I have lived through periods of high stress before. This is not the first time. Separations, house moves, big work projects, family issues, pregnancy, are all things I have found stressful. This is the first time I have turned to medication, however. I have always, wrongly probably, believed that it is best to just 'get on with it'.
Don't you hate that expression? Along with 'mind over matter' and 'stiff upper lip' they do represent a kind of reluctance to admit to there being anything wrong. A fear of being seen as weak. Is it a British thing?
I've been trying to describe how I am feeling at the moment, and it is hard. My shoulders feel all scrunched up, and I am irritable. With everyone. And unfortunately, most people in my day to day life, the children and the pets, can't understand why they are being snapped at. Because there isn't usually a good reason.
Then there is the physical pain. Tense shoulders, as I mentioned, stiff neck, headaches. A constant feeling that I am straining to see, as if I needed new glasses. But I don't.
Over-riding all of this is a kind of powerless dread, right in my tummy. It's always there, more or less, even when I am watching a funny film, or Glee, or burying myself in a trashy novel. It takes the edge off anything that is enjoyable, that I would usually enjoy. I watch my eldest daughter singing into a hairbrush, and smile with her - it's a special moment watching a toddler gain in confidence and skills, though I have to say the keeping in tune skills needs a lot of work. And although it is a special moment, precious even, there is still that awful feeling which tinges everything else. Sometimes I become more conscious of it and wonder, momentarily, why I feel like that - it's there but I can't quite put my finger on why. Then I remember, oh. And it all comes back and wallops me, and I spend the rest of the film, or book, or mother-daughter moment, feeling angry, upset, self pitying in turn.
And the feeling in my tummy kinds of spreads all over me, to my scalp, and down to my toes, until I manage to calm down. I slow my breathing, deliberately, and relax each part of my body in turn. When it doesn't work I take an anti-anxiety pill, or half a dose, and wait for it do to the whole relaxation work for me.
And I know that this is temporary. This will pass. Resolution of some kind will be found. And that thought anchors me somehow, combining with the medication to give me the strength to apologise to the toddler, the husband or the dog for being snappy, and just get on with it.