Yet another chapter in my rocky relationship with August.
(Originally published August 31, 2005)
Much as our nation utilizes the various DEFCON levels to alert us to potential external threats, I myself have a finely tuned system of personal alerts which let me know when my internal systems are getting a little out of whack. I’ve pretty much passed through all of them over this last week, so they are fresh in my mind to share with you here.
Level 5: It’s All Good
Level 4: Lack of Interest in Food
This can also show up as Only Eating One Thing, like butter sandwiches, for days on end.
Level 3: Lack of Interest in Reading
Level 2: Lack of Interest in Cleaning
This is also frequently accompanied by Never Changing Out Of My Pajamas, as well as An Extremely Sharp Decline In Personal Hygiene.
Level 1: Spirals Of Doom
By the time I hit Level 1 I’m spending most of my time on the couch, partly because I lack the energy to go anywhere else, and partly because I believe that the couch has natural, inherent healing qualities. As a matter of fact, when we had the opportunity to get a new couch a couple of years ago I didn’t want to. As I told my husband, “The couch we have now has Magical Healing Powers, but if we get a new couch, thenthat one might not.” If I never knew that my husband loved me before I certainly did then, because not only did he NOT laugh, he said, “We’ll make sure we get one that does.”
While I’m stuck on the couch I generally pass the time by watching the process my mind goes through where, seeing that I’m feeling bad, it attempts to create a really depressing story in order to make me feel even worse. Here is an example of one of my recent “Spirals of Doom”.
As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I have been experiencing some difficulties with migraines this summer (and of course, “difficulties” is a euphemism for “searing pain up and down the entire right side of my head, neck, and shoulder, accompanied by razor blades in my stomach off and on for three months”.) So one evening as I dragged myself off the couch to take yet another pain pill, I happened to look in the mirror and notice that my eyes were really red and irritated. My mind took in that data, processed it, and came up with the following story:
“Well, here I am having to take medicine AGAIN for this horrible migraine, which will never go away no matter what I do, which means that I will be sick and miserable for the rest of my life. I will never ever feel well again. I’ll just be an invalid, miserable and in pain forever, a drain on my family and friends because I will never be well enough to be productive or contribute ever again. And, the fact that I keep having to take all of this medicine is raising my blood pressure, and I just know that soon the pressure will become too much and my head will explode, and my eyes will pop out, causing all of my insides to ooze out everywhere, making me gross, disgusting, and repulsive, and this will cause everyone I love to cast me out because I am too hideous to be around, and so I will end up homeless, penniless, and wretched, to die on the streets alone.” And in that moment, I totally believed that every single piece of this was absolutely true.
The good news is that I know myself well enough now to know that this is part of a whole process that I go through, and eventually I do come out again on the other side. So these days when it is going on I am able to keep a tiny part of my brain detached, as an observer, to kind of monitor things and remind me that, “this too shall pass”.
This is the part of me that takes notes and gathers materials from all of my experiences, and is considering putting out a “Greatest Hits” collection of my most popular spirals. This collection would include such popular favorites as, “Everything Is Just An Illusion, So Nothing I Do Matters”, “We’re All Going To Die One Day Anyway, So What Is The Point Of Doing Anything?”, and “No Matter What I Do I Just Can’t Fix This, And I’ll Never Be Able To, So I Am Going To End Up Poverty-Stricken And Alone, And Then I Will Die.”
Then again, maybe I’ll just fix myself another butter sandwich, and go stretch out on the couch for a while.