An offhand comment from my ‘new’ – and-therefore-complete-stranger-of-a-doctor last week has been making me wonder. Along with her deeply insensitive recommendations to ensure a speediness of recovery (including such chestnuts as “hang in there”, “time’s a great healer” and “some traumas take longer to recover from than others”) was the hope that I was ‘journaling or whatever else your counsellor has suggested’. I think journaling is an American word and I assume she meant taking notes, keeping a diary etc… and even though this remark made me feel even more estranged from her concern, I did think perhaps I could try doing this. It may be of benefit. Although quite how it benefits my ‘followers’ remains to be seen. *waves pathetically hoping some of you at least hang in here and see the light begin to emerge at the end of this stupid Groundhog tunnel*.
I felt a small semblance of stirrings this morning as I pondered my return to work – and here I get palpitations whereas before I suffered only flutterings but then that’s an altogether different cat in a bag. This ponderance was more to do with the ‘what do I say – when I’m back – as to why I’ve been away?’ and the brave piece of soul I still have somewhere in my body said, all magnificently, ‘tell them you have a: “Mental Health Condition” whereas what I’ll really say is probably stick to the “tennis elbow” because THAT’s all other people can cope with.
This is generally my reaction to a Monday morning anyway. Colleagues breeze in or slink in or drag themselves in and say ‘good weekend?’ whether they’re interested or not, and I usually get through the truthful reply of “not really, I spent most of it curled up in bed crying and avoiding any form of human contact whatsoever” with an equally cheery ‘yes thanks!’. End of conversation. In fact, once most people have gotten past the initial ‘good weekend?’ query, all they want to do is talk about themselves anyway, so really the query is irrelevant – it’s just a convenient if not altogether insincere segue into the more important subject which is MeMeMeMeMe.
So the braver part of me is wondering if I could overlook the sweaty palms and the racing heartbeat and actually say “Depression” or “Stress” or even “Post-Trauamtic-Stress-Disorder” which is actually what keeps me from functioning properly in the outside world right now. And no, nothing’s ‘happened’ to turn me into this wet mess that appears (thankfully invisibly) before you right now – this has been the essential ME for the past 18 months or so, it’s just that certain chemical substances and a stubborn refusal to let it beat down me has been holding my head above the temptingly deep and yielding waters until now. I’m usually okay if those waters are calm and I can see clearly about me. But it only takes a ripple or two and a slight fluctuation in depth and temperature and I start to panic that I might drown.
It doesn’t help that those who surround me daily, even though they don’t know they help to keep me afloat just by being there, start to destabilise my balance and ripple by ripple undermine everything I’m trying so hard to keep ‘normal’. Whatever normal is.