I’ve heard that when alcoholics stop drinking for a while and then start up again, they don’t start over. Their bodies just pick right up where they left off, with black out binges right on day one.
I think the same thing may be true of mental breakdowns.
I got rid of nearly everything that was drowning me, pushing me down into the dark, muddy water: the company, the employees, the clients, the fear of financial ruin. I spent months doing nothing but sleeping. And it worked. My dangerously high cortisol levels plunging me into adrenal failure dropped back to high normal.
But now I’m back in the world, working through the business transition and it’s already paralyzing me. I can’t even look at my email or my calendar. I don’t want to have another conference call or discussion or meeting. I just want everyone to leave me alone all of the time.
There’s this scene in The Best Awful, one of Carrie Fisher’s novelizations of her real-life struggles with manic depression. In the scene, she’s in a mental institution after a psychotic break and she’s supposed to cut pictures out of a magazine and make a collage. And although she recognizes this is something that a child could do, her brain is unable to make sense of anything. She knows the photos have meaning and some of them have words on them, but she can’t connect the dots. All she feels is hopeless. The task is too hard.
I know that all I have to do is sit at this computer and answer email. Write software specs. Put together a marketing plan. Whatever. These are all easy things to do. I have done them all so many times that I could do them in my sleep. And yet I can’t do any of them at all. I can’t even sleep.
And I feel like a failure as a person. Because I just want to let it all go. Watch it burn.