*Cross posting with my newsletter*
It’s been a while since I wrote to you all. I haven’t posted on my blog, I haven’t sent out any newsletters, I’ve just been sort of getting swept up in all these other parts of my life that didn’t have anything to do with my writing. It’s not the first time this has happened, and I can’t promise it will be the last time. It’s been a bit of a struggle, to be honest. If you want to know more, then read on…
The lockdown which started at the end of March didn’t help. The constant fear mongering in the media; the daily changes to the rules and advice, all that was enough to drive anyone up the wall. On top of that, my mother-in-law’s health has been keeping us all on our toes.
I wrote in my last blog post about her short stint in hospital due to sodium imbalance. Though we were all back home in time for the lockdown, things were far from over. Due to her ongoing health issues and in large part probably also the major upset in her daily routine due to the lockdown, she suffered from depression throughout the first couple of months of the lockdown. For me, the main surprise in all of this was that her depression did not even manifest as being in a bad mood, necessarily. We were all in a bit of a mood, to be fair. For her, she has just been ill constantly. If it’s not the stomach, then it’s a toothache, if it’s not the toothache, then it’s a dibilitating headache. Throughout there’s been nausea so bad, she couldn’t eat, so we were trying to coax her to eat smaller meals throughout the day, because otherwise she would just not eat anything, which makes everything even worse. After a few weeks, she ended up showing signs of vitamin deficiency as well, for which she’s still taking a big pile of supplements. And even when things were fine for a few days, she would be so fearful of the nausea returning that she still refused to eat.
It was almost constant. For going on three months, I would wake up every morning already exhausted, worrying about what would go wrong next. Only once things started to open up a little bit around May/June, and she saw a few doctors about it who put her on mood stabilisers did things improve. That’s not to say things are perfect now. Up until last week, she’s had recurring headaches, for which we’ve seen a bunch of specialists. (The latter concluded it was still depression/stress).
So yeah, it’s been hard. And I’ve found myself defeated, with nothing left to give. My marriage has suffered. My own health has been giving me trouble. (Yeast infection that refuses to go away, anyone? Ugh. I’d never even had a yeast infection before this year!)
And in all of it, there has been no room for writing. Basically no room for any mental space or activity that would allow me to recenter myself and figure out what I should be doing next. My writing – although difficult and frustrating at times – gives me a sense of satisfaction in life which cooking meals and cleaning the kitchen does not provide. Without it, I’m lost. But every time I sat down and tried, I found myself frozen and unable to start.
For me, it all fell apart sometime over this last month, when I would burst into tears without knowing why or how to stop it almost every day. I’ve never felt so low in my entire life.
I’m an introvert, you see. I need my space and time apart from people just to function. But there hasn’t been a lot of time for that lately. As a result, I’ve been crabby, impatient, short tempered and still utterly exhausted.
So in the end, my husband and I ended up having a massive fight. The kind that makes you wonder if everything is going to be over forever. And during the aftermath of that fight I booked an appointment with a relationship counsellor nearby, because I didn’t know what else to do.
On the day, I was nervous and also a little excited. I knew that going to counselling by myself wasn’t a perfect solution, but my husband just wasn’t going to go, no matter what. If I couldn’t change ‘us’, at least I could figure out myself, right? That’s all I could aim for.
I arrived exactly on time, was greeted by a receptionist who asked me questions about myself, my life, and what I was struggling with. That nearly made me cry again, because I couldn’t express what was wrong, exactly. I just knew I was deeply unhappy and things in my marriage weren’t going so well. She emphasized that next time, my husband should definitely come, to which I told her that that was not going to happen… She said something about today being a consultation and if necessary I would be prescribed a test, which would cost extra. Whatever. I just wanted answers, so I agreed to everything and sat down.
And then I waited for the therapist. They gave me a bottle of water. I finished it.
And I waited. They gave me a cup of tea. That finished soon enough as well.
And I waited some more.
I’d carried a book, just to pass the time – you might have already read it, but if not, I highly recommend it: Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski PhD.
Half an hour turned into an hour, turned into one-and-a-half hours. In between I would ask the receptionist how much longer. She’d say: “Oh, only about five to ten minutes more. I’m sorry, we’re really busy today.” And I’d open my book again and carry on reading.
But right around the one-and-a-half hour mark, I lost it. Another patient had come in after me as well, and had been waiting for about half an hour already when I finally got up. I told the receptionist if they didn’t have time to fit me in today, they should have given me an appointment for another day. I got a bunch of apologies and assurances that this wouldn’t happen again, and it was just a really busy day. She rebooked me for the following Monday and once again ensured that they’d make time for me and shuffle some other patients around. (Okay, so then they’ll screw some other sucker instead? Nice!)
I reached home nearly two hours since I’d left. My husband of course wanted to know what had happened and if it had been helpful. I barely got a sarcastic AF remark out (“It was super enlightening, I learned so much about myself.”), before – you’ve guessed it – ugly-crying my eyes out.
In the end, I suppose I did learn something. I enjoyed the book I’d read in the waiting room, and that I was never going back there. Indeed, I cancelled the rebooked appointment shortly after. Instead, I decided to take the money I would have spent on that session, and bought some more self help books.
Even now, I’m still wondering if I should try someone else, or I should just forget about the whole thing.
At least my husband was there for me when I came home. He was kind and compassionate and let me cry and complain as much as I needed to. And although he wasn’t in favour of therapy anyway (he wouldn’t even go, remember?), the words “I told you so” didn’t pass his lips even once. In turn, I’m trying not to be so snappy and impatient all the time. We’re doing better than we were last week.
Oh, and we’ve taken up cycling together. Exercise is an anti-depressant too, isn’t it? Let’s see how that goes.
So yeah, this is my post-lockdown update. The one time I went to therapy (or tried to).
How are you doing?