8. Here to stay (or: the disorder and I)

<< 7. All advice is good advice / 9. Middle of the night anxiety >>

This isn’t going away anytime soon.

I’m calm now. My doctors prescribed antidepressants. I’m not depressed, not by a long shot, but apparently the pills also help with anxiety. They force your sympathetic nervous system to stand down, or something of the sort, and oh boy, has my sympathetic nervous system been acting up in the past couple of weeks. Case in point: on Sunday, the phone rang. Urban looked at the caller id and said it was my aunt. That I couldn’t handle. I mean, on a normal day, she’s a handful. Nothing that a calm person can’t deal with, to be sure; but on that day, my body’s response was to release a not inconsiderable amount of tears. And I didn’t even have to talk with her—just the idea of her was enough.

Urban took the telephone downstairs and dealt with the issue, and then my daughter came and cuddled me, and it all became better. But then they all started talking, and the noise was too much. I couldn’t handle that either. I retreated to my room. On that same afternoon—it was less than three full days after the breakdown—my friend, Pooja, visited me, and I had to ask her to leave after a while. A face-to-face conversation was too taxing. I was exhausted and couldn’t even move.

So back to my bedroom I went, and I rested. And rested some more. I’m still resting. I’ll be resting for a while.

Strangely, through this whole thing, writing hasn’t been a problem. “You could write all those blog posts and still couldn’t talk to people directly?” asked a friend, and the answer is, yes. Yes, I can write, no problem, even when talking on the phone with my mom is too much to bear. Not only that: writing helped me put my thoughts in order and process all that was happening. Also, I flatter myself that my somewhat literary portrayal of this unexpected—and yet foreseen, don’t forget Dimitra—adventure is definitely better than “um, I’m not well.”

I can also chat with people online, multiple people sometimes, as long as the subject doesn’t stress me too much—predicting outcomes of my disorder, for example, is stressful, and telling me “you’re strong, I’m not worried” is one of the things that make me see red; but more on that in a future article.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say, is: writing is the only thing that doesn’t tax me.

By Monday, some of my strength had returned, and I was already feeling a little like myself. On Tuesday morning, though, I realized that in the back of my head, the nagging feeling had taken root that there was something to do, that I was forgetting something. That would make sense on a normal day: there’s always something to do. The tasks never end, that’s just how a parent’s life is. But now, now there really isn’t anything to do other than get better.

I asked my doctor about that, and she nodded with understanding. She has a demanding job, a life, and children, too. She talked about anxiety and explained stuff about the nervous system, and then she prescribed the antidepressants—I take back all I said about her and her warnings about the dangers of benzodiazepines—and we made an appointment for next week, to see how I’m reacting to the medication.

So, here I am, sitting and getting better. I think I’ll start seeing friends soon. It won’t be very taxing, I believe. I’m already able to deal with my daughter’s tantrums—up to a point, of course. And my friends are very well-behaved, so that doesn’t worry me at all.

One good thing this little drama brought is that I’m through with the whole work clusterfuck (which I’m aware I haven’t told you about. There’s a work clusterfuck. It’s been going on for more than a year. It’s the reason my contract is not being renewed. It’s for the best, trust me; as much as I love physics, academia is not for me.) When I told my doctor that I’ll have another two weeks of work after the two weeks of school holidays at the beginning of June, her reaction went along the lines of, “nope, you don’t.”

So, that’s that. There are still things to wrap up at work, but finally, finally, I’m learning to put myself first. I’ll do them when I do them.

Yup. As Guardian Angel Dimitra says, now is the time to be selfish.

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