I’m home

I’m back from the three month work assignment abroad. I’ve really crashed since then. In retrospect, I was on quite a high there, even though it wasn’t exactly pleasant for me. It was more the racing bad thoughts kind. But I really didn’t sleep much, and managed to charm everyone and work very hard. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been sluggish and slow. Not even the racing angry stuff, but rather the empty head, slow moving stuff. It has been really hard for me to get out of bed and go in every day. It’s a shame, because I could be learning a lot, but none of it is sticking. My thought is just too slow.

I’ve been back for two weeks now. At first, I kept blaming everything on jet lag. I have to be meticulous with sleep and light exposure and exercise to stay stable most of the time (with medicines, of course). I haven’t been able to sleep well since being back.

The other funny thing is that I was in hiding, sort of. I kept going in to work, but ducking my close friends. For one, I lost about 10 pounds – which is a lot since I’m five feet tall. Five more and I’ll be at my high school weight – very waif-like. I look like hell and just can’t make conversation. I usually, when a little more high, am great at telling stories, hitting all the punchlines just right. I just don’t have the energy to even tell the stories from there badly.

So I’ve been phantoming in to work, slipping in and out without really running into anyone I know. It’s been working ok. I think I can get, after this week, two weeks off anyway. I was not sure if that is a good idea or not. On one hand, I can catch up on three months of errands, get back into my routine, take care of shit, and even go to my second job…who I haven’t yet told that I’m back. On the other, it might be better to be back into a normal routine, with other people.

But today as I stopped in the coffee line at the place outside the office, my best friend from there showed up. So I just decided I’d be late and we sat down to talk. It was ok. I missed him a lot while I was there. I had accidentally-on-purpose not returned his phone call the night before. He kept asking me what was wrong. No one from around here knows about my psych history. Almost no one, anyway. We talked about the future, because both of us have a big career decision coming up. But I just don’t see any future. I hate my career, or at least when I hate everything, my career is included. I want out. I guess he kind of picked up on that vibe. On the way out of the coffee place toward work, he asked what happened to me, meaning on that trip, which he knew was kind of hard, but of course didn’t know the half of all of what’s wrong with me.

“All your emails were full of funny and wild stories – ” yes, of course they were, as I was, in retrospect, on an inner high, ” – what the hell happened?”

“God, Jake, I just don’t want to talk about it.” This is a funny thing. I am always torn between wanting people to know because I secretly hope they will understand how hellish it can be for me, and keeping everything as secret and quiet as possible, being normal. I’d like to think they’d think of me the same after, but I doubt it. People still see people like me as broken somehow…inferior, in a way they don’t in other physical illnesses. For a while now, I’ve been thinking of telling “Jake,” but just haven’t done it. I almost have a million times. It’s getting a little obsessive even. Like, I feel like it’s not right, not honest, in a way, to keep it secret. Like I’m lying, letting all the poor other mentally ill people be stigmatized, and just because I’m lucky enough to have other talents, be allowed to hide it.

I feel so bad lately. But, this is actually not the worst for me…it’s quiet. I’m just slow and leaden and tired. Worse is when things get more mixed – racing thoughts, anxiety, the criticism and shame that run unrelentingly. This is ok, or would be ok if I were allowed to just curl up and sleep until it goes away. I almost ended up at the doc several times. You know, the vague, somatic complaints that really don’t mean much of anything, but every time I’m convinced they are cancer.

Jake asked me a few times what was wrong. It would have been the perfect chance to go into it. But I didn’t. I think that was wise. I love him, as a friend. I wouldn’t want him to think I’m crazy. On the other hand, you don’t get support when you are ill if nobody knows.

That’s another thing that is worth writing about sometime: the illness model. I’m not sure what I think about that. But one time, one psych that was ok caught me piling guilt on myself for not returning phone calls and stuff, and I had said, “How can I call people after months of not answering messages?” He said, finally managing something that made me feel better, “What, so you were sick before, and that’s all your fault too?” It actually made me feel better, like finally someone wasn’t blaming me for everything, to just hear it in a totally different way than I explained things (i.e. my laziness, worthlessness, etc).

It took a long time for me to accept that this was an illness – not just “the way I was” or something, not something that I could control. It took a long time to agree to take medications. I’m not sure if the illness model is good or not. It’s obviously not totally in my control, and meds help. Without them, I’d be dead. But some of it is my fault, and I have to control as much as I can.

God, my writing sucks right now. I’m kind of scattery.

So, Jake gave me the perfect opening, but I didn’t take it. He said to call him back later, when I was ready for a break. I did, but he had left by then. I sort of put off the call until an hour when I knew he’d probably gone to another site.

I’m just so afraid that if I told someone, things would never be the same. That said, keeping this secret puts up a huge wall between me and everyone else. It’s just that people are so unsympathetic to psych stuff. I almost wish it was a physical disease. Then, no one blames you and people help and stuff. I know Jake admires me (just like I love him to death), and I don’t want to mess up his image of me. I wish I could feel confident enough that people would like me in spite of everything. But I just don’t think people are like that.

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