During my three week absence from work, I rested and took long walks. Dr. Lebensohn had assured me that by monitoring my behavior and taking it easy I could avoid another episode.
Flying was a hard job. Long hours, long periods without food, adjustments to dramatic time changes, and little time in flight to be by myself. All of these things, including the strain of needing to be responsibly social and always on call, had upset my biorhythms. I learned with Dr. Lebensohn's help that I was prone to upset when tired. Perhaps all of us are but in my case my susceptible mind had learned an exit strategy that had proved to be unhealthy and destabilizing. I became mentally ill.
Looking after myself physically as well as emotionally was now essential. Because I was more clear than ever that I wanted to live an independent life which included both flying and my long term health, I had to become even more sensitive to things in my life that gave me a sense of structure and peace. Most importantly, I had to avoid over-stimulation. As a single woman without much income I had found I could easily fill every waking minute with things to do. Being spread too thin made me not just uncomfortable, it caused me to became physically shaky as all the stuff in my life rattled inside my head.
The rule of United Airlines was that you had to be released to fly after being on sick list for more than a week. The process included another trip to see Dr. Lebensohn. I was not afraid to go. The deep sense of tiredness had lifted. By learning to pay attention to my body and emotional state, I had regained a feeling of calm and control. This second episode had helped me experience the difference between the person I now valued and the unhealthy and unaware person I no longer was.
To be continued ...