June, d’you know
when you will end
can anyone tell me
when it ends
if it ends
I have been searching
for the tail of the thread
but it disappears between
the month so short
where does it end
what lies ahead
what sinks beneath
the surface of calm
the surface of thirty
of sweet words
of meet again soon
of I love yous
of ways we amuse ourselves
press the panic down
into each other
grapple for something
we must voice
what lurks beneath
the fear that penetrates our skin
the worry we absorb
anxiety we bathe our muscles in
desperation that resides within
something akin to over-feeling
that overwhelm that sinks between
Note to self: There is a difference between seeing a health problem as something external that is threatening your body, and seeing your body as itself as the problem. Your body is not a threat. The illness/problem is a threat. Your body is on your side.
It’s all mad. Absolutely fucking mad. I did okay through Christmas, until about 30th December, in anticipation of this appointment with the gynaecologist due to the MRI I had. Spent that evening curled up with my boyfriend crying, and the days leading up to yesterday weren’t much better. Anxious, freaking out. Distracted. Wednesday night my belly was flip-flopping all over the place, doing somersaults.
Been at home for most of the day and I decide it’s time to write a blog post at 11:20pm. Better make it quick!
Tonight has turned very introspective. I have been reading online and thinking about how maybe I have some kind of social anxiety and that holds me back by making me think I can’t do the things I might want to, making me unable to say stuff in meetings, not want to go to social events sometimes, not want to do things that make me the centre of attention. There is a CBT app but it’s like $99 for a month which seems pretty expensive. I’m in therapy at the moment, three sessions in but I’m not sure if it’s really doing anything for me and I have three sessions left and don’t really know what I’m going to talk about in them. Anyway, I’ve just been thinking about the things I wish I could change, really. And social anxiety might be something I can change. But the things I’ve been talking to my therapist about seem to be things that we can’t change, like having bad dreams, flashbacks, bad memories, anxiety about checkups. Cancer-related things, seem to be things I can’t change, or that’s what it’s sounding like.
This week I am thinking about the labels we put on ourselves, the labels other people put on us, and the labels we want. Partly because today is PTSD Awareness Day, and partly because a colleague is celebrating a different diagnosis that has given him relief and closure.
I was trying to figure out if I have anxiety or ptsd or what, because all this health stuff makes me feel crazy. And I don’t think I have ptsd because I don’t think the medical definition of ptsd applies to me. Plus, it feels like things aren’t over, but they’re still happening – because of having to go for checkups, etc. So maybe it’s not ptsd because I’m not just struggling with the past but worrying about the future.
it’s not that far to go
it lurks just below the surface
like the loch ness monster.
everyone else thinks it’s fictional,
a figment of my imagination,
because they’ve never seen it.
but I have, I’ve felt the waves rush
to the river bank as it moved,
I’ve reached out and touched it
oily skin, its skin much thicker
than mine. I’ve negotiated its humps
as it invited me aboard its back, I’ve
felt the powerful swish of its tail,
I’ve held on for dear life as it moved –
because it felt like it was all I had,
and it understood. it was no mirage
to me, and it still lurks there now.
I know I can revisit it at any time,
sometimes unwillingly. sometimes
I go there just so it doesn’t sneak up
on me. Nessie is always there.
I know there is a starry sky up there
somewhere, but for now I’d rather
cling onto Nessie. it’s a comfortable
fear down here, and she knows me
best, now that she’s shaped me,
manipulated me, turned me into a
mirror of herself, a shadow of me.
the water is hypnotising. it would
be so easy to dip a toe in, even though
it’s cold, even though it hurts, even
though it’s the darkest place I’ve
ever seen. the temptation is great
for no logical reason other than to
feel so deeply.
the water runs so deep
and Nessie is the way in.
easily accessible fear
trepidation on tap
anger on demand
a pool of trauma
hidden in this lake
where Nessie lives.
Nessie says ‘tumour markers’
and I panic, stop functioning,
struggle to catch my breath,
just sit and glaze over like these
words are mine, thrust upon me –
and why don’t they belong to
others around me too? – but
they don’t, they’re just mine
and I have to handle it. so I
take a deep breath, grasp onto
it. the consultant says he’s
sending me for a tumour marker
blood test and I say okay as if it’s
fine, and it sort of is, because
I’m strong enough. I could carry
Nessie herself – instead of bobbing
in the water as she takes me
wherever she wants me to go
because she is in control – so
yes, I could carry her weight
but I wish I didn’t have to.
time yet again to get on with
the important work of forgetting.
there’s no jab for not being able to breathe
no injection for anxiety
you just have to train yourself to
breathe again, like
you’ve never done it before.
concentrate like it’s hard
– because it is –
like your life depends on it
– because it does.
put all of your effort into this thing
that is coming so naturally to
everyone around you. this thing
that nobody else even has to think about
has to be the only thing you think about
until you don’t think about it anymore.
and who knows when that will be
or how you will get there?
Having PTSD – or anxiety, or whatever the hell this is – is like lugging a big heavy suitcase around with you all day, but it seems to be invisible to everyone else and you’re shouting at them in your head, “Why can’t you see this thing?!” But you don’t dare say it out loud in case the suitcase really is all in your head and your friends and family think you’re crazy and making a big deal out of nothing, or just attention seeking or trying to get sympathy. Experience has already taught you there are wrong people to try to talk to about it, so you keep your luggage to yourself and hope one day it becomes lighter, and someone sees it and says “are you okay with all of that?” And then you can finally say “No. Thank you for asking about it. I am not okay right now.” After days, weeks, months of lying, you will finally have found a chance to tell the truth. “No, I’m not okay, and this is a bit heavy, actually.” And then someone might give you a luggage trolley, or something. And things will be easier. I hope. Because I don’t even know where to find a luggage trolley.