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Doing it to myself

I guess that’s what most things come down to. I do it to myself.

I write and delete, write and delete … block up completely as soon as I think of other people reading my [insert derogatory term of choice here] output.

I think therefore I stop.

I have a new job. Hoorah! It is fun and an adventure, it is in the best place I could think of being … and … then … I start thinking. It’s the same as any other job because people are the same all over. Just because they are more like me than anywhere else there are still the same elements. I’m the same. Loyal too quick, want to do well, want to be worth something, want to feel like I’m worth paying …

My condition is back (never went away really, I’d just reduced activity to the level where I thought I was coping with it). I wanted to hide it, I wanted to be accepted. I wanted so hard to just be good at something. I tried not to be me but three months in and I’m too tired to smile and I’m trapped in my head and I know I’m just making it worse.

Do you remember how you tell if you’ve got ‘flu or a cold? I heard it was that with a cold you could bend down and get that £5 on the floor. If you had ‘flu, however, you would just leave it. The new job is a contract and I get paid when I go in. To my mind I’ve left quite a lot of money on the floor and, frankly, I just don’t have the energy to do anything about it. Well, other than beat myself up over it.

Amazing. No matter how tired I get there is always enough energy left for my own scorn. A constant well of derision, a babbling brook of self loathing. You could hide the Loch Ness monster in the depths of my self loathing. All the therapy. All the talking … and then the brain fog hits and I forget the words that are clever and are my job and once I’ve fallen through the planks in the rickety pier of my self esteem there is only the deep and the cold. Always waiting.

I have tried the pep talks to myself. Even with my basic interest in maths I know how useful a job can be, and this one would be very handy to stay at. Allowing for putting money aside for holidays, a new boiler, the over-the-top and completely unnecessary side-by-side black fridge freezer (to match other appliances in same range) etc etc this is half my mortgage paid off in 4 years.

Money is no motivator.

My sister in law asked me how I thought it was going and the words came out before I knew they were there. Comparing 4 months in the house, barely speaking, barely seeing people to 3 months of interaction, laughs and ‘being worthwhile’ I found I preferred it just being me and the cat most of the time. The cat might not pay me, but equally I don’t have to cope with public transport (let’s just not go there) or the bone deep pain as I walk or the random phone calls that this job entails, or …

… or the fact that I am with people and I like them and I don’t want to let them down, or be weak, or be flaky. Some of them seem to like me. Maybe it would be easier if they didn’t.

The more people I know the more people there are to let down. I do it to myself.

UoM old

Alan Turing Building, University of Manchester

Maybe I should try to hold on to the idea of what there is outside the windowless room in which I sit. Outside is the University. Outside there are things other than me.

I can go and look at the Shabtis in the museum. Maybe to remind myself that I don’t have to be one, maybe to show myself there is dignity in accepting I am one. Maybe one day I’ll stop doing it to myself.

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Hell is other people

Ok, so Jean-Paul Sartre beat me to the comment but, apparently, it might be appropriate for me.

I’ve been having trouble for a while with my hearing (have I mentioned this?). Not that I’m going deaf or anything, just that when there is a lot of noise I have difficulty in filtering out the background static from the things I should be concentrating on. As I spend a lot of time concentrating on the little voice in my ear (telephone headset, not the ‘voices’ you understand) the background chatter in the office has become something of a problem.

I’ve always been a bit picky about sounds. Not as bad as my brother (he’s moved house a few times just to have that gap between him and anything that might generate noise), but enough for it it cause noticable problems for me as I’ve got older. No idea what I would do without an iPod to cut me off from the outside world some days. It’s a bit of a shame, though, that an iPod while eating meals is not considered appropriate as hearing someone else eat is pretty much guaranteed to make me stress out. (I guess I should say I also can’t stand hearing myself eat or even be aware of the sound of my own breathing.)

Certain smells/combination of smells also seem to have an effect. Whatever you do, don’t come close to me or touch me unexpectedly unless I have already touched you first. Once the reaction has been triggered it’s like I’m sensitive to anything – if you are close to me I feel the warmth from your skin, speaking to me makes me cringe inside when I feel your breath if you look at my face while you do it. If I ever look so down and forlorn that all you want to do is give me a hug then don’t. Just don’t do it. One person can give me hugs (briefly and infrequently), anyone else does the same and it makes me want to run away screaming. The fact that in many cases this might not be an ‘appropriate’ response means I might stay put and let you trap me.

I was brought up to be good and polite. It made me docile. It took away my voice so much that I never even felt that I had the right to say “no” and to protect myself from the things that make me feel antsy. A year into the talking and my therapist has now suggested that I might be somewhere on the spectrum of having Sensory Integration Disorder. I need to do more reading on this. Potentially it could explain a lot for me. Equally it could just be some fancy excuse for me being a moody sod annoyed by just about everyone and everything. Is this just a title for something everyone has on a bad day? It’s not like anyone is going to suggest I’m autistic (middle-aged, female, communicative, terrible at maths, unable to draw from memory or do any other mythical autistic cool stuff).

I’m wondering that maybe, just maybe, there is a connection between this nebulous idea of Sensory Integration Disorder and my ME. Basically – am I exhausting myself mentally coping with the externals and therefore exacerbating the annoying drag of the fatigue and other associated symptoms that I have? It could even be the other way around. I have ME and that strips out my ability to cope with the day to day shit of having to be with other people.

What do I know? I’m just the weirdo in the corner.