Category Archives: Invisible Illness

“So, what do you do?”: An Apology

My apology comes on two fronts. First, I’m sorry to people who ask me this question.

You don’t really know me and you’re trying to maintain conversation through the inevitable lull. You pull out the old faithful “so, what do you do?” expecting a good fifteen minutes where you can just coast on me nattering about how being a vet or a lawyer or a real estate agent or whatever is just great and is really taking off for me right now and blah blah blah. You probably feel a bit good about yourself for offering me a hefty turn in the conversational spotlight.

But it doesn’t go that way. Because I’m not a vet or a lawyer or a real estate agent. I’m not even a whatever. 

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And even if you have the guts (and I love these people, please have the guts) to keep the conversational ball rolling without changing the subject or jumping out the nearest window (and even though I don’t love the people who do this, I can sympathise), it doesn’t get any better.

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Because I end up sad-bombing the conversation.

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Second, I am sorry for asking that question.

Because I know it’s bad. And I can see it in a person’s face when that was the wrong question. They go very still while they mentally navigate the minefield ahead, looking for the best route, or they give me this quick, sad look like I’ve betrayed them in some unforgivable way. It’s the same look our pet Jack Russel gave us whenever we filled the plastic baby’s bath and got out the dog-shampoo.

Maybe because they are worried that I won’t think what they do is good enough. Maybe they think they should be doing more. Maybe they just don’t want to sad-bomb me.

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And I always want to fix it.

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But I just met the person, or don’t know them very well, and maybe if I was a charismatic extravert I could go back on it, derail that train I just set in motion. But I can’t. I don’t know how. I ride it to the end of the line because I’m an introvert with social anxiety disorder and terrible at small talk.

So I’m sorry.

But I think the world would be better and people would be happier if “so, what’s your favourite dinosaur?” was an acceptable conversation starter, and “so, what do you do?” wasn’t.

It’s My Birthday!

And I am now officially on the late twenties side of 25. This has me concerned that by now I should have my shit together, or at least have a more respectable shit-together versus shit-all-over-the-place ratio. Or at the very least I should act more like an adult.

(If you’re thinking, ‘wait, you’re getting married soon and that’s a shit-together sort of thing to be doing,’ you might be right, except it’s really just an elaborate excuse to have honeymoon in New Zealand so that we can frolic with the hobbits and then drink them under the table at The Green Dragon.)

But then I remembered that I have a blog and am practically required to have my shit all over the place so that I have things to write and draw about. Who would want to read a blog about the adventures of some sensible and responsible girl who doesn’t chase people around her house making weirdly unnerving comsognathus noises, is so organised that she never runs out of toilet paper (yesterday, when I was the only person in the house, I realised post-pee that we had run out, so I was trapped until I worked up the courage to risk a slow-motion, tip-toeing tissue-finding expedition, which I am proud to say was successful, and thanks to my careful footwork, drip-free), and would under no circumstances interrupt already-complicated lists with parenthetical anecdote-overshares so you forget what the list was about in the first place and can’t remember what punctuation should go at the end? (Surprise! It was a question the whole time. I went back and checked.)

So maybe it’s okay.

And that’s  comforting.

But then I learned that Taylor Swift is the same age as me. And when I say ‘the same age’, I mean the difference between our birthdays isn’t statistically significant. I did the maths and everything. So, theoretically, we were born at the same time. And I even look like her.

Well, I have the same colour hair as her.

Almost.

You know, it’s what’s on the inside that really matters. And the point is that we are very similar and therefore I should have achieved a comparable level of shit-together-ness in the same amount of time, but I haven’t. When sixteen-year-old me made the decision to dedicate her free time to NaNoWriMo rather than releasing pop country albums, she had no idea of the ramifications that would echo down the years.

But I know what you’re going to say. Shake it off.

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Oh wait, I have chronic fatigue syndrome and couldn’t even win a dance competition against a jellyfish.

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Looks like you win this round, Taylor Swift and jellyfish. See you at 30.

A Quest to Emergency (Alternative Title: If this ever happens to me, I’m going to lie and say it was dragons)

Last week I got a call from my partner while he was at work.

“I’m okay, but I’ve had an accident!” he said.

My mind went straight to:

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The reality, I established after a few minutes of agitated conversation, was more like:

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He had dislocated his knee. He was waiting for the ambulance to arrive, and he stayed on the phone with me until the pain got so bad that he was having trouble not screaming. I told him not to worry, the paramedics would be there soon and I would find him at the hospital, and then he hung up.

I had no idea how I would get to the hospital.

It’s a good forty minute drive, and I am not well. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) not only keeps me physically and cognitively exhausted, but also smacks me down ten times as hard if I try to push past my (very pitiful) limits. It lets me build up a crippling energy debt, and then it comes to collect. As you can imagine, it makes it (at best) difficult or even (at worst) dangerous for me to drive. I had sold my car a few months earlier. Now I was stranded.

I was used to CFS making me feel helpless, but this time I only felt rage.

My partner was injured, and I wanted to be there. After the surgery I had a couple of years ago, he had been with me every moment he was allowed. For a week he paid exorbitant hospital parking fees, ate cheap food from nearby take-away places, napped in a chair in my room and only went home when I had gone to sleep. Now I couldn’t even pick him up from hospital.

I was vaguely aware that there must be a rational way to sort this all out without making myself sick. Perhaps one of his work colleagues who had stayed with him would take him home. I didn’t have to personally go in. But I did have to, because that’s what you do when the person you love is hurt.

I decided that CFS wasn’t having this one.

I pulled out my Zombie Apocalypse List of friends. You know the friends I’m talking about. These are the friends who, when you really need something, just say ‘okay’ and help you. Everyone needs at least one of these people to call when the zombie apocalypse starts.

So I called one of my Zombie Apocalypse List friends and explained that I needed him to drop everything and drive me to the other side of the city and back because my partner had a non-life-threatening injury. I said that I really needed this.

He said, ‘Okay.’

Twenty minutes later we were on our way. I spent the whole trip monologing about the insanity of the cheap romance novel I am in the process of disemboweling to make paper roses for my upcoming wedding.

Just to clarify, I do not intend that as a generalisation of the entire romance genre. But this specific book was arrest-level crazy. Someone needed to sit those characters (and probably the author) down and have a serious talk with them about a) making life decisions, b) contraceptives and c) consent. There wasn’t actual rape, but there was rapey kissing, where one character forcibly kissed another who was saying ‘NO’ loudly and fighting to get away. The author seemed to think this was romantic, but it made me throw up a little bit in my mouth. Needless to say this scene is not making it to my wedding, even reincarnated as a paper rose.

My Zombie Apocalypse List friend listened calmly, understanding both the ick-factor involved in rapey kissing and that being tangential is just how I dispel nervous energy. I was very impressed and upgraded him to my Help, I Need to Bury a Body List. When I later told him this, he said that he could not in good conscience help me bury a body when a bathtub full of lye would do a much better job of removing physical evidence.

Duly noted.

We got to the hospital and promptly got lost. This was unfortunate because at this point I was definitely down to borrowed energy. We wandered around while I, using my health as collateral, built up a bigger and bigger energy debt. This meant that at the time I could push through, but the next afternoon I couldn’t move from the couch. I was so exhausted that standing up made me want to cry. Usually my loving, caring partner would do what he could to help me, but this time he was stuck on the same couch recovering from a dislocated knee. It’s a miracle we didn’t starve to death.

Maybe my CFS had a bit of a chuckle about all this. Maybe it even thinks it won this round. But you know what, CFS?

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In the end we found the emergency department (it was the big, red part of the building with lots of ambulances parked in front of it that we had already walked past several times) just as my partner, mellow from pain-killers, was given the all-clear and turfed out of his wheelie-bed.

We finally heard his story in full.

Apparently he was lying on the ground to examine some cables.

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He rolled over to get up, but his foot got caught on something.

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The rolling action popped his knee out.

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He waited half an hour for an ambulance (dislocated knees are not a high priority). He quickly realised that all this had occurred on top of an ant nest.

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But he couldn’t relocate because it hurt too much to move, so he engaged in a vicious war with the ants in which his only weapon was his bum.

…which he used to crush the ants. Not gas them or mesmerise them with a sexy dance or whatever else popped into your mind.

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See? Crushing them.

If you judge a war by its casualties, then he won. Hundreds of dead ants were later shaken from his pants. But if you judge it by any other means—such as who ends up with the land or dignity (or both) that was in dispute—then he lost.

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It’s a truly terrible injury story. I offered to improve it with a car chase and some dragons, but he seems happy with his ants.

Depression Lies

Lately my depression has been close to the surface. It whispers things to me and manipulates me. It tries to make me believe that I am worthless. I want to write about it properly, but everything I put down seems wrong, and I end up in tangles.

To have it swoop in and steal the words off the tip of my tongue makes me feel powerless. Loss of voice—silence—is a big deal for me. When I was a child my social anxiety was so strong that I often felt physically unable to speak in front people I didn’t already know well and feel comfortable with. So even if I can’t yet find a way to talk through it properly, I would like to put something about it up here.

I have a Gryffindor notebook that my sister bought me from Harry Potter World which I like to scribble in. With the help of my lovely assistant and trusty stead—doesn’t she look gorgeous in that silver dress?—I would like to show you my most recent scribble.

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As you can see, some fairly standard depression imagery going on there. Darkness pouring down.

I didn’t have any words of my own to describe it or to cope with it, so I borrowed some. We live in a big, connected world, and chances are someone else has just what you need. This is humanity’s great advantage. We communicate.

So there are words, and if you can remember it when your brain has gone dark, it helps.

The Bloggess (hilarious, big-hearted, giant-metal-chicken-owning internet rockstar) says ‘depression lies’, and she’s right. It lies. It lies and it lies and it lies until all you’ve got are the lies and you can’t tell anymore which way is up.

So I’m trying to hold on to the knowledge that depression lies, and using that as my compass, the pictures turns around … Lovely assistant, if you would be so kind.

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The page is still half-covered. The light and dark are in exactly the same proportions as before; it’s not gone. But now the warm parchment colour is on top, and I am anchored.

“Be Positive”: As helpful as the Microsoft Paperclip

And who wants to be like the Microsoft paperclip?

I have chronic fatigue syndrome (cfs). One day in March last year I came home from university placement feeling drowning-tired and crawled into bed expecting to sleep all weekend and be better by Monday. That was over a year ago, and I’m still waiting for that magical Monday.

There’s a lot about having cfs that sucks (shocker). It sucks that on bad days I’m so tired after showering that I need to lie down. It sucks that my once-serviceable memory appears to have sprung a leak and I now have to make checklists to remember basic daily things. It sucks that reading is tiring, that writing is even more tiring, that if I draw too many blog-pictures in a day I start to feel sick.

It sucks that my short-term goals had to be dramatically altered—from ‘start a career’ to ‘maintain a blog’, from ‘make money and save up for cool stuff’ to ‘maybe sweep the floor if you’re feeling up to it’.

But what I hate the most is when people, usually after hearing about my altered goals, tell me that I shouldn’t think like this, that I’m being ‘too negative’ and I should ‘be positive’.

I hate this for a whole bunch of reasons. One is that it’s actually normal to feel bad when bad things happen (and unhealthy to bottle that up). Another is simply because being told what to do and how to feel is a universally loathsome experience. But the main reason I hate it is because it twists the word ‘positive’ into something inverted and monstrous. And I think the reason I feel so strongly about it is that because before I got sick it was my view of ‘positive’ too.

In this sense of ‘positive’ my recovery is not only certain and imminent but it will be the glorious restoration of my life. To ‘be positive’ I must stay focused on that and ignore this ugly illness business, which is ‘negative’.

This version of ‘positive’ is saying that being sick is being broken. It says that I don’t have a life now and I shouldn’t think about and plan for this not-life.

Here’s the thing. What if I never get better?

You want to know something scary? Not everyone recovers from cfs. Most people—the vast majority of them, in fact—do improve, but some don’t, and there’s no way to tell where I fit into those statistics.

So, hypothetically, what if I never get better?

What if I never get better and the only things that matter to me are things I can’t do while I’m sick? What if I spend my entire life planning for when I get better rather than living now? To me, that doesn’t sound like a good mindset. That is not positive. I don’t want to die of old age 60 or 70 years from now bitter that my ‘proper’ life was stolen from me when I was 24.

Don’t tell me that I’ll get my life back when I am better.

Tell me that I have a life now and will have it until I die, whatever else happens.

It won’t be the same life I would have had if I’d never become sick, I know that. Like I said, there’s a lot about having cfs that sucks. Sometimes that makes me sad. But sucky things happen in all lives to all people. Cfs might give me a different life with different sucky things, but it will not give me lesser one.

And I’m not writing this to convince everyone else to rise up in chorus and say the things I want to hear. I’m writing it because maybe I can convince myself to.

Because I will have a life. Just watch me.

The Importance of Basking in the Glory of Small Victories

Recently* a friend told me something surprising.

She said that I was impressive.

It took me some time to soak this peculiar idea up. I am far too used to thinking of myself as the opposite, and so the idea that I might be considered ‘impressive’ was altogether too strange to be believed. I mean, yes, the website header does include a cartoon picture of me riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex which cuts a pretty impressive figure, but spoiler alert, that never actually happened. That’s just artistic license.

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The cold, hard reality is that I’m 25 years old and I’m useless at most useful things, such as social interaction, basic time management, showing initiative, caring even slightly about money and physically doing things. I don’t even have a job or any prospect of getting one until my CFS improves.

If you’re thinking that I’m being hard on myself and want to assure me that without CFS I would be a dinosaur-riding force to be reckoned with, then thank you, really, that’s very sweet. But you’re embarrassingly wrong. My maximum pre-CFS coping level just about covers going to the supermarket. That is to say, sometimes. Certainly if it isn’t peak shopping hour. Actually even then still maybe not, because when push comes to shove I can drink my tea without milk, and let’s be honest, the toilet paper situation is never really desperate until you’ve also run out of tissues.

Being impressive is a nice idea though, and it grew on me. Around this time I also realised I hadn’t made a blog post in a while, so I made a list my achievements of the past few months and have taken the time to publicly gloat over them. Opportunities to rub victories into defeated opponents’ faces are thin on the ground when your general moral policy is not to be a jerk (disclaimer: general moral policy does not apply when playing Mario Kart). As such, I think it’s important to make the most of defeating non-person things like brain-fog or the knit-1-below stitch.

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That’s right. A whole jumper. A whole jumper that looks acceptable and doesn’t have unplanned holes. It’s my first knitted jumper. Before this jumper, I had only ever knitted scarves, blankets and headbands. I started it last winter and finished it in summer, but I didn’t think my victory could be properly relished without wearing it, at least for a day.

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A popular way for movies and novels to illustrate a significant change in a person’s life is to show that person in two similar events before and after the change. It seems like a fun and effective trick, and I simply can’t resist giving it a try.

For me, the beginning of 2015 was something like…

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… which may seem bad, but it’s actually really good because the beginning of 2014 was more like …

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… as it occurred just over 24 hours after I had major surgery to remove a begin but ridiculously enormous ovarian cyst (seriously, it was 20cms across and weighed 1.5kg).

So I’m counting that as a general life improvement to feel good about.

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For some reason I tend to not count university as an achievement. I’m not really sure why.

I say things like: “I’m useless. I haven’t done anything in the last few years.”

And my friends give me funny looks and say: “Didn’t you get two degrees? I’m sure I remember you whinging about assignments, pulling all-nighters and babbling about the Dewey decimal system while sobbing uncontrollably. If you need reminding I can produce photographic evidence of you tossing a mortarboard in the air with apparent glee.”

So this time I will count it.

In November I completed my final semester of my library and information management graduate diploma. After becoming unwell, I had to study part-time and externally. It was still hard. The effort I had to put into coursework gave me near-constant brain fog and made me crash all the time. I was accustomed to getting good grades, and it was soul-crushing to understand what was involved in an assignment but have my brain and health fail me so utterly that I still could not meet all the requirements. I drifted in a never-ending sea of confusion, vice-like headaches and exhaustion.

My grades dropped.

But I passed.

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I posted last year that due to ridiculous levels of brain fog brought on by university I found myself incapable of reading Moby Dick. At the time I had to accept my limitations and stick with re-reading Harry Potter instead.

But know I have finished university and I have more freedom in what I read. I don’t have to throw every last ounce of energy at textbooks and essays. Now I can once again direct my energy toward dense, wordy books.

So I went straight back to Moby Dick and totally crushed it.

… in the mature, intelligent, literary sense of ‘totally crushed it.’

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If you have some victories to bask in the glory of, please do so in the comment section! It will make you feel warm and glowy, and who doesn’t like feeling warm and glowy?

* When I started writing this ‘recently’ was a valid word choice, but at the time of posting ‘a couple of months ago’ would be more accurate. I kept getting distracted and not finishing this post, primarily because it doesn’t have very many good jokes and I find jokes motivating.

 

Scarves for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare

Call me invalid. I have had chronic fatigue syndrome for a little over six months now, so lately I haven’t been able to do a whole lot.

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Initially it wasn’t so bad. That is to say, it always sucked, but at first it was a fresh situation and it was easy to be optimistic. Less so now. Apologies about this. I’ve been trying not to sulk, but it’s becoming difficult.

The real problem is the brain fog. I’ve never been a very active person, so it hasn’t been too hard to limit physical exertion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still been frustrating, inconvenient, limiting and an all round pain, but I’ve found I can do it and still have a life that makes me happy.

I’m having a lot more trouble limiting cognitive exertion. The big part of this is that the university semester has just started up again, and although I only have one subject for my post-grad librarianship course, it’s a course on readers’ advisory, which means a lot of reading. Like, a lot. And reading is cognitive exertion. And cognitive exertion leads to brain fog. And brain fog is utterly debilitating.

You know when you read a sentence and you understand every single word in that sentence individually but together it makes no sense, and you’re left wondering if the sentence actually is nonsense or if it’s just you missing something? Brain fog is like that, but with everything in the entire world and you know it’s you. When I have brain fog, I can’t put things together meaningfully. Things I’ve never thought of as cognitive activities have suddenly become challenging, or just downright impossible. These are things like remembering things, following a recipe and cleaning the detergent compartment of the washing machine.

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This issue has been lurking for a while, but it has been manageable. I found that re-reading easy things is relatively gentle on my mind when I turned to Harry Potter after brain fog forced me to abandon Moby Dick. But now that I have to read academic writing and chew through a mountain of fiction for uni, I get brain fog most days.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of knitting and feeling guilty. The guilt is because I feel like I should do as many useful things as possible, because I can’t do many things and my partner has to pick up the slack. Expending energy on knitting means I’m less useful than my maximum useful output.

But I’m knitting anyway, for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that I like it, it doesn’t tire me out that much, and it neither brings on nor is impeded by brain fog.

The second reason is that my knits are potential bribes for people I know in the real world to come and visit me. So people who are nice enough to come and talk to me might just get a beanie out of it.

It was probably a mistake to put that information online. I have no illusions about my knitting ability, and the promise of free knits would be more of an incentive to stay away. In fact, I’ve never even knitted a beanie. I probably can’t. Scarves and headbands are more my level.

The final reason I found in the pages of Harry Potter. And it is the most important, I think.

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It means I’m free, even if it’s just a little bit. I produce something. I have something to show for the time I spend knitting. I might have to study from home, I might have to abandon hopes of getting job any time soon, I might struggle to read or write, I might lose my train of thought and forget simple words, I might not be able to walk more than a few hundred meters on a good day, but, damn it, I can still knit just as much and just as well as if I was healthy.

And ok, Dobby the house-elf being freed by clothes and then wearing a crazy collection of knits as a symbol of his freedom is not exactly like knitting to rebel against the confines of illness, but whatever. It helps me.

Initially, this is how I wanted to end this post:

Tenuous connection or not, tomorrow I am going to put on all my scarves, yell “Dobby has no masters!”, dive back into Moby Dick and get my white whale.

I was excited about that ending. Writing it made me feel like I could do anything, and I was determined that I would. But that’s not how this post ends, because of reality.

Moby Dick would be hard through brain fog anyway, but I can’t even try chipping away at it while I have so much uni reading to prioritise. Maybe at the end of the semester I can try it again, but not now.

Also, that ending was to have a picture of me, mummified in scarves, on a ship chasing a white whale though a storm. I tried to draw it and couldn’t. It was the shape of the ship and making it work with all the background shapes like waves and clouds and the whale. My mind was all foggy and I couldn’t draw.

This was, to date, the most upsetting thing that chronic fatigue has done to me. My failure to clean the washing machine detergent compartment was defeating and degrading, but my ability to clean a washing machine detergent compartment has never been important to me as a person the way my ability to express myself through words and pictures has.

So I couldn’t end like that, with a “screw it, I’ll do it all anyway!”, because I can’t. I can’t. I can knit scarves, but I can’t chase whales. I need to accept the things I can’t do and find victories in the things I can.

I can’t guide that ship through the fog in my head.

But I drew something else.

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I’ll end with this.

Fighting Multi-Headed Anxiety Monsters with the Power of Song

But first a confession. I had a really hard time writing this, but an easy time drawing the pictures. In fact, I had more fun drawing these pictures than I did drawing myself being ripped apart by a bear (here), and I giggled continuously while doing that one. But the words were difficult. So this is how it turned out.

There’s this awful thing that follows me around wherever I go. Other people can’t see it, but I can. It’s always there in some guise. Maybe it’s not bothering me right now, but I can see it lurking and I know that it can attack me whenever it wants.

It’s called anxiety. Maybe you have your own version of this monster. A lot of people do.

When it comes for me I’m usually the only one who notices, but you could tell if you were paying attention. When it happens, I experience:

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And a few other things which aren’t as easy to draw. Plus, lists of three are neat and the racing heart one is definitely the punchline. So we’ll just skip over hot flushes, hyperventilation and feelings of impending doom. Lists of six suck.

Actually … let’s quickly do a superficial interpretation of feelings of impending of doom, because that phrasing makes me giggle.

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Lists of panic attack symptoms tend to refer to it this way. I’ve always found the terminology hilarious, but the experience is horrifying and (for me, anyway) it’s the worst part of a panic attack. But more detail later.

Even with these symptoms, I can fight it. But it isn’t easy.

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If you cut off one head, another one grows back.

I used to be very shy and afraid of talking to people. Over the last few years I have fought this and it has become much easier. I am still shy, but I can talk to strangers and I am able to make new friends. I cut off that head, and my multi-headed anxiety monster grew another.

This one makes me afraid of being in crowds.

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This is a problem. Basically, it makes it difficult to be anywhere other people also want to be, which covers most places worth going. So I rarely go to concerts, clubs or popular restaurants (especially the ones that won’t let you book but they’re always so busy that you have to queue to get a seat). And going Christmas shopping or travelling on public transport in peak hour are like personalised versions of burning in hell.

… saying ‘personalised versions of burning in hell’ makes me want to go on a picture tangent. And I will. Because it’s my blog and I can if I want to.

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And now back to anxiety.

The place I have to fight the anxiety monster the most is the supermarket. Because you have to go all the time or you run out of food and toilet paper. And you need those.

When I can, I try to go to the supermarket with my partner so that I don’t have to face it alone. It’s important that I do face it, because this is the best way to teach myself that there isn’t really anything to be afraid of. But of course I am afraid. I shuffle around, looking at my feet, trying to remain calm. It only takes one extra little thing for the monster to attack. A decision.

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That’s all it takes for my brain to break.

I remember when I was a kid riding my bike and the bike chain popped off. I spun the pedals, but they felt strange and loose and I couldn’t get any traction. The bike slowed down and wobbled. I tried pedalling faster and faster, but the bike didn’t respond.

It’s like that. You put some information into your brain. It spins, but nothing comes out the other side. You’ve lost a brain-cog. So you spin it faster. And faster. People are looking at you. They expect you to say something. Your silence is getting weirder and weirder. The bike is wobbling.

I always think the crash is going to go something like:

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But that’s never actually happened.

And that’s feelings of impending doom. You feel like something’s broken, either in your mind or your body, and you’re about to die or go mad or experience other doom-like fates. And, sure, it may not be everyone’s vision of doom, but screaming in public and having my head explode feels pretty doom-y to me.

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Mostly, I’m proud to say, I cope. I may not see many concerts, but I catch public transport and buy my friends and family gifts for Christmas. I buy food. I keep myself alive and my home in stock of toilet paper.

Mostly.

There are days when it’s too much and it feels like there’s no way I can avoid the doom (the one where I scream in public and my head explodes). On those days I don’t go to the supermarket. I can live off my emergency stash of two-minute noodles and resort to using tissues for a while, but usually my partner is kind enough to go shopping for me. I stay home alone.

The monster has a head for this too. I start to worry about failing, about not coping, about being worthless. All the predatory pieces of my mind come out to feed. It’s the hardest thing to fight off.

And then one day I was home alone, unable to face the supermarket and my impending doom. I started the old cycle of worry … and then I stopped. Instead, I started drawing tenuous parallels between myself and Disney characters who find it hard to function in society due to a crippling fear of people. And before I knew it …

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Change

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So maybe the moral of this story is that when life gives you lemons, sing to those lemons about how awesome and magical you are. And if it still bothers you afterwards that they’re lemons and not lemonade then at least you have an ice castle to be bothered in.

Or maybe that’s nonsense and the moral is just that anxiety is hard and it’s hard every single day, but you can still do life.