I want to scream.
I want to scream so loud and hard that my voice box explodes and my eyes pop out. I want to scream in such a way that the vibrations cause tectonic plates to shift. Enormous undulating screams that would reverberate through the universe and shift the pattern of space and time. God damn it, I want to scream.
I know I’m not alone in this. For instance, at this very moment my freshly minted two year daughter is doing a truly magnificent job. She’s howling at me at an ever increasing pitch, and with such rage. I fear I may read about how dolphins have started to mass off the local coast and are planning a coup. The injustices of life kid, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. It’s all about perspective.
Perspective is an odd thing. Take away all the material bullshit of life and you are left with… what? The one thing you can control is yourself. What happens when that control gets taken away? We can whine that we don’t have this gadget, or those toys, that vacation or live in this neighbourhood, but all of that gets put into stark perspective when you can’t control your own body or mind.
What happens when as a normal (I use this term loosely) woman in her early thirties, starts to lose her shit?
It started off so imperceptibly that I barely noticed it. Frequent headaches and randomly located aches and pains. We’re all getting older after all, nothing to worry about. What about losing time? Ever done that? I blinked and an hour passed, an hour of which I had no memory. Entire conversations vanished. Surely, it happens to us all. Insomnia? God, we’ve all had that. I was experiencing so many minor problems that I felt foolish just bringing them up.
Slowly, though, it started getting out of control. I didn’t sleep for days on end, existing on naps. My mind tortured me by night with endless to-do, have-I-done? and should-do lists. That annoying song played constantly on the radio got stuck in my head on a loop. Over and over it would play, and not even the whole damn song. Just part of it. I wanted to drive a fork into my brain for some peace. I was becoming more than slightly irrational. Hypersensitive and panicky, simple decisions and actions became impossible. I blamed hormones.
My body hurt so much that I shuffled out of bed in the morning like an octogenarian. The slightest poke felt like a punch, and I felt like an utter hypochondriac for even mentioning it. So many random, seemingly unrelated annoyances had silently taken over my life. Suck it up, missy, nobody cares. There is nothing visibly wrong with you; you are an attention seeker.
The first diagnosis came in my early thirties. Depression, but Christ, who isn’t depressed? Next up, borderline personality disorder with avoidant tendencies. Huh. Sounded like I was going to go all Britney Spears and shave my head and shit. Then came Attention Deficit Disorder. It didn’t stop there. Along with the crazy town side there were endless physiological problems. Every specialist and quack had an opinion. I was poked, prodded, tested and violated in every conceivable way. Results: Fybromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalopathy, hypermobility, chronic pain syndrome, restless leg syndrome, (seriously what it’s called) and more. A veritable laundry list of illness’, syndromes, disorders and diseases. It became the diagnosis de jour.
Overwhelmed, I was drowning in a pit of my own misery and pain. It all seemed so enormous and uncontrollable. How in the hell could I find my way out from all of this?
The one thing I was never diagnosed with is being a stubborn bitch. (If restless leg syndrome is a thing, then so is stubborn bitch syndrome). I am the most pigheaded person in the world. I wallowed for a while, comfortable in the knowledge that I had a medical reason for malingering. I was told to “give myself a break,” or “allow myself to feel.” FUCK OFF! My pity party didn’t last long.
I stopped seeing the whole and started seeing pieces. What could I manage today? Instead of treating an entire disorder or syndrome as a whole, why not just deal with what is happening right now? Later is later. Every small step was a win. Get up in the morning? It’s a win. Make the bed? Another win. My days became a series of small battles, not always won, but at least fought.
I hold myself to ridiculously high standards and I know it. But if you have the energy to complain, then you have the energy to help yourself. I had no idea how to do that though, so I swallowed my ego and got professional help. I told the people closest to me. Some didn’t get it. Some still don’t. Those who did, like my husband, have been my rock. On my “crazy” days, when I can’t think straight, or on the days when I can barely walk, he is there. I truly expected him to wake up one morning and figure out he didn’t sign up for this bullshit and do a runner, but he didn’t. Neither did a handful of friends. They understood when I didn’t make it to functions or a night out. They also call me on my shit when I am being a stubborn asshole. I had to ask for allowances and it nearly killed me, but in doing so I discovered I wasn’t alone. There are so many of us out there in “crazy town,” struggling one symptom or syndrome at a time.
My life now is smaller. It took me a long time to be happy with that, to learn that smaller is not less than. I get it wrong as often as I get it right. I have days where I feel like Wonder Woman, complete with gold tiara, bustier and star spangled knickers (I actually have those) and do too much, only to have my ass kicked later by my resentful body. There are days I struggle to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. I take each day with each battle as they come. If I can make it to the end of the day without sucking down a shitload of pain killers, win. If my kid is fed, clean(ish) and I didn’t punch the annoying person in the face, win.
We all have days where we want to scream at the kids for being the destructive little shits that they are, and I am no exception. Days when we are praying for sweet release, from the endless headache educing tirade of bullshit, bodily fluids, bills and minutiae that make us crazy.
I am not alone and this gives me comfort. I may not scream out loud, as this invariably gives me a headache and is somewhat counterproductive, but I allow myself the option. Perspective is not always an attractive truth, but as I listen now to the silence after I have had my hour or so to write this and I can breathe again. It’s a lot more than some people get.
The urge to scream has left me. Perspective is an amazing thing.