The Effects of Distress

I had to deal with another mental health crisis today. It went from me crying and clutching a wad of snotty tissues on a riverbank to selecting a road to drive on just to drive, to finally having to pull over about an hour away from home and majorly embarrass myself for a 2nd time reaching out to A and H because I was dealing with more than conversational suicidal ideation again.

The emotional jolt of embarrassing myself derailed my brain’s fixation and I was able to successfully drive home. On the way, I pondered how it could be that my brain is trying so hard to keep me alive and get me out of my current circumstances while simultaneously trying to kill me, and then realized I was looking at it from the wrong angle – both are the result of my brain’s attempts to put an end to what has become a semi-permanent state of distress.

The components that built to the crisis were my husband treating me as if my unpaid work for the last 16 years was something I owed because ‘we were married’ and anything he does for me now is just generosity on his part, not something I deserve – meaning that I performed unpaid work for 16 years for nothing, not even gratitude. There was also the feeling of intense loneliness and a feeling that no one will ever want & pursue me unless they just want to use me, because what rational person would want me otherwise?

The final and worst thing was stumbling across a post on Facebook talking about psychological experiments that found if people had to force themselves to do something, they performed more poorly on subsequent tasks. I have to force myself to do almost everything, no matter how small it seems from the outside. Even breaking a large task into small components just means every small component feels like a huge task. I was just so tired and it felt like I’d been performing Herculean labors just to exist, and hold my ground, such as it was, with absolutely no tangible evidence I’d reach what I need.

It made the future feel incredibly bleak and hopeless – to have spent so much time working so hard for nothing, and to keep working so hard for what would probably be nothing, because my marriage and the results of it would continue to hang around my neck like a millstone long after the formal dissolution.

When I was safely home, though, I chatted with A and H for a bit – by which I mostly threw thoughts out there which they listened to, and then the conversation turned towards employment processes, and in the midst of discussing that I made some realizations that should help me bypass some stressors and allow me to worry less.

First up, if I go to temp agencies, I have to hand in a resume and interview, but that resume shouldn’t have to go through applicant tracking software, first. Which means I can focus on making a resume for temp agencies rather than having to specifically target multiple resumes and their keywords in order to bypass ATS software. I would still need to learn the office software that’s standard these days – excel, word, and powerpoint – but if I need to learn them more slowly by waiting until there’s a workshop that doesn’t get canceled, that will be okay. If I get employed at 6 months into the lease rather than 3 months into the lease, that will still allow me to get out on my own.

Secondly, I’m 100% positive the reason my husband has been accusing me of control so much recently is because I’ve put him in a position where either he can behave like a reasonably non-shitty human being, or try to force compliance from me to get what he wants, which would cross a line into actual abuse. Nothing I’ve asked of him is unreasonable – which leaves him with a choice to do the right thing or the abusive thing, and that’s why he feels like he doesn’t have a choice, that I’m being “controlling.”

If he refuses to refill the funds in the account, at that point I can seek outside assistance – because if he took our savings and then refuses me the funds I need for gas, clothing, to see friends, etc. that is actual abuse. If he crosses that line, I can seek outside assistance. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s a contingency plan I can live with. I can stop worrying about my funds being slowly whittled away.

Tomorrow morning I’ll call to find out if the Excel workshop will still be held. I’ll call to find out the requirements for the grant that pays for free training in certain high demand jobs. And then I’ll meet Indiana M (how I’m going to distinguish her from my long-running group chat friend M from Tennessee) for lunch and hanging out, and then perhaps be attending a workshop in the evening.

I will keep putting one foot in front of the other, and hope that in the future, my brain feels a little less drastic about what I need to do to end my presently ongoing distress.

7 thoughts on “The Effects of Distress

  1. I am glad you were able to gain some insight and move forward. I do want to comment on your line about crossing the line into actual abuse. What your husband is doing to you *is* actual abuse. Just because he hasn’t hit you doesn’t make it less. In fact, studies show that the non-physical parts of abuse are worse and damage more deeply than the physical. Ie, it’s the thought behind the thrown fist that affects the victim even more, ,and longer, than the fist. Do not lessen what you are going through. As you pointed out, his behavior is what is causing these horrible thoughts. Be cautious and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I’ve reached a place where I can agree with that label. Possibly a psychological trick of my brain to cope with my situation and make it easier to bear while I extricate myself? I don’t know. Thank you for the kindness & concern you’re expressing, though – it’s appreciated.


      1. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about it and I still don’t think it’s the right label. The stuff he’s doing now really isn’t how he was in the beginning of our relationship – I’ve read through articles (including the ones you posted recently) and the red flags / warning signs just aren’t matching up. I think my relationship is dysfunctional and toxic, but also falls outside of what would be called abusive (as far as my husband’s actions to this date).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry you’ve had such a crappy brain day, and glad you had A and H to reach out to.
    The sense of worthlessness/lack of attractiveness is an irrational one that I struggle with, one way I deal with it is by trying to see myself through the eyeballs of the people who love me – they see actions, not the confused-panicked-despairing tangle of thoughts I have on the inside.
    As someone getting to know you via the internet, your acerbic wit and excellent way with words are two things I greatly appreciate about you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am just tickled that you’ve described me as having acerbic wit, that means a lot.

      I’m not sure how successful I can be at trying to view myself the way my friends & family do but thanks for the suggestion, I think it might be worth exploring.

      Liked by 1 person

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