Well it finally happened: I had a day so bad it pretty much completely incapacitated me for about 48 hours. I could only barely remember who I was or where I was. I wasn’t able to read or even really talk.
It’s the first time a day that bad has happened in, well, at least a year I suppose but probably a lot closer to two. My biggest feeling when I have days that bad is just shame. It’s embarassing that I can lose a couple of days due to my brain just completely breaking down. I’ve kept enough written work lately that I don’t think I’m going to get completely derailed by it but at the same time in the past roughly week and a half I’ve been barely functional. It’s slowed me down a lot, and only just now am I hitting a point where I think I can pull myself back together. The whole thing would have probably been over faster if I’d just taken the time to rest when it first happened, but basically as soon as I was even partially functional again I started pushing and pushing and pushing. I then ended up completely grinding to a halt a couple of days ago. I nearly started smoking again and I’m honestly shocked that I managed to not do so. I think the only thing that saved me was knowing that if I was dealing with too much to feel like I could handle life without nicotine, then I sure as hell wasn’t going to have the strength to handle all of this plus nicotine withdrawal which meant that my fantasy of “I’ll just have a couple of cigarettes today as an exception” was completely unrealizable.
These crashes happen. They happen less often but they still happen. They probably will happen for the rest of my life to some degree. That’s the fun burden I get to carry for being mentally disabled. On the other hand, what is changing is my ability to recognize them for what they are and then take steps to deal with them. For example, I had the other lecturer substitute in for my class today. In the end, it wasn’t a big deal for him and it’s not going to be a big deal for the students who get the material either way, but it was a huge deal for me because the past several days I was, shall we say, going to do serious damage to myself if I continued pushing without rest. Over the past weekend, I had falled into the trap that has beset me for most of my life. The less functional I become, the harder I push myself to work without taking any rest. In the end, of course, you get less done when you’re pushing that hard and not taking breaks, but when I get into that state of mind then I can’t imagine doing anything except pushing. I’m not allowed to ask for help, I’m not allowed to show weakness, I’m supposed to hide the illness as much as possible. After all, that’s what I did for the majority of my existence.
In the end, though, I actually managed to ask for help and get the reprieve I needed to be up on my feet again. That’s a big improvement over years past and, I think, means that things really have significantly gotten better. Other people are allowed to call in sick when there’s something wrong, but it’s strange and profound to realize I can actually do the same thing.