I didn’t know ‘dread’ is a clinical symptom.
The difference between anxiety and dread is that anxiety is an unpleasant state of mental uneasiness, nervousness, apprehension and obsession or concern about some uncertain event while dread is great fear in view of impending evil; fearful apprehension of danger; anticipatory terror.
So my spin through last week took me down a dark path as I grieved the first anniversary of my mother’s death on Friday, February 10. I thought I was prepared, but I spent most of the day under the covers trying to will the day to pass. I was also struggling with some trauma memories that we were just about to process with EMDR when the anniversary hit me. Those memories of course were about my mom.
It was like stirring up a pressure cooker.
I thought I’d be better on Saturday, but I was just irritable and miserable. I began having nightmares. Over Sunday night, I apparently woke up Laura yelling to get me a towel and help me, then running into the bathroom and I have no memory of that at all. That’s very unlike me – I always remember waking up at night.
The danger of hypomania is that it can actually feel sort of good in terms of productivity even if it doesn’t feel good physically. It feels edgy and awkward and hard to relax. But I published nine blog posts, did laundry, saw a play, moved around stuff in the bedroom, etc. I didn’t eat most days unless Laura put a plate in my hands. So definitely NOT a good experience.
The mythology about hypomania/mania being necessary or even good for the artistic or creative experience is bullshit. Fucking bullshit. It is scary and awful. I’d trade those nine blog posts for two nights of good sleep in a heartbeat. Hypomania can slip into mania (that’s only happened 2x to me) and even more dangerously into deep depression.
My therapist was off Monday because she had COVID-19 and it made her faint. So that was not great timing. My mistake was not telling her I was in bad shape so she could have a colleague step in. By Tuesday, I was feeling pretty awful so I emailed her. She immediately arranged for me to be seen. Lesson: don’t hide the hard stuff.
On Wednesday, she wasn’t sure where my mood was heading, but by Thursday we agreed it was hypomania.
And that’s when she brought up dread. Dread is a good word for a lot of things I considered social anxiety – I was projecting into the future and it felt awful. I never had the clammy hands or other symptoms. It turns out dread is gaining diagnostic use as a cluster of symptoms, not a diagnosis.
The word “terror” is key. I’m sometimes just nervous about things, but sometimes I am absolutely terrified. I avoid most of those scenarios. My mother’s funeral was such an event – I was terrified of running into my family in a vulnerable state, even with my support system. I have such intense anger and hurt over their cover up of the predator in my family who also assaulted my mother that I was sure I would just not be able to stop screaming.
I should not have to see them again.
My therapist explained that dread is probably more aptly tied to symptoms that are part of my trauma. So we need to get processing these terrible no-good, awful memories. But I have to pull myself out of the hypomania first.
I had a Commission meeting tonight and ended up having to facilitate b/c the other chairs were not present. I did not love this, but I did the best that I could. I even presented a motion that I felt strongly about and was defeated, but I was okay with that. Probably my intense hypomania fueled the rejection but at least I tried. I wasn’t upset, I didn’t feel rejected, I was fine.
And so that’s how I know that I’m not fine.
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