I just looked back through posts from previous summers to see if and how often I mention sleep and energy levels through the height of summer. There are a couple of mentions.
Compared to the rest of the year it feels like it’s a different state, although without any records of my sleeping hours I can’t be sure. Regardless, there is this period during the summer when the nights are short where, on the one hand, I want to be awake, to take in all that the long days have to offer, and on the other, I slowly feel more and more drained.
Stuff that I do slowly gets paired down to the bare essentials. The things I like to do make way for the things I have to do. For example, posting here has tailed off completely for about 3 weeks. I have had things to post about but haven’t been able to muster the energy to write.
Weirdly, the running has continued. It’s really just a case of putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t need to engage my brain so much. And it helps my mood in a big way. So maybe the drain of energy is more mental than physical.
I can’t recall which day it was, but shortly after getting my prescription of beta-blockers, I tried one while relaxing one evening, as per my doctor’s instructions. No bad side effects, I might have felt slightly swimmy-headed for a short while, so I don’t think I need concern myself with whether or not to use them in future.
While talking with my wife about anxiety the other day, I was describing a particular scenario, quite a banal one, and how my thoughts were spinning off in all directions, running through all the possible negative outcomes that could occur. Her response was ‘Really?!? You actually think all this stuff?’ It’s this sort of conversation that reminds me that the way anxiety is so embedded into my thinking that it is kind of normal for me. Normal, it most definitely ain’t, but having lived with it for as far back as I can remember it’s easy to forget that for the majority, this is not the way they think.
When I originally went to the doctor in 2019 he screened me for Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and if I can put it this way, I passed with flying colours. Because I’d gone to see him originally about social anxiety and that was what my CBT was specifically for, I somehow didn’t quite take on board that my particular version of anxiety was broader than that. I think as well that I tend to think there must be so many people with it far worse than I have, that I’m not sure whether I have the genuine article. I mentioned this to my wife and her response was along the lines of ‘we all know you have it bad!’
Talking to my doctor the other day, I described a period about 18 months ago where I felt worse. He asked what did my family think of where I was at with it all at the time. I told him that they had really noticed my irritability had reared its head again. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of a doctor asking for the opinion of family members on the state of a loved one. I guess that medical professionals know that those close to someone with a mental health condition have a perspective that can sometimes see with a greater objectivity what is going on than that of the person with the condition. At the end of the day, as a result rather than a cause, a distorted perspective is arguably at the heart of most, if not all, mental health conditions.
I’ve learnt that the underlying principles of CBT come from Stoicism. I can’t recall where I read that now, but I’ve spent the last few days down the Stoic rabbit hole. I’ve binge-listened to a number of podcasts on the topic. I’ve made a list of books both contemporary and classical to read. To start me off I’ve bought Donald J Robertson’s [Stoicism and the Art of Happiness](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17841317-stoicism-and-the-art-of-happiness?from_search=true). It’s at the self-help end of the spectrum but because the author is a psychotherapist it goes into how CBT and Stoicism relate to each other. Although I don’t think CBT and I [got along too well](https://strandlines.blog/998-2/) when I had my course of therapy last year, the applied rationality appealed to me. In addition, I’ve been dipping my toes into the world of philosophy. So to discover that the two areas of thinking intersect has really piqued my interest.
Found myself in circumstances earlier this week that set off major anxiety. I should have known it would happen as the anticipation had been rumbling around my head for days. It was the full on racing-thoughts-angry-sweating-tight-chested-backed-into-a-corner-fight-or-flight variety. Carried on for much of the day so I was exhausted by the end.What did help though was discussing it with my wife. She could see it going on so very sensibly suggested we take a moment to talk it over. And that helped in a big way.We both knew the other knew what was going on, but getting it out in the open helped diffuse my anxiety. I couldn’t stop it altogether but an acknowledgment of the situation allowed me to take a step back, giving me the perspective of an observer more than a participant. And of course, the cascade of terrible scenarios that I had built up in my mind never happened…..