Sometimes I disappear. As my stresses increase, my brain will seek an outlet to distract me from the weight of what I’m actually feeling. I can feel it happening, but I usually ignore the symptoms until it’s too late.
The stress levels spike and for some reason, my mind plays a game where I convince myself everything is fine. I’m just tired. It’s been a long week. I greet every day with ten snoozes and a reminder that after today, I only have X number of days until I can sleep in.
Then I become less hesitant to make plans. I say it’s just right now, everything is crazy now, but I know I don’t see a time when it will be better. I say the right words to convince myself one day this will end and everything will be okay.
My retreat intensifies, and culminates with an obsession. In general, I have a very obsessive personality. It manifests in my attention to detail and need to control every thing. It also makes me become obsessed very easily. This is where I find my true escape.
Some people turn to drugs or alcohol, and thank God that’s never been me. I turn to stories. To feel better about where I am, I become immersed in the lives of fictional characters and let them fill my brain, pushing out how overwhelmed I am.
From here, I become more selfish with my time, hardly making time for anyone. I avoid plans because I need to get back to this life where I have inserted myself in a world that doesn’t truly exist. I stop caring about making my bed or putting my laundry away. I forget that I wanted to write or read my Bible or finish another chapter in my book.
All I want is to escape.
Last Saturday was absolutely gorgeous. Typically I’d be out walking and exploring, but not right now. In the throes of a deep obsession, all I can think about is watching one more episode. Sleep? Not necessary. I need to know what happens. So I watched 16 hours of Netflix on this gorgeous day. Stayed up until 3 (three hours before I had to wake up), trying to forget about my own life for a little longer.
For the length of the obsession, it’s all I want to talk about with anyone who will listen. I’m constantly trying to bring it up in conversation and connect with other people about it. Heck, I even hang out on Tumblr (because they are truly my people).
That Sunday morning, I realized I couldn’t deny it any more. I needed to sleep and take care of myself. I decided to stop binging instead of living my life and taking care of what needed done. I didn’t watch any TV Sunday. Today I put away my clothes and organized my desk. I read and took a walk. I did watch two episodes of my show, but I did it on my laptop in the kitchen so I wasn’t comfortable in my bed for hours. And now I’m writing this.
It’s like crawling out of a hole in soft dirt. It may seem as simple as turning off the TV, but for me it’s a constant struggle. I can’t imagine being addicted to an actual substance because what withdrawal I feel is horrible.
But slowly I will. I’ll start texting people. I’ll keep my bed made. I’ll remember what’s actually an important pursuit and make sure it gets done.
Now I will keep crawling.