Listening to the body

I woke up this morning and my eyelids were twitching. This was slightly worrying because normally this is a physical symptom of stress that I only ever get just before a major breakdown, not randomly when things are actually going great and I’m stable. There is nothing on my mind that is causing me stress or anxiety right now, yet the small muscles in my eyelids and around my eyes kept twitching all morning. I tried my best to ignore it and it worked fairly well. My partner and I had a slow start on our respective work days (seeing as it’s Sunday) and had a game of Everdell (the only board game, to date, that we both really love) with our morning coffee.

We had a lovely time and I couldn’t have felt less stressed; but the physical signs of stress persisted and it wasn’t just some skin deep fluke, I could trace the symtoms all the way inside my brain at this point. My thought process, although functioning fine and not encountering any dead ends or fog on the way, were taking little detours and long cuts, I discovered when I started paying more attention. I could think, but it was a bit more of struggle than it should be when I’m stable. This became undeniably clear when it came time to add up the scores. Not only were my eyes twitching uncontrollably by this point, so that I was actually struggling to keep my eyes open, adding my points up was a nearly impossible feat. I had to start over four times somewhere between 30 and 40, and each time my eyes began twitching even more and mild signs of panic were stirring somewhere just inside my forehead. By the time I managed to add up my score (65) and the pressure to think was gone again, I was so relieved that I started crying.

It only lasted about five seconds (I maybe shed three and half tears) and then I was fine again. At no point did I feel upset or stressed, well not consciously anyway. I had no negative thoughts, no other symptoms of anxiety. It’s been an hour and my thoughts and feelings are as clear and positive as they have been for the last few weeks. For all intents and purposes, I would say I’m not stressed at all —

Oh, but my eyes are still twitching.

So I’ve been thinking…

It could just be a simple case of sense memory. Normally, I would be really struggling right about now (well, in the last five years I have been anyway), I would be constantly on edge of a meltdown, with a permanent painful pressure in my chest and my brain would be busy overthinking, worrying, catastrophising and running an increasingly vicious inner monologue of negative self-talk. So maybe these minor physical symtoms are my body remembering last year, or pre-emptively reacting to a similar episode in case one kicks in at some point.

But it could also be that I actually am stressed, but my coping strategy of positive focus is working so well… that I’m literally not conscious of being stressed. Maybe my subconscious is getting more and more worked up about the two things that I do have in my life right now that are legitimate causes for stress, even though I’m not stressing about them consciously, and it’s now got to the point that it’s manifesting itself physically?

Either way, I think the best course of action is to stay positivity-focused and keep going about my business. But also stay aware and work at a gentle pace. Because I believe that, whether you’re in remission or not, or if you don’t even have a mental illness to begin with, autumn and winter is all about being patient and kind to yourself (and each other) and the time to light candles and treat yourself to hot beverages of your choice, because ’tis the season of self care! — and don’t forget to stock up on vitamin D either!