what emotional dysregulation feels like

I woke up today as I do on all my days off lately: grateful, supercharged for the things I wanted to accomplish, in complete control of my life. I passed the morning working, but since it was on a project completely of my own design and initiative, I enjoyed it. I shared what I'd done with my boss and almost immediately got the positive feedback I'd been hoping for. I felt great and awesomely productive, proud of myself for finally knocking out the thing I'd been wanting to do for a couple of weeks now. I knew I still had most of the day ahead of me to be creative and have fun. 

But then another work-related thing snapped up my attention. And to be sure, I didn't have to let it. I could have pushed it off until I'm back at work on Wednesday. But it was a tedious task that I'd actually already completed, and I was annoyed that due to the shitty interface of our payroll software, it looked to our corporate team that I hadn't done the task. Cut to fifteen minutes wasted of me trying, fruitlessly, to resolve the issue. But no. Shitty payroll software gonna be shitty.

Before I knew it, I was having a total - and totally unnecessary - meltdown. I sent an urgent email to a coworker but I was already so pissed off at having to further wait to deal with this problem that I called her before she could call me. And I totally lost it, while on the phone with her. I was so fucking angry that on my day off I was having to deal with this situation, when I'd already dealt with it. I felt my free time and energy getting sucked away. Me, who works her absolute ass off all the time, and never gives less than 100%. All I want is for my days off to be days off. The unfairness of it just destroyed me, here in my gorgeous apartment, on a sunny day, in Los Angeles, California. My coworker walked me through what needed to be done and within a few minutes it was finished. Behind me. Boom. So not a big deal, right?

But by that time I had lost the day.

That's what I call it, when my emotional dysregulation wins. Losing the day. 

It wasn't until fairly recently that I realized the main ingredient of my mental coolness cocktail is emotional dysregulation (splash of depression; chaser of anxiety). And it's exactly what it sounds like. Overreaction to, as they call it, "provocative stimuli." And when those provocative stimuli are negative, holy shit is it the worst, most exhausting problem to have. But I'm not entirely sure I would want to get rid of it. Because when I am positively stimulated, my head nearly explodes from joy.  

Today after the episode with the work problem, I was instantly physically leveled. So tired it was like I'd just come off a month of crab fishing in Alaska. I could barely stand up. In fact, I didn't. I retreated to my safe place (with great originality, I have chosen my bathroom floor as my safe place) until I felt calm and self-love return. And even when I did, looking in the mirror showed me someone haunted and defeated. I'd lost the day, and it was written all over my face. 

My friend Steve understands my ED better than anyone. "Even keel" he always reminds me, when I get too upset/excited. "Even keel," he says, when I am spiraling because some dude hasn't texted me back and I feel abandoned. "Even keel," he says, when I am over the moon because some dude has texted me back and I feel elated. "Even keel," I try whispering to myself, imagining a bright white sailboat moving with ease and optimism through crystalline waters. 

Even keel: a three syllable buoy for pulling me off the bathroom floor. 

(BTW, this blueprint of a reaction can be transferred to any parallel set of situations - professional, social, financial, etc. No matter the stimulus, I am much too easily knocked off balance. So please, go ahead. Tell me I don't need a Libra to anchor me...)

Then there are the times where my emotional dysregulation is unbearably blissful, like an overdose of the purest, cleanest drug. And it doesn't happen when you'd think it would - say, on vacation. Or in a moment of profound intimacy. It hits me during the most quotidian of circumstances: walking home, for instance, a friend will send a funny text and I will just fucking lose it in the best way possible. I'll suddenly be absolutely overcome with gratitude for my simple, sweet life of honest work, great friends, and occasional romance. And I'll start crying, there on the sidewalk, because I am so unbelievably happy to be me, experiencing the energy input/output that I do, on this planet, in this solar system. But when I say happy I mean I feel so much happiness that I'm scared it could break me. Like I could truly die on the spot and be okay about it. And I will walk slowly through the cold night, tears leaving icy streaks down my cheeks, gazing at the moon, gripped with love for every leaf on every tree that I pass in this phenomenally beautiful world. 

Would you want even keel, over that? Would you give that up? 

Maybe you would. Either way, I don't have a choice. And I'm kind of okay with it.