It’s easy for people to understand the flu. You get a fever, chills, headache, maybe some nausea. You ache. You feel like “death warmed over,” as an old boyfriend used to say. Concessions are made – “She can’t make it,” “She isn’t feeling up to it,” “She’s sick.”
But why are we not as accommodating when the cause of illness is mental?
Two weeks ago was a perfect storm for me. First I had “This is My Brave,” an amazing opportunity to speak my truth – but that meant getting up and talking about the day I tried to kill myself to an audience of nearly 400 strangers. For someone who deals with not only bipolar disorder but also OCD and, in this case, especially anxiety, it was hard.
A couple days after my return home from D.C. was “Pukefest 2014.” It started with Sammy, my boyfriend’s dog, puking all over the house. Then my dog, Hope, puking after drinking the leftover milk from my Lucky Charms. Then me puking up the Lucky Charms because of cleaning up her puke. Obviously, not a great day in the Martin-Boyfriend household.
Next up was a doctor visit in which I was given some new diagnoses. Some labs ordered. An ultrasound scheduled. Not good. None of it good.
Finally – it was kiddo weekend. The every other weekend when my boyfriend’s children come to stay with us. Plus the additional two neighbor kids. Not to sound old-fashioned, but I was at my wit’s end.
So I packed up my bag and my car and my dog and headed to North Carolina – a four hour drive from where I live – to be with my parents.
I am lucky. I am at liberty to take mental vacations where I distract myself by moving couches from one house to another (my parents are in the process of moving). I can fall asleep to the hum of the window air conditioner. I can pretend everything is going to be okay.
I don’t “do” stress. I can’t. I get depressed like I was two Fridays ago or I do manic, which I thankfully haven’t done in years. God gave me many talents but none of them are being able to handle a stressful situation.
My physical health is at the forefront of my mind and I promise to keep you posted, but I just wanted to say that it is okay to be mentally not okay. It is okay to take a day – or a week – to regroup. Distract or focus. Whatever feels right to you.
Thank you for giving me a week to regroup. I’m back now and I can’t wait to hear from you.
Photo credit: Julie Fischer McCarter of Shoot Photo Inc.