Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Triage for the Newly Betrayed

The BWC members all agree that the first things to go are your appetite and your ability to sleep. And your ability to think straight. And sometimes your ability to recognize your neighbors.

You’ll cry. And when your body has exhausted itself from crying, you’ll lose entire days simply staring into space. You’ll spend nights staring at the ceiling. You’ll forget to eat. Or you’ll try and one bite will make you nauseous.

But your body and mind are trying to cope so this is no time to starve them of food and sleep. Easier said than done. We know. So just follow the simple instructions here:

1. Eat

Choke down a banana. Nibble on an energy bar. Munch a piece of toast. Slurp a little soup. Even just a few bites of something will help. In a fit of efficiency, Nikki stocked up on protein shakes and forced herself to down one each at 7 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Perfect for the days she couldn’t drag herself to a grocery store.

If you have the energy and the mental capacity to follow directions and operate a blender, mix up a smoothie. Resist the urge to add rum. Alcohol is NOT your friend right now and will further impair your judgment, which will be compromised enough.

2. Sleep

I craved it, if only to forget – however briefly – that my formerly wonderful life had become a Jerry Springer episode. Then, when the horrible dreams started, I dreaded sleep. But the less sleep I got, the crazier I got. The more frequently I shook my husband awake at 3 a.m. to scream at him. The more likely I was to collapse on my bathroom floor sobbing into my dog’s neck and feeling more bereft than ever before in my life. The more likely I was to contemplate murder. Or suicide. Infidelity will make you crazy. Lack of sleep will make you crazier still.

I finally turned to melatonin, an over-the-counter sleep aid you’ll find in the vitamin section of your pharmacy. It’s a staple of shift-workers and flight attendants who can’t afford to lose shut-eye. Kathy, a registered nurse, relied on Gravol. It’s non-addictive, she says, but will still knock you out for a few hours.

If necessary, go to your doctor and get something that will help you get some rest in the short term. There’s no shame in asking for help.

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