Livin’ La Vida Lockdown

So my little slice of Australia is battling Covid once again and now the entirety of NSW has been thrown into lockdown. I can’t complain really, Sydney has been struggling for months and we regional folk had had a pretty good run.

Unfortunately I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I got a text message from the government informing me that I am now considered a ‘close contact’ meaning I had to head down to the old drive through swab n’ go for a test first thing this morning. Luckily we went to Little-Big Smoke for the test and made it before the masses turned up so it was quick and painless as having a stick shoved up your nose can be.

I don’t mind self isolating, everyone I know is stuck at home now anyway with the statewide lockdown, so providing I don’t actually have Covid I’m not really worse off than anyone else. At least I live on a farm so if homeschooling sends me stir crazy I can go for a 30minute walk without actually leaving my property.

I’m also planning a great big clean up, my “garden” is horrendously neglected and the farm is full of half finished projects, I’d like to try and finish at least one of those over lockdown and the weather forecast this week looks really promising, fake spring is nearly here!

We get fake spring every year, it’s about a week to two weeks of glorious spring weather at the end of August which is always followed by a bitterly cold month just before real spring comes back to stay around mid October.

One downside is that I now can’t have my blood work or the CT scan I was supposed to have this week to check if the cancer has come back yet.

Schrodingers Cancer ? We’ll try and think of it as not in the box for now.

What is/was your favourite lockdown activity?

Time Travel & Exploding Trucks

There are a few things that I consider kryptonite to my soul, among them is the feeling of helplessness. I like to be that steely faced guy who can see something going down, turn off emotional responses and sort it the fuck out.

Lost your cat? Let’s go find it. Broken arm? I’ll hold it in place til the ambulance arrives to splint it. Dude trying to bludgeon another dude to death? I’ll dive right into the middle of that shit fight and ask questions later.

Being in a situation I am powerless to change, powerless to fix and powerless to control hits me in a way nothing else really seems to. I have an intense need to make things better and when I have to step back and just watch Hell come to life, I feel like a failure.

The other night a friend came over. We decided to trip 40min into Little-Big Smoke and pick up Chinese for dinner. The country road to town is narrow and full of potholes. Surrounded by endless paddocks and gum trees, the only interesting thing to see on a dark moonless night is the sea of stars that open up the sky and bring far away galaxy’s to life.

We were chatting, about what I don’t remember. I looked up towards the heavens and noticed an odd shadow blocking the stars, barely visible in the pitch black sky. As we got closer it appeared plume of thick black smoke billowing above a distant line of pine trees.

It’s coming to the end of burn off season in rural Australia. We only get a few months a year to light our piles up between the dry heat and blistering winds before the risk of accidentally starting a bushfire makes it too dangerous again.

We looked at it harder. My friend commented that someone must be burning off something they really shouldn’t by the look of that smoke. I agreed and joked that the way it was billowing up it looked like in the movies when a plane had crashed.

As we rounded the next corner we suddenly saw what was causing the smoke. A car was pulled off the left side of the road with its hazard lights on and on the right there was a huge truck completely ingulfed in flames. I caught my friends eye for a second, she’d lost a partner to a truck crash 12 years ago and in that moment I saw her body react as the grief all flooded back.

In the darkness a man paced along the road side, his shadowy figure silhouetted by the bright orange flames, hands interlocked behind his head in a stance of complete exasperation.

We pulled off the road and I yelled out the window “is anyone inside?” That moment, waiting for the answer… It was a split second that felt like a lifetime. The truck was an inferno, if someone was inside… They’d already be dead. There was no way of getting to them, no way of saving them.

The man said nothing for a moment, lost in his own horror. I jumped out of the car and raced toward the man, a woman’s voice piped up from further back, “keep back! It’s going to blow again!” Another said “there’s no one in it, he’s the driver”.

I yelled out to my friend to move the car further back, just as she reversed up the road the truck exploded and a huge ball of fire burst from it. The man let out an anguished cry. He was shaking.

I asked what had happened and he told me he’d smelled a burning electrical smell, found somewhere to pull off the road and flames suddenly started coming into the cabin. It was his own truck, quite new, his pride and joy as well as his livelihood. Now it was all going up in smoke.

The other couple that had pulled over with us had already called emergency services and the drivers wife so we tried to comfort the devastated man while we waited. We all told him that the fact he got out physically unharmed was all that mattered, that insurance would pay for the truck where as nothing could replace him.

But he just shook his head, this was his only income, he had a family to feed and he felt like everything was lost. I tried to think ‘how would M act in this situation?’ So I tried to validate the hugeness of this for him at the same time as reassure him that his family needs him safe more than anything else. But there was nothing I could do to fix it for him, nothing that could take that pain away.

His wife arrived a good 25 minutes before emergency services did. She ran to him and they just held each other watching their only source of income burn to ashes. The rural fire service finally turned up, struggling to get enough members to the call out. They are also limited to 4 people in a truck because of Covid which really slowed things down. Thank goodness there wasn’t any life in danger.

Another 15minutes passed before the police turned up. After telling them what had happened I commented on the ridiculous length of time it took them to get there and the cop looked at me with a lost look in his eyes and said they’d all been in another tiny town on the opposite side of Little-Big Smoke at a car accident with a fatality.

I acknowledged that he’d obviously had a really shitty night and apologised for having a go at him. He just sighed and said “it’s part of the job”. I said of course I knew that, but it’s still shit that he has to see those awful things, job description or not, and I thanked him for doing that hard work so many others cannot. He looked like he was on the verge of tears at that point so I just added a thank goodness the driver of the truck is uninjured and if he didn’t need anymore information from us I’d be on my way.

Someone complimented me later for stopping and trying to help but the compliment stung, because of course you aren’t going to drive past that scene and NOT stop. Also, I COULDN’T help. I like to think that I’d have somehow rushed into that blazing truck and pulled the driver to safety if it had been required, but when I think about it, sadly my urge to assist is born out of selfishness rather than selflessness.

I’m not some saintly person who is trying to create peace on earth and a better world, I mean I’m not opposed to those things at all, they’d obviously be great, but Im just saying it’s not from the goodness of my heart. My motives are far more for personal gain than they probably should be.

When it comes down to it I feel the need to help, to fix things, because I’m trying to fill a hole guilt has burned inside of me for all the things I couldn’t protect myself and others from as a child. I re enact scenarios to try and somehow change a past I can’t let go of. It’s not that I want to help, it’s that I can’t stand the guilt of not helping and fear of feeling that guilt far out weighs any fear of being hurt or killed in the process.

Time travel hasn’t been invented yet, I can’t physically go back to childhood and explain to my younger self what is and isn’t my own guilt to hold. However I wonder if those emotional parts of me that hold that fear now can somehow be reached and soothed. But then again, if I let go of the guilt that drives me to help, what would I be left with?

Just Another Existential Crisis

Talking to a dear friend the other day after yet another physical health concern, Suzi commented that she wished God would just make up His mind. “Do you want me or not God?” She had cried out half joking, half serious. Our friend then said softly “maybe God is leaving the door open, waiting for you to decide what you want.”

This comment hit Suzi like a freight train.

We all get depressed. A DID system works in mysterious ways, most of which I don’t understand. Some things will effect all of us, but they seem to affect us differently. Suzi might be known as the calming force and voice of reason within us, but she too shares this brain and unfortunately isn’t immune when that familiar cloud of depression washes over us. Lately I think she’s been feeling that she’s in over her head.

She’s our only alter that still holds onto the spiritual views we were raised with and she’s been struggling with how rest of us are unable to share the same faith that she does. We also have a tendency to dismiss her feelings about this particular subject in a way that’s equivalent to pretending not to be home when the Jehovahs Witnesses come knocking. We don’t want to listen, we don’t want to be converted and you do you but please bugger off and stop bothering us.

I think the cancer diagnosis hit her pretty hard. She’s been on a mission to finish her ‘teachings’ as she calls them. She is so incredibly certain of herself and her views that there’s little room for counter points and when we argue she simply gives off this infuriating “I’ll wait for you to come to the realisation that this is Truth and I’ll love you while I wait” vibe. It’s unintentional I’m sure but it feels super patronising.

She has found more places to express her spirituality recently. While it’s arguably good that she has an outlet, it’s kind of fuelling the fire. She believes strongly in reincarnation and seems to have come to the conclusion that this life is essentially some sort of final exam. Something about having to get herself and the rest of us through without offing ourselves and teaching us how to grow spiritually and emotionally enough to make this our last hurrah earth side.

She thought she had more time and didn’t push as hard as she feels she should have and now she’s panicking.

I don’t know what to think about it. On one hand I can see her ‘proof’ points but I am also very aware of how much damage these beliefs caused to us collectively when we were young. There’s also an argument to be had about the role of mild psychosis and magical thinking in our history and it’s impact on her.

We already struggle greatly with understanding our place in reality and this isn’t exactly helping us differentiate.

Catherine, who is 99% science with a side of floaty poetry has pretty much the opposing views and I can also relate to her opinions which leaves me directionless and yet again without my own stance on the matter. As usual I’m feeling quite trapped in the grey area.

I wouldn’t say I really care enough either way for it to be my existential crisis. Generally I just avoid thinking about it all, but frankly I’m really tired and hitting a point where I just want to feel better because right now I’m feeling all the pressure of an anxious hangover from their conflict.

I guess I am bothered because I just don’t know how to give Suzi what she needs, it feels like she deserves this opportunity after she’s cared for us for so long. We owe her a chance to live her truth and yet it’s just not a truth we can collectively embrace.

Suzi has always been there for me, long before I knew who she was. She held me through my hardest moments, she taught me grounding techniques and how to dissociate away fear. I still remember that dark night in London as a six year old, when she showed me the brick wall for the first time. The brick wall worked, arguably a little too well; it let me live my life free from fear, free from pain. The others were less lucky, but I know she has helped them too. V jokingly calls her ‘saint Suzi’ but beneath her sarcasm I know she appreciates her.

I’m at a cross roads. There’s a dis-ease in the pit of my stomach caused by the knowledge that we’ve reached a time of unavoidable change and my go to move is to camouflage and freeze. But that’s not going to cut it anymore and I don’t know how to move forward.

Shrodingers Secrets

I am but a box, and for as long as I live in silence the secret can both exist and not exist inside me.

If I am the only living person in the world who knows, is it even still considered a secret? If nobody else is told, I can make it disappear. That gives me control. That gives me power over my own life.

But if can stop it from existing, how do I know I didn’t create it somehow?

If I share this Shrodinger’s secret, if I let it breathe and give it a life outside this box, I can never get it back again. If it turns out, that the secret wasn’t ever even a secret but a figment of my imagination, a creation of a long ago fear then I have birthed a monster. Invented a creature that will cripple me with it’s guilt and cover me in shame for the rest of my days.

That monster could never be re-caged. To even acknowledge it’s existence as a myth feels forbidden and scary, it feels like a dirty secret. The kind of secret that you shouldn’t know, the sort you’re not allowed to permit to enter your mind for even a moment let alone tell another living soul. It feels conflicting and gut wrenching and yet it might… it might not even be real.

Can you even call something a secret if you don’t know for a fact it exists? Does that make it more of a rumour? What if it’s only a collection of bodily sensations, flashes of memory and whispered half thoughts that aren’t allowed to be finished? If all you know for certain is that it must never be pondered on or discussed in any way, is it a secret or simply fear born inside an overactive imagination?

Secret feelings, secret pain, secrets you can’t get off your chest because you don’t know exactly what they are and if you’re just imagining them then somehow being wrong is just as terrifying as being right.

People say to trust your intuition, but what if…
What if it’s wrong? What if it’s all in your head?
Yet if it has no basis in truth then why doesn’t it simply feel like nothing, like a story instead of so gut wrenchingly and painfully possible that you want to vomit?

Perhaps it needs to have room to be wrong because the alternative is unfathomable.

I can’t trust my mind, I can’t trust my instincts and I certainly can’t trust my memory. I can never say the agonising words that echoed through the deepest chambers of my heart, not even to M for fear they would poison parts of myself relying upon a facade to simply exist.

I wish I could forget I knew there was a box at all.

I feel humiliated, judged, ashamed, terrified and broken. I feel like I’ve screamed out ‘witch!’ In seventeenth century Salem, and now that embers fill the air and smoke burns my eyes, I see the devastation of those around me and I wonder if maybe I was wrong.

I used to think that once those involved had passed away I’d be free to speak my fears. But death had other plans, for it taught me that nobody can truly die, until you do. To utter these secrets to think these thoughts is to summon a ghost. Accusations will only leave me haunted, if not physically then certainly metaphorically.

These feelings of shame well up inside me stealing the air from my lungs, making me shiver, making my head fuzzy, making me desperately want to curl in a ball and die.

I don’t know how to move forward with this.
It’s circling my mind incessantly and I keep trying to block it out but it’s utterly relentless. A chamber of hell I can’t escape, filled with mythical monsters and pointing fingers.

There is no solution. In recognising it’s possible existence as a secret, I’m committing the most awful sin of all, the thing that twists a knife through my heart and leaves me to bleed out on the floor. If it’s not real I deserve to die for thinking it, if it’s right I’m better off dead anyway.

So let’s keep this box closed tight, 
try not to worry what’s inside.
A secret lives only if you let it leave your lips, but if you keep it then it dies.

Circles

When darkness falls over my broken heart, whispering winds run circles in my mind.

As I hold on to the memory of dying, I wonder who was right.

The nighttime highlights old shadows, beckoning out from deaths cozy lair.

We’re fighting for a life I laid down long ago, and it’s getting harder to pretend I still care.

It’s as though I’m stuck on a hamster wheel.

My cage is a blazing maze made of mirrors and I’m surveying the same scene over and over from a hundred different viewpoints.

Watching as I run faster and faster in a never ending loop. Growing weaker and more weary with every step.

No matter how hard I run, I am still there.
Unable to escape my fiery tomb, eternally tortured by the shame of history and the unrecognisable face of my self.

Am I lonely?

M commented that she was concerned about my ‘mood’. I asked in what regard and she commented that I had a lot going on and she wondered if I am lonely.

I’m not certain if she came to that conclusion, well I have somehow created a head full of people throughout my life… Not sure if it’s that or more my current demeanour. I am extremely tired and if I’m honest I’m a bit down, but I have 6 teenagers in my house, a husband, work stuff, a life online. I’m busy, which takes my mind off things and I see friends all the time. In fact I tend to double book myself in that regard. Not enough time in the week to see all my friends. I mean, that’s a pretty good problem to have, right?

I should have just asked why she said that.

So am I lonely in a crowded life? I don’t know. Sometimes, I probably am – depending on how you want to define the word.

My online world is interesting as it’s an escape from ‘reality’ whilst being my most authentic space. Only a few of those ‘real life’ friends are what I would consider as close and only two know about “us”. That does make being our authentic self/selves tricky. I suppose it can be lonely if you lack authentic connection .

Some of my friends have told me they consider me their best friend, the one that’s easiest to talk to and the one they confide in the most- and yet they know very little about me. Really, I like it that way, it feels safe. You can’t judge what you don’t know and their trust in me makes me feel wanted/needed and a bit special. I prefer this one sided relationship as it carries less risk of burning them out with my chaotic inner and outer worlds, I get to be the helpful person rather than a drain.

This is where therapy is great, guilt free role reversal.

That being said, it must be lonely being a therapist. Particularly if you have children and/or work full time. You have to present as knowledgeable and professional yet also human. You hear the deepest and darkest thoughts of people all day and you are limited by time. It’s always a one way street, ethically you can’t discuss your own life so it’s all about the client, when they say ridiculous things, things you disagree with or things that trigger you in session you have to hold back and respond appropriately taking each individual clients needs into consideration. That’s bloody hard work.

Then if you have children you go home and have to play the role of parent which is equally as one way street-ish. Maybe you have a spouse who you can discuss feelings with, although you have to be mindful of dr/patient confidentiality so it’s limited a bit to anecdotes from the tea room and generalised comments.

Hopefully you have friends you can download to, but then them uploading back to you (which is an essential part of friendship) probably feels a little like being at work really. Then you’ve got to carefully avoid ‘therapising’ them and yet still be actively listening. That’s a juggling act, so maybe you just stick with small talk and a glass of wine because it’s a bit easier.

M asked if there are times that I’m with my friends where I can just laugh and let my guard down. Absolutely there are! Well laugh anyway, I think with most people my guard is mostly still up, although sometimes the guard falls off completely and we find ourselves oversharing, unfortunately this is usually with total strangers or acquaintances but I guess then the stakes aren’t as high.

So maybe I am a little lonely from time to time, or maybe M is projecting a little bit… 😬

Down The Rabbit Hole Part 2

This is part 2 of the worlds longest thought process / story. Part 1 is HERE, you’ll need to read that first for context. Please note that while there are thoughts from other alters/aspects/whatever you want to call them throughout, these opinions were added by them after they read the initial story and added over a few days. It may make the actual story hard to read, but think of it like a forum. We lack the ability to have this kind of dialogue as a ‘conversation’ but thought it might be an insight to how our mind works for anyone interested.


I can’t wear masks. It’s not because I’m being defiant, it’s a PTSD related issue and it’s supremely inconvenient given the whole global pandemic thing. If I put one on, I will breakdown and cry like a fool within seconds. This makes things very awkward for all involved and while I do have an exemption letter, I prefer to just avoid going to mandatory mask areas altogether.

When the fear of being judged and potential conflict out weighs the fear of getting sick or even the fear of the cancer maybe that’s worth exploring further.

Unfortunately, while my GP was understanding of this fact and didn’t even mention it (the mean secretary didn’t comment either!) The hospital she sent me to wasn’t so tolerant. I completely understand why, I mean they’re frontline staff dealing with a crisis situation and they don’t need some unmasked dickhead fucking up their system.

It’s definitely our issue to work on, but we need to hold some compassion for ourselves too. We aren’t the only ones in this situation and it feels pretty awful when we can’t get fairly standard medical treatment because of a phobia.

The security team let me through into the ED itself mask free when I showed them the exemption letter and as I stood in the line to give my details I tried to ignore the death stares from a waiting room full of masked patients wondering what made me so special.

Okay, let’s go with perceived death stares. People have masks on, you can’t judge facial cues properly and you certainly can’t mind read. Would you judge other people without a mask or would you assume they had a valid reason? Exactly. Give people a chance to offer you the same courtesy.

If I thought it was awkward going there before, now it was really awkward. I was trembling with anxiety and about one mask comment away from a total breakdown. I really had to fight every impulse in my body telling me to run away.

And yet you didn’t runaway! That’s great progress! 

It was 10am ish. They took my letter from the GP, saw on the system that I was pre organised to be taken in and given a CT scan. The concern here from the GP and the surgeon was that I had either a recurrence of the cancer, a twist in something, a collection of fluid that might need draining or infection that might require IV drugs. The hope was it was just scar tissue adhesions from surgery and nothing sinister to worry about.

I was sent off into the masked waiting room filled with coughing and spluttering people and hid up the back trying to keep my immunocompromised ass away from everyone while being acutely aware that if I got sick it would be my own Damn fault for making a mountain out of a molehill and agreeing to go there.

“Agreeing to go there” meaning someone else suggested it, someone with a medical degree who’s judgement you generally trust. Why would this be different?
Maybe she’s just scared of missing something and getting sued?

I had no doubt in my mind that they would be sending me home that day and texted my friend Agatha an update still hoping to be able to make it to her place for a visit that afternoon.

I love that you’ve called her Agatha! 😂 She’d hate that name 🤣🤣🤣

I only had to wait around half an hour, that’s pretty impressive by ED standards, especially on a Saturday morning. I guess they’d pushed me through due to the doctor’s phone calls.

Doctors have that sway because they studied half their lives. They know what they’re talking about and they triage due to assessed risk. Medical history + current symptoms = risk factor. It’s basic maths not queue jumping.
Nah, Covid = less team sport injuries!

I got directed to a bed by a nurse with long blue hair in a high ponytail. She introduced herself and chirpily asked me if I had my own mask or did I need her to get me one? I explained the PTSD thing and handed her my exemption letter, she apologised and said she have to go and speak to her supervisor about how to proceed as masks were absolutely mandatory.

That’s when I lost it. All the fear of judgment and shame of being a stupid fool welled up inside me and I just started sobbing. The head nurse appeared and explained kindly that my options were basically to either mask up or be relocated into the isolation area with the suspected potential Covid cases where all the doctors and nurses were protected by full PPE.

I presume due to just coming off of chemo, they wouldn’t have recommended that either. It’s not like we had respiratory symptoms so there was just more chance of catching something.

So that gave way to option C. Go home again. Now obviously option C was going to be my pick, the blue haired nurse returned and apologised for making me cry and the crappy circumstances. I assured her it was my own stupid issues and nothing to do with her, but I appreciated the sentiment. I told them my doctors were probably being over cautious anyway and the pain wasn’t bad enough to be causing all this unnecessary fuss so it would be better if I just left.

Did you really want to leave or did you want to be convinced to stay? This is an example of having an unmet need and choosing not to speak up about it and instead making excuses as to why it was really okay that the need wasn’t being met.

She said that since I was already in a cubicle and the bed would need to be cleaned etc, they could give me a quick blood test and check there was no obvious thing happening there but it was totally up to me (I was still crying like a baby half way off the bed and mentally out the door already.) She said she’d give me five minutes to mull it over and then come back but if I was missing upon her return, she’d assume I’d legged it and she’d understand.

“If you aren’t here when I get back, I understand”
Translation: Please leave. My shift’s nearly over and I don’t need to deal with a cry baby right now.

That was a really hard five minutes. My head was swimming at that point and I was frozen half on/half off the bed. If I left would my GP be mad at me? She’d gone to all that effort to ring doctors etc. I couldn’t have the CT scan anyway though so what was the point in being here. The nurse was being so kind and I was a blithering idiot who couldn’t even speak without sobbing. Fucking PTSD. How hard is it to just wear a goddamn mask? So simple and yet another thing I was a failure at.

It’s hard. We have a reason for it being hard and that doesn’t mean we ‘failed’. Yes, it’s a shame that there wasn’t another option because the GP and the specialist both wanted the scan for a reason and now we have to wait.
Failure isn’t really an appropriate word, it sounds like we’re calling people suffering from PTSD failures. Being angry and hurt that you are feeling those symptoms is understandable and justified but just because you want to self deprecate doesn’t mean you can generalise if like that.
Why are you trying to be PC? Nobody took it that way. Stop trying to be a social justice warrior, you’re doing it wrong.

Lucky this wasn’t a serious medical emergency, because if it came down to it, I’d genuinely pick death over wearing a mask. And what a waste after all this chemo… Cue suicidal impulses. I started scanning the room for ways to end my life immediately. One of the insiders interrupts my thought flurry and chimes in “well that’s just stupid, you’re in a hospital ED, not only would you not have enough time to initiate anything non-reversible by the ward filled with trained doctors, you’d likely wake up in a mask and they’d just end up sectioning you and you’d be stuck here. Think things through dumbass.” Another then sniggers, “didn’t work the first time, why would it work now?” Then I hear a “HEY! Did none of you HEAR the nurses name?” I had been too focused on freaking out to notice. “It’s Estelle! Maybe you should reconsider that blood test.”

Yeah killing yourself in hospital doesn’t work too well. At least wait til you get to the car park.
Is it wrong that I draw her attention to these coincidences as though they’re mystical truths? I mean whatever works to get the what’s best for us outcome huh, kinda like talking to a kid 😂.
Should we be commenting on the first go to thought in an uncomfortable situation always being death? That internally humiliation, even the fear of it, is still considered worthy of capital punishment… 
Ignore her, she’s just attention seeking again. Tell her to shut up or do it already.

Cue the nurse walking back in. “Ooh you’re still here! Shall we do the bloods then?”

I still wonder if she was hoping we’d bugger off. Is the “we understand this is hard for you and you can leave anytime” an effort to give a sense of agency or just a hint?!
Honestly, it felt like a hint to me. Think about it, it probably saves them a lot of paperwork if you self discharge.

“Um, did you say your name is Estelle?” “Yes it is!” The nurse affirmed by pointing to her name tag. “Okay, since your name’s Estelle… I guess that means I’d better do the bloods…” I accidentally said that last bit out loud and to Estelle’s credit her quizzical raised eyebrow WTF expression only lasted a second before her eyes started smiling again. I guess she sees a lot of crazy people in her line of work.

Lol, you know how she gave us a buzzer? She should have just said call out to her… “Stelllllaaaaaa!!!!”
Why do you always talk? *face palm*

Feeling like I should provide some sort of reason for my comment (other than the truth). I stammered something about the name being unusual and that it had suddenly come up for me a few times in just a few days so it felt meaningful somehow. She humoured me and said something supportive about synchronicities.

God I’m glad you didn’t ask “were you my pet horse in a past life?” out loud. I don’t know if we would have been able to come back from that… Literally, like it would take a lot of fast talking to back out of that one.
Isn’t the fast talking what gets us into these messy situations in the first place?

I didn’t feel the needle go in, I’m not sure if she’s just really good at phlebotomy or I was too all over the place to physically feel things. As she wrote on the test tubes she checked the time “12:14” she commented out loud. Again I accidentally spoke out loud, “Really?!”

She was like, “yeah… why?” And I explained that the sequential numbers 214 is another one of those synchronicity things and now that was two things. She again kindly humoured me and told a story of a friend with a lucky number and I just concentrated on not speaking my thoughts.

Estelle drew the curtain around the bed so people wouldn’t notice my lack of face wear and left me to my crazy. A doctor eventually turned up and agreed to prod my abdomen even though I was maskless. I anxiously attempted to explain to her that I was completely fine really, this was an over reaction, I just wanted to leave and I was really sorry for being there and sorry for not having a mask and sorry for wasting her time.

Because that’s a sure fire way to not annoy someone.

She commented nicely that that’s what pays her bills and it was fine, but I still felt like a dick. She said the blood test should be back soon and unless something major showed up I would be free to leave.

Guess she was really praying the bloods would be fine at that point!

I was busy kicking myself for talking too much again when the Dr returned. She announced that my blood work indicated I had mild pancreatitis which would account for the symptoms, but because I was not in much pain I could just leave. She said to come back if it got worse and I was thinking ‘yeah thanks, um no. I’ll figure something out myself if it gets worse.’ And I left as fast as I possibly could.

I love how the discharge paperwork says “denies any additional symptoms or concerns” Did they actually ask? I don’t remember but I think that we were too preoccupied with mask anxiety to even think to mention all the other issues that in hindsight are potentially related. And there are the increased gynaecological issues that we can’t ask about incase they want to do an exam. Bloody anxiety. Couldn’t we have had cancer in a different body part? Like seriously, talk about feed existing insecurities.
Also the summary commented that we can tolerate oral intake. That wasn’t exactly true, yeah we can drink okay but we hadn’t eaten that day and I am sure they didn’t ask about food/drink intake, only if the ileostomy was still working. That still works with no oral intake at all if there’s no bowel blockage, remember in hospital we were on TPN for like 2 weeks, you just get green coloured output. We didn’t think to mention it but it hurts quite a bit straight after eating and has done to a lesser degree for ages, way before this new pain started.
I don’t think I’d call it “pain”, discomfort maybe.
Easy fix, we just won’t eat! Wouldn’t kill us to drop a few of those kilos we’ve piled back on anyway.

So I was able to both see Agatha AND go out in a mask free environment with my wonderful friend L and a group of our mutual friends that I don’t get to catch up with very often. Win.

Just to play devil’s advocate here… They didn’t give an explanation as to why we got pancreatitis in the first place. I Dr. Google’d it and it suggests alcohol and gall stones as the most common reasons. We don’t drink and we don’t have a gall bladder. Uncommon reasons include cancer - which of course I am particularly anxious about given our history. Though apparently colorectal cancer only rarely metastasises to the pancreas (though we seem to be the queen of ‘rare’ don’t we, so can’t completely rule it out). Plus, can we please try and remember to mention the hip pain? That’s been increasing for a month and it’s making it tricky to get to sleep.
It’s almost like you could take some painkillers to help with that problem, if only we had the technology. 🧐
We don’t need pain killers. 
I wouldn’t mind knowing the cause of the hip pain though.
Getting old? A shit ton of surgeries? Hypochondria? Overuse of the word ‘needs’?

I am just going to cut it off there because it devolved pretty quickly into name calling and went way off topic. So if anyone has actually read this far then props to you!

Rabbit Holes & Overthinking

Fellow attendees of the blogosphere, this post is more of a stream of consciousness/ vent/ self therapy session with my alters than anything else. I warn you it is unnecessarily long and there is nothing poignant, poetic, grammatically correct or even generally interesting about it. But it’s my blog and I’m currently rabbit-holing on it so if you want to come along for the ride, feel free to sign the waiver and strap in. But I warn you, it seems that Wonderland is particularly scattered today.

Did you know there used to be a theme park in Sydney called Wonderland? I actually won a radio contest and got to take three friends to watch a battle of a bands competition, eat free theme park food and ride roller coasters all day when I was a young teenager. But I digress, this particular Wonderland is nothing like that one.

Or perhaps it is? Perhaps it’s actually the perfect metaphor. I disliked roller coasters because they made me vomit. I also loved roller coasters because they were exciting. I also figured that a roller coaster could potentially be helpful to my depressed teenage self because theme parks occasionally have accidents and death-by-roller-coaster would have qualified as a “get out of life guilt free” card. I also felt they looked rickety and dangerous. I also hated heights intermittently so that was potentially an issue only to be discovered once already strapped into a fast moving death trap.

So I mostly didn’t want to go on the roller coasters, but felt obligated to because I was given free tickets that probably should have been given to someone else who may have had less motion sickness and appreciated them more. I also didn’t want to look like a wuss in front of my friends. Despite my dilemma about rides, my love affair with music was in full swing around then and meant I could finally see a live concert. Of all the things I don’t remember, I do remember that. A band that played a cover of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” won and they were incredible. *I just knew they’d go on to be the next best thing.

Two National radio personalities were there so I could have five minutes of pseudo fame that granted me only two degrees of separation to the members of the 90s pop band Hansen that I fiercely denied loving but somehow I know the lyrics to all of their songs when they come on the radio now…

So maybe this theme park tangent actually proves that wonderland is an appropriate metaphor for the story, don’t you think? I mean the name checks out. Though only because I was waffling, maybe it’s unrelated. I can’t remember. Was it? Oh wait, how would you know, I haven’t begun telling you the actual story yet.

Now where was I?

It was a quiet moonlit nightnope that wasn’t it… Oh Right. Rabbit-holing. I apologise, I’m currently having more trouble than usual some difficulty staying focused. So A thing happened. Not that big of a thing as things go, but it triggered a bejillion emotions that I feel the need to get to the bottom of. My next appointment with the lovely M is forever a few days away, if I wait all that time until then to consider this more deeply I will likely find myself undertaking a hat making apprenticeship. Besides, it’s important to me now and knowing my luck one of the other sentient parts of my consciousness will overthrow me and talk about something else in session that’s completely irrelevant to my current inner crisis.

As I attempt to self analyse my way through our busy brain, I’m finding myself going off on bizarre tangents that seem to be disconnected but when I ponder them more, I sense they have an underlying theme. I’m writing them down here because apparently everyone inside is commenting and I can’t keep track of my thoughts something useful may come from my ramblings and while my head feels like I’m untangling a decade old box of Christmas lights right now, I figure it may be worth it in the end – even if a few bulbs still aren’t working.

An actual image of the inside of my head.

I’m going to break this into parts. It’s already way too long and so far I’m still a very long way from the point. (I think I have a point?) The following back story is brought to you by a part of my mind identifying as someone other than me, who apparently has a slightly different perspective to other parts of my mind of what went down, so a few have read over it and added their own two cents for posterity.

I’m just documenting it and it’s giving me a headache. Happy deciphering.


Down The Rabbit Hole – Part 1.

A little while ago I had a medical issue which could have been quite serious, but when I rang to make an appointment with my GP the secretary said there were none available for a month. When I said I was a cancer patient and concerned about a potentially serious issue I was told there was still absolutely no way in the world I would get to see her any earlier.

Hubby had to coax you to ring in the first place because you are afraid of being thought of as a hypochondriac. The lack of availability doesn’t mean you are on some secret list there for attention seekers and they’ve been told to fob you off, it means they are busy and have a lot of patients to try and care for. It’s a tough job especially with Covid and the secretary is trying her best to accommodate as many people as possible.
Disagree. Stop sticking up for everyone. That secretary is just a bitch. Just cause she’s stressed doesn’t mean she has to be rude about it. It’s not just what people say, it’s how they say it. It’s polite to at least feign empathy for the duration of a phone call.

My GP had previously given me her mobile phone number in case of emergencies as she knew her secretary was prone to roadblocking appointments and told me to text her if that happened and she’d decide if I needed to be seen or not.

Having this phone number is a huge deal for us. It’s a sign of trust from the GP that we won’t take advantage of her kindness. Unfortunately this blurring of generally accepted boundaries sends us into a spiral of “what constitutes exploiting her trust?” We are not attuned enough to our body to know if something is actually medically wrong and warrants contact, or if it’s all in our head and we just need to get over it. We generally need pretty hard core proof of a medical issue to believe it. 

Preferably a missing limb, lol.

I actually feel this highlights the fact that we need to trust people to look after their own feelings and speak up for themselves more, rather than trying to guess what they will think based off our own schema distorted lens. 

As M always says, “is that your stuff or their stuff?”.
Growing up we saw first hand from **you-know-who that people don’t necessarily say what they are really feeling. Some people lie about their real feelings or omit them, only communicating their actual wants/needs via hints and then turn around and get really angry, hurt and upset when their needs don’t end up being met. 

We learned that to avoid hurting people we had to try and mind read, predict their feelings and go out of our way to accommodate them accordingly. This became an unhealthy habit applied to all areas of life to try and avoid upsetting people and subsequently feeling guilty for not getting it right/ not being good enough.

Just because we grew up with it as our normal, this behaviour is not actually the case for everyone. Plenty of people are happy to say what they think/feel and tell you “no”. And well, for those that the guessing game does apply to, they need to work on their own issues, it’s not up to us to go out of our way make them feel comfortable when we don’t even know what they want.

Just because we struggle with people pleasing doesn’t mean everyone else does (#projection). We have to trust that they will be able to tell us ‘no’ if required and that saying ‘yes’ doesn’t mean we’ve manipulated them somehow or they are only agreeing because they feel obligated.
**She may not have been consciously aware of her needs or aware of her desire for needs.
Not. Our. Stuff.
Yeah, I know. I’m not trying to throw her under the bus, or say it was malicious. I’m just saying we need to stop reenacting this ourselves too, hey?! We have a tendency to not communicate our real needs and then secretly hope someone magically notices them. And while we don’t bad mouth people if they can’t read our minds (because we understand that we are choosing to hide our needs) we do still feel sad because we then have an unmet need we are too frightened to ask for. 
True… But if they do see our needs we just freak out. It’s easier to just cry in secret later.
Probably because we don’t feel worthy of their time or attention and so we tend to second guess if we are really worthy and actually need our need!

I’m petrified of being a pain in the ass so I really didn’t want to text her, but my husband insisted that the issue qualified as “important enough” so I did. I didn’t say in the text what the issue was, just that I had a concern that I may have been over dramatising but wasn’t actually sure could wait and could I please discuss it with her. She got back to me quite quickly via text and said she’d give me a phone appointment in two days time.

She never called.

*Insert attachment issue related reaction of hoping she was just late, waiting by the phone for several hours and making excuses for her while trying to swallow back feelings of crushing disappointment here*

My GP is lovely and attentive, fast to act and generally wonderful but she’s also very, very busy. I felt that this forgotten call was probably purely an oversight because of her crazy schedule and so I wasn’t upset with her, just kinda disappointed and still a bit concerned because of the medical issue.

Excuses, excuses. She doesn’t actually care or we’re not important enough to remember.
I experienced this as pretty frustrating too. Anger maybe isn’t warranted though, but frustration is definitely fair. I believe she had good intentions but just because her intent is good, that doesn’t need to take away from our feelings related to not getting our needs met. That justifiably hurts.

Now because I have mental health issues, I didn’t want to text her and ask if she’d forgotten me. To call her out on this would be too scary and similar to confrontation for me to cope with, even if I said it in the nicest possible way I didn’t want to cause embarrassment to either of us, so I just let it go and decided I’d wait for the appointment four weeks away.

Confrontation is difficult, especially when you are trying to explain a need wasn’t met when you are feeling unworthy of having needs in the first place. But everyone does. Needs are normal!
Needy. We are too bloody needy and we don’t want to be needy and especially don’t want the humiliation of being seen as being needy and annoying!
It’s okay to have needs. But it’s hard to acknowledge that because having needs opens you up to being disappointed.
Case in point, don’t you think?
And seriously, use the word “needs” one more time and I swear to God…!

Luckily, the medical issue stopped by itself and so life carried on and I was actually grateful I hadn’t texted back or insisted on seeing her as it would have just been an over reaction on my part and I would have looked foolish.

Bullet, dodged!
Just because it stopped, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a legitimate problem to begin with – or that you somehow imagined it.

Fast forward to yesterday, the appointment finally came up, I went anyway as I needed a new referral to my psychiatrist. So while there I explained the issue and it’s subsequent self-resolution and she said that I was right to be concerned but we decided that it was likely chemo induced and as it had stopped there was probably nothing to worry about anymore but she’d contact my surgeon in the week for his opinion and let me know.

Will she though? Let us know, I mean 🤨

Good, no problem. The GP also commented that in future I should text her directly and she’d make a time to see me because this absolutely counted as emergency appointment worthy (never mind the secretaries opinions) and that’s why she gave me her number.

That clearly doesn’t actually work in real life though, does it? Plus that secretary is scary. She’d probably put a hex on us or something if we went over her head!
God I hope she emailed the referral because we don’t seem to have a hard copy here anywhere!
Good point, didn’t she forget last year?

I decided not to mention that I had texted and she’d forgotten to ring me at the time we’d arranged and so I just said “thank you” and ensured her I’d do that next time. She asked me if there were any other concerns so I mentioned a niggling abdominal pain I’d had for the last few days. She prodded my tummy and it hurt a little bit but nothing to write home about.

Wuss. Not a pain worth mentioning at all, stop attention seeking.
After the whole cancer thing, it’s pretty normal and even expected to worry over the little things. If you don’t ask, then the worry just stays in your head and exacerbates, if you do ask your fears can be alleviated or a problem can be attended to. Win win.

She was concerned enough to call up my gastroenterologist on the spot (on his private number, on a Saturday) to ask his opinion. He recommended due to my rather extensive and complex history that they do a CT scan right away. Now I felt this was an over reaction but she seems to think I underplay things, particularly pain related things and insisted. So she’s spent a lot of time on the phone to a bunch of people organised me to go to the Emergency department of the hospital to get the scan done straight away.

Meanwhile the pain is fine, like yeah it’s annoying but it’s more discomfort than pain and I’m feeling like a total hypochondriac wasting everyone’s time. Plus I’d arranged to see a good friend of mine I don’t get to see much after the appointment and didn’t want to miss out on that much less go near a hospital.

The doc is even more dramatic than you are! Goodo, let’s waste more time and tax payer dollars, because taking advantage of universal healthcare won’t have an impact on our country at all.

At this point in my medical and mental illness “journey” I would rather be slowly eaten by fire ants than go to a hospital, much less an emergency department. Last time I went to one of those I had to phone my siblings and announce our Dad was about to die. Not fun.

Really? You’re going to make it about Dad?
You know it’s not that. The stench of the place makes us all feel sick since chemo, coulda said that, fair enough, but instead you played the dead Dad card. Trying to get sympathy now? Just shut up. The reason you didn’t want to go there was cause you knew they’d think you were an attention seeking dumb ass and you felt (rightfully) bad about wasting their time.

I reluctantly agreed because the GP had gone to so much effort and called my friend to explain that I’d be a little late. I got to the hospital, finally found a park miles away and reluctantly walked through the sleet and freezing wind up to the Emergency Department wishing I was anywhere else.

Yet you CHOSE to go in anyway. #DramaQueen Let’s break it off here because, well you sure do love the drama! Stay tuned everyone for a riveting part two of “dumbass goes to hospital for no reason!”