wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

The state of grey

For the last four days I’ve been stuck in a state of grey, (no relation to the book/film I assure you.) It’s a difficult thing to describe; numb, void, empty. In effect, I’m a zombie, a grey zombie.

I suppose you could compare it to a mild form of depression and I can recognise the signs by now. It’s easier to hide than anxiety, but just as present and much more selfish in nature. When in a state of grey I have no desire to do anything or see anyone. Talking is a chore, as is showering or even brushing my teeth. All I want to do is sleep or watch television.
This morning Dan noticed. I didn’t get out of bed until 8:00 (I’m normally up by 7:30 at the latest.) Eventually I rolled my body out from under the covers and into the coldness of the flat. (Dramatic I know.)

In many ways I hate the state of grey far more than panic attacks. Why? Because it steals a part of me, squatting inside my body like a toad. It’s a weight and a dark cloud that I fear will never leave. To a certain extent everybody has days when they feel low. Heck the Monday blues is a famous saying! So whilst writing this, all I feel is self-loathing. I’m pathetic. Why can’t I just get on with it like everybody else does? BUT – I’ve had enough experience by now to understand that this way of thinking only makes things worse.

I know what triggered it this time, I’m starting to notice a pattern, which I suppose is positive. During periods of extreme stress/excitement my body buzzes with adrenalin and various other hormones. However, when the event in question has passed, the adrenalin levels plummet, which has a knock on effect with the serotonin in my brain. In a nutshell, my brain experiences a burn out and shuts down in order to recuperate. It can take a few days or maybe a week, during which I am zombified.

The presentation last week was the trigger and even though I felt elated in the days following, by Thursday I noticed a rapid drop. Selfishly, I wanted to lock myself away and not talk to a soul. When in this state I temporarily do not care about anything, no matter how important it might be to someone else. Believe me, I HATE this aspect of the grey.. it’s monstrous and cruel. I don’t recognise myself.

Alright, venting over. As always it’s now time for action. Whilst I can’t force myself to feel better, there are things that I can do improve my chances. I had my weekend of TV and rest, which was probably a good thing… and now I need to gently get back on track, no matter how little drive I have. I think it’s important not to indulge any habit for too long, as the brain can become dependent on it. I can’t spend my life in bed or on the couch!

So tonight, even though all I want to do is crawl home and under the duvet, I’m meeting a friend of mine for a few drinks. It’s a good thing to be social, it’ll feed colour into the grey and I’m at least guaranteed a few laughs. I also want a give Dan a break from my current mood. He bears it well enough, but I’m sure he’d welcome a few hours of xBox time!

Tomorrow I will force myself out of bed at 7:00am, even if it makes me cry. This will break the habit. I might even use the opportunity to take Rigby out for a morning walk (probably against her will.)

As for this afternoon? Despite not feeling hungry and having ZERO energy to leave my desk, I shall force myself out of the door to buy lunch. The rest of the day will be spent listening to podcasts and tackling lengthy but mindless tasks. “Just keep swimming,” as Dori would say. Over analysing how I feel or what might happen has never been a useful activity for me. Instead it’s better to keep my hands moving and my mind distracted. I’m not saying that it will be easy, but this strategy has worked for me in the past, and I use the past successes to draw strength.

Hopefully this post hasn’t depressed anyone else! I expect the grey will lift and I’ll be myself again by next week.

Categories: Anxiety

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18 replies

  1. This is happening to me right now and has been since Wednesday. I feel so alone and lost. I’m scared all the time, I don’t feel like anything is real and I’m so, so tired. This is the worst my anxiety has ever been and I just don’t know how to cope. Being on my own terrifies me.

    • I’m really sorry to hear this, anxiety can be so brutal. But you are NOT alone.
      Have a look at the Mind website http://www.mind.org.uk/ and click on ‘I need urgent help’ – they have a variety suggestions and even an anonymous phone service. Sometimes it really helps to talk to someone.

  2. I Totally empathize with this, especially as exams are getting closer! But revision literally forces you to stay at you’r desk for 12 hours a day, it’s horrific. And then when you don’t have work to do you miss the work because that was your excuse to stay cooped up in your world not having to socialize! At the moment I seem to feel nothing, no joy but no sadness just a kind of dull in the middle phase ( coloured with frequent panic attacks – obviously with panic disorder though hahah oh god ) It’s really hard putting on a brave face outside but, life goes on I suppose, taking each day as it comes xxx

  3. thanks claire im having a grey few days also, and it always makes my health anxiety worse. helpful post which encouraged me to keep swimming too. lets hope the sun breaks through the grey for us all soon.

  4. Thanks for your reply, I really appreciate it. Sometimes it just really helps knowing there’s someone, even just one other person that understands. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever dealt with, I struggle every moment of the day sometimes and I wonder when it will ever change. Everything in my life is effected and I feel like I’ll never get a handle on this. It’s this constant jack the box lying in wait to pop up. Your posts really help as do the numerous podcasts I listen to. I’m trying to change my diet as I feel this can’t possibly make it any worse. I’m going through and have been going through a lot of changes over the last 6 months which is when the panic became severe. I just need a rest from it.

    • I think that anxiety is a trick, a cruel and vicious one that makes us feel like we can’t cope.. but it’s still a trick. Have a look at this website too, I’d really recommend it. http://www.anxietycoach.com/anxietytrick.html
      Maybe try and take a long weekend off work and plan lots of fun but relaxing activities to rest your brain. E.g. yummy food, wine/hot chocolate and a good box set. Look after YOU, sometimes we don’t comfort ourselves as well as we would others.

  5. I’ve just discovered your blog, thank you for sharing your experience. I had a breakdown last summer after a stressful year and have learned a lot about myself since then. It’s reassuring to hear others have ‘grey’ days as well. Thanks again for sharing.

  6. Ummm..me again ;-). It’s ok to call it black. After all if Winston Churchill can call it the black dog, then I’m fine to go with that! Truth is, you are right. What you are feeling may be grey rather than black. Your drug analogy (well…ermmmm that’s what I took from it but I’m sure that says more about me than you ) is 100% correct. It’s the same as the laws of physics, neuropsychology and recreational drugs (and I include my drug of choice – alcohol in that btw). What goes up must come down. And that also applies to great periods of achievement as well as to panic attacks. Who recognises the sign that any given attack is abating by the fact that you start yawning? I certainly do. All that adrenalin, shaking and wondering where the next lion/mugger is going to appear from is truly knackering, once the amygdala (I still have no idea how to spell or pronounce it) shuts the f&ck up then we can all have a nice little snooze. Or at least a yawny afternoon and a happy and relaxing evening. Which I hope you all have.

    • So he did. I just see it as grey for some reason. Black is too strong an emotion, whereas grey is ‘nothing’ if that makes sense?
      Thank you for your comments as always Morgan. 🙂 You always talk sense.

      • Trust me, I could come up with an army of people who would dispute your last statement, but I’m banking that one! This is going to sound very very random indeed, but i bought something yesterday which really seems to be helping. And no, it wasn’t a bottle of vino ;-). “Colour Therapy – An Anti-Stress Colouring Book” ( and a bunch of felt tips from WH Smiths. I know, it sounds the lamest of the lame, but I LOVE it. It’s basically a whole load of beautiful, intricate designs which you, SURPRISE, colour in. I don’t buy into the idea that colour controls mood, but I definitely buy into the fact that anything that makes you focus on something other than what’s going on in your head is a good thing, and they are so intricate that you have to focus. And you get something beautiful at the end that you (kind of) created.
        Available at all good Waterstones ;-). Seriously though, at least have a look. If someone had told me a few days ago that I could spend 2 hours colouring in and finish with an immense sense of achievement, I’d have said they were mad. Pot/kettle black and all that. X

      • This is genius!! I’m definitely going to give this try at the weekend. Maybe ‘painting by numbers’ too.

  7. I’m actually on that website as we speak, how strange.

    Thank you so much for replying.

  8. I experience the exact same thing…I feel in ‘manic mode’ and then…pppffffff…slump…no interest in anything except sofa/tv….I started to think maybe what I was experiencing was bipolar?…but maybe it is simply a ‘come down’ from anxiety/stress/excitement?…Hope your slump doesnt last too long! xx

  9. I completely relate to this and often experience the grey myself. I’m also starting to notice a pattern. I’ve noticed it usually happens after I’ve been disappointed or excited by something.

    For example, I recently started a new job just over a month ago and it was the best thing to happen to me in a long time; it’s doing what I love (writing) and the pay is awesome.

    In the first couple of weeks I was all joyful and happy as a lamb to be at work. However, after a few weeks had passed, I noticed that although I enjoyed getting up early and going to work; when I got to the office, I felt numb. Talking to people and even smiling was a huge effort. I just wanted to crawl under my desk and sleep.

    I think changing my work environment and all the excitement in starting my new job had a lot to with it; my body just needed time to recharge from it all.

    It’s a real challenge trying to live with this constant state of grey when trying to build a career. But I’m glad to be able to connect with others that experience this also.

    Knowing that I’m not the only one who goes through this makes me feel a little more sane, thank you for this post.

    • Thanks Lauren, this is SO interesting! I suppose it makes sense to have a lull after a period of extreme emotions. Thank you for sharing this and the best of luck with your new job.

    • Hi Lauren,

      This is so helpful, I relate so much I can’t even tell you. I’ve gone through quite a lot of change recently (actually started a new job this week) and I’ve been moving house, soon to be moving again and I’ve had the numbness over the last few weeks. It terrified me so much I was so worried about what I would be like at my new job as I so badly want to do well at it and of course that just made it worse. Thank you for posting it really helps knowing there are others that understand. I hope you’re doing well at your job.

  10. I completely relate to this and often experience the grey myself. I’m also starting to notice a pattern. I’ve noticed it usually happens after I’ve been disappointed or excited by something.

    For example, I recently started a new job just over a month ago and it was the best thing to happen to me in a long time; it’s doing what I love (writing) and the pay is awesome.

    In the first couple of weeks I was all joyful and happy as a lamb to be at work. However, after a few weeks had passed, I noticed that although I enjoyed getting up early and going to work; when I got to the office, I felt numb. Talking to people and even smiling was a huge effort. I just wanted to crawl under my desk and sleep.

    I think changing my work environment and all the excitement in starting my new job had a lot to with it; my body just needed time to recharge from it all.

    It’s a real challenge trying to live with this constant state of grey when trying to build a career. But I’m glad to be able to connect with others that experience this also.

    Knowing that I’m not the only one who goes through this makes me feel a little more sane, thank you for this post.

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