Tuesday 5 February 2013
Debbie Downer Post
I don't do many downer posts. Mostly because they annoy me. When I go back and read them weeks later I want to grab myself by the shoulders and yell "Harden up, Princess!" Because at that point I'm over it. Whatever has happened, whatever event has led me to that place, is done and dusted. I have a group of unpublished posts in my draft folder where I have spilled my incoherent emotional baggage. Writing helps me make it through, but only a few make it onto here. And those that do? I often think of them as the blogging version of drunk posting. When my emotions are raw my judgement is a little off. What should probably remain out of the public domain ends up splashed across the screen for all to read. In my more sanguine moments I know that life is hard enough without subjecting anyone else to my moaning and self pity. Will this one make onto the blog or not? I don't know. We'll see. It depends on how much of a "screw it all" mode I am in by the end of my purge.
I am over being sick at the moment. I am tired of the unrelenting nature of chronic illness. I am tired of the fact that at the moment I am not getting a break. I am tired that none of my usual tricks, honed over years of careful trial and error, no longer seem to work. Usually, I have a bad patch, followed by a less bad patch, followed by the inevitable next bad patch, and so on. It's a pattern I've become used to over the past seven years. There is comfort in predictability. Those little lulls make it bearable. They give you breathing space. A time to sit back and collect yourself. To find equilibrium once more, so you can keep on keeping on. But my lull is long overdue and I'm feeling stretched beyond my meagre abilities.
There is only so much you can take before you start to fall apart. Before the cracks start to appear. Before others start to see the cracks, and it gets harder and harder to keep it all together.
I tend to retreat at this point. I move to the periphery of life, only engaging sporadically and superficially. It's a matter of survival. When you're clinging on by your fingernails, the slightest extra bit of stimuli is too much. Silence and alone time are life-sustaining. More than that, they are sanity-sustaining. Kindness or caring from those nearest and dearest is not always a benefit at these times. Part of me wants someone to give me a hug and tell me, "it'll all be alright". The other part of me knows that those words, or worse a comforting touch, will break through the fragile shell of control and result in an unwanted flood of tears and misery. The irrational part of me wants both comfort and to be left alone. The irrational part of me expects my family and friends to intrinsically know this. Despite the fact I can barely understand it myself.
I know I am irritable. Everything and anything sets me off. A little corner of my mind knows I'm over-reacting but that doesn't stop me. Everything sucks. Everything is a personal attack. Every single little disappointment or mishap becomes highly salient. Everything is seen through a negative mindset. Socks not unrolled before they go in the laundry equals a personal attack. The dishwasher not unpacked equals the end of the world. I look at my Facebook newsfeed and hate everyone's perfect lives. I hate that they are travelling, that they are at the park, out to dinner, out to the movies. I hate that their lives seem golden. In my rational moments I'd never think that way. I am happy that my friends and family are enjoying their lives. I would never wish my life on them. And I know no one's life is perfect. That Facebook is a sanitised version of reality. But not in that moment. In that moment every irrational, narky, petty and horrid aspect of my mind comes to the fore, and I hate the world and all who inhabit it. I hate the reminders of a life I no longer have. But I can't stop looking. I can't stop seeing the perfection. I can't stop seeing that the world continues on without me. I can't see the reality because I'm too busy revelling in my misery. I have masochism down to a fine art. And in these moments I embrace it whole-heartedly.
I haven't had a break in weeks. I'm tired. So tired. More tired than I have been in months. My GP tells me I must consider that I've had a jump in progression. Now I can't get that out of the back of my mind. I keep trying to give myself a pep talk. "It's just the Summer heat. I'll be fine when the season changes. I just need to pace myself more. I just..." But in the moment I don't believe myself.
I realised the other day that I have forgotten what it is to be well. I've had health problems ever since I can remember but always there were breaks. Periods of relative good health where I got on with life just like everyone else. But that has now disappeared. I have felt sick and/or been in pain everyday for years now. One of my good days would send most people straight to the doctor or ER. I think that's what others understand least and what frustrates me most. And I realise I don't know how to convey it any more. I have lived so long with illness that I can no longer see it clearly. I play it down, I avoid the doctors with symptoms that would make others panic. I don't talk about it because I feel whingy. So I let things go for longer than I should and don't tell my family about the things that would worry them. I just exist and suck it up and put on my happy face. Not that there's really much choice. But you get weary at times.
I can no longer eat without pain. It doesn't matter if I adhere to my dietary restrictions. It doesn't matter what it is. Even water can trigger the pain now. My weight continues to drop and it is brought up at each appointment, with no solutions to be had. I am back to worrying about passing out each time I go to the loo or shower, although in truth my gastro issues are what worry me most. My general health has deteriorated and weakness increased. I try medication after medication and nothing works. Everything is just hard. And so, like many others, I have learnt to cry into my pillow at night so as not wake anyone, because the pain gets bad and sometimes it's just too much, but I just don't have it in me to talk about it all yet again. It's hard to keep on smiling when you feel dreadful 24/7 and all your emotional reserves run dry.
And I want to just be able to say it all free of judgement (both my own and that of others). Free of platitudes. Free of comparisons. I just want to give it all voice and have someone say, "I get it". No advice. No solutions. No pep talks or sweet words that'll crumble my carefully honed composure. People are uncomfortable with illness. As a society we want to fix others to make ourselves feel better, to avoid feeling awkward or uneasy. We miss the point that sometimes it's okay to just listen and say nothing.
The reality is that whether this is a permanent downturn or just an extended rough patch I will adjust. I always do. You can't live with chronic illness for years and not find a way through these times. It's just the getting there that's the hard part. It's knowing that just like physical health waxes and wanes, so does my emotional reaction to it. I want to be better at dealing with it all, but sometimes it gets the better of me. Sometimes I can't shut out the thoughts and feelings I hate so much. It feels like weakness. Or perhaps more correctly in my mind, failure. I'd never think that of anyone else. But me, that's a different matter in my irrational mind. I am my own worst enemy in that respect. I want to deal better but apparently I'm human, and that sucks.
This song Take Me or Leave Me by The Magic Numbers, is always on high rotation in my maudlin play list. Everyone has a maudlin play list, don't they? You know for the sucky days. Now to toss up if I can manage half a glass of wine in the bath. What's it going to do? Make me sick? Bwahahahahaha.....