I haven’t had time to write here. I mean, I’ve written a lot actually, but nothing for myself. I have written “journal” entries for the school portion of this adventure, but I haven’t been able to do any real reflection. I think that lack is contributing to my stress. And it makes me realize how fragile my mental stability is – if you can even call it that. There’s so much that I have to do, just to be myself. I have to write, I have to talk to Archer on a regular basis, and I have to take my medicine. Sometimes I have to take more medicine, for bad days. Surely it’s not normal to have to actively manage your activities, just to feel normal. I’m not even trying to feel happy. I just want to not be depressed and angry. I want to feel ok.
… Even just this paragraph helped. I’m starting to feel more myself. I only took two pills this morning… Two, which is my prescribed dose from the first doctor, but the psychiatrist said I need a higher dosage. It’s good that she said that, because I was already taking more. Today will be at least a three-pill day.
Three was enough. Actually, I don’t remember whether I took the third or not. Maybe two was enough. Either way, it was a better day for me. I’m feeling very down, but not angry. I think that the anger is symptomatic of depression, when I’m not paying attention and noticing that I’m down. Instead, I’m just reacting, and that comes out as anger and frustration. Now that I realize what’s going on with me – that I’m depressed – I’m just sad. I’m not angry. It’s easier to be compassionate, when I know that my problem is my own. I’m working on changing my perspective, too. Like Maya’s “kid” thing – where she calls everyone kid – which completely annoys me, and made me angry because it’s so disrespectful, from my perspective. But, I’m seeing it now (right or wrong) as her way of including everybody around her, a way of internally categorizing everyone as being the same as her in a way that makes her feel like she’s surrounded by like-minded people. I think it’s a comfort thing, for her. When I look at it that way, I can forgive the disrespect as unintended. It still annoys me, but I can get over it without becoming angry with her. She really doesn't deserve my anger.
I spent a lot of time in introspective thought today, despite the group activity this afternoon. We went for the canopy walk, which took us above the canopy of the rainforest. It was a hike down and back up, with a foot-wide suspension bridge across part of the rainforest. The bridge was 70 meters from the forest floor, at its highest point. Rationally, I was fine with that. I knew the bridge was safe. Physically, I had a major stress reaction. My limbic system didn’t believe all that “safe” hype. Even though my thoughts were calm, I was terrified. I kept a tightly disciplined focus on the backpack of the person in front of me. I couldn’t look down, couldn’t even look to the side for the picture Prof Netzin wanted to take. She did take it eventually, with me still looking forward, at the backpack. But I made it. One unseen foot in front of the other.
I never used to be afraid of heights. Maybe it’s because my balance isn’t so great these days. Maybe it’s just a physiological understanding of my decreasing bounciness as I age. Maybe I’ve heard too many horror stories of people falling or getting injured other ways, from heights. Maybe it's connected to the intermittent ringing in my ears and the dizziness spells (inner ear issues, I assume). I don’t know. Nothing traumatic happened. I’m just afraid of heights now.
[The Canopy Walk Bridge]
That’s all a tangent. The important part is figuring out the best way to manage my depression for the next two weeks. I think when I get home, I’m going to spend a very long time just curled up in Archer’s arms.
I want to go dancing with Archer. I want to feel him move against me and with me; I want that perfect body close, so close I can feel his heartbeat on my skin.
He’s going to ask me what brought that on, of course.
Tonight we met (as a group, with the Professors) with students from a wildlife management college here at Nyungwe. We had a pretty good discussion about the baboon problem being faced by the three national parks in Rwanda. After that, the Rwandans suggested some music and dancing. They put on some “Rwandan hip hop” (which included your standard American club music fare), and just about everybody got up and danced. There were a few wall flowers – in a group of nerds, that’s expected, and I was impressed that there weren’t more… maybe it’s because we’re primatology nerds. Anyway, it was fun. I danced a little, and the Rwandans – which were mostly guys – danced a lot. The quote of the night, “we’re not gay; we’re just fucking dancing!” Now imagine that as a yell, with a Rwandan accent. Hilarious, and awesome. One of the guys wanted to dance with me, and I did a little, but it mostly just made me miss Archer more. And we don’t really dance together. In fact, I barely dance at all anymore. I miss it. And I want to dance with him. So that’s where that came from.
[Nyungwe National Park]