The first blog written by Roz!
Hello human, how are you? Good? Busy? Knackered? Anyone with digestive discomfort? Stomach pain? Headache? Chest pains? Joint ache? Come on let’s get it all out. Feeling anxious today? Got any bowel issues in the house? General fatigue? Chronic pain? Weight insecurities? Depression? Dizziness?
I know we don’t often talk about it, we’re so used to keeping going, getting through life, but this is a safe space and I want to acknowledge the feelings that don’t get shared regularly.
I had multiple thoughts on how I would introduce myself on this blog, I could have gone in for the emotional angle, being ill in your twenties as a woman, the educational ‘how to be a friend to an ill person’, I could talk about being a woman with Asperger’s. I am however going to save that for later, today is about greetings. ‘How are you?’ such a simple question a commonly used greeting with so many complex answers.
There are many forms of this question ‘What’s up?’ ‘Wagwan?’ (as my Croydon housemate used to say) ‘How’s life?’ I could go on. When in passing you’d usually respond with a simple ‘fine’ or ‘good thanks you’ even elaborating ‘absolutely knackered’, ‘insanely busy’; simple, to the point, get the job done and move on answers. Then with closer friends you may elaborate; ‘mate it’s been a crazy day….’, ‘So tired I can’t even think right now’, so many possibilities. There is also a standard ill response for short-term illnesses; ‘I have a cracking headache/awful cold/explosive diarrhoea’… you get my drift, but how do you express an illness that is more everyday? Being honest I want to say ‘my digestive system feels very uncomfortable but I’m pretty good been busy blah blah blah’ you may think, not a problem, sounds great; thing is it gets a bit repetitive, digestive discomfort is currently my everyday experience and has been for months. Good friends have turned to me and said ‘Your stomach issues haven’t been so bad recently have they’ assuming that because I haven’t brought is up it’s sorted itself out. Sorry to say my body still hates me, once it stops you’ll know – I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops.
It’s difficult not having a diagnosis, a simple explanation that I can role out, I have to specify what it is that’s fucking up today. For two years now I have been experiencing gastro-intestinal issues; gut ache, bloating, acid reflux, food reflux (without actually vomiting – so unsatisfying, I never thought I would miss vomiting) etc. I have had various tests but nothing specific has been found, there have been theories and I am currently awaiting the results from the most recent tests, which I have a feeling (based on observation of those administering the test) might show something.
It’s much easier when you’ve seen the back of something; ‘I had this [symptom of any kind] for [an amount of time]’ it was exhausting/awful/difficult’. It’s a story, we can disconnect, that was past me it’s got narrative arc, beginning middle end, that last one is the glory moment; end, it’s over, I got through it. It’s not as easy when the story is more complicated, going on a few weeks/months/years when you’re under investigation.
Not only is it difficult internally not having a diagnosis (if I had a pound for every time I have tried to convince myself I’m insane and it’s all in my head; not taking painkillers until it gets crippling because I am clearly just a hypochondriac and it’ll disappear if I pretend it’s not there. It doesn’t) it’s also difficult to talk about, I only really started to tell people generally when I thought I had the answer. It’s the same with a lot of people I know, my best friend got a colonoscopy without me knowing (she does live about 250 miles away and our communication is sometimes sporadic due to life) I found out once she had her diagnosis- she had mentioned health issues but not in that much detail.
It makes it so much harder dealing with it alone, when you’re not sure what’s going on, flipping through thinking you’re making it up and just wanting an answer. Since talking about it I find it much easier to deal with life because it’s a thing people know, it’s not about being treated differently just about shit being acknowledged. We all have things that make life difficult, a lot of things in my life are going really well; in fact it’s really just my health that’s not (the opposite of the cliché ‘at least I’ve got my health’).
From talking about my own health issues and talking about this blog so many friends and acquaintances have revealed their own health struggles or things going on with family and friends. It’s been such a positive experience and one of the things I personally want out of this blog is for more people to feel able to share their health issues and not think that they’re bringing the mood down. So try telling someone how you actually are when they ask see how it makes you feel, let’s see if a bit more honesty can make us feel just a little better. I promise I’ll try more too.