I wrote both the poem below and this blog post a few months ago after a very tough couple of weeks. This culminated in a Gastro-endoscopy; which I had on the same day the Brexit result happened (I mean at least I was sedated).
The Gastro-endoscopy didn’t really give me any more answers than I had, which was extremely frustrating. I spent the entire day after coming back crying in a ball in my bed. This blog post was written shortly after.
For those who don’t know I have had gut pain for about two years (I say gut as I now know where my stomach actually is) and earlier this year I started getting acid reflux, nausea and food coming up my oesophagus but never making it out (I never thought I would miss vomiting). It’s still under investigation.
I now talk about being unwell more than I did, I have been looking after myself better and I have begun to understand more what helps (sometimes that means dropping some none essential self care behaviours).
I have learnt the zen art of breathing through the discomfort, I am picking up on when I need a break and when I can just push on through. I am balancing rest/work/friends much better.
I do not feel as frustrated as I did when I wrote this, but I still relate to the sentiment of it and I think others will too. So instead of trying to write a less ranty post I want to share this one.
I don’t want to hide the really shitty moments because we all have them, being ill (whether physically or mentally) wears you down. One of the reasons I can be positive about my life is because I accept it when it’s shitty and I let myself feel that. I also express it more than I did, I let others know which takes the pressure off; you don’t have to be a competent human all of the time.
To be honest with you I’m tired of just being a capable human. I work in customer service I smile and say no problem. I see friends and can be present, I can listen, I can entertain. I am developing my skills for my future by making contacts and seeking volunteer work.
I can do all of this even when feeling completely shitty. That sensation you get just before vomiting, the moment the food starts to come up and your body prepares itself, well I’ve smiled and chatted through that (as I said I no longer get closure on my nausea).
Frequently nowadays if I get a moment to myself, I collapse I can’t bear to think about anything, I can’t muster the energy or motivation to make art, one of my favourite things to do. This is because I’m sick and I’m fucking exhausted.
I’m not unhappy, I’m not lonely, I’m not bored and I am certainly not uninspired; I have notes everywhere with ideas ranging from mediocre to brilliant. My body is broken and it’s a fucking whiney bitch about it.
I would like to compare it to looking after a difficult child 24/7. I have to monitor my energy, sometimes my body can handle dealing with real life, socialising, working I mean it’ll complain about it but it can deal, but other times it just screams, shouts and trys to destroy everything it can reach (this is when I don’t leave the house).
I have got to that point where I can keep going more than I could, I can pretend I’m ignoring the screams but it’s more noticeable. I can laugh about it to friends and they can’t hear the shouting, but it’s useful to let them know I may not be able to listen fully, I may not be as engaged as I should be.
It is of course easier with a child as you can physically get away, but as that child in this terrible metaphor is my own body, this means I’m shut in with it. I binge watching episode after episode of terrible tv shows (to distract it), while also sending important emails and maintaining friendships, because sometimes you just have to drag the screaming child behind you as you pick up your groceries.
I can deal with the screaming child that is my digestive system, but if I am going to stay sane I need to talk about it. Whether anyone wants to listen or not is there choice, while I am not going to let it be the only thing I talk about, I will not expand more energy than is necessary pretending it isn’t there.
I know it may be fucking dull sometimes, I am drowning in the apathy I feel towards my own fucking pathetic pain and discomfort but it is not all I have. Being ill does not make you a shit person to be around it does not mean you are incapable of having fun, of talking about interesting things.
So when you next get frustrated with someone, whether you know them or not, take a minute to think about what you can’t see, what you may not know about their life (they may be just as frustrated with themselves, if not more). I have benefited many times from this kind of understanding and you probably have too (even when you were being shitty for no reason) and it always makes things a little better.