So, I went to therapy…

*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?

Corona Lockdown in Progress (Day 2)

OMG, how much can change in a week!

On the 13th, I sent out a newsletter (which I posted here on my blog as well) outlining the situation in India with regards to coronavirus at the time. We were all aware of it with varying degrees of paranoia as a result, but not imminently affected. Nationwide cases were fewer than 100 people, of which not even one in my local city. Well, that has certainly changed! Numbers are up in the mid/high 500s, not sure how many in my city because we’re not getting the local paper anymore. India has reported the first cases of community spread now as well. Add to that personal upheaval and health issues, and I’m only now finally getting my head around what’s actually happening at home. Bear with me while I update you all.

When I last wrote to you, I mentioned coming back from Delhi on the train, and feeling a bit crap afterwards. Next day: fever & bodyache, and my husband got it too. Day after that: severe diarrhoea and zero appetite. By the day after that both my husband and mother-in-law developed diarrhoea as well. Since nobody had any cough or other cold/flu type symptoms I might have blamed some kind of food poisoning, but all we ate during the previous days was fresh, homecooked food. Stomachflu, maybe?

In the meantime, the Prime Minister of India announced a voluntary curfew for Sunday, so we got some warning that measures would be taken to ensure people don’t go out so much. We stocked up on fruit & vegetables in addition to all the dry goods I’d already purchased last week.

Well, whatever flu it was, the end result was that after a couple of days of suffering through it and taking various medications prescribed by our family doctor, my mother-in-law developed severe nausea, weakness and fainting spells. All signs of dehydration/electrolyte imbalance. We had to admit her to hospital, because despite taking electrolytes, her sodium levels had fallen so much and her stomach issues were not getting under control either, meaning she could barely eat.

Luckily my husband and I recovered without the need for any medication, but it’s been a trying week for everyone nonetheless. I stayed with her at the hospital for the 3 nights she was there and only made the occasional trip back home during the day to pick up clothes, toiletries, and stock up on whatever food items I hadn’t purchased yet before we got ill.

Thankfully things have calmed down at home, somewhat. My mother-in-law was allowed to leave the hospital day before yesterday. Right in time for our city’s strict lockdown (in force since yesterday). And as of midnight, the entire country is locked down for the next 21 days, not just select cities/districts. Only essential services are exempt; that means medical, fire/police, people who work for utilities (water/electric), select public servants, select food vendors and that’s it! I understand a lot of people all over the world are facing lockdown scenarios of various types, but we’re currently facing one of the strictest type except for China.

No leaving the house. Period.

No grocery trips. No work. No walks. Nothing. Police are strictly inforcing the lockdown, and even at times arresting people they find outside who doesn’t have special permission. A plan has been proposed to get food and medicines delivered home, but so far I’m not seeing practical evidence of it in our neighbourhood. There is no such thing as takeout food or online shopping anymore since Sunday. If anyone doesn’t know how to cook, now’s the time to turn to youtube and learn!

We have to make do with whatever we’ve got in the house until the systems are set up.

The outside world is quiet, except for the birds you normally can’t hear over all the noise, and the occasional barking dog. All of yesterday, maybe half a dozen cars passed by outside, presumably the doctors and other essential workers who live on our street, who are still on duty throughout all of this. Other than that, it’s been eerily quiet. If you’ve ever visited India, you’ll know what I mean when I say that silence in this country is normally hard to come by.

Despite all these limitations, we’re still staying positive and carrying on with life as much as possible.

I’m thankful that my mother-in-law is feeling better, and despite everything we still managed to stock up on food and medication last week. I can tell you I feel a whole lot less guilty about buying additional supplies now that we’re cooped up in the house for the foreseeable future. We’ll be fine for these 21 days, even if the home delivery grocery plan fails. Sure, we’ll start to miss fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy, but we won’t go hungry for quite a while. I hope the poor and those people who do not have a big stock of food for whatever reason manage to get what they need from the government.

All we can do is sit tight, enjoy family time, read (write!), play some boardgames, and wait for the proverbial shit storm to blow over. I try not to think about how all of this is affecting the economy, or if 21 days is going to be enough to stop the spread of the virus. These are not things I can affect in any way, so why waste time fretting about it now?

Are you also facing a lockdown? Do let me know how you’re coping, or if you just want to vent, that’s also fine. It’s a tough time for us all, but I think it helps to reach out and talk about it. If you feel like emailing me instead of commenting publicly, you can do so at info@lmoone.com.

Take care and all the best!

Lorelei