A Negative Spiral – And How To Swim

I’ve been feeling a bit low the past couple of weeks – which isn’t unusual, I’ve always been prone to it. My usual reaction is to want to hide away and not speak to anyone. I was on the verge of another anxiety attack last week though, which means things are slightly worse than usual.

I was feeling ok today – coffee with friends is always good – but the bad feelings are still swimming around my brain. I have this voice – my voice – which constantly tells me I’m a bad person, that I don’t deserve anything I have, or anything good, that I’m useless and pathetic. It reminds me of embarrassing events or things I’m ashamed of that happened years or even decades ago, and I just end up on a self-hating bender. It really fucking sucks.

I had an email this morning (from Aby, You Baby Me Mummy) which talked about negative feelings and how they affect your every day life and productivity. When I’m under a cloud, I can barely do anything – I don’t write, I avoid the things I need to do, I even duck social events. I hardly cope with Rian, which just adds another layer on to the self loathing – I can’t even be a good mother to my only child. The email suggested 6 things you can do to try and shake your way out of the negative mood – and one of them was write it out.

So, here I am. I feel a bit better already for being honest about the above, even though that voice is telling me I’ve got no excuse to feel bad (you have your health, you barely have to work, you have a lovely home etc etc) but I DO feel bad. I feel awful. Some part of it I know can be down to my thyroid – an underactive thyroid is closely associated with depression, but my meds say it’s stable – ho hum. I know what the rest of it is down to as well – it’s isolation.

I can’t drive. I’ve had so many lessons, and I’ve failed about 10 tests. It’s really, really dragging on me. Our house is half an hour away from the station, and a 15 minute drive from Rian’s school. There’s no direct public transport to the school either – I decided to walk and tube it yesterday to see how it went and I left the house at 1.30 and didn’t get back to gone 4. Nearly three hours for what should be a 15 minute drive each way. I usually have to get a cab, and every time I hate myself that little bit more for having to pay someone else because I can’t pass a stupid test.

I’m a perfectly competent driver – but in that test situation, I go to pieces. The first couple were fine, but with each additional failure, it’s gotten worse and worse. The last test I had, I refused to even go into the building. I couldn’t even get back in the car and by the time the instructor had driven me home, I was hysterically crying at the front door and I haven’t driven since – not for months. I’m putting so much pressure on myself because my life would be SO much better if I could drive. I can’t help it. It’s fucking awful having to rely on taxi’s and buses and tubes. I know people do it every day – but I can’t get Rian to school without a car. I want to be able to pop to the supermarket, or the shops and buy stuff without having to consider whether or not I can carry it for half an hour home.

So, rather than dive into the self-recrimination and hating on myself, I’m writing it out and I’m making a plan – and I’m also going to be kinder to myself. Driving will make a huge difference to my life – of course I’m anxious about it. London roads are scary – but practise will help. So; plan:

1: Switch to automatic lessons. One less stressor in the car will definitely help.

2: Have just one lesson a week to ease back in.

3: Keep telling myself that while cabs are a cost, it’s still not as expensive as buying a second car right now.

4: Accept that it might take even 10 more tests, and that it’s not my skill or capability that’s the problem – it’s my head.

I think being kinder to myself and more relaxed – and telling that negative voice to shut the fuck up – will help everything. I’ll get there, lots of people need lots of tests. There’s no rush, if I have to go to the Isle of Wight and try and pass there I can do that, on quieter roads (but equally mad drivers, to be fair haha!)

And Aby was right – I feel so much better for getting this down on (virtual) paper. Now, better google some local driving instructors!

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