The last few months I’ve been going through a strange emotional phase. Emotional upheavals are expected because at times either the medication I have to take or the phase of SLE I am going through might trigger depressive apathy or manic hyperactivity. If it isn’t me doing everything that I haven’t been able to do because of being ill, it is a period of time when I don’t care much about anything. In the past, I’ve gone through several days of it before I figure out what is happening and I try to get help.
This time I was hit by weeks of apathy. I did get help, and I was able to get back into a routine – medication, counseling, exercise, a healthy diet etc etc. I was looking after my pets – Guillermo, Sparkie, Samantha, Thomas, Avalon, Bacardi, Caruso, Dhalia, Emilia, Felipe, Moses, Amanda, Sheila – hey, I didn’t say I wasn’t insane. Somewhere in there is a puppy, kittens, geese, chicken, a tree… 🙂
Hey, I was even writing and working (I edit manuscripts, manage social media campaigns, generate website & promotional content – sometimes all of that from my bed. These days all you need is a decent laptop computer and a good internet connection.)
I noticed however that I was avoiding actual human interaction as much as possible. I was less available on my own social media accounts. I was practically a shut in and even when there were people in the home I’d find myself unable to interact or even participate in conversations. It wasn’t that I was tired of talking – no, I actually couldn’t be bothered to think much about what people were thinking or feeling.
I remember staring at the next door lady as she gushed on about something and thinking: Do I care to listen? No. Do I want to respond? No. Okay, maybe eventually she’ll get tired of talking and leave.
The elections passed me by together with all the drama that accompanied them. My brain refused to process any opinion, any reflections about what was going on. A few things happened in the neighbourhood. The only thing I felt even remotely concerned about was when our watchman died. I got up, went to comfort his family, even organised a fundraising for his kids to go back to school. But the truth was, I wasn’t feeling anything really. My reactions and actions were out of logic rather than emotion.
I tried to make a joke of it but the only emotion I could come up with was hate which in absolute honesty I was too fatigued to feel.
I think that’s when it hit me. I didn’t care. About anything. Or anyone. Not even myself. I was going through the motions in logical order but I didn’t care, not really.
My doctor and I discussed a change in my medication to see if it would change how I was *not feeling*. She said: Apathy is a disorder because the essence of our humanity is empathy, sympathy, emotion and passion. Being driven by logic is not enough. Apathy is just as serious a disorder as psychopathy. Psychopaths can be logical. So it is very important for you to find the basic characteristics of healthy social interactions for you to function as a normal human being.
It’s a long process, but I guess I am getting there. This is half personal reflection and half apology. This is an apology to everyone I promised to love and be there for but for whom I just haven’t been loving towards or available for. You deserve better. Please don’t go. I’ll be better. I promise.
I need to go and lie down.
P.S. If you suffer from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or any other chronic illness it is important to note that Apathy or Depression can be a major hindrance to managing your illness. If your apathy or depression impairs self-management behaviors, leads to functional decline and poor compliance with treatment regimes, you need to seek help. Talk to your doctor. They might refer you to a mental health specialist who will treat you in conjunction with your usual doctor.
There is nothing shameful about dealing with a mental health problem. Seek help for it in the same way you would seek help for an infection or any other health problem.