Every day you must say
So, how do I feel about my life ?
Anything is hard to find
When you will not open your eyes
When will you accept yourself ?
I am sick and I am dull
And I am plain
How dearly I’d love to get carried away
Oh, but dreams have a knack of just not coming true
And time is against me now…oh
Oh, who and what to blame ?
Oh, anything is hard to find
When you will not open your eyes
When will you accept yourself, for heaven’s sake ?
- Accept Yourself, The Smiths
The plan certainly wasn’t for the whole day to become an unholy disaster, but it seems I simply just don’t have a choice in these things. My mother shouted at me until I agreed to get out of bed, demanding that I sort myself out and take control of my life. This set the precedent for the rest of the day; her angry over very little, me building up into a barely-controlled ball of anxiety and fear every time she opened her mouth or even looked at me. I’m trying to keep calm for the neurologist appointment, but she won’t stop taking about it. I know I sound like a spoiled child when I say this, but it’s not her appointment; it’s mine. Just like so many other things, she has taken it upon herself to arrange transport, demanded I write down a list of symptoms, made me type out a list of the medications I take (why won’t handwritten do?), keeps bringing up the subject of scans and tests. I’m regretting asking her to go with me (although I know she’d have naturally assumed she’s be going with me) because she’s turned it into a huge drama, when I was trying to let it slightly slip my mind so I don’t become scared of the appointment.
Well, I’m scared now. Too scared to sleep, and wondering what the hell to do. If I try to sleep now, what if I just lie awake worrrying? If I stay up, what if I can’t cope with the weekend after being awake for so long?
Unsurprisingly, I’ve given up on the idea of sleep. I did feign one attempt – even going so far as switching the lamp off and avoiding caffeine all evening – but, as usual, the brain won’t shut up. I’m thinking about tomorrow; about how tired and grumpy I’ll be in the taxi. How the smell and lights in hospitals make me feel skin-crawlingly uncomfortable. The neurological centre is attached to the hospital my stepfather was admitted to when he sustained the brain injury, and although I can’t remember what it looks like now (too much dope, too many sleepless nights), I suspect it’ll bring back feelings I’m not really in the mood to recall.
I’ve calmed down since this afternoon, after having three or four joints and listening to Erasure for a while. Earlier, I was livid; on the edge of screaming and stomping like a toddler and running away somewhere safe. The catalyst for my anxiety was this small snippet of conversation:
Mother: “Until you’ve sorted yourself out, there’ll be no more weekends with S“.
Something inside me flipped, as it has so many times before. Just those few words turned on the waterworks (which I think I kept hidden) and created a bubble of panic. I sat on the sofa, trying not to cry, torn between staying downstairs and getting into yet another argument, or running to my room, grabbing a razor and dealing with the building panic attack before it got unbearable. I think I would have harmed myself if we hadn’t been about to set off to go shopping. I suppose I just didn’t want to be walking around with the familar burn under my sleeves. I don’t want to be that way anymore and, fingers crossed, I haven’t given in to hurting myself for a long time now. Months. It’d be a shame to have to start again, all because of a throwaway comment.
You see, I’m becoming fearful that S will grow tired of my mother’s strange rules and ways of thinking, and leave me. Logic says that he’s not like that and that he understands the situation, but since when did logic get in the way of a good freak-out? Also, I’m sick of being told what I will or won’t do. I’m utterly exhausted by it. I crave freedom and control, but I know I can never have either of those things while I’m under my mother’s roof.
The second thoughtless comment was regarding my eating habits.
Mother: “I’m going to have to start putting locks on the cupboards. I know it’s not nice to hear but you’re eating a lot and you’ll only complain to me when none of your clothes fit again“.
Way to go, Ma! Not only am I very much aware that the binging is out of control – thank you very much – but I also happen to be very stressed over it, and don’t need reminding how much of a problem it’s become again. I am aware of my weight at every second of the waking day right now; telling me I’m eating too much isn’t going to make me stop, or magically fix every problem I’ve ever had relating to food. Oh, I know it’s not entirely her fault – it’s easy to say something without thinking – but sometimes I get a little suspicious and wonder if she’s doing it on purpose. I don’t know why she would… to test me, maybe? To see if I’m truly over the eating disorders (she knows I’m not, surely?) by pushing the issue of food just when I seem at my most highly-strung?
I think I’m being paranoid.
Shopping was a rushed trip around the main street in the rain and gales we’re experiencing at the moment (which means it was Windsday), punctuated by my mother’s exasperation at my “behaviour” and my panicked outbursts. When I’m feeling as anxious as I did today, I get angry and frustrated. For years I thought that irrational rage was down to low blood sugar, but I’ve come to realise that it’s a side-effect of building up panic and worries inside my head until I explode.
One of my least favourite side-effects of panic attacks is how I turn everything in on myself. I’m naturally an introvert, but I can become incredibly cruel to myself when I’m filled with anxiety. The first thing I picked on today was the way I was dressed. It’s hard to explain how it works… it’s like voices, but I don’t hear them. They’re my thoughts, but as though they’re coming from a different brain. I know nobody’s actually talking to me, but it can be deafening sometimes when I’m throwing insults at myself. Today’s voices went like this:
“Who the hell wears a knee length pink coat at your age? You look like an old woman”
“You can only wear old women clothes because you’re too fat to fit into anything nice”
“Everything looks awful on you, life was much better when you were a size 10″
“Look, everybody’s staring at you because you look ridiculous in that hat. A skinny girl would suit it, but not you”
“You’ll never escape. You’ll always live in this house, and you’ll die alone, without friends”
“People just pretend to like you”
“You’re worth nothing. You spend all day playing computer games and smoking dope. You don’t even have a job”
“Those boots never did suit you”
“You’ll lose all your benefits, and you won’t get a job because you’re no good at anything, and you’ll never achieve a single dream”.
… and so on, until my head was so crowded that I wanted to run. At one point, I did leave the supermarket, and went and sat outside in the rain on the cold metal bench while my mother bought cigarettes. I was panicking at the till – not helped by the slowest checkout assistant ever – and was getting all messed up in my head over which bags the freezer stuff went in and my mother’s insistance that I’d filled the trolley full of rubbish. She tried to stop me buying Diet Pepsi, saying I’m not allowed. I bought it anyway, if only out of spite. We’ve always battled over food and drink; she believes that the only way to survive in the modern world is to only eat organic food, only drink out of glass bottles, never drink out of cans because it can “give you cancer”. My beliefs are a little more relaxed, to say the least. Sometimes I wonder if she realises that she should just be happy I’m not anorexic anymore and doing my best to fight the after-effects of bulimia. She should be happy that I eat, and sometimes don’t read the nutrition labels or worry about how much salt is in a ready meal, rather than spending every waking moment terrified by calories.