I still plan to write about Water and Spirit to finish my little series about elements, but I have to accept that it’s not going to happen today. My daughter brought home a virus from camp and I’ve caught it. I’m not that sick, but any degree of illness tends to upset the brain chemistry applecart enough to send me into a dip. I get cloudy, or I get anxious, or I plunge into a heavily depressed state. Not too depressed right now, for which I’m grateful, but very cloudy and anxious.
It’s a really annoying combination, because my anxiety tends to focus on things I need to do that require my brain to function, while the cloudiness ensures that I am not capable of accomplishing these things right now. That’s hard for me to admit–I am so eager to be the kind of person who doesn’t make excuses any more that I get really vigilant about asking myself if I’m really incapacitated instead of just being lazy or resisting a task.
Questioning my motives is a good thing in moderation, but if I overdo it I’m in danger of setting up a pattern where I think I have to be in extreme distress to get a break. Then what will happen when I need a break? I’ll subconsciously feed and amplify my distress. I don’t want that.
So, having attempted some honesty, there comes a time when I need to yield. When I need to accept that I’m off the productive list temporarily and that I must allow myself to be where I am and focus on getting better. Whether it’s illness, mental stuff or extreme sleep deprivation, it won’t be productive for me to keep cudgeling my brain in an attempt to force effective thinking.
Logical. But try getting my anxiety on board with the plan! There’s a constant monologue in my head about my to-do list, a monologue that is made more maddening by its periodic lapsing into cloudy static. So many coping techniques involve self-talk, and I do a lot of it. But today the dialogue sounds something like this:
Hey, relax. You’re on the sick list today. We decided. You need to rest and get better.
I don’t want to rest! I don’t want to have to rest. Why can I write but not some of these other things? It’s illogical and I object, I should be able to focus at will. What if I were a brain surgeon or something? Well, this is why I’m not, I guess. I feel like such a failure; I’ve just got to get something done today so I can feel better about myself.
No. You don’t. Be quiet and rest. Your job is the same as in any dip: not doing anything that will make it worse. That’s all.
But I forgot to get the mail! We need to write checks to a bunch of places, do we have enough in the account what was that password again? God, look at this mess, we need to use the…sucking thing…on the carpet…got to get organized…school starts in two cookies, you know. What the hell are we doing? Shouldn’t that lizard have called us by now?
Shh. Listen to yourself, you’re not even coherent. The best thing to do is rest and tackle these things when we feel better. It’ll be all right.
How can it be all right? The longer we wait the bigger the pile of stuff will get! How can you just lie there while it’s growing…growing closer, breeding, multiplying like the swarm of insects from that book we read last year…what was it called? It had a tree on the cover. Why a tree? An insect would have made more sense. Wait, what was I saying?
You were going into a spin again. I need you to stop. No, listen to me, you have to shut up or I can’t go on keeping us centered.
I know, I know, but I can’t stop, I just can’t. You’re going to have to sedate me.
That’s not an option and you know it. The drugs are off the table.
Well, I can’t stop this spin without help. How about something to eat instead?
Also not an option. As you know.
Well, if you want me to shut up you’re going to have to do something to take the edge off. Maybe just a dose of Benadryl, it makes us sleepy.
No. Even if I felt okay about that, we’d be groggy all day tomorrow. That qualifies as making things worse, and we’re committed to not doing that. You’re going to have to learn to calm down on your own.
Fine. But until I do, you’re going to have to keep listening to me.
Fine. But I’m going to keep asking you to shut up.
So what are we going to do about the school thing? Maybe we should be looking up some resources online so we can make a flow chart. What was that website? Oh God, there’s a spider web up in the corner. Where do we keep the broom again? I read that brooms used to be made of…
So, dear readers, I’ll most likely be functional again in a couple of days. If I can keep from strangling myself until then.