Friday, October 19, 2012

An open book.

I'm normally a really private person, and find it quite hard to talk to anyone outside my close circle about how I'm really feeling. The whole idea of publishing thoughts for anyone in the world to see was so foreign to me a few weeks ago, it's strange how far I have come.

At first, I found it really helpful to write things down and create a bit of order to my thoughts and free up a bit of space in my head. But I found that I was having the same conversations with people, after I'd been writing about it. That was quite strange. I'd spend the day on my own thinking and writing, and then when I saw people I'd have this ready-made conversation that I'd been crafting all afternoon.

And then I told a few people I was doing it, because it was helpful. And then the address was squeezed out of me and I finally let go. Up until now I have always felt very exposed by writing. My only real (and very proud) writing background is an interview I did for GU on the super olympian triathlete and one of my bestest friends, Jessica Harrison. I remember being terrified handing it in and just felt very judged on writing style and journalistic integrity blah blah. Basically, I was very insecure about it.

I don't feel that now. Obviously my perspective has somewhat changed given recent events, and I've talked a bit earlier about confidence, but it just doesn't seem to matter anymore. I think that as long as I am writing this for me, and with a benefit to me, then it will work. The worry now is that I start showing off and writing bollox just to entertain people, and then it wouldn't work anymore. Have to watch out for that.

But back to the main theme, there are two points I am trying to address. One is about the being open, and how funny it feels doing that. Two, is the effect of that on people. Here, I am more concerned about the people closest to me who would then have cause to question themselves based on what I am writing. That worried me as soon as I let Henrietta out the bag.

So firstly, the privacy thing. I don't know why I've found it hard in the past to be open, and it is something that I've been working on over the years anyway. I have a very close group of friends and family who I talk to a lot, which is great. In general though I find myself in social situations being polite and aware, but not very open. I am quite shy, and I'm often happy to sit back in a group and let most social situations wash over me without contributing anything "real".

This writing seems very attention-seeking in comparison and is taking a bit of getting used to. It's funny to think that anyone can read these thoughts and make their own mind up about them. But then again, nobody has to read them either, and it comes back to the main point here - I'm writing this for me, so I can read it back in years to come and WONDER at all this stuff going through my head. It's like a live experiment really.

And so how is it affecting my closest friends and family? Well, every night when mum and Olly get home I talk at them like a machine gun while they both sit and blink at me. I tell them everything I've been thinking and writing, so they don't actually need to read the blog at all. But then they do, and that's weird because we've already discussed it and I might have changed my mind a bit by then.

But I guess it is affecting people who don't live here differently. The people who I already talk to anyway. They can now read, almost in real time, how I'm feeling from one moment to another. I know that in some cases already this has led to people wondering how they should react - are they being too much or too little? And the thing is I get irritated by things people might say sometimes, but not by the people themselves. I don't want anyone to have to worry about what they say in case I'm irritated by it.

So the question is one of balance I think. If I say I'm irritated by something, I don't want that to mean all the people close to me think "Oh God, I said that yesterday...". In that situation, I'd rather not make anyone question themselves, but I also want to be honest about what irritates me - so that I remember. I want to log it, warts and all.

Here's a good example: people REALLY like to tell me that they "just know" everything is going to be ok. Now, I logically know that you would only say this to make someone feel better and because you don't want them to be worried. It's a nice thing to say, but it drives me up the wall.

It makes me think that people think I am overreacting for worrying. And then it makes me a bit angry and defensive because, quite frankly, I am worrying. And I don't understand how them thinking it's going to be ok will stop me worrying, and then I think actually - I WANT to worry, I think it's healthy to be a bit worried. Never been one to stick my head in the sand.

But really I know people are just trying to be nice. Reading this here, right now, will be making at least ten of you go "ah fuck, that was totally me... what should I do now?"

And that is not want I want your reaction to be. So I'll end this one with a plea, to not take this too seriously. Please don't take it as a personal message to act in any way around me other than you usually would. I am aiming to balance what I say, but there's a pretty good chance some of it going to come out quite ranty, but you can bet I'll have moved on to something else after a few more contemplative hours.

Told you so.

This is a weird thing that just is.

I've been getting migraines for years, had my first one at 24 working in Nottingham and I just suddenly couldn't see, it was terrifying. Then I had to lie in a room for three days without the light on trying not to vomit - what is this hell? I couldn't understand what was happening to me.

I hate migraines, they are invisible and almighty. There is just no arguing with the nausea and pain and when it's there it feels like it will never go away. In a migraine I just can't imagine a world where I don't have that pain.

During these episodes over the years I have been known to be melodramatic. Every time, I convince myself there is something really wrong. Something is causing this horrendous head pain and it must be really wrong. There's only one thing it could be - I've got a brain tumour.

I've been saying that for years. I say it to Olly during every migraine and then we both go "naaah don't be ridiculous". I said it to the consultants and clinics I've been to. I've moaned at my family. I think I've even said it to work people.

I don't think I ever really believed it, but during the dark migrainous hours of seemingly endless and unstoppable pain, it has felt like the most obvious thing.

But of course I didn't really believe it (too easy to say that now).

When we were waiting in A&E on that Monday two weeks ago me and Olly talked about the first brain scan. I said I was well pleased. I would finally have categoric and visible proof that I don't have a brain tumour - oh how we laughed.

In the back of my mind there was a little gap though... unless...

Bloody told you so!

Normal, versus normal.

This is probably a bit of a reaction to so many messages yesterday, but it's struck me how weirdly normal the whole thing is.

Everything happened so quickly and we were pretty much drip fed all this information that added up to the eventual reality of waiting for surgery, that the whole daunting truth was never a massive bombshell. It's like I just incrementally understood where we were. And what was going to happen.

And here we are, it just is what is it. It seems so weirdly normal.

I remember when first out of hospital, saying to mum (who to be fair actually was looking quite shell shocked) isn't it a bit surreal that I've got a brain tumour? And she said yes, how did this happen?
But then we both remarked on how, even though surreal it wasn't weird, it felt normal.

That feeling has always been there and yesterday with so many people finding out all at once, the reality of the shock for all of you has shown quite a contrast to my own state of mind. I think it's a good
thing and that I'm adjusting well. I had been worried it was denial but I think now that I really have started to process it. Getting there anyway.