The Overwhelm

Dissociate, verb: disconnect or separate (used especially in abstract contexts).

At a certain point when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I begin to dissociate. It doesn’t happen immediately or all at once, but more like I slowly find myself drifting off or imagine myself exiting the room inside my head.

I used to do this as a kid. It was a necessary survival tool in my house, especially post-divorce. Now as an adult, my ability to dissociate/disconnect discretely is depending on how much bandwidth I have in a situation.

My work responsibilities are centered around hosting an event that was supposed to take place this weekend. I raised a very large sum of money from sponsors. People were/are in the process of flying in from around the world to attend and spent a lot of money on dresses and other arrangements.

Late last night the Governor of California released a statement urging the cancelation of Los Angeles events expecting more than 250 attendees. I texted my boss the news while half-asleep, rolled over, and passed out. I’m guessing sleep was the only way I could escape my anxiety and exit the room.

This year’s event has been particularly difficult with Dan’s passing in December. He was integral to the event (not just in terms of job responsibilities, but energetically as well) and his absence has left a painful void for me and my co-workers. There hasn’t been much time or space for unstructured, overwhelming grief. For the most part, we’ve had to chug along as if he was just on an extended vacation or grieve in short, structured breaks between work.

Depression is so inconvenient as an adult. As a teenager, there is space to be messy, to fall apart. As an adult, especially if you’re a successful adult, the confines of real life make it very difficult to allow yourself to experience the full extent of your feelings.

There’s not much I can do at 6am to fix the situation. I know I will spend today on the phone with the venue, meeting in-person with my boss, and creating an action plan for our most likely canceled event. But right now, I’m exiting the room.

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