It's not the pain so much, I mean it's THERE but then it's always there isn't it? That's why it's called chronic pain, ya?
Today isn't a bad pain day. I have just enough spoons to get through today's shift and then fall into bed when I get home ... well, physically at least.
When fear and misery are your natural default setting, well ... it's not all that tough to run psyche first into mental walls. Agoraphobia with severe social anxiety and Depression (chronic depression it used to be the clinical diagnosis) are the one - two punch of Mental Illness.
Depression is often described as being mired in the past. It's not inaccurate as the brain scours the memory for each and every instance where one has either screwed up or where perception can be twisted to the negative and then replayed in the mind's eye in such a way as to guarantee that one's self-worth is systematically stripped away. Chiseling away one's sense of Self as inexorably and painfully as water dripping upon stone. For me, it goes one step further ... draining away colour, scent, and emotion itself until even pain cannot reach me and all is a dull grey fog from which "feeling sad" would be a welcome improvement. That's when the thoughts come out to play like little gremlins smashing the gears of my though processes and whispering evil suggestions into the echo chamber my mind has become. Whispering that make themselves heard multiple times per day, sometimes multiple times per minute. Thoughts that I dare not heed -- that I will not heed -- so long as there is one person yet in my life to whom my absence would cause harm. Currently, I have several ... spouse, children, grandchildren and even a few good friends who find it within themselves to care for me even when I cannot. For them (armed with grim determination, a better understanding of my disability than the average lay person, the correct prescriptions and an understanding that the ways in which I am broken cannot be fixed or cured only managed) I continue even on those days like today when the best I can manage is to just keep breathing and make it to bedtime.
Anxiety is described as being stuck in in a future of worst case outcomes ... when fueled by pathological, unreasoning phobia its debilitating effect increases exponentially. My every action, word, gesture or interaction is forever under the electron microscope of my own distorted perceptions as are those of everyone around me. I am a prisoner of my own head ... locked in a solitary confinement born of chemical imbalances, CPTSD, a natural proclivity to introversion and a childhood of enforced solitude. I am afraid all of the time, a nervous system so locked in near constant fight or flight that adrenal fallout is a frequent event. Even when I might like to reach out, go out, be social with someone I actually deem as safe no sooner have I made plans than my mind begins applying the thumb screws in an effort to force me to cancel. The closer time comes to the agreed upon outing, the worse the mental and physical discomfort becomes until I either force myself to see it through or I break and run. Giving into the terror and canceling on the person I was to meet up with. If I grin and bear it, as I often can manage so well that my own spouse forgets I am disabled, I spend the time/event medicated (one of which has short term memory problems as a side effect) and grimly quashing the urge to just go home. I often decide whether I enjoyed myself a day or two later after reviewing what I can recall of the experience. Should I break and run, the fear wins and I am rewarded by a rush of endorphins that flood my brain, telling me how good a job I did of avoiding that worst case danger and ensuring that the next time I face that fear, it is stronger and more deeply entrenched.
The one thing that is the most difficult thing for someone like me to experience is the present ... this moment ... right now. There is such a barrage of thought from both conditions simultaneously that the NOW slips by almost unnoticed. I've been working on teaching myself to tune into the moment for around 5 years now and I can sometimes manage almost a minute of Mental silence. It's a blessed feeling, to not think, when the inside of my head is so often congested with useless noise who's only purpose is to prevent me from being able to function. Some days are easier than most, today is not one of them.
But hey, my shift is almost over ... only an hour to go ... and then it's home to bed and I'll have made it through another day.
Tomorrow might be better ...