If people treated physical illness like mental illness…

CW: sickness, death, other depressing shit.

 

“Try to think calming thoughts. Non-agonizing thoughts.” You croon into the face of the man lying on the ground. You avert your gaze from the jagged end of shattered femur protruding from a bloody hole in his thigh. “Don’t think about the pain. You can overcome this. I believe in you.” Slowly his moans of pain go quiet, his face white with shock and pain. His skin loses its colour, goes cold and clammy. “That’s better. Don’t focus on the pain. Think strong thoughts. Think of how much you want to be well. Take hold of your goals: you will walk!” He lapses into unconsciousness. Pain, shock, and massive physical trauma have taken their toll. Soon his heartbeat fades. “Why aren’t you trying?” You demand, as he takes his final breaths, “Why don’t you want to be well? If you wanted it enough, you wouldn’t die like this!” He dies. You wonder why he didn’t love life enough to overcome his problems.

 

“It must be so depressing, being a cash cow for Big Pharma,” you tell your friend as she injects her insulin. She’s had diabetes since childhood, and has it pretty well under control with a careful diet and regular injections. “I mean, you’re basically an addict, right? You’d be a different person, without the drugs. You can’t even function without them. They’ve got you hooked.”

“Actually, I need insulin to allow my body to function normal- ” She tries to make excuses, but you have to tell her.

“You’re letting yourself rely on artificial drugs. How will you ever learn to be resilient if you don’t push yourself, learn to be self-reliant? I believe in you. You just need to believe in yourself.”

Worn down by your constant moaning, your friend begins to doubt herself. She skips one dose of insulin, then another. Her partner finds her one morning, collapsed on the bathroom floor. She never wakes up from the coma. You wonder why she was never able to make that final step into true self-reliance. One more death caused by the evils of Big Pharma 😦

 

You find a growth on your side. It’s sore and painful. It seems like it fits all the warning signs for cancer. It’s still small though. You go to your GP and they frown. “We’ll just give you paracetamol. Until it’s seriously affecting your quality of life, we don’t have any services funded to deal with you.” You go home. Months pass. The growth… grows. You stop going outside for fear that people can see it bulgig under your clothes. It hurts, constantly. Sometimes it bleeds. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. Finally, emaciated and frail, you fall and hit your head. An ambulance rushes you to A&E. You need complex surgery and end up spending six weeks in hospital. Although they successfully remove the tumour, you never regain your full strength. Health problems plague you for the rest of your days. This costs the NHS a huge amount of money, but luckily you are declared Fit for Work so at least the state saves on benefits. You die in poverty.

 

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If people treated physical illness like mental illness…

Pathogen

I had The Illness That Makes Your Head Feel Really Heavy. This is a real illness that has apparently been going round at my mum’s work, making people sign off sick because the intense weight of their head became insupportable. It also gives you all the usual annoying cold/virus symptoms. I spent the past couple of days lying around being weak and pathetic. Now I just feel like I got hit in the head a bunch, keep feeling like I might faint, and have a scritchy scratchy throat. I’m also really tired because I helpfully had a load of nightmares about being bashed in the head and screamed at.

Being ill makes me feel crazy and sad and frustrated. To swith to therapy-speak, illness (along with tiredness, hunger, and being wasted) is definitely a factor in increasing psychological vulnerability. This we learned in DBT in the form of a snappy acronym. DBT loves acronyms. This one is PLEASE, for:

 

Physical

ILlness (treat it)

Eat balanced

Avoid mood altering substances

Sleep enough

Exercise

 

OK I lied about it being snappy. It’s pretty clunky as acronyms go, but it does describe the basics of taking care of your body. This is definitely something I’m getting better at, but it’s still more Bukowski than Buddhist. (And leave Burroughs and HS Thompson out of it!) But I do accept the importance of taking care of yourself – of not completely trashing the body that supports and carries you for your whole life.

The trouble is, I can’t really treat this illness, because it’s basically a really annoying headcold, which is not amenable to anything other than Cold & Flu pills and Tiger Balm (better than Viks vapour rub). Obviously these things don’t really help that much, so now it’s time to mindfully accept the situation.

HAH! Just kidding. It’s time to bitch and moan constantly and do nothing useful. It’s time to wrap myself in a fluffy blanket of free-floating anxiety and curl up on the couch, because outside is cold and the gaze of others makes me feel like I’m burning.

You can tell therapy is working somehow though, because I’m not getting drunk right now.

(I was supposed to be writing today.)

 

Pathogen

How to use up 2016 and become better. (A goal setting post)

From bitter experience, I know that New Year’s Resolutions are destined to fail. A year is an unfathomably long time, and there is no possible way I can plan that far. However, this year is different in that a lot of it is already planned for me. I will be living in Derbyshire, and doing Dialectical Behavioural Therapy twice a week. Which is probably going to be exhausting and take up a lot of my power. It also means that I want to look after myself a bit better. I can’t very well fix my brain if I’m tired, sick, or hungover.

I last made a set of goals in September. Of those goals, all I’ve managed to do is the dentist one. I got 4 fillings but think I need to go back because the most recent filling hurts. The pain has actually kept me awake a couple of nights. Oh, I also got a bike, because Daddy bought it for me. I rode some, but I admit that my lack of fitness and lack of road confidence have led to me not doing as much as I ought to. Also it has rained for the last 6 weeks so I refuse to go outside.

Journal writing has been up and down. I was doing well until December, I think. I did submit something, and got published! Now to submit something else… I also managed to take a massive backwards step by starting smoking again. Maybe that’s why I now have a hacking chest cough.

So, here are some new goals for the first bit of 2016:

Get Fit

  • Bike more places. Maybe do a cycling course so I don’t die in traffic.
  • Train up for half marathon in July, 3-5 days/week.
  • 5k & 10k runs. Like the Parkrun.
  • Find a yoga class or similar.
  • Eat in a sustainable way with actual nutrients and not just cheese.
  • Quit smoking, again.
  • Drink once or twice a week, at most.

Writing

  • Complete editing and design cover for poetry pamphlet, by April.
  • Polish and submit poems and short stories I already have.
  • Write more stuff.
  • Keep blogging.
  • Get some work experience/do some journalism/something something professional writer.
  • Do NaPoWriMo in April.
  • Daily freewriting.
  • Journalling

Social/Activism

  • Get in touch with local groups and see what I can do.

Mental Health

  • Do the therapy and homework (without constant sarcasm).
  • Fill in mood diary sheet every day.
  • Go to hypnotherapy that the amazing Si is giving me for free!

Other Stuff

  • Tidy my room. It’s getting serious in here.
  • Paint some stuff.
  • Learn to crochet.
  • Plan some actual holidays and adventures to do during the breaks.

 

OK. That’s a ridiculous amount of goals. I’ll check back in 3 months and see what’s happening. Positive thinking says I will have made great progress in that time. Experience says “HAHAHAHAHAA!!! Get to fuck will you?!”

How to use up 2016 and become better. (A goal setting post)