I think it’s a bad sign that even I am uncertain when I’m ill.
The thing is, ‘ill’ is my default setting so when am I ill enough to be off work? Yesterday was just one of those days.
I’ve gradually been getting slower and slower, moving around has got harder and this most unusual English weather has reduced the quality of my overnight sleep from ‘getting by’ to ‘farcical’. So, yesterday, I got up out of habit then realised nodding off again in the shower was probably not a good sign. Then came the tricky thing of trying to decide whether or not I was ill enough to ring in sick.
- Pain in joints – check. Full set? – double check
- Not really wanting to be too far away from toilet – check
- Difficulty supporting body weight – check
- Brain not working – uhuh, you betcha
And then, on top of this, is the extra little frisson of stress absolutely guaranteed to wipe me out when I have to make the phone call. I hate it. I hate admitting not just that I’m ill, but that I’m weak enough to give in to it. I hate the reaction at the other end of the phone, the “just you take it easy and look after yourself” when I don’t have it in me to believe it. I know it is meant well and I know that the voice knows I’m not putting it on. It’s just this … thing … with me
Back to where I started. When is sick not sick, when is it sick enough and when am I ever ‘better’?
My hands hurt today (typing this has not been fun), my feet hurt (hello plantar fasciitis my old friend), hips and elbows ditto. But I’m only mildly nauseous, and lying down for most of yesterday has to have done me good. Hasn’t it? Clearly I’m now well enough for work …
*Edit* 29th July – a number of revisions were suggested today. Unusual to get feedback, so I’ve been giving this a bit more thought. (Apologies if I get this wrong, some of this is literally occurring to me as I type and my shrink is on holiday.)
All the little conversations I have with myself – ‘am I worse today?’ ‘how much real sleep benefit am I getting?’ ‘can I keep running on so little?’ and my classic of ‘is this sick enough to be off sick – have precursors in my first marriage and first really screamingly obvious self esteem problems when I had no idea how bad was bad enough.
All the times I should have been confident in my own ability to decide whether or not I’m too ill for work, or have been able to tell myself to take a break; all the times there is a voice telling me to take care they can’t hear the shouting voice telling me I’m worthless.
When a sensible person would have said enough is enough I let myself be shouted at, when I should have gone I told myself I’d made a promise (“it’s not like he hit you”), when I was pushed into the cupboard (“it’s not like he hit you”), when I was so scared I could not say no (“its not like he hit you”), dropped on my head, the slip down the stairs, when he raped me (“it’s not like he hit …”).
I’ve no idea where I was in that time of fear. Just a couple of years and so many people have it much worse off than me. Even afterwards I was ashamed of my shame, no esteem for my pain.
Clearly there must have been a problem before the days when I thought it was normal to be told that I was stupid, that I would never get a good job (i.e. like him, in IT), that I was just a waste of space as a fucking arts student. And the shouting. The nonsense rants that went on and on because he thought it funny that I was so confused and small and scared and silent. And so I waited. I waited for it to be bad enough to somehow justify getting rid of him because I didn’t think I had the right.
Why did I have to wait for it to get to rape? And then why did I pay him off just to be rid of him instead of doing anything that would actually validate me? I paid him to go away, and never mentioned it because I didn’t think I was worth the bother. I downplayed it, it was just a thing that happened that didn’t mean anything …
I got through the day in the office on Friday, I dragged myself back there again today feeling sick and tired and so very, very, old. Today was bad. Today the mantra was ‘two more days then holiday, two more days then a rest. Tomorrow the mantra will be counting down the hours while I try and make sense of what is in front of me.
When is sick not sick? When I’m the idiot trying to work it out.