During mid-April, one month after my March breakdown, I was still at home on sick leave. Almost all of my days were looking alike: wake up, breakfast, paroxetine, yoga, lunch, walk, groceries, afternoon snack, reading, dinner, movie, xanax, bed.
Sleep was slowly getting better, days were looking a bit brighter and, after all, spring was finally disclosing. Yet life out of my house was still limited to my afternoon walks, invariably accompanied by one of my parents. The idea of getting back to work or simply going out either alone or with friends still scared the hell out of me.
From time to time, I checked work emails, just to make sure I wasn’t missing any important communication. That mid-April afternoon, I received an email from my company’s HR department. They were sending me the invitation to a one-week training addressed to the Company’s most talented employees and it was going to take place miles away from my house.
In any other moment of my life, I would have probably received it as an annoyance, but I would have surely felt proud for being included in the elite of the most brilliant employees of my company.
Instead, as soon as I read that email, that well known feeling of having the pit of my stomach squeezed by strong hands showed up. I went through the email reading every single detail, while each of them sounded scarier and scarier: staying far from home for 5 days, travelling by plane, sleeping in two different hotels, meeting strangers, eating in unknown places, sitting down in a classroom for 8 hours a day, having to pass a final test, attending a surprise team-building event, and so on.
I went through the email and the schedule of that training a couple of times, while anxiety was already starting to grow. Not even the idea that the training was almost two months away could comfort me.
As soon as I stood up, getting away from the computer, the room started spinning around. I reached for my bed and lied down. This time the dizziness was going to last way longer than the usual 20-30 seconds. While I was patiently waiting for the world to stop, I realized that, for the first time, that dizziness was not scaring me that much. Ok, I was still scared about having to leave for the training and for all the rest, but, for the first time, I had the impression that a new cause-effect relationship had just been disclosed: the only idea of having to get back to work and fly away from my home was making the room spin around.
Just give a rational beast like me a causal explanation and you will soon see me feeling better (ok, maybe just a little bit better).
Anyway, even though I was not panicking and I could even perceive some irony in the reaction of my body, the minutes still kept passing by and my dizziness kept persisting. I ended up counting 10 drops of Xanax in a teaspoon and swallowed them down.
In 15 minutes the world had slowed down and I was sitting at the table for my dinner.
Something pretty unusual had just happened: yes, getting back to work was still my biggest fear, but having recognized my sickness as a direct consequence of my thoughts, was, in very weird way, consoling me.
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