Written January 2019 – Unedited
The last, say probably, 3-4 months (maybe longer if I am being honest) felt like a blur, as if they happened while I was on a rollercoaster. Fast, out of focus. Nothing really sunk in. Conversations – I was there but I wasn’t really. I can’t remember the details of the other person’s story, their lives, what was happening. I could barely remember my own. I mean a work colleague literally chopped off 90% of her hair and she sits 30cm away from me and I didn’t notice. Any little “do to” from grocery shopping, filling out a school form, to remembering Munchie Market day or returning a phone call felt like someone was asking me to explain the theory of relativity or run the Comrades.
Overwhelmed became an understatement.
I didn’t want to face home.
I didn’t want to deal with the kids.
I didn’t want to face work.
I didn’t want to look at bank statements. I didn’t want to look at emails. I didn’t want to look at cupboards that needed sorting (and I usually love to get stuck into a mess that needs organising) I didn’t want to even think about dinner, let alone cook it, never mind buying the groceries for it.
I underestimated how hard it was to join a school half way through the year.
I underestimated how much effort and energy it took to meet new people.
I underestimated my anxiety of finding new places
I underestimated the challenges of working in an office with more than two people.
I underestimated how lonely it would be on my own.
I am going to get real here – I felt like I was living a dysfunctional life, like I was being dishonest.
Every morning I would get up, come rain, shine, darkness, lack of sleep, sickness… slap a smile on my face and run through the motions. Every. Single. Day.
3 months before the “crash”
About 3 months before the “crash” I went to the doctor as I thought something was wrong with me. I was having constant dizzy spells, feeling feint, no energy at all. Like some days I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. Other days I would work out so hard my heart rate would hit 200bmp and I thought I would throw up. She took blood, did tests, all came back fine. I was going to live. “Probably just burn out, you need a holiday” she remarked perhaps somewhat flippantly. My response? Ok then just give me that Rolls Royce of a Vitamin B Shot and let me get on with things. Feeling silly for even thinking something was wrong with me, now I was just annoyed at myself for not keeping up with my life. Everyone else seems to manage with ease, why am I finding it so hard? Self doubt reared it head.
2 months before the “crash”
About 2 months before the “crash” I started crying. A lot. Up until this point I didn’t cry much. I was too busy to cry dammit hell. We had to put our beloved dog, Baba, down and from that moment it felt like I literally could not stop crying. In the mornings I would wake up with tears. I would drive to work with tears. At work though… all smiles I’ve got this. Drive home with tears. At home… not so much of the smiling. I was frustrated, moody, shouted a lot at the kids, but I’ve got this. When they eventually went to bed, more tears.
I also started forgetting things. A lot. Now with someone who suffers from ADD, and is on meds for it – this is something I have a) established numerous methods of diaries and lists and apps to ensure this does not happen pre diagnosis and b) post diagnosis with proper medication and therapy and learning new skills, I was managing very well without having a list to remind me to look at the diary which referred to a colour coded list which linked to a laminated reminder note about an app. I forgot civvies day, and pool party day, birthday parties, birthdays. I forgot a doctor’s appointment I had booked for myself, which was in my calendar. Even when the doctor’s name came when my phone rang, I thought hmmm… odd wonder why they are calling me? It didn’t even register that I was 20min late for an appointment that had fallen completely off my radar. Of course, what happens then? My confidence takes a knock. Big time.
2 weeks before the “crash”
About 2 weeks before the crash, I started experiencing what a quick Google search refers to as sleep paralysis – when you wake up in the morning but your body still thinks its in a deep sleep and you can’t move. It is different from the usual “I can’t get out of bed on a Monday” vibe. This is more like “I can’t move any part of my body. I am either paralysed or dying” vibe. This did not help my mental state. As the only one in the house to care for my children, I HAD to get out of bed. Even if I was dead, I would still HAVE to get up and get on with it.
Then there were the night terrors/ hallucinations? I am not sure what to call it. As I was falling asleep, I honestly thought that someone had broken into the house. I heard the sound of security gate’s familiar and somewhat annoying squeak – and I remember thinking I won’t try fix it as if anyone does try get in, I will know because I will hear it. I heard footsteps, heavy, slow, coming into the house and up the stairs. I heard someone come into the room. My eyes were closed at this point and I could not open them, no matter how hard I tried. Fear had closed them very tightly. I could hear and I could feel their breathe as they came behind me and grabbed me. If I could get a scream out I would have but I couldn’t utter a word. If I could just open my eyes and see that there was nothing there it would have helped but I couldn’t open them.
The next morning, I woke up with the sleep paralysis, and worse, a neck and shoulder in such a spasm that even when I did get feeling back in my body, I couldn’t actually move it. It took me almost an hour of slow, tiny wiggles, movements and silent tears to roll myself over and finally get out the bed.