I have a very close friend named Marta who is a psychologist. Marta always spoke about a person’s emotional state as if it is all mapped out, all charted. If she heard somebody describe their thoughts, feelings, anxieties, fears, shame or guilt – she always had a quick response. Her words were along the lines of reassuring the person that what they were going through was very normal. Then she would tell them that they were at a certain stage, in what sounded like some kind of emotional choreography.
I have had friends who suffered with all types of depression and other emotionally related “disorders”, if that’s the correct term. I have worked with patients with very severe mental and emotional illness. I have seen a lot. I have also seen a marvellous amount of recovery. But I have never fully been able to get on board with the way Marta described things. She definitely seemed to reassure people though, and helped them feel they could win their battles.
I would like to talk to Marta about my feelings at the moment. She is a very reassuring person. She has a very strong character. She imparts strength in her words. She would tell me I am doing very well, that I am on course emotionally. She would explain to me which “stage” I am in dealing with loss and disappointment. She would describe to me what to expect and not to be afraid when it comes.
I have had some challenges in recent years to deal with, and I feel I know myself better emotionally after what I have been through in the past. At the moment I am incredibly tired. I do believe a lot of that has to do with my emotions. However, I am not actually feeling strong emotions at the moment. Instead there is a numbness. I feel a little bit like I am floating along and going through the motions. I am not taking in much of what is happening around me. I am in my own little world. It will pass. I can sense that there is a lot of hurt and a huge sense of disappointment behind the numbness, but for now the numbness is perhaps protecting me. I don’t know.
Even today, which was lovely, I know it was very pleasant. But it washed over me. I wasn’t fully there. The cake I ate was moist and sweet and had all the signs of being delicious, but I was not really tasting it. I don’t know if that makes sense. But it almost feels as if my senses are dampened at the moment – and something tells me that there is a reason for that, and not be be anxious. It is a safe state to be in right now. Muted sensations. It’s as if someone has turned the volume right down for me, so that nothing can overwhelm me.
Mental and emotional health is a bit mysterious to me, but I am not afraid of it (well, I am not afraid if my own ups and downs anyway). I accept that occasionally my brain decides to switch on autopilot, until perhaps it is the right time to let me take over the controls again. I don’t know if any of this is making sense to you. But I am trying to put into words something I only vaguely have a grasp of.
But yesterday I was so lost within myself that I had a cooking mishap. I was making melanzane alla parmigiana. When I was frying off the slices of aubergine (eggplant) the oil was hissing and spitting. I know that several times hot oil landed on my arms and on my neck and the top of my chest. I remember it happening and I remember that it hurt. But at the time, I did not react. I just stood there letting it happen, because I was lost in other thoughts. So I have decided just to eat sandwiches and leftover cake from today’s afternoon tea until I am passed this numbness.