Two nights ago I felt as if I’d lost half of my IQ. It happens; it’s one manifestation of a “dip.” It feels as if the unbalanced chemicals in my brain have swirled together and clogged all of the passages. In some ways, it’s more bearable than the intense anxiety on the other side of the coin, but it’s frustrating. I’m even physically uncoordinated when it happens; I get vertigo and my speech is a little clumsy. I knew it would most likely pass within two or three days, so I tried to be patient.
I dragged myself to a meeting of my 12-step fellowship the next morning anyway; after all, it’s said that the times we least want to go to a meeting are the times it’s most important to go. I’d like to say that the meeting was great and I left feeling much better, but that would be a lie. There was nothing wrong with the meeting; I just brought my cloudy self with me.
Social interaction is labored at best when I feel this way. Sometimes, I feel really self-conscious at these meetings in particular because I worry that my fuzziness might be taken as a sign that I’m under the influence of something. It’s silly, I know–enough people know about my condition, and it’s none of my business what the others think. At any rate, it’s something of an ordeal to be there. For example, I’m greeted by someone with, “Hey, how’s it going?” and this is what happens in the pause between the question and my reply:
Okay, this is where I’m supposed to say “Fine, how’re you,” right? Unless she really wants to know. She’s pretty perceptive and she’ll know I’m bullshitting if I just say fine, right? But does she really want to know? Is she one of the people who will get it if I just say I’m in kind of a dip today? Or should I say something innocuous that will explain my demeanor, something about being tired or getting over a bug? But I’m a lousy liar when I’m like this. If I tell her I’m feeling down she’ll want to know why and I don’t have a reason to give her. Oh, SHIT, now a couple of seconds have gone by and she’s looking at me funny because I’m taking too long to answer. My processing speed must be really lowered. Now I’ve got to come up with something that explains this…
And that’s where the “deer in headlights” look on my face comes from. Suppose the next person I meet asks me how my week was:
Just say fine. JUST SAY FINE, you fool. Haven’t you learned your lesson by now? But I hate lying, I just hate it. Besides, the first part of the week was decent, it’s just the last two days that were bad. So do I give an average, mean or median value of how good the week was? Does it matter, JUST SAY SOMETHING! Now you’ve done it again…
When my brain is in better shape I’m perfectly aware that in this context, questions like these are polite social noises and can be taken and returned as such. My clouded or dip state is not capable of such subtleties, however. Then I see someone I know I should greet, so I make the effort, but it feels as if I am mouthing lines from a strange script. Here’s what the conversation probably sounds like to an objective listener:
Me: Hi, Jessica! **hug** Good to see you. How are you?
Jessica: Hi there. Hey, are you coming to lunch with us after the meeting?
Me: Sorry, I can’t. I promised my mom we would drive up and visit her this afternoon.
Now, HERE’S what the conversation feels like to me:
Me: Glork, Jessica! **boing** Meeble zorp kee. Nuppi wik?
Jessica: *****sound of white noise*******coming to lunch?*****
Me: Sorry, I can’t. I promised the aliens I’d help impregnate hapless tourists with their tentacled offspring.
It’s a miracle that I have any friends at all. The frustrating thing is that if you catch me at the right time, I’m great to talk to! I can be smart, funny, compassionate, a good listener, and other nice things to have around. But then some days you get this instead.