I type this from the back seat of our delegation’s minibus, the laptop perched on my rucksack on my knees. I was hoping to have time to write this at the hotel, but we’re running late and our schedule is overstuffed (that’s a good thing, by the way; we’ve met all sorts of extraordinary people, of whom I’ll write about another day).
This is an incredible experience and opportunity, but I must admit part of me is struggling. In the normal course of events, I’m rarely in close proximity to others for more than a short period at a time.
This week, I’ve been in the constant company of 7-8 people for upwards of eight hours per day, for three days in a row with two more to go. I’ve also been on my feet and active, mentally and physically, orders of magnitude more than I normally would.
This is taking its toll. The people I’m on this trip with are wonderful people, truly. Yet right now, our group leader – a really nice guy who happens to be sitting right next to me – is answering questions and a voice in my head is screaming “shut the fuck up, every one of you, leave me alone”. That’s not what I really want, not with the part of myself I think of as “me”, but it’s there.
This is what my mind does to me whenever I exceed my tolerance for human company. Whether it’s chiefly down to depression or Asperger’s, there will come a point at which something snaps internally and I start yearning desperately to be alone. If any of the people on the Israel trip are reading this, please don’t take offence, it’s nothing to do with anything you’ve done and overall I’m having a great time. This is my neurosis and nothing else.
Not so long ago, I would’ve found a way to escape. I’d say I was ill and duck out of some of the activities, or even give up entirely and fly home. I can’t do that this time. This is the best professional opportunity I’ve had in… ever, really, and in any case I’m determined that my days of giving up are over. That’s why I’m making myself write this despite my carsickness and incipient migraine.
So what do I do to get through this, and what will I do to get through every other worthwhile challenge in my future?
Firstly, I need to keep focusing on how short a time period we’re really talking about. I just need to survive through the road journey to Tel Aviv, then dinner with a former Knesset member – which should be fascinating enough to somewhat take my mind off things – before I can retreat to my hotel room and recharge. I have to take myself out of the present moment as much as possible or I’ll end up in a death spiral of despair and anxiety.
Secondly, I need to live second to second. If I can devote myself to making it through the next few minutes, then the next few after that, and so on, I’ll be back in that hotel room before I know it.
Thirdly, I need to remember how lucky I am. Finding your all-expenses-paid trip to Israel exhausting is a pretty luxurious problem to have in the grand scheme of things. That I’m even here at all is testament to how far I’ve come, how much better off I am compared with even a few months ago.
I need to keep telling myself these things until I nearly believe it. I can’t say I feel better already because I don’t, I feel absolutely dreadful. But I will feel better.
I will feel better.
I will feel better.
Postscript from hotel room: I chickened out of the dinner, asked to be dropped off at the hotel because I wasn’t feeling well (didn’t go into details). I feel awful about it already, but there are times when you have to admit defeat. If I’m to stand any chance of getting through the rest of this trip, I need to cut my losses. Not that that’ll stop me hating myself.
(to be continued)Tagged in: anxiety, Asperger's, coping strategies, depression, depression diary, despair, israel, social anxiety, survival
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