For weeks, I haven’t felt quite right. It isn’t physical; my health continues to improve and I am still dedicated to the concept of food as medicine. But something has been off.
I’ve had more blah days than I typically do. Everyone has some sometimes. I’m not saying my blah days were happening every day or even every week. I just noticed a little bit of an increase and I am sensitive to that because, in the past I have struggled with depression. So, I am always checking in on myself in that area because if I felt that awful thing creeping back like ivy one tries to kill, I would take action immediately this time instead of waiting for that horrible ivy to cover my house and windows. That happened once and it was because I didn’t know what to look for inside myself and so I only noticed once I metaphorically looked out of my windows and saw only green and was completely closed in. Never again.
But there was just a slight increase in those blah days. Slight but noticeable.Then there was the DIY Storage Boxes. It is not a difficult project. I recommend it if it is your style.
But I could not get the lines straight enough. I did them over and over again and it had nothing to do with the “look of things for the blog” issue some people have. The lines were straight enough. I knew it. The pictures did not lie. And yet…
I went so far as to buy another set of boxes (and I am on an extreme budget). I admitted this to a dear friend and sent her pictures. Meanwhile, even as she asked me, then told me to stop, I kept painting.
It felt like a compulsion. *I am not claiming to have OCD, although it does run in my family. Also I have never been diagnosed with OCD. I want to be extremely clear on that not because there is any shame in OCD or any mental illness whatsoever but because I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one and I just think clarity is good when discussing things like this* But in my life, beginning in my teenage years (maybe younger? I don’t remember specific actions), compulsive behaviors were happening and they were a lot more harmful to myself than painting lines on boxes. Doctors were involved (I am not ashamed of therapy or psychiatry in any way…or in my case the combination of both) and they thought that these behaviors were a response to the crisis I was in at the time which, considering the crisis, made perfect sense.
But maybe the need for a compulsive behavior to cope never stopped. Maybe eating for comfort was one too. And others. I’m not sure on that. I do know the whole “straight line” type of issues became worse once I began food as medicine, which could be a coincidence. I am not sure.
I am sure that I kept repainting those lines. I am sure that I put them on my tall bookshelf, took a picture of them, sent it two close friends in a group text (where would we be without group texts?) and said, “I have to fix the lines; they are not straight.” To be clear, they weren’t. But they were straight enough. I knew this. My friends knew this. In fact, one of them may have used capital letters when she told me not to even think of touching them.
So obviously I climbed on to a step ladder with black paint and a brush in my hand (to be clear, my apartment has a lot of white in it was so not the wisest thing to do but I had to fix it…) and painted them again. The only way I was able to stop was because I told myself I would live with them for a month to six weeks and then fix them again. My dear friend who is reading this did not know that is how I stopped (until now) and is pulling out her phone to text me, “If you touch those boxes one more time, I will hurt you” right now. Then there was the sleeping.
I have never been a great sleeper (I’m talking since childhood) and symptoms of my illness make it harder. But it is imperative for my illness that I sleep. Because of that, I do take something to help me sleep (for the record, I take it once lights are out and my phone is on the floor because my charger is actually only six inches long–it’s ridiculous–and doesn’t reach my bed anyway…I just need disclaim this). For a week, I got three hours or less of sleep. Normally, if this happens even for single night, it affects my illness and takes me out of the game for the next day. I should have been celebrating because it didn’t make things worse.
Celebrating is not what happened. Instead, I felt like I was on extreme uppers (I wasn’t), as if my blood was pure adrenaline. The closest thing to it is when I took a caffeine pill to stay awake the night before a calc final in high school and thought my heart was just going to beat out of my chest.
Obviously, this sleep thing meant I was not myself. I was like a frisky, yapping dog that will not stop barking. I could not stop talking and talking fast. I could not remember details; I really struggled with memory (which is something I am usually excellent at to the point of it being kind of scary).
That’s how I went into the Influence Conference where I would be meeting new people and people I only knew through the internet.
If you’ve never been to a conference like this, I have to tell you, since I have been to quite a few between college and working for a student ministry for a time: they are physically exhausting (the schedule is packed because you want to get your time and money’s worth) and emotionally draining (and I don’t mean that in a negative way…there is just a lot of emotion that is brought up inside of you and around you constantly…you are asked to dig deep).
I wish I could tell you I pulled together.
I am great at pulling it together. Ask the people who know me best. I can be a hot mess and still kill a job interview. And yet…
This time my own strength failed me and I was a yapping, frisky dog that could not stop barking. I talked too loud (this is not to say I am quiet generally but this was outrageous), too quickly (when I could remember what I was saying), and too much. I could not make myself shut up no matter how much I really, truly wanted to be silent. Guys, I wanted to shut up so badly! I was forgetful to the point that Bex (who has spent nine straight days with me) noticed and said something to me about it.
I could not be normal Nina (who may not be chill but certainly is not all of that).
It wasn’t an act. I wish it was because then I could have stopped it. It was a combination of lack of sleep, lack of self care leading up to the conference, and the stress because somehow the recovering part in the label recovering perfectionist slipped away at some point in recent weeks or possibly months.
I’m not someone who edits myself to be liked or goes to things like this and worries: will they like me? beforehand. I know people who do struggle with this and it’s not to say I don’t have insecurities but I want you to know this about me so you know this whole thing is out of the ordinary and weird and is not in my imagination or coming from a place of insecurity.
This time though, I was mortified. I wanted to hide under blankets until this manic version of myself left. I wanted people to know the real me (and this is not all in my head folks…comments were made by new people that just confirmed what I already knew…One very sweet and cool girl who I really enjoyed sat next to me one night and the next day the seats were set so she would be sitting next to me again and I overheard her say that she needed to move because she is easily distracted…She was going to move six seats down from me so I could not distract her…She also may be reading this so for the record I in no way blame her. I get it. She was one of few people who confirmed what I knew already). Bex, one of my roommates, knew something was off. Even the roommate I knew least going into the conference did not get to see the real me. She just did not meet Nina B. Period.
I wish I could tell you the real me showed up before the weekend ended. I wish that was how this story ended.
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