Moods, relationships and novel manuscripts.
My partner and I recently returned home after a mini getaway to the Lake District meant to recharge and inspire, and it did for the most part, but there were a few days of readjustment coming back home where the emotional batteries seemed drained more than anything. Or at least that’s what I thought was happening, possibly in combination with the arrival of November and the weather growing steadily greyer and bleaker by the minute. But even if I wasn’t exactly sure of the cause, I was experiencing severe anxiety symptoms and also feeling generally teary and hopeless on top of it. At first I simply put it down to depression — ’tis the season for it, after all — and instinctively I looked to my partner for gentle support and affection, but there was a disconnect happening between us. Even when we went through the motions of hugging or kissing, there was no actual emotion or connection behind it. I felt completely cut off from him, and it made my anxiety worse and worse. Especially when we were in the same room but clearly isolated from each other mentally and emotionally, leading to me feeling irrationally scared and extremely lonely. It took two and a half days of this before I realised what was going on, what was the actual cause of my symptoms. And by then it was almost too late.
Yes, I was feeling slightly low about the bleak, grey weather and nothing to really look forward to for over a month. But I wasn’t that depressed, not really. Not when I stopped to really evaluate what I was feeling. The problem was anxiety, and the anxiety was about sensing depression as well as disconnect in my relationship. In other words, I was subconsciously channelling my partner’s depression and getting really anxious about it, before I was even able to process it consciously and before he started showing actual, physical signs of being depressed. Of course, by the time he did, and by the time I realised what was happening (and had been happening for quite a while, in the weeks leading up to the Lake District trip and during the trip itself, which would explain why I couldn’t fully relax and enjoy it, why the romance part of the romantic getaway never really felt real and why I’d been feeling disconnected from him), my fretting and weeping and meeping about the place had already done its damage and exacerbated my partner’s mood. I did manage to sort of nip it in the bud, because as soon as I had my epiphany, I promptly gave him (and myself) space.
It didn’t help at first, if anything it seemed to make things worse. But by then most of my anxiety had subsided, because I knew what was going on, so I could keep giving my partner space whilst focusing on my own things and still be there for him when he needed. Mostly gentle support in the shape of symbolic cups of tea and the odd reassuring hug or kiss (without turning into a limpet, but silently accepting his limpeting) but also sternly nipping another near break-up in the bud when he fell back into his pessimistic ways of thinking and projecting his mood on the relationship. I’m getting quite good at dealing with Grumpy Tom’s little pre-prepared speeches now (“Practise makes perfect”, as they say.)
I think we’re okay now. I feel a bit frustrated with myself for still not being able to process these things on a conscious level before it escalates. (I think this is where they say something like “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”)
On the upside of all of this: the emotional rollercoaster, being between freelance projects this week and having been “forced to” focus on my own stuff for a few days whilst waiting out Tom’s mini hibernation, means that I have actually got some work done on the manuscript of my novel which has been dormant since I had most of the ideas and made the outline in the middle of the summer. I am taking advantage of the NaNoWriMo challenge to get a bulk of words out on paper (I’m great at ideas/writing-in-my-head and editing already written text, but really struggle to get that first draft out of my head) and figured it would also make an excellent stone to bash in the brains of the birds Get Through November In One Piece and Give Tom Enough Space To Survive His Own November Depression.
Having said that, today is my fifth day in a row supposedly writing on the novel but so far I have repotted all of our plants, googled pregnancy symptoms, triple checked my emails and now, as you can see, I am writing… just not on the novel. Daily word count goal is still 1655 and my coffee needs reheating again… Better leave it, though. Last time I went to reheat my coffee, I spent an hour mucking about with compost and seeds and the coffee exploded in the microwave volcano-style…