Some days I’m okay. I can wake up, interact with other people just fine. Socialise normally. Work normally. Power through life. Go out drinking like the old days. And then there are the other days. Where I forget what normal is. Or rather I’d forgotten that normal for me is none of the above.
I walk into the kitchen. I know I’ve come in there for a reason. But cannot fathom what that was. I yawn. My right hand shakes. I’m used to it. And the breathlessness. A slight cough. Nothing sinister. I used to breeze through these small coughs, especially as a smoker. But it feels like every cough is dwindling my valuable oxygen. Like an astronaut counting down their precious supply, the Hans Zimmer score rising to a crescendo of tension.
Why was I in the kitchen again?
My eyes are tired. Focusing can be hard. And sometimes my pupils make funny shapes. Adjusting between light and dark can be difficult. A sudden flash of light whilst in a dark room can be blinding and trigger a migraine. When I walk into a dark space it can take minutes for my eyes to adjust. Sometimes they don’t.
On days like today my brain feels like a saturated sponge. It tries to absorb new information - respond to various stimuli - but it can’t. The information just rushes off in droplets, their only legacy is the added sense of frustration that there was something I was supposed to do; an email I had meant to send, a job I had promised someone, a bill to pay, some wet clothes to hang up.
Work can be tough at times. Especially when I’m running on empty. I’m grateful that I only work 4 days a week. There are so many distractions (I work on The Internet, after all) but also lots of notifications. Emails; conversations and private messages on Slack; alerts that a server has fallen over. A client emails with a problem - I get asked to quote how long it would take to fix it. I hedge a bet. I’m pretty good at guessing. Fortunately.
Some days I can’t even work seated. I lie in bed or on the sofa as that seems the only way to get the energy to the surface, like squeezing the last minty hit from an exhausted tube of toothpaste. And I feel like I’m letting everyone down.
And then I forgot what I was working on. I got distracted by a message. Hang up the Washing? No, that was at home. Shit, I didn’t hang up the washing!
To return to space (more Hans Zimmer) this feels like all those bits of detritus that orbit the earth. Clusters of space shit. Most of us are facing in the right direction with shields up for this barrage of debris. We just see the shimmering bits of light as gravity and friction causes them to beautifully combust into infinitesimally smaller pieces. A kaleidoscope of yellows, reds and oranges against the stark, dark blackness of space.
On days like today my shields are down. The bombardment of information, noises, sounds, requests, demands and messages is too much. I can’t drown it out. So my mind shuts down. And then my body.
Sometimes it's the other way round. It might be an infection or a bug. Or I overdo it. A pint too many out with friends. A mile too long on the dog walk. An errand more than I should have. It doesn’t matter whether it starts with the mind or the body. The outcome is the same.
Shutdown. A frustrated passenger in a body that will not function like you want it to. It moves slowly. It overreacts to stimuli. And once again there I am standing in the kitchen. Forgetting what I walked in for.
Ah yes, the washing machine. The cycle is complete. It makes a vague robotic attempt at music to signal it has finished. It’s no Hans Zimmer but it proves a very helpful reminder. Thanks Bosch washing machine. I thought I was losing my mind for a moment there.