My default emotion for the last while has been a frustrating melding of sadness and anger. Maybe I can blame it on a recent concussion, on simultaneous medication changes, on anxiety, on the major depressive episode from which I can’t seem to emerge, on the headache that almost never eases, on seizures. Maybe it’s the fact that I make crazily ambitious weekly to-do lists then beat myself up when I can’t get through each and every task. Maybe it’s because I’m not making the kind of progress on my dissertation that I would like to. Maybe it’s because I can’t concentrate for more than an hour at a time. Whatever’s causing this crushing sense of impending doom (not to be hyperbolic or anything), I feel kind of sorry for myself. OK, I feel really sorry for myself. And I feel guilty for my self-pity, for being a downer, for not reminding myself that there are children dying and people living in abject poverty and that my life is objectively pretty good despite my various ailments.
Just as the seizure-depression combo was getting bad enough that spending more than a few hours alone had become problematic, I came to British Columbia to stay with my parents for ten days, long enough to finish adjusting to new medications, wallow a little, and get my bearings.
Being here has affirmed a few truths that I typically ignore/deny. First, that admitting that I need to be taken care of—or better, that I need others to facilitate me taking care of myself—doesn’t signify a horrible, irreversible regression. Second, that I have a responsibility to prioritize my physical and mental health over work. Most critically, that there are countless people in my life who genuinely care about me: immediate, extended, and acquired family whose love and tolerance are seemingly boundless, and friends who over the course of the last week and a half have met me for coffee, provided much-needed distraction, and travelled from Seattle and from Vancouver to visit.
So even though being away from my husband has been trying, and even though it’s time to check in with my medical team, this trip has served an important function. I’ll head back to Ontario tomorrow a little more hopeful, a lot more rested, ready to be more honest about the seriousness and implications of my conditions, and recommitted to making the incremental small changes that will build toward bigger positive shifts in my quality of life.