I am mad and sad – as always – madder and sadder than I have been for years. But the awful thing about the emotional hangover is that I feel helpless, hopeless, defeated, and weak. I know that I’ll be ok tomorrow or Tuesday, but that’s me living my cosy, comfortable, privileged life. How about people with real problems – of which there are more than many – both people and problems?
This emotional hangover caught me by surprise.
Yesterday we were helping at a donation centre where refugees can come and get clothes, towels, bedsheets, and things like that. My job was to organize the room where we had bedsheets, towels, fitted sheets, and the like. Nothing spectacular. People came in, went through some things, took some things, created some disorder, looked thankful, numb, desperate, and confused. Some were picky; some were fast. Many avoided looking at me. Sometimes I was able to point out something helpful, and sometimes that was received with a smile (which I imagined under the masks we were all wearing)
The job was easy. As a volunteer job, each bit of help was received gratefully, so there was no pressure, just an overall air of urgency and chaos.
Anyway – we cycled home in the sunshine smiling after a day of accomplishments and had a pizza on the way. I was (still am) eager to go back, optimistic and happy to help out more.
Then at night, the emotional hangover hit. I woke up, my heart was racing, and all energy, hope, and optimism had left me. As the minutes dragged along, I lay there awaiting dusk in the state between sleep and being awake. But throughout the day, not even the sun and the blues sky, working in the garden or the cake I baked could lift my spirits. And as I am writing this, my mood is shakey; my skin is still paper-thin; I feel like the world has turned against me, and it’ll all shatter any moment. All of the good things are an illusion – have been an illusion for a long time, and only I cannot see the truth.
It’ll be better tomorrow, and I’ll be back to my optimistic, energetic self, taking on the struggles one piece at a time.
I am not surprised. I was just so sure that yesterday’s job would not be the moment when I crumbled, but something had to be. Given the state of the world at large and some bits of impending doom in my private little world, it was about time. With the luxury of space – mental, emotional, physical – to be aware of what’s going on and I can be gentle to myself until I am better.
Now imagine someone who had to leave their life, home, job, friends and seek refugee in an unknown country.
We’ll be back next week.
This ties in well with my last article “excuses are easy“. Here goes another excuse.
[UPDATE1] on the day after writing this text: I am doing better. Though I am not fully recovered I have my “ok, let’s do something now” attitude back.
[UPDATE2] We’ve been going there every week and I didn’t get the emotional hangover again. I guess the reality had to sink in at a profound – tangible – level and now that that’s done I am alright.