The day started out wrong – my phone had reset during the night and my usual alarms didn’t go off. Instead, I was woken by my partner’s later alarms, and couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. So I hauled myself out of bed (admittedly after a bit of prodding – mornings suck) and pottered through my morning routine, which all went well, and I was off to work at a good time. I just didn’t want to do anything, I wanted to be an amorphous blob, right from waking up. I just didn’t care.
Nothing really bad happened at work. We found a couple of old things that really should have been done a year ago (left over from the person in my role previously), and discovered a frustrating error that’s been repeated across a number of projects from someone who’s long since gone … and this may actually be a problem for this project. It’s all gone up the chain and greater minds than I are deciding on things and will handle it. Nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing I haven’t handled before. And yet, by about 11.00am, I was silently panicking.
So I was panicking and I didn’t care. I was sitting at work, in a job I know, around people I love working around, in a safe environment with two wonderful bosses who never get angry when I mess up, are always quick with praise, and who I get along with … and I was panicking and I just did not care, I did not want to be there, and I hated my job. I got the frustrated fidgets – what can I do to get ahead, can I get another job on top of this one, what can I sell to get a bit more liquid assets, how can I maneuver myself into a position where I don’t have to do this anymore.
Instead of resisting the feeling and getting grumpy about it and saying I have no reason for it, like I always do, I took a moment to go home for lunch, sit down, and go ‘no, this is okay. I am having a shit day, and there is no real reason for it, and that is totally okay.’ I felt a little better.
I went back to work, sat down, and within 30 minutes I was nearly jumping out of my skin again. There was a cacophony of voices in the office – it’s all open plan, and we have a few Capable of Outside Voices Only people there – and too much auditory input is one of my major panic triggers (which I usually put down to the fact that I can’t filter any of it out). I put my earbuds in and listened to a few minutes of white noise rainstorm, and that gave me just enough headspace to breathe, to sit back and let the noises wash over me, instead of slam into me. It gave me just enough headspace to go ‘no, this is okay, accept this feeling, stop resisting it’ and really feel it. It gave me just enough headspace to relax my stomach, my shoulders and the muscles in my face.
I checked myself at least 5 more times in the next few hours between lunch and home, reminding myself ‘I am having a shit day and that is totally okay‘. By the end of the day my skin felt tight, my chest felt strangled, and I just wanted to scream at the sky. I resisted the temptation – it’s rather alarming for people in the surrounding area – but that feeling stuck with me until I got out to do a bit of manual labour that evening.
That, along with listening to podcasts, helped flush out the last of my negative and anxious thoughts, and while I’m still feeling the after affects of an anxious day, I’m beginning to relax.
I will say that admitting ‘I’m having a shit day’ and then saying ‘and that’s okay’ made the usual frustration fidgets a lot less severe. While my brain was turning things over, it wasn’t the usual desperate churn, and I never once felt physically affected by the desperate need to do something, but also do nothing, and be anywhere but here right now. Definitely something to continue working on.