Friday, August 03, 2018

Headaches

The day had gone fine, all told. Meetings were meetings, the overall day ran a little long, but in the end an average, pretty Thursday with pleasant late summer Chicago weather, so there was no good reason that I should have a depressive anxiety episode, and yet, I realized shortly after I finished walking the dogs that I was on my way down the rabbit hole whether I wanted to be or not. I thought perhaps going out to eat at the local pub would help, but feeling only more isolated and alone, I ended the night back home in bed before the sun had set.

And so it was.

There is a weird challenge in trying to communicate what it's like to have these things happen. That there is some part of the functional, perfectly normal human side of me that asks "What the fuck, seriously, like, if you know you are getting upset do something else." Maybe that's just the internal voice that contributes the dialogue I don't need of the judgmental other. I get that voice all the time, episodes or not.

If you have had a friend who is not neurotypical, or someone like me who is actually neurotypical but who has suffered high (seriously fucking high) trauma and you may be curious what this is like. How is it that someone who is otherwise a contributing member of society can't just not be anxious or depressed when a situation is perfectly normal.

This morning, after a solid workout, while making coffee, I stood finding myself trying to explain. Maybe to explain it to me. I want to know what happened to me yesterday. Don't I know, shouldn't I have that kind of insight into my own brain at this point, in my early forties? My brain and I have been together long enough that you'd think we have that basic work function of getting through a perfectly average day without creating internal trauma; that should be a breeze, right?

For me, it's just not that simple. It's more like having a headache, with the varying tiers of headache experience you may go through. There are those days where everything is just ducky and you suddenly feel that tickle above your right eye and you know its coming, and its coming fast, and if you take a pill right now you might, maybe, be okay and get out of it this time. There are days when you have been working flat out, perfectly reasonable, happily sound, and suddenly you just want to close your eyes and hide because that headache just opened up and dropped on you out of nowhere and nothing you do at this point is going to make it any better and you know.

Then there are the days that you feel it coming, you take something for it, and you know that the best strategy would be to relax in bed but you have already committed yourself to getting through the thing you have agreed to do, and now you are trying to do the thing while balancing the pain.

Worst, perhaps, is when you have been working but everything is going to shit, nothing is coming out right, the calculations are all wrong and you can't figure out why this is happened when suddenly it dawns on you that you have a massive headache that you missed because it snuck in and built up so creepily that it was already level 7 dangerzone before you even realized it was there.

Varying stages of depressive anxiety are very much like the varying types of headaches one may have. Sometimes you can take something for it and it works, sometimes there is nothing you can do, it's already too late, or you have committed and have to push through regardless. And sometimes, you don't even know until you've done something you will regret, that you can't take back, that you may or may not be able to apologize for, that you may or may not live through.

So far, I've managed not to tick a box I can't untick, but not without leaving an assorted swath of bodies in the wake of my anxiety, not to mention several parts of myself sometimes that feel like they are incomplete because of the pain that is a part of who I am.

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