There’s a stretch of sweet terrain between anxiety and depression that feels almost like bliss. Because when I find myself there, the tumult of anxiety falls quiet.
Whenever I stumble into this quiet territory, I feel relieved. Every time. Without fail. Even though I know what I’m in for next.
I let myself savour the stillness for a while before I take stock of my surroundings.
It’s not that the relentless noise is part of my everyday existence – it normally ebbs and flows. But sometimes it crescendos over weeks or months until I am overwhelmed by a constant dialogue of self-doubt, and I struggle to wrest back control.
In the aftermath of this, the quiet place seems like somewhere I might like to stay forever. I feel so calm and detached.
The thing is, I know from long experience that this place is actually a tipping point, where the anxiety of caring so very very much about everything just burns out. And the lightness I feel is the weight of those very many anxieties suddenly not mattering at all.
In fact, nothing matters at all.
I know that can’t be right; I need to get myself back to a place where something matters. But somehow, I can’t motivate myself to do it.
I also know I should tell someone when I reach the quiet strip. I should send up a flare or distress signal of some kind. But I don’t want to alarm anyone or make a big fuss. So instead of saying –
If nothing matters, then I don’t matter.
The old self-doubt begins to give way to self-loathing.
They were small. Important, but very small. That’s why I waited to say them. When there was a space. An opportunity. A right time. And while I waited, they accumulated and tangled in my head.
But if I can think of some of them now, I can talk about them. I can understand or resolve some of the things that were gnawing at me, and that will be a way to grasp hold of some purpose.
I will talk in a calm and sensible way. Because really, none of this is a Big Deal. I won’t let it be. I just need to grab hold of one ordinary, meaningful conversation and make myself understood.
That will restore order.
So I force a time, a space, an opportunity – I can’t wait any longer for the right one – then I open my mouth and speak –
This must be pretty confusing for the person on the receiving end, because as far as they know, things were going along fine up until that point.
These are very reasonable questions to ask of someone who has just handed you the snarled mess of their heartstrings and headstrings, and now seems to expect you to vanquish their greedy, grappling despair.
But I don’t. Expect anyone else to solve it.
And I really can’t articulate what is wrong.
I feel stupid. Worthless. Wounded. So far beyond normal that I can’t imagine what anyone could possibly do to help. Or why anyone would want to.
Yet sometimes, on instinct and out of the blue, someone will offer up something so unexpected and beautiful, that for a while, everything goes quiet again.
It’s not the disengaged silence of the quiet territory, but a moment of perfect peace. A pocket of calm, where I feel safe.