When My Brain Gets Loud…

A few days ago, I woke up and found myself unable to leave my bed. My brain had been loud for days, buzzing with stress and fear and grief and inadequacy. This happens about once every three months, almost like clockwork. I probably should chart it. Perhaps it would help me stave it off. Most likely not.

This has been happening to me for as long as I can remember. I reach this breaking point where I feel I cannot go on any further. My thoughts run through various escapes. They​ start small with things like a few drinks to “take the edge off” or going on a roller coaster to get an adrenaline and endorphin boost.

Then they jump up to the idea of selling everything I own and just leaving. Physical escape from the day-to-day, disappearing from​ it completely, creating a new life and identity somewhere else.

And then, the thoughts always jump to permanent escape. Just as they always have. Comfortable with the fact that my family would be taken care of financially for at least five years, I think about drifting off to sleep and never waking up. Never having this loud, unending scream in my mind. Never being set off by the most minuscule action, sound or memory. Just nothing. Silence. Void. Sounds almost blissful.

So I’m lying in bed on a Saturday morning with the loud, unending, buzzing scream in my mind and I cannot get up. The tears come heavy and fast as I realize I am completely and utterly incapable of being a functioning human. I am failing at everything. I am overworked, over-stressed, overweight, under-qualified, and uninspired. I cannot adult today or any other day. I’m playing “adult”, and I am a loser parent, a loser manager, a loser wife.

I miss my mommy.

I’m supposed to run four miles in a race the next morning, and I know I can’t. The idea of being surrounded by thousands of people makes my anxiety skyrocket. If I don’t go, I let people down. But if I do go, I might do something…drastic. I don’t trust myself. I can’t function right now, but at least staying here in this bed with the body-rocking sobs and the self-loathing, you are safe. I can’t hurt anyone but myself here.

When I think back to how long these kinds of thoughts have plagued me, it makes me sad. Sad for that girl who has always been looking for ways to escape. Ways to numb. When I was young, I found my comfort in television and food. Then there was alcohol, unhealthy relationships, Facebook, more food, over-exercising, over-scheduling, over-working. These numbing techniques have served me well for 30 years.

I was fired from a job last summer. It caught me off guard. I was very unhappy there, but I thought I would be leaving on my terms. I was unemployed for the next six months, but I found ways to make ends meet. There was no more over-working, over-stressing. So I thought, what other numbing agents can I cut out? I drastically cut down my social media intake. I stopped drinking. I started moving more and eating less. Playing the guitar every day, drawing regularly, picking my kids up from school. I missed my fourth quarter mental breakdown and didn’t even realize it. Goodbye, depression! And good riddance.

I started working full-time again two months ago. It’s a great opportunity, a good company, more responsibility and pay than I’ve ever had. But the schedule, the constant need to be “on”, the stress of other people’s problems…it crept up slow. A negative thought. A Google search for housing prices in a remote part of a country to which I’ve never been. Then a few scattered, dark ideas peeked out of their hidey-holes. Depression is weird. I can feel completely in control and confident, and then while driving down the highway, I’ll find myself imagining what it would be like to just drive off this overpass. One little jerk of the wheel.

For the record, I have no intent of following through on these morbid fantasies. But it has been a wake-up call that just six short months ago, I thought I was done with depression. I remain sober, but I’m not taking care of myself in other ways now that my day-to-day has drastically changed. I let myself get sucked right back into the other ways I numb. I stopped playing guitar. I stopped drawing. I am moving less and eating more. I am over-scheduled and exhausted with little mental capacity for my husband and children let alone anyone else. I am forgetting the things that fill me with joy. I am forgetting me.

After almost 48 hours, I made my way out of bed last Sunday afternoon. I looked at my reflection in the mirror: the swollen bags under my eyes; the purple shadows below surrounded by the red freckles of broken blood vessels; the salt stains like rivers down my cheeks; the dry chapped lips; the nervous tick of the throbbing headache that follows hours of crying. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and repeated the phrases I have my sons say to themselves every day:

I am strong.
I am creative.
I am intelligent.
I am kind.
I am brave.

I am loved.

2 thoughts on “When My Brain Gets Loud…

  1. I feel like you're describing my life to a T recently. Being an adult IS hard. I have many of those sleepless nights, and even with medication, regular visits to my psychiatrist, I find myself wanting to escape too. Changing jobs helped for a while and quitting things that were overextending me, but here we are again.

    Thank you for sharing this. It's nice to know I'm not alone 🙂

  2. Thanks for commenting, JM. It's a brutiful world we inhabit and some days, survival is the only attainable goal. Know you have an ally and friend any time you need it. Stay safe.

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