Will I feel better in the morning?

For a long time (years) I’ve not felt much. By which I mean my feelings have been superficial. I can feel happiness, enjoyment, sadness and all those things, and do so quite frequently, but it doesn’t really touch me.

I used to be on the other end of the spectrum. I used to feel everything really intensely. And it was hard, but I miss it.

I thought  there was a thing  about me blocking out my sensitivity and that’s how I got to where I am now, so I’ve been trying to work on that. Trying to accept and appreciate my sensitive side without leaving myself completely unprotected. I’ve tried to focus on being in the now, on living, on doing things. But either I’ve failed at that or I somehow lost my way.

My feelings have been shrinking over the last few weeks.

We have a magnolia tree in our garden which is now just past full bloom. I remember when we moved here, the intense feelings of joy of looking out at the tree, sitting in the garden, enjoying the peace and quiet and sunlight, smelling the flowers and other spring scents. Spring used to make me deeply happy.

Last weekend I sat in the garden in the sun, reading a nice book. It was pleasant. Objectively speaking it was nice. But you know, nothing more than that. I sat staring at the tree for a while, trying to force myself to feel something more, trying to tap into those feelings I believe I still have – somewhere. But, I guess you can’t force these things.

But you can’t coax them either.

Today I feel nothing. And I want to do nothing. I mean I don’t even want to watch Downton Abbey and have a glass of wine, which is usually pretty fail-safe. I don’t want to go for a walk, I don’t want to read, I don’t want to play Super Mario – there’s nothing I usually enjoy that tempts me.

I cried a bit, but it’s out of some kind of emptiness rather than sadness. I feel the lead coating of depression settling over me, and I’m not sure how to fight it.

I used to always hate it when people said that I’d feel better in the morning, or after a good night’s rest – I’m still waiting for that morning. Will I feel better then? Is it morning yet?

My life – as an HSP (part 2 – being social)

Being around people, particularly in crowds and/or in the middle of the city is always a challenge. The past week presented quite a few such challenges for me.

I try to balance having a social life and going to work with needing down time and quiet as well as I can. For a while that meant I’d say no to pretty much any social gathering with 5+ people in any sort of public place. But that’s not really a good way to go through life, and I discovered that on the rare occasion I did say yes, I did often end up having a good time though I’d be exhausted afterwards.

So I’ve concluded that I should say yes to things more often, because I do enjoy spending time with friends and colleagues, but I need to prepare a little. Some things I find useful:

  • Arranging it so that I can leave when I feel like it. As I don’t have a driver’s license this is not always possible, though in the Netherlands you can fortunately rely on public transport and/or your bike in most cases. If I know that I can leave when I’ve had enough social interaction I end up enjoying it more and worrying less about it beforehand.
  • Less often possible/acceptable: having something or somewhere to withdraw to. For instance a book or a garden. Now, at most parties it’s not really socially acceptable to pull out a book, but maybe there’s a slightly quieter room where you can withdraw for a little bit, or even somewhere you can go outside if it’s not too cold.
  • Creating a smaller group at big gatherings. This is pretty common and accepted already, so it’s usually pretty easy to group up with one or two others and have a slightly quieter chat somewhere than be in the middle of the throng. It usually also means more meaningful and rewarding conversation.
  • Knowing what the food situation will be like. There are multiple reasons why this is very helpful to me. I’m a former anorexic and former fat girl, who’s at a healthy weight for the first time quite a few years. I also try to eat vegetarian most of the time, though I do eat fish and will very occasionally eat other meat. So for instance if I’m going to a party and I know there’s only going to be some fried snacks, I’ll try to have something healthy to eat before I go, or plan to have something healthy afterwards. I’ll probably still sample the party food but I’ll not be “at the mercy of it”.
  • This one’s not so healthy, but: alcohol. It helps me to relax and often helps filter out the noise of both people and things around me for a bit. I do try to moderate my intake though, and it’s not like I can’t enjoy a social gathering without booze. That being said I did have a very tough time at a good friend’s wedding a few years back where I knew no one, there was no alcohol AND I was dependent on a ride back from another party guest.
  • Planning for quiet time after social engagements. I learned this the hard way. Last year my sister and her boyfriend came to visit. They stayed from I think Wednesday to Sunday evening. Now, they’re fantastic people whom I love and they’re very easy-going, but nevertheless having them over meant I pretty much had no alone time for 4,5 days straight. And then on Monday I went in to work… I was so extremely grumpy and fed up and just hated everyone – like, on sight. Just because they existed near me.So, I’ve learned that if I have an intense social situation for a few days I should probably plan time off. Which is actually why I have a day off from work today.

In the past week I’ve had 3 social engagements, which is quite a bit above average for me. It was even supposed to be 4, but I was sort of relieved that one of my friends was sick (sorry!) so she had to cancel and I got a bit of a breather.

On Wednesday after work we had leaving drinks for a colleague of mine who I care a lot about, so I really wanted to be there. It was just 6 of us at a pub near the office, and these people are some of my favourite current and former colleagues whom I also consider friends. Since it was a smallish group and I knew everyone, I had a really fun time, and the pub didn’t get too crowded or loud either. I had some nice chats with people and way too many beers… It was just one of those rare nights where the beers just sort of kept coming and I didn’t really think about it because I was too busy having fun. I only got home at 00:30, could barely walk straight and had to work the next day. So, not ideal. But even though I was incredibly hung over on Thursday I still think it was worth it. My colleague is moving home to Oz for personal reasons and I don’t know when I’ll get to see him again, so it was worth giving him a proper send-off. And I went home early and to bed early on Thursday, and woke up on Friday feeling fabulous.

Friday night was a work party, which I would normally have skipped, but said colleague had his last day and I thought it would be nice to join for a bit. With Wednesday’s hangover fresh in mind, I had a moderate amount of wine (even though the drinks were free) and made sure to drink water with it. I stood in a group with 2-3 others and just had a nice chat, and I left early.

Since my Saturday plans fell through I was able to have a quiet day at home, which sadly didn’t leave me much more well rested for Sunday’s high tea with the in-laws. I kept waking up and dreaming about being there and about trains getting delayed etc. I woke up early and grumpy. But, it was the last item on the agenda.. This one entailed travelling for hours by train to a noisy hotel to have a mediocre high tea with 11 in-laws. I would have skipped it if I could have, but.. well, for more on this see my review of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k. :-p It ended up being OK as all our 7 (!) trains were on time, and the event itself lasted about 3 hours. After we finished our food and were sitting around chatting, I pulled out my crocheting. Which thankfully the in-laws seemed to deem eccentric and slightly fascinating rather than rude or anti-social. It’s not like I didn’t still participate in the conversation. But it helped ground and relax me with the constant buzz of people around me.

After we came home we had a very quick bite to eat and then headed out to the movies. I only managed that one as I knew I’d have a day off today, AND we’ve been wanting to see Passengers for a long time and it’s probably the last week it’s playing. Since it’s been on for a while the theatre was pretty quiet and the movie was quite enjoyable and not very taxing.

I went to bed relatively early last night as well, completely knackered, and I slept in this morning. Today I’m only doing good for me stuff: getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthy, catching up on blogging, reading, and limiting social interaction to a minimum. I should be ready to face the world again tomorrow. 😉

In short, I feel like the most important parts to being an HSP and still having a social life are planning, balance and prioritising.