But I digress.
Now that I'm finished rTMS treatment, I've started back at work full-time, though admittedly without the ability to control all metal objects in my vicinity with magnetic superpowers like I was promised.
I was thinking about it on the way to the train Monday morning, and I realized this would be my first five-day work week since I went into hospital in January. I was nervous, to be sure, but also excited. Not disabled any more!!! I felt like shouting! Of course, that would entail that people in my office knew why I'd been out...presumably they've been thinking I was kidnapped by aliens?
The week seemed especially long and insurmountable from the perspective of Monday because I knew I'd be working late on Friday, every week, to make up the time I miss on Tuesday to go to my psychologist appointments. I discussed taking the time unpaid, but my manager made it subtly clear that it was either the opportunity to give the time back every week or using up vacation time. Given that I've spent, like, twelve weeks on sick leave this year (holy crap!!), this seemed fair.
I was all set to make this a post about look how awesome I am, I'm completely better, I went back to work full-time and it was great! There are ways that this is true: I was tired, but it was a normal tired. I'm moving at a normal speed. I'm making good production statistics in my data handling jobs, and I didn't do too badly my first day back on the industrial scanning machine. I was all like I am a success story!! Haha psychiatrists who thought I was pinning too much hope on neuromodulation! I was still having mood fluctuations, but I was so, so much better.
This is true.
But there are ways that this is not true.
Today was my second day using the scanner this week, and my day started out poorly. I had an insurmountable system error at the first machine I tried to work at, and I couldn't manage to fix it using the process notes. In the end, I had to change machines and ended up beginning to scan late. As I tried over and over to fix my machine, I felt like putting my head down on the desk and weeping, or walking out the door and never coming back. The machine I moved to is not built for someone as small as I am, so I couldn't reach anything. The stacker door slammed on my hand as I was retrieving a document that got lodged in the gears of the machine. Everything was slowing me down, and I knew I'd never make my production target for the day. I was near hysterical tears. I was all like, everything was going so well, and I'm messing it all up, with my moods and my failures. I was thinking, thank goodness I have those xacto knives in my bag, I can go slice up my arms during lunch, or maybe I'll wait until I get home where all my bandaids are, because I shouldn't get blood on people's documents.
And I was thinking, why aren't I better?
I've always been...something of an extreme person when it comes to myself. I'm very forgiving and flexible with other people, compassionate even, but I just can't tolerate my own failures and weakness. Maybe because I just have so darn many of them. I need to be the fastest, the smartest, the best. And, for a lot of my life, I have been. I expect nothing less than perfection. And isn't my recovery just one more thing to be perfect about, all in one swift go? I want a gold star on my exam, goddamit!
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's not all one thing or another, but a shading and blending of both. I am a lot better. The right treatment has broken depression's crushing grip and I feel like I can breathe again. I am better. But I'm still fragile. My emotions are out of kilter. Sometimes things are too bright, and I feel that edge that comes on when everything is going too fast, when I'm thinking too fast, and moving too fast, and I feel like any moment it's going to spin out of my grasp in a million different directions, and all I want is to stand still.
I've been sick for at least twelve years. I've accumulated ways of thinking and behaviors that are fundamentally maladapted to living a healthy life. I'm not sure I know how to live a healthy life. There are things I need to learn, and things I need to unlearn, and it's going to be a lot of work, and take a lot of patience, and demand a self-compassion that I still need to discover. I am finally in a place where I am well enough to start doing that work, instead of just treading water or trying to dig myself out of crisis.
Just because I almost burst out crying at my work station doesn't mean I am not better. It doesn't mean I should give up on moving toward wellness. In the end, no one else could fix the machine either, and my manager had me switch stations with somebody taller so I wouldn't hurt myself. My day got better, and so did my mood. I left the office exhausted and hopeful.
I am frightened by how much I'm affected when things go wrong. By how fragile my mood is, by how weak and vulnerable I feel. And that's okay. It doesn't mean I'm hopelessly sick. It means I'm human.
And there is so much more that I can grow.