Loopy, Lonely and Lost

Posts Tagged ‘illness

Update

Posted on: January 31, 2014

Sorry I haven’t written for a while. I’ve been…coping. Just about, by the skin of my teeth, getting from one day to the next.

These past few days I’ve been feeling ill. Nothing serious, just a bug, but I feel all stuffed up and it’s stopping me from sleeping because every time I lie down I cough up a lung, so I know I’m being ratty and over-emotional.

I’m struggling at work. My performance has dipped. I’m alright at the simple, invisible, day-to-day things, but when it comes to anything involving confidence or chutzpah I just can’t do it any more. My boss keeps looking at me with his serious face and I feel like he’s gearing up to have a serious conversation with me and I am completely not in the right frame of mind for that. I can’t talk about myself at the best of times but lately I can hardly look myself in the face in the mirror without wanting to run away.

Today I came home from a busy, stressful, unproductive day at work. Feeling exhausted and vulnerable, wearing the dead-eyed, open-mouthed, nose-dripping stare of the cold-inflicted. Feeling sick. Feeling sorry for myself. Wanting to hide away. Told my parents I didn’t feel up to eating anything and was just going to bed.

Everything kicked off. I mean, World War 3 (only in my house alone we’re probably on World War 3 Million). My mum calling me an ungrateful bitch and threatening to force feed me. Calling me evil for upsetting her (is this what mothers do? I thought if your child was ill you would at least enquire what was wrong before making it all about you).

I really couldn’t cope. Couldn’t make my brain work properly. Couldn’t stop the horrible snivelling crying. Cut my arm with scissors for the first time in years. Hit myself on the head with my phone, which was probably a really bad idea as I now have a huge lump in the middle of my forehead and I don’t know how I’ll explain it (my phone still works though, it’s indestructible, although I’m not sure how that will help as I have no-one to contact).

All I can think about is running away. Got to leave, got to get away somehow, got to stop everything. I don’t know what to do.

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As time goes by, I get worse. I’ve become the kind of person I hate, and I can only see it getting worse. I feel like there’s just a scooped-out hollow where my heart used to be.

Today, I made my mother cry. I made her cry by saying something cold and heartless and bitchy and true. (She asked, “don’t you like me?” and I looked her straight in the eye and, with a small smile, replied “not much”.) Now she’s downstairs sobbing and all I can think is that I hope she quietens down; the noise is disturbing my peace and quiet.

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Every time my mum is ill, she turns into a bitch. I’m not supposed to say that, am I? If someone’s ill, you’re supposed to call them brave and inspirational. If someone’s ill and you don’t like them, people think you’re tempting fate, and that if they die, it’s your fault for pointing out their flaws. I think people think it’s unreasonable to expect a person who’s unwell to be everything you want of them. They have more pressing concerns than keeping people happy.

Maybe it’s true. But I don’t believe in fate, and this is a cycle that has shaped my entire life.

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I went on holiday. It was…nice. Lots of sunshine and scenery and doing very little. It was a nice change, although about half way through it I had another little bit of a meltdown, spent a day and a night in bed, crying, inconsolable, not really knowing why. After that I kept fantasising about drowning in the pool and jumping off cliffs, which marred the whole thing a little bit. I feel a bit better for the rest, though.

There’s still something…not quite right. I got my blood test results back, and my haemoglobin’s gone up a bit, now I’m just sort of borderline anaemic. I’m really exhausted, though, and it doesn’t feel like the exhaustion of depression. I feel heavy down to my bones, aching all over, and I’m sleeping loads too. Even when I’ve been depressed, it’s been insomnia that was the problem – lying in bed for hours on end and still not really sleeping – but now, there’s hardly a moment in the day when, given a comfortable chair and a little bit of quiet, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I’m supposed to be seeing the doctor about it soon, but it seems very non-specific, and with the anaemia being not-really-anaemia anymore, that probably points to there being nothing physically wrong, so I’m worried he might ask about being depressed. The truth is, I suspect I am, on and off, but I think I know my body – and my moods – well enough to know what depression does to me and what’s something else. I don’t want to talk to my doctor about depression. I know it sounds stupid and pathetic and weak and self-destructive, but my experiences with medication are far from positive, and I don’t want to talk about it. I tried counselling, and for the most part, it made things worse. I find talking about my feelings so painful that even thinking about being honest about how I feel brings tears to my eyes. I know it’s not perfect – and I probably wouldn’t recommend it – but the only way I can get through a day is by spending as much of it as possible not thinking about the things that upset me.

I’ve decided to stop my driving lessons. I know it makes me useless, and a quitter, and an idiot, and my parents keep asking why, and I find it so hard to explain, but…it makes me panic. It makes my hands sweat and shake, it makes my heart race, it makes me feel like I’m going to pass out, and it brings me close to tears. I can’t really handle any level of stress at the moment, and driving is stressful. And I was only doing it to stop my parents from telling me to start doing it, so it’s not like I have any real motivation to keep learning. My dad says it’ll cost a fortune to keep taking buses and taxis for all of my life, and that’s true, but I can’t imagine dozens of lessons, and a car, and insurance, and petrol, would be noticeably cheaper, and to be honest I’d rather spend more money (and it’s not like I have anything else to spend it on) if it means I get to be a little bit calmer, and a little bit less afraid.

Fuck. I’m sorry about this. It’s just that things are so difficult.

I had my appraisal at work. It went really well. I’ve been doing pretty much as well as I possibly can, and my manager was talking about things like career progression and opportunities and saying to let him know if I want to be considered for extra training or promotion.

Then, later the same day, I made a mistake at work. Part stupidity, part carelessness, part a lapse of concentration. And now I’m really worried there’ll be repercussions. I’m so scared that I haven’t heard the end of it. I know I’ve said it before, but for me – work helps. It’s eight hours a day of being out of the house and having something to think about, and it gives me structure and routine and it surrounds me with people. I’m scared I’ve fucked it up, and hate myself for being so scared.

I’m scared a lot, though. Pretty much constant levels of anxiety, stopping me from relaxing or sleeping.

My mum keeps threatening to die. She says she hates us all, and we bully her, and she just keeps saying she can’t cope. I told her to tell the doctor she’s depressed, but she says there’s no point, doctors can’t help, it’s her shitty life (and shitty family) that’s causing her depression.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want her to die, and I don’t want it to be my fault, but I don’t know how to stop it. There’s a part of me that hates myself for getting so worked up about something unlikely to happen any time soon – she’s been threatening to die for most of my life, and hasn’t done it yet – but mostly I’m just so terrified she’ll eventually do it and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

They’ve been shouting again. Mum keeps crying and saying horrible things to Dad. She keeps saying she wants to go to the hospital, but every time he offers to take her, she shakes her head, all defiant, and says there’s no point. So I’ve gone upstairs, gone to bed early, and I fall asleep, curled up in the dark, pretending I can’t hear. I don’t want to hear.

Later, some time in the middle of the night, a hand on my shoulder. It’s my dad, lit by the light in the hallway. “Wake up, Laura. We’ve got to go to the hospital.” We’re too little to be left at home alone.

He helps me out of bed, tugging clothes on over my pyjamas. I rest my head on his shoulder and nearly fall asleep again. “Come on, Laura. I’m sorry about this.”

“Can I take a book?” I ask. I’m small enough for my dad to pick me up with one arm, but already old enough to be bored by all this. Already cynical enough to be thinking about how I’m going to keep myself entertained.

My brother appears at the doorway, pyjamas showing at the bottom of his trousers. I laugh at him. It’s okay to laugh, because this is fine. It’d be insensitive to call it an adventure, but look, it’s the middle of the night, and we’re dressed and going out.

We drive to the hospital, and the only sound I can hear over the engine is the sound of my mum crying. The roads are empty, and the sky is pitch black, and I have my book tucked under my arm.

Then, at A&E, after a discussion with the receptionist, it’s time to start waiting. The chairs are uncomfortable and my feet don’t touch the floor. My brother curls up in one seat; he can sleep anywhere. My mum sits there, bent double, face red and shining with tears, one hand holding so tight to my dad’s hand that it must be hurting him (I don’t like holding her hand when she’s ill – it’s always wet and snotty, and she grabs so hard – but I do sometimes. She asks me to, like it might make things better, and I’m a sucker for trying to solve problems).

I try to read. Taking the book was good planning – we’ve been here so many times before, and I know it’s boring. I feel a bit defensive, though – everyone in the waiting room keeps looking at her. She never has been able to suffer quietly, all gasping sobs and loud declarations of agony. I feel vaguely embarrassed, and a little bit guilty for that. It’s not her fault.

Eventually, we go through the doors, and there’s a bed for her. She sits on it and cries so hard, and we look for chairs to sit on. Doctors and nurses come and go, asking questions, doing tests. When they ask about the pain, it’s always “ten“.

We sit, and wait for things to get better.

Hospitals are alright, really. The thing I remember most about A&E is the colour scheme – the smooth cream of the walls, the weird patterns on the floor (the pink and green that will always make me think of hospitals). It’s a place of screaming and crying and awfulness, but I feel reasonably detached from it. I read my book, and if we’re there long enough, my dad gives my brother a few coins for the vending machine, and we get to have some sweets.

(Hospitals are better than doctors’ surgeries, anyway. I don’t like thinking about GPs. I don’t know the details – never will – but we change GP surgeries a lot. She falls out with them, I think. They think she’s faking it, or at least, she thinks they think it. And when she has the energy, and is well enough to think about someone other than herself, she has taken me there, to whichever doctor we’re registered with at the time.

If I cry, or get angry, or have an opinion, the shouting starts. She screams at me that I need to behave better, change my attitude, grow up, stop being a baby and an idiot. And when she’s not shouting, she’s talking in that serious voice she has. If I don’t stop acting like that, she’ll take me to the doctor. And they‘ll see me for what I really am. I’m a crazy bitch, and they’ll be able to tell. They’ll laugh at me, and lock me up, because that’s what I deserve.

In that time, I go through two phases: first, sheer horror. I don’t want to be locked up, and I swear that if they try, I’ll kick and scream and bite. She laughs at that, says that’ll make them want to put me in a hospital even more. [If it’s not the threat of hospital, it’s Social Services. “I’ll get social workers to take you away,” she says. “I can’t cope with you anymore. Maybe they can find someone who can.”] The second phase is where I give in. I start to believe her. I believe that I am weird and mental and wrong, and that when I get scared or upset, or when I argue with people, it’s because there’s something wrong with my head.

I approach her slowly, quietly, and say that I’ve changed my mind. I want to go to the doctor. I want them to make me better. I don’t want to ruin her life anymore. She laughs at me. It’s too late for that. She tells me I can’t be fixed. I cry again, and beg her. She doesn’t usually relent, but every now and then, she agrees, and takes me to the doctor. Sits there in the room with me and the GP, and watches with that triumphant look on her face [sometimes, I wish it could be just me and the doctor. I could be honest then, and they would tell me how to be a better person. But I can’t tell the truth with her looking at me like that, like she’s indulging my childish whim]. I mutter something about having headaches, and the doctors must think I’m wasting their time.

She takes me home, and tells me that maybe that will teach me not to be so silly.)

The doctors and the nurses smile at us, usually. They tell us what they’re doing, and ask what I’m reading.

Mum just keeps crying. She doesn’t think the people at A&E understand. She thinks they think she’s lying, faking her pain. So she cries and shouts and insists on tests and scans because she needs proof, she needs to make them understand.

I don’t understand, and I feel a bit embarrassed because the people at the hospital seem wary of her, as she snaps at them, and shouts, and tells them they’re shit at their jobs, and asks them to slice her open. It’s hard to know what to say in the face of all that pain and misery.

She keeps throwing up. I’ve become something of an expert at recognising her nauseous face and quickly passing the sick bowl. My brother leans over, disgusting little boy that he’s always been, and whispers to me, “it looks like mushy peas”.

I pull a face and kick him. “Don’t say that!”

A faint smile passes across my dad’s lips.

My mum sees it, and goes berserk. She says this isn’t a laughing matter, as if we ever thought it was, and sends my dad off to find someone, to pester them for test results, or more painkillers, or just something that looks like progress.

Sooner or later, they admit her. Pass her along to a ward, where the whole thing continues. Dad takes us home, and we get a few hours of sleep, before we have to get up for school. If people ask why I’m yawning, I don’t tell them. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that other people understand.

For a few weeks, then, things are different. I feel like my dad’s some sort of super-hero, balancing full-time work with raising two children, doing all the shopping and housework, and visiting my mum in hospital every single day.

Sometimes (really, quiet often), she ends up having surgery. Other times, they try to just change her treatment, but she soon gets pissed off with that. I’ve lost count of the number of times she’s discharged herself.

Sooner or later, she comes home. Maybe she feels a little better, maybe she doesn’t. It’s only a matter of time before it happens again.

.

.

.

I had to go to A&E with my mum today. It’s okay, she’s alright, and back at home. But every minute I was there, everything felt weird. I felt detached, like everything was a dream, or a vivid memory. I felt like I was living my childhood again.

According to her:

  • She is dying. Immediately (and has been for the past ten years). She went to see a doctor recently, who apparently said she only has months to live. But she didn’t tell us straight after the appointment, she waited weeks and sensitively broached the subject in the middle of an argument.
  • The reason that she is so very ill is that we don’t care. We don’t listen and we want her to die.
  • She knows this because she can hear our thoughts.
  • Oh, and she can predict the future, too.
  • And she wants to die. She hates living and she thinks her death would serve us all right for being such bastards.

It’s okay. I’m used to it. She’s been telling me she’s dying and it’s our family’s fault more or less since I was old enough to understand what she was saying.

It’s hard, though.

I worry that she’s right.


Hello

My name is Laura. I was once told that I have cyclothymia. This blog is mostly where I write about living as a person with extremes and instability of mood, and the history of a life that led to the development of those symptoms.

I complain a lot, I'm very repetitive, unreliable, and I tend to contradict myself.

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