I think I used to be fairly resilient, although it’s hard to remember because it’s been so long. I am most definitely not resilient anymore.
My exercise of choice has always been dance classes, and even when I’m depressed and have no interest, I try to keep it up. There was one teacher I really liked and had taken classes with for several years. Although I never talked to her about it, she seemed to understand that I wasn’t well and sometimes couldn’t keep up with choreography unless I could see her doing it. It worked out well, and I felt reasonably comfortable.
But then someone that I used to work with started going to the class. I pretended that I didn’t recognize him, but then eventually he commented that he recognized me. At that point, I decided I was done with that class; I knew the inevitable question would be where are you working now, and I was in no way prepared to talk about the shitstorm that has happened to my career since we worked together. Avoidance has become an old favourite coping strategy for me.
So I had to find a different class. It was okay, but a lot less comfortable. The teacher liked to announce a few times during the hour-long class that we should all move to a different spot in the room to shake things up. This is fine if you’re 10 years old or in a big studio where people in the back can’t see very well, but I think it’s rather silly otherwise. Anyway, I had staked out my territory in a back corner because it involved the fewest number of people around me, and the consistency of staying in the same spot made it just a little bit easier to keep up with the choreography. It was frustrating, though, because I tended to get odd looks from others in the class when I was the only one not switching places.
That brings me to this past weekend. I went to class, and there were more people in the class than there usually are. The teacher was quite pleased with this, and was very keen on having the students switch up spots frequently. I stayed in my back corner, and I got a lot of strange looks, and on a couple of occasions, people asked me if I was going to move. My frustration grew and grew until the point that I decided f*ck it, I’m done. Hmm, that sounds familiar. So I grabbed my purse and walked the f*ck out of there. The girl at the front desk noticed that I was leaving early and asked “Is everything okay?” I ignored her and walked out, managing to hold back my tears until I got to my car.
When life hands me lemons, I don’t make lemonade; instead, I turn to wine and potato chip therapy. No, it’s not the best combination, and hell no, it’s not productive, but that is what I feel like when life makes me feel shitty. I would like to think that I am sufficiently functional in life to handle things like this, but I’m not. I cried the whole drive home, and decided that healthy coping strategies just weren’t going to cut it for instant relief. I knew that a bottle of wine (yup, the whole bottle) and a bag of potato chips (yup, the whole bag) were not going to fix anything, but they seemed like the only thing that would let me escape.
This disappoints and frustrates me on a few levels. One, that I couldn’t just deal with something in class that in the grand scheme of things was really not a big deal. Two, that running away was my go-to coping strategy. And three, that rather than using some of the self-care strategies I’ve been working on, I turned to booze.
I went to bed at 5:30pm, still in my clothes, and without even thinking of taking my meds. But today is a new day, and it would seem that I’ve still got quite a bit to work on.
The COVID-19/Mental Health Coping Toolkit has a wide range of different resources that can help make coping a little easier.