I worked it out. I’ve been feeling dysphoric.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing particularly terrible going on. My life is good. I have a beautiful, safe home. I have the most wonderful friends a person could possibly ask for. I have a secure job that I (mostly) enjoy, with colleagues that I like most of the time. I have money in the bank and in a box on my bookshelf which makes me wealthier than most of the world’s population; I have (for now, but now we’re getting into the realms of federal politics…) access to a mental health system which is second-to-none, and which I never thought I’d need but for which I’m deeply grateful. I have an education and the capacity and resources to learn whatever I want, although I draw the line at physics, or at maths of any kind. I have a faith that has seen me through most things, although I struggle at times to articulate what that faith is. I am part of a choir around which my weeks revolve, and I get to sing wonderful music with wonderful people, and I know – because I asked – that I’m not going to get kicked out even if anxiety or dissociation or stress causes me to sing badly. Here’s the thing: if I gave every fragment of my being to the betterment of the world around me, I could not repay the Universe for the blessings which have been showered upon me.
Which in many ways makes this dysphoria worse. Because there’s no reason for it. Other, of course, than ten-odd years of abuse, violence, intimidation, threats, compromised integrity…and the grinding, at times dreary and tedious daily reality of life with PTSD. But life now is good, and safe, and happy, and I’m learning that happiness will not bring punishment and that friendship doesn’t come with strings attached. And yet there’s still something: sadness, anger, regret. A sense of not caring right now, of just wanting a break from it all. Of struggling under a burden, of not being on top of things. And I feel guilty about that. I feel like the spoilt kid who is having a tantrum because the birthday cake’s not big enough, or because there aren’t enough presents. I don’t like the tantrum-ing kid. I don’t like being the tantrum-ing kid. And so I feel angry at myself, and ungracious, and guilty.
Which is stupid. I’m an idiot! I appreciate every single one of those undeserved blessings. I am mindful every day of the grace which has been showered upon me: the wonderful friends who are God and light and strength to me whether they know it or not; the music I’m privileged to sing; the financial security and the job satisfaction and the safe haven of my home; my own physical health and mental resilience. Up until today I’ve been saying that I’m aware of these things, and grateful, but I still feel bad. Now I’m saying that I’m aware of them, and grateful, and I feel bad. Because gratitude doesn’t negate feeling bad, and feeling bad doesn’t preclude me from feeling grateful. It turns out that I’m big enough for both of these things.
I’ve been feeling dysphoria about the dysphoria. I’ve made a single-whammy into a double-whammy – because the single blow on its own wasn’t enough, it seems. If I stop feeling guilty, I’ll halve the weight I’m carrying around and (warning: mixed metaphor ahead) make just a little more room for the lightness of my blessings.
Seems an ok idea to me. Worth trying, anyway.