Short and sour

Remember how I was saying that I couldn’t pass an eye test? Well now I’ve done 4 and they are all different. So much so that this new optician has referred me to an ophthalmologist. Not only that but they stipulated some degree of urgency that I can only assume is code for “suspected maggot infestation of visual cortex”. 

The maggots may have ventured further still because last night after a bathroom trip in the dark, I mistakedly walked into the spare room and wondered where the hell that cd rack came from and where the fuck my bed was!

I’ve had to look at some childhood photos for a family project and it has made me realise once again that I am a very weird looking human. I think this has triggered that relentless recurring dream to descend; the one where I’m single and no-one is interested in me because I’m so hideous and awful. Today I’ve put on my frumpiest jumper to prove a point. 

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Learning to cope.((I don’t have the drugs to sort it out)). 

For the whole of my adult life my mood has been controlled by psychiatric drugs. Since puberty emotions became something intolerably intense for me that needed to be dampened because I felt I wasn’t strong or capable enough to deal with them. 

Any mood swings or problems were considered pharmaceutical in nature; an issue with my medication or dosages, and not just normal human fluctuations.

For over 17 years feelings have been tempered, flattened, smoothed over by daily waves of serotonin with a pinch of norepinephrine and dopamine and one bland day I’d just had enough.

It has taken me two years to complete my borderline homeopathic taper off prozac but as of a couple of months ago I have been drug free. It will be undetectable in my blood soon if not already.

The world has changed. Everything is more vivid and vital, sharper, urgently demanding my attention. Things are loud and overwhelmingly contradictory, and tears flow freely for the sake of a broken pen, or missing words. 

I would like to clarify that although I have never learnt to cope with strong emotions, that does not mean that I am weak or incapable. I need to remind myself this on a daily basis.

And so I wade through the great spectacular symphony that describes the breadth and depth of human emotional capacity. I never realised that the orchestra was so big, that there were so many different instruments that all used to feel just like a blanket of disappointment or anger but now have individual notes of their own.

I don’t know how to deal with the stitching on a favourite dress coming undone, or how to stop myself from shaking while I’m telling you my point of view, but I know this is where I am now meant to be amomg tears, smiles and torn up letters.

Gastroscopy timeline (educational but not so fun)

Oversharing warning!!!

Description of an unpleasant medical procedure on a health anxiety sufferer – Get out now while you still can and go read about puppies instead!

Ever wondered what it’s like to have a camera down your throat? Well, it’s about as fun as you imagine it to be, but it’s not painful, and it’s not deadly and even a freakshow like me can go through with it whilst conscious…so…I reckon pretty much anyone can do it.

Here’s my timeline:

T-6 hours, breakfast and 1mg diazepam 

T-2 hours, last water plus 2mg diazepam

T-1 hour, leave for the hospital

T,  taken for blood pressure and pulse check 

T+45 mins, still browsing the oatmeal for amusing distractions, wishing i’d taken more valium

T+50 mins, taken to the theatre

T+55 mins given lidocaine throat spray and description of what will happen, seriously wishing i’d taken more valium.

T+60 mins, mouth guard in, tube in, and around 4 mins of weirdness and wretching while I hyperventilated and set off the heartrate alarm and the consultant took a video and three biopsies. I wasn’t allowed to watch the screen while they did it 😦 

T+65 mins, breathing and heartrate returning back to normal, results explained (stomach polyps, no sign of reflux), and released home.

T+4 hours, unnecessary irrational concern that the sudden rise in heart rate might have caused damage. 

T+13 hours, wake up overheated, wander around looking for thermometer in case I have a deadly fever. Cant find one, go back to sleep because it’s probably just the valium wearing off. 

T+18 hours, eat breakfast but discover mild vague stomach soreness and consider perforation, cancel horse riding, even though it’s probably muscular pain from the wretching.

T+20 hours, order myself a cute handbag as a reward for being so brave yesterday

T+24 hours, observe dull heartburny chest discomfort that I worry is either my heart or some esophageal tear. Take gaviscon, it gets better.

T+30 hours, starting to get a grip because I’m not displaying any dangerous symptoms…still checkimg temperature and avoiding exertion :/

****

I’m intrigued as to the biopsy results but expect them to be normal..Someone could have told me they were going to check for celiac because I’ve been gluten free for over a month! I also anticipate another day or so of vague discomfort while my insides heal from the bruising and the little fleshy chunks they cut out. Lets be honest here through, even if these mild and largely non-worrysome symptoms don’t improve overnight I’ll still be on the phone for some medical reassurance as soon and the department opens tomorrow! I like to get my money’s worth out of the NHS!
 

Phew! What an adventure. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not voulenteering for another any time soon. I highly recommend the sedative that I declined this time. If there’s a next time I want to be out cold (as long as I can control my tube pulling-out reflex).

How do you turn off your inner superego-centric pessimist?

By the way, I’m actually asking the question,  not answering it.

I have a very stubborn inner pessimist. Negative thinking has taken me to very many places in my life and it’s been largely a cold and dark experience. Sometimes dark and dank are just what you need though, so what exactly am I missing out on?

I’m told by the media,  by my mother, by my therapist, by that labrador down the road that positive thinking is a good thing that you can learn, and that you don’t have to just (figuratively) shit all over everything including yourself. Though this is far more frowned upon as literal behaviour.

As it happens I am in the process of nominating someone for an award and so am having to overcome the cringe-inducing wince-fest that comes with open and borderline superfluous flattery. I recognise all these awesome qualities in people around me but I never tell them, and I’m unable to recognise them in myself. 

Fortune peeked over my shoulder and decided that my therapist should get me to focus on the good things as about myself cos I figure I’m pretty sucky in most capacities compared to everyone else. The single admirable property that I will openly admit to possessing is honesty. The rest of that box remains bare. Sorry doc that’s it, the thesaurus has been scoured and there are no more appropriate adjectives. But low and behold a far worse challenge lay ahead. Due to my utter failure to get with the positivity program, I was tasked with asking a few close people to tell me what they like about me. Apparently this is not just attention-seeking…

Have you ever asked someone what they like about you? It’s fucking weird. I mean in Britain, you don’t go gushing about why you love your friends or family, you just stick by them and they should know that if you hang around long enough then you probably like them some. It goes unsaid, like some mystery current underlying your relationships. You’re never quite sure if your pal secretly thinks you are a wanker but they bought you a pint at the weekend so you’re probably ok in their eyes. So why are we so repressed and inhibited that it feels plain creepy to go listing the things you like about someone? In theory it’s a perfectly pleasant thing to do.

 I’ve only got as far as asking two people, one of whom could only come up with one thing that they like about me and that is my nose, which makes me paranoid because I have kind of a big nose and is by far my least attractive facial feature. Sigh. I’m not going to list the things my therapist and other generous surveyee said because that would take this horrifying experiment to another level of unnecessary squirming to this most uncomfortable topic. 

I can’t quite explain the emotional reaction I have to being given compliments, it’s something deeply awkward and dismissive, because I suspect there is some species-wide delusion  psychosis or pity going on behind those positive words and I don’t want to be the one to burst the bubble. If you’ve seen the series braindead where people are being controlled by brain munching bugs? I imagine it’s something like that. On some level of course I really appreciate the comments even if I don’t believe them because it shows people care enough to try and boost my self-esteem. I assume others feel the same so I avoid dishing out compliments but maybe I’m the only weirdo who finds all this pretty nauseating because sarcasm has to be replaced with earnestness (real word) and that’s a damned big leap. I’m tempted to try reciprocity on this subject with my therapist as an experiment to see if she feels uncomfortable, partly because I want to give something back and partly to look for signs of squirming. Humans are bizarre.

I understand from old Freud’s theory that this kind of self-denial phenomena is due to a strong superego and weak ego.  Superego being the morals that parents bestow in the early years and ego being the logical decision-making mediator between your mind’s chaotic self-gratifying impulses (Id) and reality.This seems fair because a weak ego is also considered the cause of anxiety. So this deflated balloon of a personal aspect needs a bit of air, even if I think it’s just hot air!

Ironically without a highly functioning logical sector, this challenge seems utterly abstract and unattainable. Maybe I’ll start reading Jung again, he seemed to have it all sorted. 

In which I forgive myself and don’t refer to myself as a pathetic idiot

If you get triggered by descriptions of medical procedures then probably don’t read this…

Today was hard for me. I mean really hard. I had to go for a hospital procedure that is basically my idea of hell. I’ve been losing sleep and taken up a whole therapy session fretting over it. Despite much reassurance my anxiety rather got the better or me. I was pretty much holding it together right until I went for some admission tests, y’know the boring blood pressure etc and then the eye faucet was opened. 
Oh dear. Well that wasn’t super helpful but I was unreasonably stressed and couldn’t understand the nurse very well (a combination of anxiety worsening my attention, and a nurse with hayfever and a heavy accent). 

I got my shit together and read my kindle for a bit. An elderly lady with a stick was ushered in and asked to change into a gown. I wondered if she was agile enough to change herself but she managed it OK. As I was called to have the canula put in I got freaked out and the lovely nurse was very nice to me while I sobbed about stopping breathing and dying…so I was put back in the waiting room uncanulated. Being somewhat teary I got a concerned look from the old lady across from me. Despite the effort for her to get up and hobble over to me, she did so and gave me a hug, asking of I was OK. In her thick Scottish accent she told me she was 90 years old had stomach surgery for cancer 40 years ago and had been a regular attendee at the clinic ever since. She said I’d be fine and I almost believed her. People can be so lovely.

I went through to the theatre and the nurse in charge of the actual tube down throat manoeuvre tried to calm me and with some hesitation I agreed to them going ahead. I was shaking so much that no sedation was out of the question.  It took three nurses and three attempts to get the stupid canula in due to being dehydrated. So that was a bit painful and sore so I got dizzy and teary again. They sprayed some godawful demon banana flavoured anaesthetic down my throat, flushed out the canula with saline then gave me sedative, within a couple of seconds I was relaxed, they put in a mouth guard and then I came to in the recovery area a few mins later. 

Apparently it did not got to plan.
Sedated pickledsparklymooseprincess did not enjoy having a camera being pushed down her throat and so she started trying to pull it out with her hands. I don’t know how many times they tried or how much sedative they gave me, I asked why they didn’t just hold my arms down but during the chat the head nurse had with me afterwards. She rather suggested that I was uncontrollably uncomfortable and it was impossible for them to restrain me enough go continue.
Eek.
So basically I went though all the hunger, thirst, build up, the tears, the stress, fear, needles, sedation and presumably gagging, plus associated throat soreness that come free with the procedure without ACTUALLY managing to have it done. 

A large part of me is disappointed and not very sympathetic about this turn of events, however I am proud of myself for agreeing to the procedure, going to the hospital, having the canula put in, having sedation and trying to have the scope. Sadly it wasn’t my day and I might need a general anaesthetic if they decide I really need it done that badly.
So there we have it. Not what anyone wanted but I almost made it. On the plus side I’ll be less scared of canuli and sedation now (and hospital procedures in general). So for the next few days I’ll be stopping myself mid-thought when the words idiot, stupid or pathetic come to mind. Lets face it, this was not a pleasant morning but I got through it and even without the rose tinting of time, would try again (though the nurses may disagree!) 

Sad days and dizziness

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Those ghastly bouts of anxious dizziness returned last week. Is it any wonder with unintelligible data at work and unfathomable propaganda and bigotry spreading through the damned nation. This isn’t the first time that my colleagues and I have experienced the frustration of purdah. It sounds like something glamorous and clandestine but its just muzzling us from having an outward opinion about political goings on. So no liking my friends Facebook posts then. Curses.

I won’t bore you with how disappointed and aggrieved I am with the decision that the ‘good’ people of Britain have made…because you can read it from one of the other millions of others telling the same story up and down the Isles. My conclusion, however, is this: Democracy is not democratic when votes are obtained by deception. I would vote for free unicorns for all and a guaranteed government funded chocolate cake every day but I have the intelligence to realise how unlikely those things are to be real, and that slaughtering all of our cows to make way for those unicorns is almost certainly a terrible idea. I know cows aren’t the most exciting animals and they cost a lot more than unicorns to feed, but they are also less prone to disappearing in thin air. Ah. Has the Penny dropped yet? (because the pound certainly has).

It’s kind of fascinating that the most well educated and financially-orientated areas voted one way….it’s almost like we could see what might happen…but it isn’t black magic guys…it’s just common sense, something woefully lacking in a vast swathe of the commoners.

I can only hope that those vertiginous shaky spells of mine were in no way prophetic…the same goes for the biblical hailstorm we had today.

My therapist says I need to be more positive and worry less…these are testing times.

What I didn’t tell people about my weekend

This weekend was most definitely a good one. I got away with zero housework, travelled across the country for a lovely afternoon with a dear friend, and then spent Saturday morning horse riding, bathing the horses and cleaning tack. The afternoon involved attempted napping.

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(one very soggy Buster)

All good stuff.

Now. What most people I’ve told about my weekend don’t know is that Saturday didn’t start out quite as planned. I was a bit nervous about all the travelling (~6 hrs on the train in total, 6 hours of germs confined goodness) but got myself up, washed and fed, and just as time to leave approached, I realised I needed some sunscreen. Now. As I mentioned, I was a bit on the anxious side, so with every drawer ransacked and every box furiously emptied onto the floor, panic started to seep in, like a vengeful possession wherein all I wanted to do was smash up everything around me. So, still having a modicum of self-restraint I did the only other thing possible and just broke down in tears, freaking the fuck out about acne from other sunscreens, sunburn and skin cancer, and missing the train, and disappointing my friend and catching the plague from the London underground and then, something both amazing and utterly horrific happened. My body reacted to this most acute anguish by seemingly stabbing itself in the abdomen repeatedly. I don’t know if it was meant to be a distraction or what, but it didn’t fucking help, I can tell you that much. So with tears streaming down my face and clutching my belly in agony I thought long and hard about if I could really do this. If I was even capable of taking the reins of control away from anxiety and riding the day out in peace.
After much wincing, ouching and short breaths, I continued rummaging the instigating sunblock was located, and was liberally applied. I was theoretically ready to leave but by now I really wondered if this pain wasn’t something serious. I mean, it really fucking hurt. Like gastritis and ibs x a billion, so it was almost certainly Appendicitis, and what if it burst in the train?! My significant other coaxed me like a timid animal to the car and calmly drove me to the station, he let me out to walk a bit to see if the pain was in retreat, and to my amazement it was. I kissed him goodbye, and headed for the station, took a deep breath and didnt have a single twinge of anxiety for the whole rest of the day. (except maybe that bit where I was running through a storm brandishing a lightening-attracting umbrella…that wasnt exactly chilled,I’ll let myself off for that one though)

This may not read like a good story, but it reads to me like the novel experience of being able to look back with satisfaction, knowing that no matter what anxiety does to my body, I can make it through, and sometimes when anxiety is dead set on ruining your day, sometimes you have to just give it the finger.

An aside

For anyone who doesn’t know much about psychosoma, I would like you to know that the amount of pain someone feels does not depend on the source. Abdominal cramps from anxiety or food poisoning both have you crippled in pain, and just because one was triggered by an internal process rather than external, doesn’t make it less real. If you know someone who suffers from psychosomatic symptoms please remember that although the cause isn’t a deadly disease, the symptoms can be uncomfortable or even debilitating, and telling them that they are making it up or faking it just makes you an arsehole.