Had a bit of a rubbish day today not for any particular reason, just been feeling rubbish and vertigo-y again and I’ve had a weird feeling in my chest that I can’t seem to shift at the moment- it’s like a stinging mass in my chest and towards the back of my throat, and it feels almost like it’s choking me or making me want to cry all the time but I can’t actually cry. No idea what it is! Some days it’s stronger than others and today it’s been particularly bad.
I think it’s partly because I wrote a blog post about relationships over the last few days and even though I deliberately avoided talking about the recent loss of a very close friendship, I’ve been thinking about it more again and the horrible, punched-in-the-stomach feelings from that have re-emerged which really hasn’t helped. I’ve had a really busy and emotionally draining week anyway- I went to stay with my best friend for a few days which was amazing but my energy and motivation levels are a bit non-existent at the moment and it completely wiped me out, then I had a job interview which didn’t go great and I felt completely zoned and exhausted afterwards. I was meant to go a running festival this weekend but I couldn’t get the energy to actually go and the thought of driving there and camping without knowing anyone made me feel really, really anxious and I somehow managed to convince myself that I would die of hypothermia if I went which is obviously completely irrational but that’s what I thought at the time. I feel really guilty and stupid for not going, and I think that’s partly why I’m feeling so rubbish today. HATE being such a wimp sometimes!
Anyway, I decided to consciously use DBT skills today to try to cope with feeling vertigo-y and like my insides were being pulled out, which didn’t completely help but I’ve made it to almost bedtime without any major crises or obsessive messaging either my ex-best friend or current best friend which is definitely a positive! I’m realising that, at the moment, avoiding unhelpful behaviours is an achievement in itself even if I’m still feeling rubbish or having obsessive thoughts by the end of the day and DBT says that changing behaviours should ultimately affect how you think and feel so I’m trying to keep reminding myself of that at the moment…
The first DBT skill I tried was distraction techniques. I’ve got a ‘coping card’ which has ideas for things to do to manage intense emotions and although I didn’t know exactly what the horrible vertigo-y feeling was, I went with ‘low or zoned out’ and tried some of the ideas… Cuddling my cat did actually help a bit especially as I haven’t seen her in nearly a week and I think we both had a sudden overload of oxytocin which was really, really nice but unfortunately my cat is really timid and doesn’t like too much attention so she ran off and wouldn’t let me near her after about ten minutes. Then I had a bit of an energy crash and fell asleep on the sofa which again was good because it switched off from horrible, starting to get paranoid thoughts but when I woke up, I felt really vertigo-y and guilty again and ended up bingeing which made me feel temporarily better (throwing up does actually help with the physical vertigo-y feeling in my stomach) but then I felt even worse afterwards. So I went on the cross trainer but it was a bit of a compulsive ‘need’ to rather than actually being useful and I felt slightly dissociated and horrible again after that.
I’d realised by then that the distraction techniques weren’t really enough so I went back home (I’d been at my parents’ house which is one of my binge triggers) and got my DBT book out again. I’ve found opposite action really useful before so I tried to work through what I was thinking and urges to see if I could make any sense of it. It was hard because I was still feeling zoned out and out of sync with my body, but I was getting stronger urges to contact my ex-best friend again which I can’t do because she’s specifically asked me not to, and a lot of the feeling rubbish was connected to that. I realised I hadn’t watched the first few seasons of Bad Girls since we’d ‘broken up’ (friendship-wise) because we used to watch it together and it was a really big part of my teenage years, and there’s a Bad Girls convention this year which I really want to go to but I don’t know if I’ll be able to manage the emotional intensity of it, so I decided to watch season three of Bad Girls which was/is my favourite season to see if it would help.
It was WEIRD. Mega, mega intense emotions, still vertigo and feeling guilty but the intense feelings I used to get watching Bad Girls (excitement, borderline euphoria, connection) also kicked it and I was literally shaking, heart racing and actually crying while I was watching it. I started colouring as well to try to calm down a bit but the BG-related emotions were helping to displace the vertigo and watching it really did seem to have been a good thing to do. I only let myself watch four episodes (I could easily watch the whole season) then forced myself to go for a run to continue with the ‘opposite action’ techniques. I really, really didn’t feel like running and was forcing my feet to move but I managed six miles and started to feel a bit more ‘real’ which was definitely a good thing.
After the run, I felt OK for about half an hour and talked to my housemate about completely mundane things which was nice and definitely helped to feel more ‘real’. But the vertigo started to kick in again and I really, really wanted to look at my ex-friend’s FB page and maybe message her, and the thoughts were getting really persistent. I did half-consider acting on it but I know rationally that that’s probably the worst thing I could do, and I started to feel really shaky and anxious about it. I did go on her FB page which I know I shouldn’t have done and I felt really guilty. DBT skills had kind of gone out the window by then and I put Bad Girls back on in an attempt to completely distract.
Acting opposite really didn’t feel possible any more and my brain had turned to obsessive fuzz, and I went back to a coping strategy I’ve used since I was a teenager- playing Sims. It’s weird but it really does work and I made my Sim hang out with the Sim of my old best friend which I know isn’t the best way to deal with it and move on but it did really help to manage the obsessive urges to contact her because it really does feel like you’re spending time with the other person. After a while, the urges had calmed down a bit and I felt a lot like when I was a weird, obsessive 14 year old again. Using the Sims like that is definitely a last resort but it really does work when I’m in an intense, obsessive state and I think it’s more important to manage that it a not-destructive way even if it isn’t massively constructive. After I came off the Sims, I was still feeling very vertigo-y and like I’d been punched in the stomach, and still had some urges to contact my friend but I wrote a letter to my old university tutor (who I got on really well with) instead and that actually really helped because I miss seeing her and it helped to channel some of the ‘need to contact’ urges.
So, amazingly, I’ve actually managed to make it to bedtime without contacting my friend! I did message another friend maybe a bit too much as a way of distracting but I don’t think she minded and although I know it’s still something I need to work on, it’s a LOT better than it has been and considering how horrible I’ve felt for most of the day, one binge really isn’t too bad and I’ve eaten at least one ‘real’ meal which is again better than I’ve done before after bingeing. And I went for a run (even if I didn’t enjoy it), and I haven’t fallen asleep since the relatively short nap this morning so I’m counting it as a positive day even if I’ve been feeling rubbish. I think it really was triggered by writing about relationships yesterday and need to be more aware of that for next time, especially if I’m already emotionally knackered. Learning curve!