overwhelmed_leadYou ever been absent in your own life?  That’s sort of where I am right now, although I’m hoping things are heading back to tolerable.  This blog, which I think about every day, is really important to me.  I’m not under the illusion that folk check in to consume my (and my co-writers’) every word, but I am so very happy with this tiny corner of the internet we’ve set up and the incredibly cool people who choose to hang out with us.  I know every regular commenter by heart, and I actually do hang onto their words, because it’s sort of like wandering into my favorite cafe and joining my random group of friends who always have the table in the back with the busted seats and it’s our space.  It’s like an awesomely ragtag group of people who are arguing about politics, laughing at a fashion magazine, and comparing oral sex travesties in a raucous manner and there’s always an interesting story to walk into.

So, I’ve basically been absent for six weeks or so, which is my longest “break” from the blog since we started it up.  And, honestly, it’s been both bad and good.  Here’s what’s been up with me:

1)  I got swine flu.  Okay, it wasn’t officially diagnosed, but that’s what I got.  I was exposed to it the weekend of July 4th by a friend who has a fully-functioning immune system (I do not), and about three days later I got sick.  It was undoubtedly the sickest I’ve been in a long time, but I went into work every day because we had a bunch of important meetings and this is not the economy in which I felt I could take a few sick days without imperiling my job.  For whatever reason, I always think of the flu as vomiting/nauseau/diarrhea (incorrect).  Since I didn’t have exactly those symptoms, I didn’t even consider swine flu until I was past the point of contagion and had been dragging my ass into the office every day for almost two weeks.   I went to bed at 8:00 every night and would get up feeling like death even after 11 hours sleep.  By the time it was pointed out to me that I had flu, and I practically crawled to the office of my GP, I was greeted with a sign that said “IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE SWINE FLU GO HOME.” 

I went home, and never got the TamiFlu vaccine, which I should have (a guy in my building who had a cough managed to get his whole family stuck with vaccine).  It was stupid.  I have comforted my colleagues by explaining that, when the next plague comes around (and I believe it will), we will have supersized immune systems now that I’ve taken one for the team.

2)  In the midst of all this, I found out I needed surgery.  Without going into details, it was not a major surgery but it was an emotionally difficult one.  My mother, Kadinsky, and my boyfriend all offered to fly in to hold my hand, and I said it was not necessary (because I am an island, on an island!).   Thankfully, my mom pulled a Mom and insisted.  I think it was the first time I’ve truly been under general anaesthesic (I had a Valium drip when I got my wisdom teeth out that accomplished basically the same thing), but the surgery turned out to be a bigger deal than I wanted to admit.  It went well, and it was the first time I’d seen my mother in seven months.  She was awesome.

3)  Even with the surgery and my mother in town, I took only one day off work.  With typically unfortunate timing, my company decided on a major business development initiative (and the source of those meetings the first week I was sick) that required us all to work extra hours.  I was working until 6:30 pm at the earliest every night, usually later, and this has only let up in the last two weeks.   Anyone who did not participate in this initiative was going to be scrutinized, so I worked as late as I could, came home, heated up dinner, and fell into bed. 

4)  My boyfriend’s best friend got married weekend before last.  I hunted for a dress every weekend (I failed), and helped him with the best man speech.    I flew to Scotland and everything was swallowed by the stress of the wedding.  We were up until 3:00 am the night before putting on the finishing touches.  The wedding itself was a twelve-hour event.  The whole thing was so exhausting that, the day after, my boyfriend finally succumbed to the stress he had been putting off and was sick the next two days with a fever.  I could relate.

5)  A major project at work, which I was getting major kudos for ,as it earned multi-thousand pounds for the company, abruptly turned to shit.  It is such a major project (which I have put a lot of work into), that the sudden failure could cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of business.  This was last week, and I need to find a way to fix it.  I needed to work the weekend before last but could not, because I was at the wedding.  I worked this past Saturday and while I’m feeling calmer, I’m still waking up at 2:30 am evey night with anxiety attacks (weird, because they usually happen at 4:00 am.)    If I could work 20 hours a day with total focus and turn off my email and phone, with no contact from my colleagues, I would be completely in control.  Instead, I spend two to three hours a day answering emails and calls and managing the database, totally outside my actual project work.

overwhelmedIn conclusion:  It’s always everything at once, isn’t it?  I’ll coast along for an unwittingly even-keeled period of time and then BAM!, everything turns to shit in every direction I face.  Besides my mother’s visit, which was so needed it made me feel pathetic, I have failed to speak with friends at home, friends here, or family at all for a good two months. 

Part of it is conscious – if I have nothing good to say, I don’t really want to burden my loved ones with my misery.  That fucking sucks.  I think, secondly, that anyone who knows me at all will say:  “You’re depressed.”  And however true it may be, it implies that I have to do something about it – and there’s nothing to do about it other than get through it.  I’ve been physically and emotionally beaten down these last few weeks, and all I wanted to do is muddle through it.

I think I am, finally, on the far side of the muddle.  I honestly think I’ve been physically ill the last six weeks (with little to no respite), and am starting to feel healthier.  I’m also feeling more clear mentally, less overwhelmed.  Part of it has to do with the weather, which has been sunny and warm – I need sun like I need water, like a PLANT – and part of it is that I moved into a new office, with a window and a door.  It’s taken me five years to get an office with both of these things, and I have been so focused on my work the last two days I’ve actually been enjoying it.

I think this is the most rambling, personal email-ish blog I’ve ever posted (and I want to get back to the more newsy and humorous shit I prefer, as a reader of blogs), but I needed to explain where I’ve been.  For the record, we passed 500,000 hits last month, and that blows my mind.  It’s only a decent blog because we have such fucking awesome people who comment – while I love posting, it’s the responses that make it worthwhile.  It’s that we have a dialogue here, and input from such smart, interesting people.  I needed these few weeks off, not because I wanted them, but because this has been a bit of a hard time and rest has been tantamount – it’s been one of those day-to-day survival periods.  I’m just so happy I have something to come home to!