It was the beginning of June, an extremely hot day this past summer. My caregiver Michael and I had spent the afternoon, as usual, running errands and doing necessary things around the house like cooking and laundry. There was about half an hour left in his shift when it started. First, a slow, “what was that noise?” kind of buzz, and then gradually an incessant beeping that eventually felt like it was banging against my brain. One of the smoke detectors in my house had a low battery and apparently wanted the world to know it.
Michael got a step ladder out of my shed and spent some time going around to each one, trying to determine which was upset. After a few minutes, we found the button to reset the detector, it is on the ceiling in my office, but the quiet only continued for about five minutes or so before the whole sequence would start again. Michael had an appointment after work that day, so he spent his last few minutes searching the house for something I could use as a stick to reach the button on the ceiling, and hugged me with compassion before he walked out the door.
After Michael was gone and a few unsuccessful attempts to hit the button in just the right place, I called Bud, the guy who has mowed my lawn for the last several years. Like Michael, he has taken exceptional care of me.
Even with his leg in a brace, he cheerfully changed the battery in the smoke detector. We thought that was the problem and it would be a relatively simple fix.The thing is, even the new battery didn’t help. All the smoke detectors in my house are connected, and when one makes noise, they all follow suit. Every few minutes the totally obnoxious beep would start, and I got to the point that I wondered if it was ever going to stop. When it had lasted for several hours, it felt like that noise had all the power and was steadily gaining strength. I swear there were a few minutes that night when it was almost laughing at me sarcastically. All my defenses were down and I just wanted to crawl into a hole because I had almost become convinced that was the only way I would be able to get away from all the noise.
Ultimately, my amazingly cool handyman, Travis, dropped everything he was doing that evening and came over. He was able to totally disconnect the system.
Ahhh. Silence can be absolute bliss.
One of the disabilities I struggle with is a psychiatric diagnosis. For me, that means that my emotions often tend to be out of whack and I can get easily overwhelmed. So I work hard to manage my symptoms in various ways in order to keep everything on an even keel.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been in a tailspin. I have been working through some pretty intense issues personally. Additionally, without going into detail, I have interacted with several people in recent weeks who don’t seem to understand me and do not seem to be taking me seriously. Trying to make my voice heard has taken its toll, and dealing with everything that has piled up all at once has worn me out.
A few days ago the noise in my head got so loud it felt like it was banging against my brain, and I felt powerless to even turn down the volume. All I wanted to do was crawl in a hole in an effort to get away from the slow buzz that gained steam and gradually became the incessant beeping that was invading my thoughts with a vengeance. Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it STOP!
My support system is amazing. Whenever I need to reach out, there are really good people in my life who are happy to help me try and “take the batteries out’ when I am overwhelmed and going through a hard time. Most often, though, when I am in that state, I try to keep to myself. Being overwhelmed with emotion typically isn’t pretty and when I am there it is not something I can easily explain.
So these days I work with a professional coach who is helping me break down the thoughts that ignite the voice in my head. The process isn’t easy, but the end goal, as you might imagine, is to disconnect the whole system and start again, with kinder and gentler vocabulary, and tools to turn off the negativity more quickly. And I am willing to work hard to do that.
Because I have learned from experience that silence can be absolute bliss…