I just wrote a new status update on facebook. It went like this: "Well, sometimes when I feel lousy, I am convinced half of it is in my head & I keep pushing on... perhaps it explains the (almost) sense of relief that I have at being told I have a strep throat & middle ear infection requiring massively strong antibiotics to get over... The doctor was using hyperbole all through the examination & said my ears were particularly spectacular! She was surprised one of my eardrums hadn't perforated as it is so swollen she couldn't see the back of the ear canal... I only mention this because it all proves that I am really sick! It's not just in my head & in a sick kind of way (pardon the pun) that makes me happy! ..."
Yes you read that correctly - I actually wanted to be sick.
When I was at school I hated it so much! I was either bored or felt completely overlooked when I was in a subject I struggled with, like maths, & my only joy in school was my social life with my closest friends. At primary school I was even bullied by a teacher, although it took me some years to realise this. When I was legitimately sick I could stay at home & read... I loved reading, & sleeping & not being at school in general...
Later, when I was an adult & after my brain haemorrhage, I suffered severe depression. Depression is still such a mysterious illness, which anyone who hasn't experienced it first hand, can really struggle with understanding. Even people who have clinical depression are often unaware of it, at least initially! I can sometimes be in a bout of depression without even recognising it, & I consider myself aware of the signs & thoughts that go with it. I must say that during the worst periods of my illness in the 1990s, I would almost hope to injure myself or become ill so that people couldn't expect me to fulfill commitments & obligations. I remember realising this when, during my recovery from a break down in 1998 I walked out to the back garden & as I descended the steps to the clothes line I realised a familiar sense was missing. I examined what was different about it this time, & was shocked, & relieved, to know that I wasn't looking at the wonky steps with the concrete footpath at their base as a potential injury trap... somewhere in the back of my mind, deep in my subconscious I thought that if I fell & broke a leg, arm or ankle then I couldn't work, couldn't drive, couldn't attend social or other commitments... I would be blameless AND "off the hook"... & yes, even social events were overwhelming to me.
The pain in my throat, right now, feels like I am trying to swallow around a sharp rock, & the ache in my ears is horrible... but knowing I am not so depressed that I am "wishing" these symptoms on myself means so much to me! I have a fantastic doctor who discussed side effects of the antibiotics with me & advised me to eat lots of live culture yoghurt. I was able to visit the local health food shop for some suppliments, including vitamin D, & I will do everything in my power to get over this as soon as possible & as completely as possible!