I just got a comment from a blogging friend to the extent that he resents the fact that I have to go on deployment to such a dangerous place. That comment meant a lot to me, perhaps because when I posted a status update on Facebook about going to Darfur, only two people commented. Now I’m almost never on Facebook and I don’t blame people for not responding since I almost never comment on other people’s status updates either. But it did make me think about the kind of support I’m getting (and not getting) as I struggle with anxiety about preparing to go to Darfur.
One Colonel suggested that my official passport application will take another six months and won’t be ready by the end of the month as I was told. A major told me that I probably won’t be home for Christmas since a replacement is unlikely to arrive in December and the OC of the base there has to give his approval before you can get on the plane. A staff officer was telling me about SA soldiers who were ambushed and robbed of their equipment, their vehicles and their wallets by Sudanese rebels. And then there are the comments about the unbearable heat. 45C to 50C in summer apparently according to one Colonel (although he was making that estimation on the basis of his daughter’s experience in UAE). My sister sent me a very helpful two-page list of everything that I should remember to take with me, which also had the unfortunate side-effect of making me more anxious.
And so what I’m left with is anxiety that rises and subsides again but generally appears to be on an upwards trajectory. The effect is almost paralysing. I sit in my office and worry and worry. I make a few phone calls and I’m told that I have to wait another month. And then I worry some more and feel a mix of powerlessness, resentment, anxiety and dread.
My social work colleague suggested that I plan a wedding for December, which will necessitate being back in South Africa. Now that’s not a bad idea and not very far away from being a reality. Watch this space. But I don’t want to put off this deployment for any longer than I can. If L and I schedule a wedding for December there’s a chance that they won’t send me until next year, which is really not going to work for us.
In the meantime I have other work to attend to and I find that my ability to read and write is deteriorating. It’s not that I can’t read and write. It’s just that I don’t have the sustained calmness and attention to do so. I’m on high alert here. Loud noises make me jump. And loud voices (which are quite common here) make me jump even more. I know that if I was a dog I would probably be cowering in the corner of my office and shaking almost uncontrollably. Or perhaps not. Perhaps I would just bite the next person who steps on my already fragile sensibilities.
But I’m going to have to address this anxiety one way or another. Some more therapy perhaps. Whatever it takes.