Far too many mornings, I wake up feeling anxious and have to stage an in-depth mood intervention before I can face the day.
I KNOW I’m going to have a bad day if I wake up feeling Fizzy.
‘Fizzy’ is my catch-all term for the anxious, sometimes mildly suicidal, feelings that I often begin the day with, but that can crop up at any time, given the right/wrong stimuli.
Feeling Fizzy usually announces itself as a combination of a very slightly raised heart rate and marginally faster breathing – leading to a low-level, fidgety type of trembling within me and a nasty premonition that something is going to go wrong.
It can also present itself as unpleasantly intense brain activity very soon after waking – usually as an argument between two parts of my brain, over something quite irrelevant to my life.
But whatever the subject, one brain part generally flings an accusation that is unfair or unpleasant at me even before I am properly awake, and that sense of danger and defensiveness sets the tone for the day ahead.
If I don’t deal with it quickly, it can grow, and bubble over into a rage that ruins not just my day but that of everyone around me.
I have learned, particularly over these past few years, that Fizzy feelings can have multiple causes.
Am I worried about something I have done or don’t want to do? Am I worried about my family? Did I sleep badly or well? Did I have nightmares or stress dreams? Did I have a drink? Have I exercised? Or have I over-exercised?
The other thing I have learned is that it takes a long time – a wearyingly long time – to calm the feelings down.
There is a lot of list-making, mental and actual, trying to identify the factors that have combined to make me anxious this time. And remember: this is usually a day that I was planning to make sandwiches for my kids, or go to work.
Often, the best and most immediate way to exorcise the Fizziness is physical: a run, a ride, a swim or a weights session, after which I normally end up feeling stronger and happier.
Like many, I also find that preventative workouts can stop anxious feelings from turning up in the first place.
However, my Fizzy feelings don’t just fuck off with a 10-minute stroll up the shops. It takes quite a big commitment – at least the equivalent of half an hour of running – to get rid of mine properly.
And then there is the danger that you can overdo it. A double danger, because physical tiredness not only leads to feeling Fizzy and anxious in itself – it also means that you are too knackered to try and sweat out the blues if they come back anytime soon.
And that was my problem this morning.
I’d had a great weekend with the family, and also done a big lift plus a big cycle. I’d resisted the idea of a white wine with my Sunday dinner and expected to sleep well and wake up feeling great. Instead, I woke up Fizzy.
Because doing all that exercise had left me sore in nine (9!) different parts of my body and so tired that I’d had a coffee yesterday afternoon. And because I’d had a coffee, I’d slept badly and… well basically, I’d fucked up and I was Fizzy.
I listened to myself worrying: about my therapy appointment this afternoon, and the prospect of going through the mental wringer again. I fretted that I had nothing to write about this morning and – even though I have done all I can to help him prepare – I was stressed about the start of my son’s GCSEs this afternoon.
I wish – genuinely, earnestly wish – that I was one of those blithe souls that can banish negative feelings simply by leaping out of bed, grabbing a hot or cold shower, and yodelling along to some Magic FM.
But me, I need my routines. My interventions. My time-consuming distractions from Fizziness, such as 20 minutes of German practice every morning; the same amount of guitaring or singing. Perhaps another 20 minutes of letting it all out in Diary form.
But this morning, I knew they weren’t going to work. I did the German, I did the diary. But I still felt shite. I wanted a coffee, but I wasn’t going to fall for that one again.
Instead, I sliced up an orange and got some grapes out of the fridge: healthy energy.
It made me feel a bit better. And then inspiration struck: I would log into the Mindfulness App I hadn’t used for two years and do the Sitting Meditation that I used to find so helpful.
And it worked!
Midway through, when I was encouraged to think of my anxious thoughts as trains passing through a station, I did better.
I imagined a slow-motion 3D-skyscape, where I hovered like Tilda Swinton in Dr Strange, swishing trains, ‘planes, thoughts, people, feelings around with a fingertip, like an empyrean Jamie Carragher. Mindfulness had been the tool I needed to get back to my best!
It had taken hours for me to conquer the Fizziness, but at last I was experiencing some calm, and I had found a subject for today’s blog.
In your face, Mr Magic FM!