Monday, April 14, 2008

The Bell Jar

On the second day of our trip, after giving a brief presentation on neurosyphilis at the neurosurgery hospital, I burst into tears. I'd stuttered a few times in the presentation and then started talking really fast; a person from my class subtly whispered "slow down!" and I tried very hard to do so. Still, afterwards when someone teased me about going so fast, I couldn't bear it. Tears started rolling down my face while I was trying to watch another presentation. I excused myself and found a quiet corner to have it out.

I felt really rotten, but I was still jet-lagged, and quite hormonal and emotional anyway, so I chalked it up to that and went on. "Allergies," I told anyone who took a double take and asked me what was wrong. Since I turn really bright red when I cry, it's usually very apparent for several hours that I was upset. My nose, especially, becomes a shining red beacon, rather like Rudolph.

That weekend, I felt a little better, but starting the next week (last week), I felt things sliding. My self-esteem plummeted. I couldn't get my hair right, and the only clothes I brought were not very attractive, so I felt completely hideous. I felt acutely alone most days, as the majority of my close friends didn't come on the trip. It came to a head on Saturday at the Summer Palace. The group kept leaving me behind (I'd lost my ticket that would allow me into the inner buildings, and kept having to buy more), but I was sure no one noticed my absence. I felt like everyone was making plans around me, but I wasn't included.

I had a really rough time that afternoon upon returning to the dorm. The flood gates broke and every negative emotion I feel about myself came pouring out. I'm stupid, I'm ugly, I have no friends, and why would they want to be with me anyway? I missed my husband, but I hurt too badly to talk to him.

The bell jar has come back down. I always appreciated Plath's metaphor; it fits how I feel. I felt so much better for so long, but over a few weeks to a month or so I've noticed the warning signs. More irritability, more emotionality, tearing up at corny commercials, more negative thinking. Unfortunately, it hit me on this trip, where I have no medication or confidantes. It's always hard to talk about, anyway, because I get so overwhelmed by it. My heart gets squeezed by an iron fist and my throat closes off (so yes, I'm a little somatic, too), and words won't come out. Then, once the pain eases, I'm too embarrassed to talk about it. Will they pity me? Will they be uncomfortable by this pouring out of emotion? I fear the answer, so I try to keep it in. I have always also feared that by revealing the loneliness, the desire to be around people and the pain I feel when I'm not, that I will become their pity friend. Oh, let's invite her, poor thing, she has no one else to be around. I hate that. I hate being alone, but sometimes I prefer it to that other feeling.

I need an outlet, so I'm using this. Now, maybe that I've written this down, I can go wipe my face and put on a smile and get through the rest of my day, until the blackness passes for a few hours and I can smile for real. There's no need for comments. Thanks for reading this far.

3 comments:

Chemgirl1681 said...

I understand more than you might know!

JensMom said...

Been there, felt that, and still do at times! Sending a hug your way!

Dragonfly said...

Hugs.