Digging Out

Since the last things I posted were sort of depressing, I feel like I should counterbalance that with something more positive. The last two weeks were extremely rough – lots of 7s and no 3s. But for whatever reason – I have my guesses but really who knows – yesterday and today have been a substantial notch better. I’m back in “foggy but functional” territory.

Of course, in the interim I’ve dropped lots of balls. I am an in-box zero person with 245 emails; I’ve got two overdue reviews, I never submitted a blurb, and I haven’t yet constituted a committee whose work I believe is supposed to be finished in a week. I canceled meetings and ignored many requests, including some pretty fancy ones that probably would have been good to respond to.

And now – assuming things hold – I dig out. The crazy thing about illness/pain/unpleasant human experience is that it’s kind of hard to hold onto once it goes away. It was literally two days ago that I was struggling to answer a simple email because my brain was truly not functioning. And now I’m like, hmm, it doesn’t seem so hard to answer an email today – maybe I should have just been trying harder.

So now I start a process that has unfortunately become familiar – of apologizing, perhaps mentioning something about chronic health issues, and trying to get the balls moving again. As “getting better” has sort of stalled out – even as I remain hopeful that I’ll make more progress – it gets increasingly hard to decide what to say yes to.

I know when I take things on that there is a very real chance I won’t be able to follow through – yet I’m still following through on most things, and simply putting everything on hold because I am intermittently not functional doesn’t really seem like a solution. For big commitments, I can tell people up front. But responding to review requests with “yes, pending my continued functionality” seems like a bit much.

But boy do those obligations add a lot of stress during the less-functional periods. And boy is it hard to deal with the aftermath when they end. For now, I’m just trying to let go of the guilt. I have let some people down, but no babies have died. I don’t believe any careers have been jeopardized. I really really hate not being reliable, I think because I was sort of flaky in my callow youth and worked very hard to overcome that. In the end, though, there are worse sins.

(This post brought to you by being not-quite-ready to face the 245 emails.)

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