Just when I think I’m making real progress… SPLAT!
Things were stressful with the proposal writing, and my work days were long last week, but I was (mostly) keeping things in perspective and trying to take care of myself. The project director continued to make things really hard, and I was getting frustrated, but I could handle it as long as I could vent with a colleague who knows what a mess it’s been.
But then on Saturday night I somehow forgot to take my regular meds. It’s been a long time since I made that mistake. It became a restless night, lots of tossing and turning with no more than 30 minutes of uninterrupted sleep. Kind of reminds me of the good old days when my second son was a baby and got me up 8-10 times a night. Ha. Hell is a three-month-old who won’t sleep.
Anyway, by Sunday morning, I started to feel sick. I think it’s the clonazapam withdrawal that makes you feel like you’re coming down with the flu. By lunchtime, the mean voices started up again in my head, “you are so bad, you are a horrible person, you don’t even deserve to live.” In the late afternoon, I tried to take a nap and found my brain deciding it needed to think about how to make a noose and what I should use if I were to hang myself. Is rope better? Electrical cord?
I had recognized by then, of course, that this enormous, overnight mental switch was flipped by the missing drugs. There was a little bit of me that stood outside it all, observing the chaos in my head and telling me, “it’s okay, this is just a chemical glitch, it won’t last once you get back on the routine tonight.” I think though that the chaos didn’t appreciate that separation and ability to observe myself. It just turned up the noise until I was well and fully sucked into it all.
I started to feel angry about how this proposal writing effort at work has gone. At how much time I ended up wasting because the director was disorganized and unwilling to commit to what would be in the content of our proposal. He’d tell me something, and I’d spend four hours getting the background info together, and I’d write up the activity, and a few days later he’d decide to cut that. It had been bothering me before, but now it grew big, hot, noisy. Its winds blew around in my head like a tropical storm.
I’m not skilled at anger. It was never allowed in my house except from my stepfather, who was very cruel in his display of it. The rest of us were supposed to accept it and cower and tiptoe around him, and for the most part, that’s what I did. So anger is dangerous and mysterious and I don’t know what to do with it except turn it around on myself.
Ironic that I wrote just last week about uncoupling current day stress from traumatic experiences in the past. And here I was, doing it again. Insight is not the same as prevention.
Though I took my Sunday night meds and slept better, the storm didn’t let up on Monday. In that evening’s therapy session, E. had me pretend to sit Rage on the sofa and talk about what she looked like and sounded like. Then she wanted me to sit on the sofa as Rage. E. wanted to interview her. How long had she existed? What did she want? Rage was spiteful and mighty and demanded to be released upon the world. She was also contradictory and illogical, but hey, she’s an EMOTION. No one says emotions have to be logical.
E. was trying to encourage some kind of deal between me and Rage. What does Rage need? “Q is trying to listen to you, Rage, so in return could you let up a bit in her intensity? You are torturing Q.”
“Good!” said Rage, “She deserves it.” Rage didn’t’t know what she needed, and she was in no mood to negotiate. She wanted release, and she knew that burning was the most direct road to release. In the end, E. settled for saying, okay, if that’s what you need to do, at least try to journal first. Write the director a really angry letter than you won’t send to him. And after that, if you want to burn, it’s not the healthiest, but it won’t kill you.
And that’s what Rage and I ended up doing today. It was a worthwhile exchange, trading away the internal turmoil that gets in the way of thinking and functioning and in return taking a burn that will hurt for a few days and then will heal. I do feel calmer now. Relief.
But at another level, I don’t want this to be the way I cope the rest of my life. So this evening I’m using the calm after the storm to make a list of ways to strengthen and support my healthy self so I can tolerate Rage better the next time she comes to visit. I’ve no doubt she’ll be back.