regain my strength.
I’ve tried explaining it, and from some people they completely understand. But other’s…well that’s a different story. “Oh, well you were fine last week, I don’t see how this is any different, there is way less people here & it’s so quiet.” I get that, I really do. But sometimes I honestly can’t explain what it is, but it just exhausts me. Sometimes I already used up everything just being me, and just being alive that day…that I have so little left for anything else. It’s not that I don’t want to see people, and do fun things. I want to, and I dream about it. But I’ve always been this way. I’ve always needed my space & time, a lot of it, and I already feel horrible about it due to the way people react.
Often when I get asked to family events, I decline unless I know I am able to have some free time to myself somehow. Whether it’s going to bed a few hours early each night, or being in a hotel room away from people, or even a tent. If I don’t have that space & time to myself I have an incredibly hard time functioning.
It doesn’t help that I still feel immensely guilty about it. All the time. I have heard people saying that I must be a snob, or must not enjoy their company, or that I am just ‘the reclusive daughter‘…but I’ve tried, countless times, and I know it doesn’t end well. You might not notice it, how could you? Because it’s all in my head. All the time. I am mentally exhausted, I need a break. Why is that so hard to understand? And just because you are okay with being around 30 people for 4 days doesn’t mean I am, no matter how much I love them & enjoy their company. That just isn’t how I am. It’s never been how I am.
I’ve been stressing about an upcoming family reunion for over a year already. I want to go, I want to see people. I want to be social and visit, and I want to be seen as a grown up who has her own life and can make her own decisions. But I also want to be respected. I don’t want to be grilled (again) about why I’m going to bed early, or why I skipped out on the scavenger hunt. I want to do these things, so badly it tears me up inside. But sometimes I just don’t have it in me, why can’t we just leave it at that?
I asked my sister for advice about this, how can I get people to understand that I just need more space than they do, and that I’m trying to be anti-social or rude. I just need time to reset. Her suggestion was to pick one of our aunts that I know would speak up for me, and explain it to them and ask if they could help me to explain it to others. And honestly, that feels exhausting, and why should I have to?
When I had broken ribs I didn’t have to explain why I didn’t want to do physical games where you bump into each other with balloons on. I simply said, “I’ve got some broken ribs, probably not a good idea right now!” and laughed it off, and they agreed…not a good idea. So why do I need to keep explaining myself? Why do I need to keep telling people over and over again that I am not being anti-social, I just need time to reset? WHY? Why is this still a thing I need to do?
These people have known me since I was born, my family. Yet they still think I’m being anti-social and not that I have a lot of mental issues and need a bit more space & time to myself to recover than they might. I’m so tired of this all.