what happens when you forget how to breathe

You know how I said on Friday that I was a tad anxious but getting better. Well I wasn't (but think I am now). When I went to see my doctor and she asked me how I felt, the first word that came to mind was, messy. Then as I began to tell her why, she halted me momentarily and reached for her notepad. Always a bad sign. So I'm off work for the rest of the week. I'm not depressed, just really quite anxious, with some signs that I could become a little manic. So I'll probably get some sewing and shopping done.

It feels very strange to be allowed to take some leave from work for my head to clear. Sometimes I feel as though I'm shirking, like you mean that the cure for my illness/condition/way I feel now is to relax and do some things I enjoy? Like sleep alot, sew and go to the beach? Huh? It's so logical yet so at odds with the way our culture functions. When I called work, I was fairly up front. The euphemism we use is that I think I'm becoming unwell. I guess when you've been in hospital for a psychosis and are under a psychiatrist's treatment then you have a certain permission that way. But I've been thinking quite a bit about how the work I do affects me and my colleagues. There's a  lot of talk about resilience and of course I wonder whether I've been slotted into the not very resilient slot. Then again, I always get points for being up front and managing my condition.

Don't get me wrong, I like what my work brings; money, independence and that feeling of being out in the bigger world. I enjoy talking to people (workmates and customers), making decisions, having morning tea and getting things done. But it is also true that in a day I'm likely to see a lot of people who are ill, mad (quite unwell even), needy, cranky, pissed off or just down on their luck. Or have never been very lucky to begin with. And my job might be to ask them some intrusive questions or tell them that they have to do something or that they can't have what they feel they are entitled to. Most of the time though, I'm happy enough about going to work. But I just can't face it at the moment. I don't trust myself to remain anywhere near level, my brain has moments where it feels all tingly, like fairy floss with edge, or it just stops working and I'm a total blank. I teeter between feeling too much sympathy for others and not caring at all. Simple things fluster me. And if something doesn't go to plan or if one of my family members isn't contactable by phone or someone or something is running late, I panic. Most of the time I look like I'm doing OK, but underneath it's all quite frightening.

Anyway, back to this idea of resilience. If I make a list, there's been a lot happening around here over the last month or so. Two of Gerard's friends died, first Steve after a long illness, then Julie, quite unexpectedly in her sleep. Sad and intense. We've both had major dental issues, I had two weeks of higher duties at work, which was pretty awful and has left me wondering whether I should be looking at something else to do after we find a house and move into it. G has started a new part-time job and although him working is a good thing, my life was easier when he wasn't.  And it's a new routine. Again.

We just missed out on a house at auction and although a better one is looking likely, looking through dead people's houses (deceased estates) takes up a good part of each weekend. It's been tiring. Especially with a child who would not wear her new shoes, so had to be carried or left in the car with the other parent. So really, a lot has been going on. I think anyone might get a bit stressed and I actually think that G's had it harder than I have. My doctor thought that was a reasonable enough thing to say but then she said, you have a genetic disposition to... I forget exactly what, but the gist of it was that I am in some special category, meaning I have to take extra special care. Which I don't necessarily think is true. Don't we all have to take care? Does being resilient mean that when life gets tough (as everybody's does every now and then) you just go through it with a stiff upper lip and an extra glass of wine at night? Or that you stop caring and become a teflon person? Or that you simply choose not to be stressed? There are times when you can reframe your thinking but it's not always that simple. Not for me, not for most people. Perhaps part of being resilient is knowing when you need to pause for a little while.

I'm wondering how I make the work I do more sustainable in the medium term. More balanced. More exercise would help, but it's hard to take the extra time in the morning or after work because it cuts into the part of the day I have with Grace. It might have to be after she goes to bed. Definitely focusing on some more fun activities as a family would help too. I loved going to the beach yesterday. Swimming in the ocean was a glorious feeling, as was the rough sand on my feet. Grace has been telling me about it all day; beach, have cake (date scones), take clothes off, water, see fish, mummy go swimming, boats hold on (as in tied to the pier), chips for lunch, go home, sleep in nana's car. Oh gosh, we're going to have to do that again. It was pretty nice. Maybe it's still just a matter of letting some time pass.


Lazy Cow said...

Firstly, I have to say that you are a *wonderful* woman! Make sure you look after yourself so you can stay that way. There is NOTHING wrong with taking some time to do that (especially if it is work and medically sanctioned).
You've been through so much recently that is not normal, every day stuff, and of course it's going to affect you. Please take it easy. Love, Loretta

Asiya said...

from one "unwell" woman to another, I say, it's a bastard isn't it! I get that tingly feeling too, it almost has a sound, like a little crunch or gear shift. Damn genetic predispositions. Is it oversensitivity or do you think there is a certain patronizing air when such things are said?
Anyway, take care, I'm off to search for your plum jam recipe as it's almost that time of year and I bought a cupboard from savers to store it!
Your blog has a very grounding quality, I think that's a reason I like to visit. It's nice that you are in the blogosphere, look after yourself in real life!

Susan Morgan said...

Messy. A good description. I can relate to that. Taking care of yourself is an entirely appropriate antidote.

Kris said...

For me, resilience is finding ways to keep going when things are hard, not ploughing through regardless but getting up when you are knocked down by any number of things. I think there's probably lots of ways of developing that but I like your idea of taking it slowly and doing nice things. I think being kinder to ourselves - unwell or no - is so underrated and so important. As you suggest, we have to remember to breathe.

Fiona said...

It's amazing how uplifting and reassuring it is to share our stories. I haven't got a blog so maybe it's not so fair on you but I must tell you that you are kind of touch stone for me - no matter how well we all may seem on the outside we are staging our owns small battles and climbing up our own never ending learning curves and I think it is so much more telling of your strengths that you share these and not bottle it up or take it out on others. And always there is the enduring fine cord of love and hope that we hold onto during the hard times - you do it with style!

Laura J R said...

Hang in there, a lot's been happening, reactive depression and anxiety is not unusual with so much turmoil.
Sand between the toes is an excellent antidote. So is communicating with your people around you, which makes you feel vulnerable, but honest and sensible. Its hard work, but well done. Enjoy the space and slower starts to the day. Use the nice china and wear a brooch that makes you feel loved.
It could be worse...there could be a Liberal government somewhere in Australia!!
(Sooo with you on the election excitement.)