Let me talk to you about my brain.
It’s not working so good right now. It’s soldiering on and getting me through the days but on the whole, it’s pretty down and a bit anxious. I’m more aware now of the ways in which this is different to feeling normally down and feeling normally anxious and I want to talk some more about that. Because, I guess, sad and negative feelings and worry are natural human emotions and everyone experiences them so it can be difficult to understand how this is different when they are caused by an illness rather than just occuring in response to life. And the way I recognise and understand that is through experience. Like this
* It is 2 pm and Bean is finally asleep, which is good for me, because my head feels foggy and everything is a little tough today. Someone raps on the door and I go down to answer it; a woman is there from an electricity provider, trying to sell me service. Because things are foggy in my head, it takes me a while to understand what she is actually saying so when she asks me for a copy of our bill I decide that the easiest thing is to just go fetch one, because then I can get a moment to think. Of course this is a mistake, because she takes it from me and tucks it on her clipboard and it’s clear that the speil she gave me about ‘not really needing to change companies’ was a total lie, and she wants me to go through the whole process of switching supplier. I don’t want to do this, and I tell her so. She ignores me. The conversation goes on and I start to disassociate a little: I can see myself just standing there like a big lump, not knowing what to say. I’m thinking what if I had a disability that made standing here difficult for me? What about elderly people, she could frighten them half to death. Why won’t she just leave me alone, this is my time to rest and I need to rest and she’s in my personal space. I try to say these things to her: that she’s intrusive, she’s bossy, she’s not welcome, she’s wasting my time. But I don’t because I know I will cry if I do. I feel about four years old. It is only when she raises her voice and wakes Bean that I have the strength to grab back my document and close the door on her. Bean has a tantrum because she was woken up, and I am so angry at myself for letting it come to this. For hours afterwards I feel pathetic, cowed, weepy. I’m big and smart and articulate and three decades old but none of that matters because I can’t even fight through the fog to say what I mean out loud.
* It is some time in the morning and I’m trying to get Bean dressed to go out. She wants to go, she’s been begging me, but she won’t lie still and I can’t dress her. She’s jumping naked on the bed, squealing, laughing: it’s a game. But not to me – today I am all hardness. Sudden rage bubbles up, and I yell and yell until she cries and lies still. In a moment she’s bouncing and happy again but for me, the shame smarts all day. (Actually, it still does now, still makes me weep). I want to tell her: that wasn’t me. I’m never that angry at you, I would never hurt you, I never want to frighten you. And I do say it, but she’s two years old so there’s no way of knowing what she’ll remember.
* I have had a difficult day. Everything got on top of me, the house was a mess, The Fireman was late home, dinner was late and disastrous and not the right thing to satisfy my hungry body. But that is okay, I think, because I’m off to a study meeting and I will be out of my house and out of my own head for a few hours. Adult time. Except that I’m still reeling from the day but I don’t know it, and the night is dark and the street I have to park on unknown, narrow, windy and steep. I can’t see where I could park my car safely, another driver blinds me with highbeams, I’m not as early as I hoped, but none of these things is insurmountable. I’m a grown-up, I can drive just fine, I can meet new people, I can get on with it. Except that I can’t. My teeth start to tingle which is the first sign that I’ve been hyperventilating without even noticing and so I have to do breathing exercises and try to navigate my car at the same time because there is nowhere to pull over. I feel light-headed and nothing seems real. And then I am crying and shaking and ashamed and I just drive home and sit in the driveway and weep because what kind of pathetic person can’t even do a simple thing like go to a meeting and when will I ever be able to do anything in my life if I can’t even do that?
I’m getting some professional help for my brain really soon; and although I feel worse than I have for months and months, it’s not so awful, really. Except that I am exhausted from limping through the days. Some cruising would be nice. Some sunshine.