I am annoyed with my brain. My brain is not playing the game. My brain is letting me down. Stupid brain.
The rest of me is doing very well, thank you. I have a paid job, a social life, a new squeeze, a whole gang of animals and young persons to clean up after. I eat healthily (apart from the serious diet car-crash around Christmas) I exercise regularly and deal with chronic pain stoically, my upper lip resolutely stiff. I take my pills. I make myself attend social events and usually manage not to run away, nor insult people. I hosted family and friends at Christmas and New-Year’s Eve. I am clearing out wardrobes and drawers and book-shelves adhering to the ‘Swedish Death Cleaning’ method. I file my knickers and socks vertically as recommended in Maria Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’. (Filing one’s knickers vertically is truly magical.) Anything that doesn’t bring me joy has to go. I have to allow stuff to move on to a new life junking up someone else’s house. This is called ‘letting go’. Many items in my house fail to pass the joy test and are let go. I am quite a regular at the local tip (sorry….my local ‘Recycling Centre’) and the charity shops in Rugby display my wares in their windows. There is a possibility that I am being too fanatical in my approach; perhaps one day soon I will find myself in my once-cosy-but-now-stripped-bare living room looking at the floor with a critical eye.
‘Does this laminate floor bring me joy?’ I will ask myself. ‘What about the plaster on the wall? The plug sockets?’ I will turn to Things One and Two and the menagerie of animals and consider whether they pass the joy test. Undoubtedly they do bring joy from time to time but is that enough? Surely the joy should be consistent. Should they be recycled?
Jobs that have needed doing for years are finally being tackled; the shed has a new roof, the shower no longer leaks, doors shut properly, there is a functioning cat flap. This is all good.
It is two and a half years since my cancer diagnosis. It is nearly twelve months since my second mastectomy. Time rolls by and I try to forget.
But I cannot forget. Cancer is everywhere and I have friends dealing with it right now. The TV shows images of jolly ladies in headscarves laughing and joking their way bravely through chemotherapy. (I absolutely loathe those adverts). And my brain keeps taking me back and replaying stuff. I re-live the moment when I was told, in one devastating sentence, that I had cancer and would need a mastectomy. This scene is replayed in my head four or five times a day and the memory makes my stomach roll and cold sweat break out. I also experience certain kinds of pain again, particularly the terrible bone pain in my legs. Clearly it is not real pain, yet I react to it as if it were. I have nightmares that there is something growing under my skin; I know it’s there but I cannot convince anyone to take it seriously. It moves around my body and I wake, clawing at myself. Going to the dentist makes me shake. In the dentist’s chair, having stuff done to me, having injections….it brings back that feeling of being a patient, a problem body to be poked, prodded, examined.
You might not notice that I am going slowly crazy. I hide it well. I am very cheerful and positive on the outside and that is what most people see. At the dentist’s I joke and laugh and no one would know that inside I am in turmoil. I have kept my bonkers state mostly to myself and it’s hard to write about. That is why there hasn’t been much from me lately. I am embarrassed and feel like a failure. I am also angry. It was bad enough going through all this rubbish once but having to re-live it again and again is just stupid. It’s two and a half years. TWO AND A HALF YEARS!
However, when I started this blog I vowed to be honest and to say it like it is. So this is how it is.
Pollyanna moment: Our excellent NHS is supporting me with psychological therapy through IAPTS. I have had two phone consultations and one face-to-face and I am told that I have PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) following multiple instances of trauma. I am told that I can be taught techniques for dealing with these intrusive and invasive thoughts and feelings and that the prognosis is good. I will have regular appointments to support me in learning how to stop this rubbish. I am glad that I finally talked to my GP about what I was going through. Well done me.