For the first time ever (I think), I wrote a diary-like blog post that contains a bit of a storyline, which I believe was necessary to make the post work.
As I’m typing this, I’m on a three-day ski trip in the French Alps, which probably doesn’t seem like a valid reason to be dealing with any kinds of issues (that’s actually what I thought as well) and yet, here I am, writing a little something on my tablet (which is also a first, by the way).
So here it goes, without further ado:
Day one (out of two really weird days)
As you may have guessed from the title of this segment, I had a weird day today. I currently share a studio apartment with two of my cousins, just like we did numerous times before. In fact, I’ve been coming to this particular place with my family since I was born. For most of my childhood and teenage years, coming here was a big group event and we always had to rent a second apartment because it wasn’t possible to fit more than four (if it was absolutely necessary, five) people into the studio. We used to refer to ourselves as “Big Family”, which was probably appropriate given there were always so many of us. Long story short, we spent a lot of really awesome (and occasionally a little less awesome) times here as a family.
As we grew older, we no longer came here all together. Now it’s usually two or three of us at a time, which already makes the apartment feel a little crowded. It’s funny how living alone and growing up suddenly makes you feel differently about a situation that used to feel so normal.
Right now, I’m sitting on one of the sofa beds and I’m wearing my noise-cancelling headphones, shutting the other two out of my head (even though they weren’t really doing anything that was bothering me). My brain’s overflowing with my own stuff and I’m exhausted both physically and mentally and I have no more room for anyone else.
The slopes were busy today. Lots of people and long queues at the lifts. Lots of chatter in various languages, most of which I understood, so I couldn’t help but listen to some of the conversations around me. In one particularly long queue in which I got separated from my cousins, I noticed that I was shutting down.
In addition to this emotional shutdown, the sun was out and it was unusually hot, which felt extremely inadequate considering that ski trips are supposed to feel like winter (hello global warming!). The snow was melting rapidly, even in the morning. Despite having been a skier all my life (in all fairness, I did swap the skis for snowblades for a few years), I suddenly felt very insecure and the little remainder of faith I had in my skiing skills seemed to have left the premises. Controlling the skis became increasingly difficult in the watery snow and I was struggling to keep up with my cousins, who are both much more skilled and much faster than me.
And then I fell.
I basically flipped over and hit my head in some sort of an ungraceful somersault. It’s a good thing I was wearing a helmet, meaning I only hurt myself a little in the process.
At first, I was fine. I joined my cousins who had seen the fall and told them I wanted to go back to the apartment. They acknowledged my desire to go back home and carried on down the slopes.
And then, just as I was supposed to follow them, I had an anxiety attack. I started crying uncontrollably and hyperventilating, not knowing what to do with myself. So I was just standing there, trying to breathe, sobbing and unable to grasp why this particular moment was such a big deal for me. Getting myself down the mountain seemed like an impossible mission since my body had followed my brain’s lead, shutting down as well. My muscles felt tense and I was incredibly frustrated with what was happening, knowing that I was getting in my own way. I eventually made it home, tears rolling down my face the entire time, and my cousins continued skiing without me. I’m sure they were at least a little glad to finally have got rid of me since I had been slowing them down considerably – sorry about that, guys! I don’t know if they were aware of what I was going through as I hadn’t been able to tell them in the moment (for lack of understanding even on my end) and they were quite far ahead most of the time, so they may have missed what was going on.
It took an afternoon of “introverting” which meant going for a long walk by myself and wearing headphones for the rest of the day for me to start feeling a little better. It turns out I had become the victim of complete emotional overwhelm, fuelled by a stressful time at work prior to leaving for this trip, the sharing of a tiny flat with two other people with no room to escape to other than the bathroom (don’t get me wrong, my cousins are not that difficult to share a studio with, this is only about my personal needs), the pressure I put on myself concerning my skiing skills (I got a new pair of skis and given my history of being a snowblader, I was a little worried I wasn’t going to adapt to them) and, last but not least, the triggers and pressure from the past that are tied to this particular place for me.
Also, I think my social battery had been critically low from the start and I had unconsciously been draining it even more, not giving myself a chance to catch my breath, and I had definitely underestimated my need for quiet and alone time which is hard to come by when sharing a tiny flat with two other people with nowhere else to go. On top of that, I generally have trouble sleeping when I feel like the place is all crammed up, which unfortunately turned out to be the case this time as well.
My drained battery has now been accessorised by generalised pain all over my body – that’s right, I now have to roll out of bed sideways because my neck and abs hurt quite badly from yesterday’s fall. I decided to skip skiing today and to postpone regaining trust in my skiing abilities to tomorrow instead.
I spent most of the day by myself, which was quite enjoyable (and necessary), and even when the three of us were together, I wasn’t really there: I was either hiding out in my bubble wearing my headphones or daydreaming, all in all not really participating in anything they were doing. Not because I didn’t want to but because I simply couldn’t, even if I wanted to. I’m exhausted. It takes all of my energy to just get by. I feel like I should be sleeping for twenty-four uninterrupted hours, but I couldn’t fall asleep again last night and when I eventually did, I didn’t sleep for more than a few hours only to struggle with going back to sleep. I don’t know how to self-soothe when I’m feeling this way (this has obviously happened to me before – thirty-one years of experience with introversion and anxiety over here, people!), when physically removing myself from the situation for more than an hour or two isn’t an option. I usually just try to make it until I’m back home where I can finally recharge, get some rest and sleep through the entire night.
Day three is turning out to be alright. I’m still flying solo, doing what I feel like doing and skipping group activities. I went skiing by myself for about an hour this morning. I didn’t fall and actually enjoyed the little amount of time spent on the slopes. As soon as it was getting too crowded and the snow started to turn into water again, I decided to call it a day.
Being an (anxious) introvert is the reason why I often prefer staying at home to going away on a trip. There’s always the risk of me being so uncomfortable that the entire vacation is ruined. Sometimes the odds are better than other times, but I can never know for sure. I was definitely blindsided this time around.
I’ve actually lost friends because of this issue since there’s simply no way to explain what’s going on with me when I myself am not quite sure why I’m having such a hard time. Also, telling someone you greatly care about you need them to go away for a few hours isn’t usually a big crowd pleaser. And I get that. But I’m not trying to hurt anyone, I’m just trying to make it through the day.
And then the next one.
And the one after that.
Until it gets better.
Until I’m fully recharged and a functioning happy human again.