[Oct 2013] Reaching The Bottom

I feel an enormous black hole in my head. Cosmic, ringing emptiness. I feel like I have nothing to do and no reason to get up. I don’t want to see or hear anybody. I am afraid of everything and everybody. My body is one big cramp from head to toe. I decided yesterday evening that I would ask for an extra appointment with my therapist because I felt I hit the deepest bottom. And unlike ever before, this time I can’t see the way out. I am just sinking deeper and deeper every day in my anxieties and fears. I don’t want to suffer through any more days helplessly.

Sophie went to work and spent the day there. I was working on my development task at home for a few hours. I was lucky enough to get that therapy appointment I was craving for. It soothed me a little. On the other hand, it made me nervous because I knew I had to go there and talk about the pain and suffering of the last few horrible days. Sophie arrived home and offered to come with me. I anxiously wanted to go, but we still had a lot of time. It felt good talking to her about her day. It distracted my thoughts.

As the time came, we set off. It was terribly difficult to go out to the street again, after spending the last few days at home in my apartment. I was nauseous and dizzy. I had to walk carefully to keep my balance, focusing only on my next step. We managed to get there a few minutes earlier. We had to wait. It made me even more nervous. Sophie decided to wait for me until I finish. Her care felt good. I needed it. She understands me so well, he cares about me and truly helps. My only fear is that it might have a bad impact on our relationship. I am afraid she won’t be able to look up to me after seeing me this lost and helpless.

I went in, sat down, and poured my heart out to my therapist. I told him everything that happened to me in the last days. From my realization about social phobia, through my growing anxiety, to feeling desperate and helpless. I expected some great, universal advice or insight, that would help me or put everything into a different light, but it never came. The thing that calmed me the most was that I didn’t see him desperate or worried about me. He didn’t see my condition so bad as I did. He seemed to trust me. He didn’t want to prescribe any medication (if he had the license to do it at all), although I expected he would. He told me it was natural to hit bottom at this time when I had left all the problems behind me and started to build a new life from scratch.

He said that it was a noble quest to find the roots of all my problems, but I could leave that for the longer term, and focus on the surface of my acute day-to-day issues for now. He was very right about this, and it had never occurred to me. Such an approach was a half-solution to me, the unambiguous sign of weakness. My good-old perfectionism, you know… He asked me to do something for myself, to go somewhere, to start something, to make short-term plans, to make some changes and make myself moving off from the bottom. I need to alter the things that keep me in my terrible condition. No matter how depressed I feel, my actions and the people around me have an effect on me and my feelings, that was why I needed to keep moving. He asked me to create a detailed plan for the next few days about what I would do to feel better. This plan would be the frame for my days to hold on to.

I didn’t feel a resounding relief when I got out. I expected something more profound that I didn’t get. Going out to the street again was dizzying. It was another uncomfortable change and challenge. I felt anxiety, nausea, and horrible fear again. We stopped by the grocery store on our way home. Doing the shopping was another heroic challenge. I arrived home exhausted, with the satisfaction that I stepped outside my shelter and did something to heal. I talked to my mother on the phone, watched the latest episode of Boardwalk Empire – which made me terrified -, then fell down to my sleeping mat, closed my eyes, and started breathing deeply, while letting my thoughts running wild in my head. Hours passed by while I was lying unmoved.

My situation and my social phobia got a little different perspective. I had seen my condition very dark in the last few days. Every feeling or thought reminded me of my failures and flaws. I had considered these flaws permanent and rooted in my deepest core, which is unchangeable by its nature. Now I see it only as a condition, which is fundamentally different because conditions are temporary and fleeting. Just like every feeling I face during my life or meditation. And those thoughts and feelings can be worked and changed. I also see the world less in black-and-white. These painful emotions I have are valid, legitimate ones that everyone experiences once in a while. I have experienced this earlier, only not so often, not so intensely, and not for so long. But the existence of these feelings is never going to change, only the frequency and intensity, and this is okay. It is also not true that I have always felt this way in social situations in the past few months or years. It is not true! Most of the time I was feeling fine and happy, and I acted like a normal human being.

And you know what? Social phobia is just a fucking meaningless label! There is no such a condition as social phobia. It is not an independent problem, it is related to more general and deeper feelings and experiences, for example to my general nervousness, my impatience, my fear from challenges and changes, and other issues. Maybe this disappointing therapy session actually did help to me. It made me feel and think differently about myself.

In the evening, we were talking about plans for the next weekend with Sophie. It was All Saints’ Day, and it struck me that this would be the first occasion where daddy was not going to come with us to light candles. Instead, we were going to light a candle for him on his grave. I imagined going to the cemetery next town where my father’s parents are buried, meeting with relatives and acquaintances, with whom we had lost our last direct contact since dad and his parents are all dead now. They are all on their way to becoming nothing but a fading memory. My tears started flowing slowly. Sophie went out into the bathroom for a shower so I could let my tears and feelings loose. I was sobbing bitterly for half an hour until I became totally exhausted. Soon, I fell into a deep sleep.

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