There’s a quote that I like; “The Devil whispered in my ear, “You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.”. Today I whispered in the Devil’s ear, “I am the storm.””
Unfortunately, I have a low mood at the moment. I felt it coming on so put in place my tools to deal with it; I am back in counselling and have spoken to my GP. I cannot identify a trigger yet though I have had trouble sleeping lately so that may be the root of it.
I wanted to write about how a low mood affects my day-to-day life. Firstly, I feel drained of all energy. If I sleep for 8 hours I still wake up exhausted. I take vitamins every day with a Berocca and B12 supplement to try to stave this element off, but when I am in a low mood this doesn’t always work.
I find mornings difficult, it takes me longer to come around. I become non-communicative or, if speaking, monosyllabic. As the day goes on, it gets a bit better. A strange thing about a low mood is the guilt you feel if you laugh. It is like you are conditioned to criticise yourself for feeling a modicum of happiness.
Along with this comes the uncertainty and guilt that it is not a low mood and that this is just the way everyone else feels. You doubt yourself a lot more and for years I thought that my mental health issues were, and excuse the unintentional pun, all in my head.
It became a time when I would have to pretend everything was alright so as to not worry my family and friends. This usually occurred with an over-compensation so that people thought I was a bit manic. I’m now more open with those around me about how I feel.
Part of my low mood meant that last night I had the hardest session yet for the 6-week CrossFit Challenge. I confused ambition with ability and initially chose a weight too heavy for me, which then put me out of step with the rest of the session. Alongside this there was the internal voice saying “you can’t lift this” repeatedly, sapping any strength I had. I forgot that I was only competing with myself and compared myself to other participants which brought about feelings of being a failure.
At the end of the session, one of the Instructors at The Box kindly asked how I was and I told him that I was frustrated with myself and why (I may have used a different phrase, but I am trying to keep this blog a PG certificate). He reminded me that it is very early days for my new healthy living habit, and that I had made a lot of progress so far.
I used to have a worry spot on the doorframe to my office in work. On the way out at the end of the day, I would touch the spot and leave work worries and issues there until I touched the spot again in the morning to pick them back up. I am going to try to do the same with negative thoughts I may have before going into a CrossFit session. Tonight, I will go back and try to leave the negativity at the door (or doorframe).
Being low isn’t just feeling sad, it is a complex set of emotional (and sometimes physical) pains. As I said in my post on physical health, the brain is something you just can’t stop using, you have to consciously use tools and thought exercises to help.
You cannot always be the storm, but even if you are a gentle breeze, that doesn’t mean the devil has to win.
PS – I saw this timely and great tweet from Matt Haig: