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The days drip away. At the beginning of this break, it seemed like an impossibly long time, a gift of time, that my doctor and workplace had given me. But now as the days draw closer to me having to step back into some semblance of a working life, it seems like not enough, too fast, over so soon.

I try to think through what I need, what I want, what to say. I try to think about what a healthy work life would look for me at the moment and the screen of my mind goes blank, much like the movie screen does in my neurofeedback training. So I let the thought go and think, “later.” But the days keep dripping away, and I feel a low level desperation nipping at my mind, telling me to panic, even though we’ve been working to train me out of panic as a solution to anything.

As I drove into town the other day, feeling that desperation, I passed the signboard outside the Christian school. Its message this week in neon letters read, “Do not be afraid, the Lord is near.” I’m very grateful for that little signboard and whoever put that message up, just for that right time of much needed reassurance. I felt calmer as I continued on my way.

Sleep is plentiful and yet scarce. Most days I manage to get something done, but inevitably need a sleep. This is not a 20 minute nap, mind you, but hours of sleep. This of course means that at night, it’s not as easy to switch off.

It’s not that I’m not tired, of course. If you’ve read any of these posts you’ll know the constant refrain is how tired I am. Normally my method is to read a book until I am drowsy then turn the light off and allow myself to drift off to sleep. But currently it’s like the act of turning the light off flicks another switch in my brain. I go from being almost asleep to suddenly wide-awake, my brain churning over dilemmas and fears and anxieties.

I put on an ambient noise track that’s meant to help you fall asleep. Forest sounds. It’s worked in the past. Now it just irritates me. Now I just have a forest soundtrack to my anxious whirring mind.

As I lie there I have this weird longing to scream, as though that will release some of the pent up tension. My teeth suddenly feel all wrong in my mouth. My body ungainly. My hair too thick. My feet sore. My hands too dry.

I box breathe, like I’ve been taught. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four. Concentrate on the breath. Let time pass.

Last night I read in the dark on my kindle, with its backlight, until I fell asleep and the kindle fell out of my hands, eventually turning itself off. So I guess that works?

The mental blankness during the daytime and the chaos during the night is quite weird. The “you need to be doing something” part of me thinks it would be nice if I could channel it into something, a piece of art perhaps, but as it is I just observe it and let it drift by.

Photo by Jesse Martini on Unsplash