An experiential trip about writing with invisible disabilities under COVID-19 lockdown
My brain feels like it's throbbing. No, literally, it feels like my frontal lobes are throbbing in time with my heartbeat. Migraines suck. The rest of my head feels like I'm wearing a helmet made out of pain.
This is how I know I am coming awake since I sleep with an eye mask to block out light. It helps some in cutting out light-induced eye strain. I feel like my spirit is returning to inhabit my body after being away while I slept. That would explain some of the things I remember after I wake up. If I try to get out of bed and start moving too soon, I'm like a marionette with cut strings.
So, I lie here, head throbbing, just breathing. I take stock of my body and see if it's going to be a painful start to the day. It usually is.
But what time is it? Have I been asleep for minutes, hours, or days? With the way time is flowing these days, I can never tell until I take off the mask and look at my watch or phone to see the time. But I can tell right away if it's night or day by the sky outside the window. Right now, it's night, and I feel my wife sleeping next to me. Quietly, gently, I steal out of bed so I don't wake her.
I stumble down the stairs, arthritic knees feeling like they're rusted in position. Getting old is hell and the fuzzy thinking that comes with migraines makes it all the worse. Maybe tonight, though, I will be able to cut through it enough to put words to paper in a sensible order. I hope so because the forced isolation of being at high risk should I catch this damned virus is helping my anxiety spiral out of control.
Thoughts circle round and round in my head. The same ones, more snippets than full thoughts, to be honest, whisper vicious lies into my brain. "There's no point in anything you do" is a big one. Make the mistake of checking my email, which is full of drama. All news of the day since I don't have people who send me email, just mailing lists.
The world is on fire and shouting at the screen doesn't do any good. Facebook? Maybe I can say something smart there. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Shake my head and wonder how the American people got to be so damned stupid. This is not the country that I enlisted to protect, all those years ago.
There's my notebook, on my desk. Part journal, part fantasy, part albatross that I tied around my own neck. I open it to the first clear page and pick up my pen but I can't make myself put pen to paper. The world is on fire and I am a dry pine branch near the flame. I'll burn to ash and cinder at the slightest touch of heat.
There's no point in writing any of that down. Everybody in the world knows this is a dumpster fire, and the American government keeps tossing gasoline onto it. This is worse than the Great Depression, and that was only caused by businesses violating the social contract. Today's reality is much, much worse. Open the economy, people should be willing to die to enrich the business owners.
I hear the morning birds outside the window; where did the last six hours go? How did it get to be civil twilight when it seems like the sky was full dark just moments ago?
But I already know the answer: This is what it's like to have lost hope. At least I haven't eaten everything in the kitchen, though my stomach growls. Maybe I need to go back to bed for a while. Mother of Night, please light my way.
I can tell the time is mid-day since I can see a tiny bit of light through my eye mask. I wait for the blood to start flowing through my limbs and slowly, painfully sit up and look around my room. Everything is just as it was yesterday. And the day before. We should do laundry soon, but what's the point? We probably won't leave the house this week, let alone see anyone.
I stagger down the stairs, grunting in discomfort on every step. "You're up!" she calls from the front room. I walk around the corner and across to the couch to give my beloved wife a kiss.
The clock on the cable box reads 12:48. I am fatigued even as soon as I get out of bed these days. "Anything new or notable on the morning news?" I ask. I don't expect anything of significance. "Anything different from yesterday?"
"The world's on fire, same as yesterday," she says, meeting my eyes. I know that look. She has the same traumatized look I see when I look in the mirror.
"Could be worse," I reply. "Hello, love."
I turn around and walk into the next room where my desk is, piled high with books I mean to read and papers I mean to throw away. "Don't look at Facebook," I tell myself, but I do anyway. Maybe, just maybe, there will be something to lift my spirits. But I don't believe that will happen.
I scroll through a few pages. I click on a few headlines, read the synopses. The world is on fire and nobody has any idea how to put it out. Or, rather, the American people are too damned selfish to do what needs to be done in order to protect themselves and others. "I want what I want, and I want it now!" So, it's worth Grandma's life for you to go out to the bar? Selfish ass.
Close Facebook. It's a real-world Mos Eisley; a wretched hive of scum and villainy. But it's better than 4chan. Glance over at my pile of books to read: some related to my business, one related to a language that I have been telling myself I'll learn for over 20 years. Most about my spiritual paths: lots of Buddhism with some Druidry thrown in for good measure. Too bad the thought of picking one of them up is mentally exhausting.
Did I take my medication last night? Did I take my pills when I woke up? That's the trouble with sleeping a few hours and being awake for a few hours: time loses cohesion before you notice. I'll wait a bit to see if I can tell whether I took them or not. It only takes a couple of hours if I missed a dose.
Open the page that has the writing lectures I'm trying to get through to help me write and click "Play." Whoops, no coffee. Pause, hit the Keurig. There we go. The caffeine should help me concentrate for a while, anyway. Play again.
That video ends, and for the moment, I feel good! I feel like I have a grip on the worry and I feel like I can let some of the emotions out. Distractions off, ambient audio on, hit the Pomodoro timer, let's go!
Will you look at that: words happen. After two Pomodoros, I'm spent. My brain is throbbing again, my thinking is wrapped in cotton wool, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I need to go back to bed. Again.
This is no way to live.