After a months-long battle with daily, chronic fatigue, for some reason I awake today with unlimited energy. I let the dog out, put a scoop of food in her dish, feed the cats and start the coffee pot. I pee while the dog’s outside, then boot up my computer – let the dog back in, fill my coffee cup. I open my Ebay home page. There are 143 new orders to ship. I check my email – tons of spam, a note from the accountant with questions regarding my tax return, and good news from Facebook that a long lost friend I’ve been trying to locate for years has sent me a friend request.
Before beginning work, I decide to take advantage of my newfound energy, as I fear it may leave me at any moment. I do the dishes, run the vacuum – I pull the sheets from my bed and throw them in the wash. I go through the junk that’s accumulated to overflowing in the get-to-later basket I keep on my kitchen counter. Expired coupons, an announcement for a book signing I had been excited to attend, but now realize I missed.
Feeling satisfied that I’ve managed to get caught up on things, I head to my office and open my shipping program. I listen to the Today Show on my computer as I package my orders; there’s a story about a barn collapsing under the weight of snow and trapping several cows.
Before I know it, the shipping is done; all 143 orders done and out on the porch for pickup in the morning by my mailman. I’m amazed that I finished them so quickly; usually it takes me all day.
While I’m drying off after my shower, the phone rings. Rather than running for it, I decide to let the machine get it. It’s Sharie, calling to invite me for dinner and shopping tomorrow night. To my surprise, I decide I’ll call her back and agree to go. Surprised because for months I’ve made a habit of finding excuses to turn down such invitations. I know I’ll be too tired to go. I’m always too tired to go.
I awaken with energy I haven’t had in months. It feels good to feel energetic for a change; light and healthy rather than heavy and tired.
I let the dog out, feed her and the cats. I pee, boot up my computer, let the dog back in, start the coffee pot. I open my Ebay page – 143 new orders to ship. I delete all the spam in my email, look over the rest – a question from my accountant and a friend request I’m excited to see.
Since I’m feeling energetic, I decide to try to get ahead on some long delayed household tasks. I do the dishes, run the vacuum. I throw my sheets in the wash and finally go through the basket on my counter of junk that’s accumulated over months of chronic laziness. Expired coupons, an announcement for a book signing I’m disappointed to realize I’ve now missed.
I sit at my desk and open my shipping program. I listen to the Today Show while I package orders – a story about a barn collapsing and trapping a bunch of cows. I finish all 143 orders in record time; put them out on the porch for tomorrow’s pickup.
I’m drying off after my shower and the phone rings. The machine picks up and it’s Sharie, inviting me for dinner and shopping tomorrow night. To my surprise, I decide I’ll call her back and agree to go. Surprised because I usually don’t say yes to such invitations because I’ll likely be too tired to go. I’m always too tired to go.
I’m feeling pretty energetic this morning, nice for a change. I usually awake tired and feeling like all my limbs are heavy; even walking is usually difficult.
I feed the animals, let the dog out. I pee, start the coffee pot, then my computer. Ebay shows 143 new orders to ship. My email is full of spam, a question from my accountant, and Facebook alerts me to a new friend request.
I decide to take advantage of the fact that I have energy. I run the vacuum, do the dishes. I strip the bed and throw the sheets in the wash. I go through a basket on my counter, throw out expired coupons. I’m disappointed to see an announcement about a book signing I’ve now missed.
I head to my office and open my shipping program, listen to the Today Show while I work. A barn collapsed and several cows were trapped. I finish the orders quickly and put them on the porch for tomorrow’s pickup.
The phone rings while I’m drying off after my shower. Sharie’s leaving a message on the machine inviting me for dinner and shopping tomorrow night. I’m surprised to realize I actually plan to return the call and accept the invitation. I usually don’t because I’ll likely be too tired to go. I’m always too tired…
“How are you feeling today, Debra?”
I’m shocked to hear a voice and realize there’s a woman standing in my bathroom. I stand silent and startled, stare at her. “I brought doughnuts for our session today,” she calmly says, holding out a Tim Horton’s box.
I’m confused to suddenly find we’re sitting at a table in a small conference room. I don’t remember getting dressed. I don’t know how I got here.
“What did you do today, Debra?” the woman asks. I don’t know how to respond. “It’s ok – just tell me how you spent your time today.” She reaches across the table and pats my hand.
“Where are we?” I ask. My heart is pounding, I’m nervous and upset. I was in my bathroom; I was taking a shower…
“It’s ok, Debra. Things will become clear in a few minutes. For now, just tell me how you spent your day.”
I decide to comply because I don’t know what else to do. “I woke up feeling good,” I say.
“That’s great, Debra.” A long pause while she stares at me. “Go ahead, continue.”
“I just did usual stuff,” I say. “Let the dog out, fed the cats.”
“Are you talking about Taz?” she asks.
“Yes, my dachshund.”
“Debra, remember you don’t have Taz anymore,” she says. “Taz passed several years ago.”
“That’s not true,” I say. Who is this woman? What is she talking about?
“Go ahead, Debra, what did you do next?”
“I did my shipping,” I snap, frustrated with the absurdity of this conversation.
“Do you mean for the Ebay business?”
I stare at her. This conversation, this woman, this place – it doesn’t make any sense.
“You don’t do Ebay anymore, Debra. Remember you stopped that when you came here.”
“Where is here?” I ask. I’m starting to feel angry, frustrated.
“You’re at the North Shore Psychiatric Hospital. You’ve been here seven years.”
“No, I haven’t,” I snap. “This is absurd. Who are you and what the hell is going on?”
I’m angry. I get up from the table and head toward the door. I open the door and am shocked to see Sharie sitting in a chair just outside the room.
“Sharie?” I say as I approach her.
“Sharie comes to see you everyday, Debra,” the woman says, as she’s gently pulling me back into the conference room by my arm. Sharie stands and follows us into the room.
“Why won’t anybody tell me what’s going on?” I scream.
“We tell you every day,” Sharie responds calmly. “I come here every day, and every day we tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
The woman interrupts. “Let’s all sit down,” she says, motioning for Sharie and I to sit at the table.
“Debra, why don’t you tell us what you’ve been doing,” the woman says.
“What the hell are you talking about? Who gives a shit what I’ve been doing?”
Sharie and the woman sit silently.
“I’ve been doing the same shit I do every day. Living my life. Is someone going to tell me what’s going on?”
“How many orders did you have today, Deb,” Sharie asks.
“143,” I say. “I had 143 orders. What difference does it make?”
“And how many orders did you have yesterday?” she asks.
I think for a moment. “143.”
“Did you feed Taz this morning?” Sharie asks.
“Yes, I feed Taz every morning.”
“And did you feed her before bed last night?”
A blanket of confusion suddenly envelops me. I think for a moment. I don’t remember going to bed last night. I don’t remember feeding Taz before bed. As I think, I realize I can’t remember going to bed any night.
“What did you watch on TV last night?” Sharie asks.
“I watched Criminal Minds.” I respond quickly and am glad. This I’m sure of. “I watch Criminal Minds every night.”
“Was Terrence at your house with you?” she asks.
I think again. No, he wasn’t there last night. The night before? I struggle as I try to remember. I become scared and confused when I realize I can’t remember.
“When is the last time you saw Terrence,” Sharie asks.
I’m overwhelmed. None of this is making sense to me. I cover my eyes and put my head down on the table. I think I’m going to cry.
“Maybe we should take a break,” the woman says, and begins to get up from the table.
“No!” I stand up. “I don’t want to take a break. Somebody TELL me what’s going on!”
“Debra, you’re a patient here in this hospital. You came here seven years ago when you had a nervous breakdown.”
I look at Sharie. “It’s true, Deb,” she says. “What she’s telling you is true.”
“She said Taz died,” I say to Sharie. “We know that isn’t right – none of this is right!”
“Taz did die, Deb,” Sharie says. “She died about a year after you came here.”
“But I just saw her this morning! I fed her, let her out, like I do every day!”
“You do the same things every day, Debra,” the woman says. “That’s why you’re here. You’re stuck in time. You relive the same day over and over again in your mind.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I say, and get up from the table.
“It’s true, Debra. You ship the same 143 orders every day, you do the same laundry every day, you read the same emails every day, wash the same dishes, vacuum…”
“This can’t be true,” I say. I sit back down and put my head down. “This can’t be true.”
“We’ll talk about this again tomorrow, Debra,” the woman says, as she and Sharie get up from the table.
Sharie hugs me before she leaves the room. “Tomorrow, Deb,” she says. “We’ll tell you again tomorrow.”
I’m feeling pretty energetic this morning, compared to how I’ve felt the last several months. Taz needs to go outside and the cats are waiting to be fed…
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