bad flashbacks

….also from the CHLC:

Washington, DC: Hi Carolyn, I find myself feeling increasingly angry lately. I find myself resenting my co-workers for asking stupid/seemingly simple questions and acting like they can’t something small done without panicking. I find myself wanting to hide from the world. I find myself resenting my roommate. I find myself annoyed with my parents, and ready to snap at my close friends for almost no reason. I find myself worrying about things that are out of my control. Rationally, I know there is nothing I can do, but I still let the emotional side take over and worry me a lot. I haven’t been sleeping well. I feel this urge just to snap/scream at someone. I’m tired of getting attitude from people. I’m tired of having to worry about what I say to people and how it will come off to them. I’m tired of having to be diplomatic. I’m tired of worrying in general. What is wrong with me?

Carolyn Hax: That’s not for me to say, but your doctor is the first one who might be able to. Get yourself in for a full physical. You want to rule out medical causes first.

If a checkup doesn’t reveal any physiological causes, then you start exploring psychological causes. Two strong candidates come to mind here–first, your basic, garden-variety unhappiness, which would point you to making some strategic changes to your life to add comfort/joy and subtract stress. Maybe your job doesn’t suit you, maybe you’d be better off living alone, maybe you’ve outgrown your friends.

It may seem like too much of a coincidence that all of these things would start irritating you at once, and that it’s more likely to be a larger underlying cause than something specific–but it is possible that being in the wrong place in one or two key areas of your life can color your outlook on all areas. A miserable marriage has been known to make the sunniest people turn cranky, as have miserable jobs, for example.

The second candidate is depression. If you’ve checked your health, and if you’ve tried but failed to identify a broken part of your daily machinery, then do consider that your brain chemistry has put a gray veil over everything you see. If that’s the case, it’s important to seek treatment, but there are also specific measures you can take yourself that, in many people, start countering the effects of depression quickly. Those include exercise, a meticulously healthy diet and adequate sleep; talk to your doctor if you need help with the last one. The exercise is especially useful (assuming you have no health-related obstacles to working out).

This, with distressing accuracy, was me, my entire senior year of college.  Yuck.  I was miserable and determined to share it with everyone around me, and felt even more miserable for doing so!  The importance of sleep and decent food cannot be overemphasized. Perhaps most important of all is to remember that you didn’t always feel this way, and it’s not normal.  Something is causing this–whether it’s physical, mental, situtational, or some combination.  So that something (or parts of it) can be identified and changed.  That’s incredibly empowering.  It’s the sense of inevitability and paralysis that’s worst of all.

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