It is 1:23am and I’m wide awake. Correction. My brain is wide awake; the rest of me could do with an eternity of sleep. Having experienced this over many years, I know that I will not be falling asleep any time soon. My brain has decided that it is the perfect time to pick a random thought that popped into my head earlier (or maybe days ago) and make it ginormous. It was miniscule at the original time of thinking, I think.
Being an over-thinker is draining however I’ve managed to live with it all my life. But recently in the last few months, the over-thinking has become heightened, my sleep disturbed more than normal, and my emotions are bubbling over (yes, I have some of those I promise).
I reflect on the last couple of months, and something is off. Something does not feel right. My brain is in survival mode, and I feel exposed, vulnerable, and defenseless. Then one day, in conversation with my sister-in-law I could finally admit it.
Two things happened: the pandemic being one; but I was never sick and had always been busy so this couldn’t have affected me, surely? The second which occurred recently was my 8to5 life. Up until the end of last year my 8to5 meant I was the container, making sure everyone else was okay; and to be honest because this was not and is not different to my personality of containing, I felt at home.
The difference was it had become at times 24 hours of thinking and processing (this was not due to a requirement but my own need to always contain, always make sure everything is under control because somehow that keeps me and my being controlled) and then just like that, it all stopped. My 8to5 changed physically and mentally but I had underestimated the emotional part of me needing to process a lot more than I had thought.
I had changed my 8to5 many times before, so this was not new. What was new was that I had to deal with my own emotions that I had managed to suppress for 2 years because we all know I hate dealing with them and distracting myself is always the easier option. Here I was for the last 2 months trying to figure out why I felt like I had been hit by a train. I had fallen out of routine; no running, no meditating, no reading and barely any blogging. The constant waves of moving between anything that could make me jump into a fit of rage to almost close to tears but not quite because…ooohhhh look a distraction! to absolute joy because…look puppies! was draining me.
These waves had me questioning my lethargy, my brain power and lack of interest in all that I loved. What the hell is going on with me? I was no longer containing others all the time and for the first time in a very long time I saw that I needed to learn how to contain myself again. I could no longer distract myself by focusing on others.
Tired of asking questions of “What is wrong with me?” and tired of overthinking these past few months, I decided to just go with it. To go with whatever came up; whatever angry, bitter, selfish, hurtful thought or whatever depressing, sad memory popped into my brain or whatever gleeful action made me giggle. I didn’t make myself feel bad for thinking a person was an idiot or mentally questioning if another was untrustworthy or asking myself if someone else was selfish or manipulative. I didn’t make myself feel bad when I thought of all the times I spent with people who drained my energy and all I wanted to do was leave or avoid them or stay away from them. I didn’t make myself feel guilty for any feelings or thoughts I was feeling or thinking. I went with all of it.
And the strangest thing happened once I stopped avoiding and once I stopped judging all the waves coming and going. I didn’t just sleep well but I woke up and for the first time in months, followed the morning routine I had put in place all the years before. I went for a run. I said yes to hanging out with friends I missed seeing and I was present. Not only physically but mentally and emotionally present and it was fun.
Processing emotions and feelings is not an overnight fix (is it even a fix?) that’s for sure. I thought that because I had never gotten sick during the pandemic and after all, I could work every day and always be so contained, I had no right to think for a second that I was affected in any way because others had been through far worse. At least now I accept that all I had done to avoid accepting what was happening was to focus on others, which I loved, and love doing and would not want to stop doing. The downside of this was that I completely lost sight of the care I needed to give myself; to take time out now and then to deal with what I normally avoid and to accept that being human is okay. I promise.