This last Sunday I failed to write a single word of my ongoing novel. After a while I gave up and spent the rest of that day playing a board game. I also failed to write on Monday, then again on Tuesday. Although I started my current contract, which will last until October, merely three weeks ago, I’m struggling with the exhaustion and dizziness that ten hours or so a day of surrounding myself with sentient creatures causes to my broken brain.
I’m someone whose instincts and particular neurological configuration require him to spend as much time as possible alone in a quiet room, but I have to wake up at six in the morning, plough through my ruined town to the train station, sit among dozens of commuters, then take a bus and stand among dozens of commuters so I can reach the hospital complex where I work at. Usually by the time I get to the office I’m already overwhelmed. I don’t drive (can’t drive, actually), so I have no choice but to take the public transport.
I usually read on the train, but for two days I had given up on doing so, and instead I closed my eyes and listened through my earbuds to a MP3 (ripped from YouTube) of a torrential storm while I tried to lose myself in daydreams. It didn’t help that recently I had been struggling to get through a collection of stories by David Foster Wallace, that involved sifting through innumerable details and getting little enjoyment, but I didn’t feel like reading anything else either.
This week started with me suffering another migraine; at about nine in the morning on Monday I experienced the common symptom of losing sight in my left eye and becoming increasingly unable to understand whatever I needed to read for my job. Thankfully I always carry some ibuprofen with me, but I still struggled through the visual disturbance (a floating multicolored rod in the left side of my vision) for half an hour, and the resulting headache lasted a couple of days as a throbbing discomfort in the right side of my brain. Whenever I endure a migraine, afterwards I get the feeling that I’ve become a bit dumber. Apparently migraines can also “increase the risk of stroke, coronary events, and other related death by roughly 50%”, so that’s some wonderful stuff to look forward to.
I didn’t want to give up on the current scene of my novel for a fourth day, but yesterday I only managed to progress three or four sentences. However, I struggled so much to put them together that I considered the effort a success, so I gave myself a break and moved on to play another scenario of my ongoing Arkham Horror campaign. I had only finished setting up all the moving pieces and drawing the initial hand for my lead investigator when I felt like I was facing the prospect of clambering up a mountain slope. I wasn’t feeling any enthusiasm, let alone joy. I suddenly understood the whole picture of my recent symptoms (persistent brain fog, increased difficulty interacting with people even to the restrained level that I force myself to, lethargy that made me feel like I was dragging my body around, crushing exhaustion, constant irritability, a dull ache in my chest, ghost-like cold flashes): I must be depressed.
These periods, whenever they get serious, may last a few weeks during which I can do little else than sit tight in my head and get used to the dark. Back when I was blissfully unemployed, I could have just hidden under a blanket and tried to convince myself that I had successfully disappeared from reality, but today I had no choice but to wake up before sunrise and try to prepare myself mentally to endure through another meaningless workday.
Yesterday, at about half past one in the afternoon, I had donned my lab coat and headed to solve someone’s problem (I can’t recall what was that particular issue, but I retain very little of what I do, to the extent that I don’t remember the circumstances that led me to write the notes I rely on to solve many recurrent problems; I’m quite sure that life-long depression is linked to memory loss). Anyway, I was waiting for the elevator when someone asks me, loudly, “what’s the matter, Jon?” from nearly the other end of that long hospital hallway. It was our secretary, whom I suspect had been standing there for a while looking at me as these nasty humans do, waiting for the other person to notice them and acknowledge their existence.
I have no idea what I was doing at that moment that prompted the look of concern in that woman, but I had believed myself to be isolated from anyone who knows me, so I had dropped my hypervigilance. My body may have been busy with the stuff it does when I lose focus: idling in circles like the autistic spaz that I am, grimacing and rubbing my face to dispel whatever flashback to a past trauma with which my brain assailed me, or who knows what else. Although I was wearing a mask (I’m forced to breathe in my CO2 throughout most of the workday), I must have looked troubled (or troubling) enough, given that the secretary went out of her way to voice her concern.
Anyway, I dismissed her nosiness with some measured response, then I got on the elevator. When I returned to the office fifteen or so minutes later, she eyed me as if she intended to bring it up, but I ignored her and walked past. Thankfully she must have gotten the right idea, because this morning she greeted me normally.
Sometimes I feel some coworker’s gaze on me, and I can tell that they are expecting me to look up and acknowledge them, usually to hear them say “what’s up” or make some pointless comment. I guess that most human beings want others to pay attention to them even just to find some semblance of moral support to whatever minor issue they are dealing with (am I doing that now, although I feel like I’m just writing to order my thoughts?), or just because they are bored. However, whenever anyone demands my attention through insistent staring, I’m tempted to snap at them, ask them what the fuck do they want, and tell them to leave me alone. I’m the kind of person that in some previous century would have been employed at an isolated lighthouse (hopefully one unrelated to Robert Eggers), where I’d do little else than daydream, masturbate and go insane. I really can’t handle people. I’m only willing to interact with them in a controlled environment (online messages, mostly), but being physically in their presence makes my skin crawl and forces me into a state of constant alertness and anxiety.
In summary, I’m not doing good at the moment. I want to go to sleep for a long, long time.