I took a mental health break this week.
I’ve never done that before, but the weirdest thing happened. Like, my body started to shut down. I was exhausted, my bones hurt, I got confused in the grocery store, my anxiety had taken over.
I felt it rumbling around for a while now underneath the surface. Popping out every so often, only for me to squash it down with medication and deep breathing, but there are only so many nights your husband will let you wake him up at 2am to get you through another panic attack, making him promise to wake you up each hour because you have this irrational fear that if he doesn’t, that just once, you won’t wake up at all. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t live it.
It sounds so dramatic and overly theatrical, and it feels that way sometimes in the light of day. Like right now, as I’m typing it thinking, I was sitting in a cold bathtub with all my clothes on last night thinking I was going to die… I sound like such an idiot…
I think of my mind as a fish tank. Most of the time, it’s clean and bubbly and populated with quirky little fish who wax poetic about Steve Martin movies and misuse air quotes. But, if I get distracted, some over-eager kid comes along and dumps the whole container of food in the tank until all the fish die and the glass turns green and murky and the entire thing stinks.
The over-eager kid in that scenario is me, I’m apparently feeling very John Malkvichy with my analogies this morning.
In short, I had taken on too much, not let enough go, and plum dumped all the food in the tank, leaving my brain murky, smelly, and starving for air. Contrary to what the boys may say, ball juggling has never been my thing. I mean, if I toss them around in the air, I might drop them, so I prefer to just grab them and stuff them down the front of my shirt like the lucky bastard who got the chance to stand in that booth in grade school full of dollar bills being whipped around you in a tornado of air. It looked so fun, but the $14 reward was simply not enough justification for me to have my shirt blown up and my chubby stomach and training bra exposed to a gymnasium of my peers, so I sat stoically gripping my spy glasses for the true prize they were.
But, back to my original point, I had become a ball hoarder, and as I excitedly reached for the shiny new, and much larger balls that have been rolled my way recently like some kind of red eyebrow’ed Gollum, my brain went on strike, simply unable to process any new balls with all this crud and algae lying about.
Andy walked in with dinner at 8pm Sunday evening, I told him I was going to rest my eyes for a moment, and I slept until 9am the next day. I woke up, for maybe an hour or two, only to find myself drawn back to my pillow, napping for hours thanks to the help and understanding of people who just knew. The first two days I had racked up 28 hours of sleep. That number ballooned as the week went on, in fact, I don’t think I have ever slept so much, save for maybe in the womb, which I barely remember except for the fact I was at my lowest fighting weight and had remarkable eyelashes.
Yesterday I woke up, showered for the first time in a week, put on a bra with a wire, and went to lunch in public. I ate and laughed and wasn’t consumed with deadlines or how numb my hands were. I didn’t leave my phone in the car, because honestly, not everything has to be a Nelson Mandela level political statement, but I didn’t instagram a single bit of my meal. Take that, millennials.
I also spent the awake parts of my week re-arranging, re-prioritizing and delegating my balls. I’ve made room to focus on the big ones, asked for help with some of the growing ones, and got rid of the smaller ones I held onto out of pride.
I had to concede that there were certain things that I simply couldn’t do myself. Like my own pap smear. Which is good because I have horrible bedside manner.
I learned that I have to say no to the things I’m not passionate about, because I simply don’t have the time or the mental capacity to carry them. But the trade off is worth it for the things I get to say yes, yes, yesssss to.
It’s 9:30 in the morning and I haven’t been this awake in years. Now, who needs a pap smear?
Epilogue by Andy… Being married to Brittany is hard. It’s not because she tells crappy jokes over and over in different voices until you laugh, or because she tries to get me to leave work early when she clogs the toilet. It’s hard to be married to her because she never listens to me and I don’t know how to help her, and when you love someone as much as I love her, feeling helpless about something I don’t understand is the worst feeling there is. I can’t fix her- and when I say that to her- she laughs, shakes her head and says she “prefers to be broken.” I guess part of me does too, because it’s what makes her, her. Our life here is never not crazy or not frustrating or not exciting. If I had a quarter for every time she said “I have the most brilliant idea…,” I’d have the exact same amount of quarters I’d for each time she’s said “thank you staying with me through that.” Then I get the chance to laugh and shake my head- because she doesn’t understand that it’s the easiest decision I get to make all day.