When did gloom loom so large? One minute you are a normal (ha), fully-functioning (ha) woman, next minute you feel like YOUR WORLD IS ENDING. The gloom does many insidious things and it’s triggered by…
The micro panic
Have you locked the door? Did you lock the door? Halfway down the dark street you begin to sweat and run back. Door is locked. But this teeny panic is so hard to shrug off, you feel stupid, and scared, and shaken and a bit frantic and please don’t bump into anyone you know because you will seem mad and did you turn off the hob? And will your telly start a fire?
Are you really that person now? You scroll and scroll, getting increasingly Insta-grim. Sometimes you physically flinch at someone’s success or holiday or Celine; each one a little stab. Screengrabbing stories so you can have a proper scratch at this feeling, which triggers such a vicious little cycle of self-loathing: why can’t you have this? Were you always this jealous? Are you really this dissatisfied? Is this who you have become? Clearly. No one must ever know.
The macro panic
You know your worth. You work hard and you are loyal. You should be able to march up to Gordon and say, “Listen Gordon, I know my worth and you are not matching it.” You “should” be able to say, “If you value me then you will pay me what I am worth because I am worth it.” But… Grown-up: 0, Inner child = 1. Game, set and match to low self-esteem.
The diary is either too full, or not full enough. It is either too hectic so you feel you can’t breathe. Or tumbleweed is blowing through it, it’s the Sahara of diaries, it is a Mean Girls diary: you can’t sit with us.
Big ones, small ones, mini ones, massive ones, life-and-death (life or death?) ones, what-kind-of-photobook-size-ones, which-tap-for-the-bath ones? Every choice you’ve ever made is concertina-ing up at you like an evil accordion throwing all the everyday decisions into terrible relief.
Does anyone not actively panic when the phone rings? Start sweating or feel clenchy or point at it and think, ‘Why are they calling? Are they going to shout at me? Dump me? Make me feel even more anxious?’ Even if you are expecting a call or you’re hollow with loneliness or you called them first?
A girl in your last office broke her arm dicking around and took six weeks off. These days you honestly believe you will actually have to be dead before you call in sick. Not only that but how will anything get done? How can you risk anything? How can you go outdoors? Or climb a ladder? You are old.