Image courtesy of Free Foto.
I really, really hate this time of year.
Specifically, I detest December 26 through the Monday in January when everyone goes back to work and school. Just like agoraphobics break down in the face of wide, open spaces, I am paralyzed with anxiety when I am forced to endure great swaths of unscheduled, unstructured time.
I found something on Wikipedia that makes a lot of sense to me. When talking about the cause of agoraphobia it says, “Research has uncovered a linkage between agoraphobia and difficulties with spatial orientation. Normal individuals are able to maintain balance by combining information from their vestibular system, their visual system and their proprioceptive sense. A disproportionate number of agoraphobics have weak vestibular function and consequently rely more on visual or tactile signals. They may become disoriented when visual cues are sparse as in wide open spaces or overwhelming as in crowds. Likewise, they may be confused by sloping or irregular surfaces. Compared to controls, in virtual reality studies, agoraphobics on average show impaired processing of changing audiovisual data. ” (emphasis mine).
I think that is what happens to me when not just I, but the whole world around me, is taken out of our everyday routine for this extended period of time. No one is where I expect them to be. No one is doing what I expect them to be doing, when I expect them to be doing it. And I am unable to get in my necessary 150 hours of solitude per day that then allow me to briefly interact with other living beings without having a nervous breakdown.
Added to these difficulties is that fact that one symptom of fibromyalgia is that it amplifies all sensations, to the point where literally it can be painful to have air touching your skin. Speaking for myself, I can be in a situation that most people wouldn’t think twice about, say, having dinner at someone’s house, and suddenly I will be overwhelmed with sensory input-the sound of people’s voices, the smell of the cleaning products the host used in the dining room, the way the overhead light shines off the table, the odor of dinner cooking-and my system will just get completely overwhelmed, be unable to process all of this sensory information, and just crash-into migraines, anxiety attacks, severe digestive problems-anything that will allow me to go off by myself, into the quiet and the dark, and completely withdraw into myself until my system can rebalance itself.
I feel like such a baby, and like such a retard. Like, “Oh no, I’m sorry, but we can’t come over to your awesome New Year’s Eve party because Jenny is currently unable to tolerate sound.” I hate that my sensitivities sometimes limit what my husband does. I hate that I really do have so many special needs. It makes me feel like some bitchy, selfish prima donna who will only condescend to eat green MnM’s which are fed to her one by one by a pair of nubile servant boys while sitting on a gilded throne and being fanned with the feathers of specially-raised peacocks.
It also doesn’t help that the weather seems to be experiencing a severe bout of Alzheimer’s and has confused Atlanta with Seattle, meaning that we’ve had a total of approximately 17 seconds of sun over the past six weeks.
My husband, on the other hand, loves this time of the year-LOVES IT! I am completely unable to comprehend how he could possibly feel that way. Not even under the influence of copious amounts of mind-altering, highly narcotic substances would that even begin to make sense to me. Because for one thing, he is pretty much forced to spend this time with me when, to put it kindly, I am not exactly at my best.
When I asked him yesterday how he was enjoying his vacation he said that he was having a great time, but he felt that I had been “brooding around the house.”
I was all, “Yeah. You’re right. I have been. And?”
And…he decided that there would be significantly less hostility for him to deal with if he went back to fighting the crazed zombies on Resident Evil 4.
So basically, between the horrible grey limbo of the weather, and the horrible grey limbo of this “in-between” time, and the absence of my normal everyday routine, and all the stories/expectations out there which tell me that I should be LOVING this time even though it makes me want to curl up into a little ball and weep, and everything involved with the holidays, and having been around my husband pretty much non-stop for over two weeks now, the strain of being able to pretend that I am someone able to keep my shit together is really taking its toll.
Maybe I am a horribly selfish person, a burden on the lives of those around me.
Or maybe, just maybe, I am someone with a pretty severe anxiety disorder who’s doing the best she can during a really challenging time.