It’s October 2018 and I’m cold, laying on a futon in Crown Heights, trying to go to sleep. I’m uncomfortable because the futon has yet to be built that is amazing to sleep on. Futons fails as sofas and as beds. They’re sort of mediocre at everything but they get the job done.
But it’s not even the futon. It’s my feet. They’re freezing. I do the internal two-step of, “Fix the problem,” and “You can tough it out,” that I do when I’m exhausted.
And then this voice comes in that isn’t mine:
“Take care of yourself, dummy! Survive, goddamnit!”
It was so convincing I only needed to be told once. I put socks on. I fell asleep.
The voice visited me for the first time when I was in seventh grade. Life was no bueno. And I was an avid atheist. I was ruminating in English class about whatever the mean girls had said or done that day and the voice just said, “Don’t worry about what they think.”
It was pretty remarkable.
Now, the voice has never said anything harmful. And it’s only happened a handful of times that I can definitely recognize.
I miss it right now. I’m doing the things to get better. I sometimes forget that my job right now is to let my brain heal and I think I’m being lazy or wasting time. But these things you can’t force.
It’s just not so easy to take things slow all the time when I want to be doing more just for the sake of doing. If I did more right now, I might burn out and be incapable over the long term. I have to recover before I can do better. With intention.
The voice, whether it is divine inspiration or just the part of me that is my internal parent, I don’t know. There are lots of things I might never have answers to. Humility is hard for a nerd to grapple with.
Today I watched a Sapolsky lecture on depression.
I learned about prolactin, heme oxygenase, glucocorticoids, and Substance P. Stress is the enemy. Stress leads to inflammation, rashes (currently covered in one), lowered immunity, aging, and neurodegeneration. It’s a vicious circle.
So many lessons to learn so I can teach them to others. It’s time for a nap.