A weird thing happened yesterday. A coworker of mine came over and said, “so I saw you sleeping yesterday, poor thing.”
What the fuck, I thought, where was I for this nap? Although, “Uh, I don’t remember that,” is what I actually said.
“Yea, you had your head down. It wasn’t until I picked up something heavy on my desk and put it back down that you looked around.”
Seriously, what the fuck is happening right now? This thought turned into, “no, that doesn’t make sense, when I’m asleep I am dead to the world, I doubt you moving something on your desk 10 feet away would wake me up.”
More specifically, I thought, you’d have to slam down the object so hard that everyone in the office would also be thinking, what the fuck is happening right now. Plus, I tend to snore when I sleep so it is even less likely that I would have fallen asleep without anyone else noticing. “I must have had my head down reading something,” I continued.
Now we all sometimes have little disagreements over factual events (“I swear officer, that light was yellow when I went through it”). Yet it is distinctly disorienting to have such a major disagreement about something that we both should have noticed and been able to agree upon. And yet, in some ways, it seems disturbingly familiar.
My anxiety convinces me that I am always wrong and that everything is my fault. My depression convinces me that no one will ever like me. Logically, I know that isn’t true. I successfully went through law school and passed the bar exam in Massachusetts, which would have required answering a great many things correctly. And I am married so odds are at least one person likes me. And yet I doubt myself.
I may logically know that my coworker’s description of my alleged working nap doesn’t match my behavior when I fall asleep, or what I know happened yesterday, just like I know that those negative thoughts are my mental illness lying to me. Nevertheless, the world of mental illness is full of doubt, full of constantly asking yourself, “are your truths the same as mine?”
Yet what I am discovering as I continue to talk openly about my struggle with mental illness, and what is important for others who are living with mental illness to keep in mind, is that many others do have the same truth, the dreadful truth of seeing the world through mental illness colored lenses. And that we are greater than our mental illnesses will ever want us to believe, if only we can believe it for ourselves.
P.S. – It turns out I was totally reading something. No snoozing on the job for me. At least not yesterday.
P.P.S – The title to this post is a line from a Broadway musical. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the Broadway musical
P.P.P.S. – Please don’t crucify me for an intellectual property violation Andrew Lloyd Weber.
P.P.P.P.S – That was hint to the P.P.S.