I’ve been a bit weepy this week. Wept at my son’s new school ‘new parents’ evening (subtly; I don’t think anyone noticed, or at least were too busy trying to hide their own tears). Wept at hearing New Order playing ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ live, years ago, pop up on Spotify. Wept as I finished the most recent season of Gomorrah. Wept at my son asking when he’s going to die – and adding that he doesn’t want to, he wants to stay like this forever. And yet – and yet, people – I’m not due on. Incredible isn’t it. No, this is real life without Citalopram. All the feels. All the weeps.
Overall though, a couple of months after coming off them, I’m feeling much better physically. Thank you, by the way, for all the kind messages and comments I’m still getting from my blog post about coming off Citalopram. I don’t have the 24/7 jaw clenching or unfathomably tense shoulders. I don’t have the dull, balanced feeling that I really quite desperately needed. But I do have these tears, always on standby, always there ready to pop out and make themselves known.
There’s another feeling too. It’s Anxiety. I don’t know – cause I’ve never asked – but I guess it manifests itself a bit differently for everyone. So I won’t try and be the Anxiety Police here and say who’s suffering from the genuine article and who’s mistaken/showing off/exaggerating/bit rubbish at describing their actual feelings. But with me it takes some familiar forms that I recognise coming back. One is something I call The Bumbag of Fear – a feeling which I carry around in the pit of my stomach, sometimes mistaking it for actual tummy ache, and making me feel like everything I am doing or about to do is a terrible, terrible decision. Not like shall I sign up for Tough Mudder or adopt six puppies or drop acid on the nursery school run. Just any decisions. Texting a friend. Making a dentist appointment. Agreeing to a meeting where I have to talk to one or more live human beings.
I don’t know how to stop these thoughts seeping in. Maybe you can’t, really. But you can boot them out if you practise hard enough and do it dead fast. Sometimes though, like today, you can’t do it fast enough or there’s too many to bat away successful and they overrun you. Those days, like today, I go to bed in the daytime and have some quiet time, waiting for the coast to be clear, when there’s fewer feelings to bat away, or I feel a bit stronger to tackle them.
Later on, when the coast is clear, I’ll allow myself to get excited for my trip to see my longtime fave Billy Joel this weekend. To dispel worries that there’ll be a terrorist attack, a fire, my car will get broken into, or I’ll be in a car crash on the way there. That I’ll lose the ticket, or get poorly and not be able to go, or will find my window put through when I get back to the car. Or, horror of horrors: not have any comfy clothes to wear. Let that sink in: an arena concert, in Manchester, full of Billy Joel fans. I hardly need a new outfit and MUA appointment.
OTT? Maybe. Rational? In my mind, yes. Literally any of these things – and more – could happen. It’s a cognitive distortion, thinking like that, and it’s called catastrophising. And I honestly can’t seem to help it. And that’s how Anxiety can stop you from doing normal things. That’s how Anxiety saps the pleasure and the fun out of the run up to any event: what should be anticipation is replaced with dread, what should he excitement is replaced with discomfort.
“You’ll enjoy it when you get there” my mum used to say about Brownies. And she was right. So I’ll be fine, on Saturday night – singing Uptown Girl to my hearts content and earning my Overcoming Anxiety One Step at a Time badge.