My world has become very small, and I like it that way.
But nobody needs to be concerned about me going off the deep end right now. Really, I'm fine. I've been feeling awful physically due to treatment, but I'm not going to go off the deep end--that is, unless another person tries to tell me what I should or shouldn't be doing. In that case, I may just turn off my phone and computer and become even more reclusive than I already am :)
It's been a rough last couple of weeks, with my bad moments far outnumbering my good ones. Luckily, I have the luxury of sleeping whenever I choose. (Well, I can't always fall asleep when I choose, but I can at least lay in bed with my kitties and listen to what's become a non-stop torrent of rain, while attempting to reach a state of unconsciousness.)
I think I'm about six weeks into treatment (although things like counting and keeping track of dates can be a challenge). The side effects just keep getting worse with time. Nobody told me when I started this process, "Each week will get progressively worse until you reach week __ at which point you'll start to feel relief." Well, fill in that blank with at least a number six, and hopefully not much higher of a number, because this is pretty rough right now.
I've attempted very few social outings recently, with good reason. Socializing is incredibly difficult for me right now. Both my brain and body are as weak as ever, but my brain is suffering the majority of the ill effects. With heavy brain fog, new dyslexic tendencies, difficulty speaking aloud, chronic headaches, heightened anxiety, and inability to focus on topics (such as conversation), I wouldn't exactly say I'm in prime shape for social fraternization. So I limit it to texting, short phone calls, and laid back, less frequent outings.
As I've been telling people of these struggles recently, I've raised a few eyebrows: "You write fine, though. We can't tell you're struggling with communication." I don't know how else to explain it than to tell them that writing is an entirely different feat than talking.
For one, I can pause as often as I want when I type. (Imagine me pausing a lot in speech. It's awkward.) Also, when I type the incorrect word, as I often do, the backspace key is available.
Then there's the whole physical act of speech. Anyone who's remotely familiar with speech pathology will tell you that verbalizing a thought is a different physiological act than writing a thought. Since I'm not a speech expert, I can't get into the technical explanation of why typing certain words is far easier than saying them aloud, but there's an absolute physical mechanism that drives the distinction of these varying forces.
We can take the speech issue even further by dividing it between talking on the phone and talking in person. Talking on the phone is easier because I don't have to look someone in the eye or make facial expressions to communicate. Those two things are challenging right now because the parts of my brain that mobilize communication nuances (eyesight, facial expression) are under attack, big-time.
Normally vivacious, outgoing, and socially unabashed, you can imagine that if I were to face a social task as trying as a job interview while in my current state, I would come across as none of those things. I'd be disconnected, awkward, unavailable and aloof. Yes, it's a really rough week. I hope this passes soon.
Yesterday I attempted a few hours with my closest girlfriend. Since she knows me better than most of my friends--not to mention is naturally gifted with a talent of keen intuition and sensitivity--she was able to note within minutes that I was far from my normal self. She said I seemed nervous, that I talked differently, and even that I "look[ed] like a different person."
Yeah. There's a war going on in my body. It's taken over Leila, and Leila is temporarily missing.
Another friend expressed her concern that, since I'm not employed, I will become depressed. Her implication is that I have too little to do, and this lack of "work" will affect my mood. While I appreciate her clear concern and care, I know she can't begin to understand where I'm coming from. I wish there was a way I could make her understand that I have far more work than I can handle right now, and even though I'm supposed to be destressing, I'm still overwhelmed and stressed more than she could know.
I can't imagine actually working right now, because my attention span is so short, and I feel random bouts of unpredictable illness that render me dysfunctional. But, I still stay busy in many ways:
Any housewife can tell you there's always laundry to be done, dishes in the sink, floors to be swept, and surfaces to scrub. And any pet owner will tell you there are always hungry mouths to be fed, litter boxes to scoop, pet hair to get off furniture, and messes to be cleaned up. These daily tasks honestly take a lot of my time and energy (but, of course, not all of it).
I've also been dealing with my insurance company, filing claims and paying numerous bills that relate to my Lyme disease tests. As a homeowner without roommates, it seems like I'm always doing something relating to home ownership as well, whether related to the financial aspect or the labor of upkeeps themselves.
On the fun side, I've put countless hours into my back yard, landscaping it and planting new flowers and trees. And I'm still practicing music with my band mates a few times a month. That gets me out of the house and requires me to focus, and singing is therapeutic.
And I've been cooking, which requires grocery shopping, meal planning, and lots of labor and clean-up. Three meals a day, and snacks to eat with my pills so I've never got an empty stomach.
And I still have boxes from my move (last October) that require finding places for the useless crap I've accumulated over the years (half of it is going to charity), but the organizational process is exhausting nonetheless.
And I contacted a cat rescue and had them pick up a stray living in my yard (she went to a great home).
And I'm trying to get out for walks when it's not raining.
And to keep updating my Facebook page (one of the few places where I "socialize" with friends and acquaintances).
And I'm making trips to the post office.
And taxes had to get done.
And at the end of the day, I may or may not lay on the couch and watch a TV show. Or read a book.
And spend hours trying to fall asleep.
So, dear friends, do not worry that I will become depressed out of not working enough. My To-Do list is full and has overflowed onto the back side of the page.
If there's any reason I'd become depressed, it's if this misery drags on for so long that I forget what it's like to feel any semblance of health.
Indeed, I'm keeping my circle of friends smaller these days. I'm a far cry from the social butterfly I was in my early twenties. It's much easier to stay close to the few that understand why I won't be drinking a beer or a glass of wine, or attending parties, or going on trips with them to Tahoe or Vegas, or following up on job leads they're emailing me. I appreciate that all these things come from good places and kind hearts, but none of it is possible right now. Nope, not even a glass of wine.
My house, my cats and my yard make me feel relaxed and safe, and that's all I need right now. I just need to get through this phase.