20 October 2016

Catalogue of woes

A month on from writing about my stress over my parents' declining health, it's become apparent that the last few weeks have turned my situation into a microcosm of this blog.

It's as if I'd received the secret instruction 'Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to demonstrate to your readers as many of your issues as you can in as short a space of time as possible.'

Firstly, and almost inevitably, there has been an exacerbation of my OCD, as any distressing event is liable to have this effect. Increasing my ordering compulsions creates an illusion of certainty and control in largely uncertain and uncontrollable circumstances. 

Coming a close second is a flare-up of my generalised anxiety. These days, my body seems to be in a state of almost constant 'fight or flight'. Not only is my mind buzzing with worry, but I'm also experiencing the classic physical symptoms - mainly heart palpitations, a churning stomach and a sporadic loss of appetite. 

Even my tendency towards obsessive-compulsive spartanism - the opposite of hoarding - has reared its head again. When I cleaned my flat last week, it was all I could do not to throw away a whole heap of stuff in the process. I always find getting rid of things cleansing: it's as if I'm making space in my brain as well as my home. Fortunately I managed to avoid binning anything important.

Image courtesy of artur84/

Worst of all, however, has been the escalation of my insomnia. Even if I get to sleep quickly, the moment I wake in the night, my heart is racing. Before my mind has time to pick a worry to focus on, my body is on the case - it knows I'm anxious even when I'm asleep, which is reflected in the troubling dreams that make any rest I do get unrefreshing. Once awake, it can be up to an hour before I settle again. Multiply that by two or three times a night and it's no wonder I spend my days feeling like a zombie.

In addition, I've always had a propensity to tears - I've written previously about how some of us are 'highly sensitive people' - and tiredness only makes me more fragile. Barely a day goes by now when I don't cry at least once. 

The only respite from the mess in my head has been the couple of occasions when I've drunk slightly too much wine and inadvertently achieved a pleasant state of relaxation. However, I know self-medication is no solution. In a post last year, I expressed my concerns about that 'treatment' and, once again, I find myself having to make a conscious effort not to tread that path.

I have, at least, rediscovered sudoku puzzles, which I found to be a great distraction earlier this year, but had stopped doing. 

But puzzles are not enough. 

Reflecting on all of this, I've realised that I can't afford to wait for the cognitive behavioural therapy I've been promised, as that's likely to be at least three months away. I'll end up having a full-scale breakdown without some earlier intervention. 

So I'm considering paying privately for neuro-linguistic programming and/or hynotherapy sessions and also plan to seek - somewhat reluctantly - a prescription for sleeping pills.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear if any of these options have helped those of you who've experienced similar issues?