I know I said I wouldn’t talk about Glandular Fever any more, but the last two months have been turbulent mental health-wise, and I can’t pin it on lifestyle choices alone. What matters now is I’ve powered through it, and I’m feeling better because things seemed to have balanced out (although my sleeping pattern is still screwed).
When I returned to the office in July after a month off sick, one of my senior managers asked how my Glandular Fever recovery was going. Physically, I had recovered. I was tired, but I’m always tired (a charming symptom of ulcerative colitis/chronic illness) so that wasn’t a surprise to me. “How about mentally?” he asked, and for once, I decided to truthfully say “Not all that great”.
Post-fever, and back at work, I expected to pick up where I’d left off and go back to my old life. Instead, I spent weeks feeling as if I was sat behind glass, separate from situations I would normally be engaged in. If I did manage to experience a drop of emotion, it was overwhelming, and I’d be paralysed by the state of panic it brought on. I hid it exceptionally well, so I imagine anyone who’s reading this who knows me in person will be surprised to hear I almost wept at my desk (and on the tube) on a daily basis.
I didn’t tell many people I felt this way. My sisters knew, I told a few close friends, and I wrote pages of notes in my diary about it when I couldn’t sleep at night (despite being fucking exhausted). I read the entries back recently, and it made me sad that I felt such a strong and strange need to keep my feelings a secret. That’s madder than any of the things I was feeling at the time.
What gave me comfort was the knowledge my senior had been through the exact same thing when he contracted Glandular Fever. He told me that for months after his initial diagnosis and recovery, he would burst in to tears for no reason, and couldn’t regulate his emotions. Even on the worst days when I would come back to the flat after work, wrecked internally by nerves and paranoia; the comfort in knowing this was temporary and that I hadn’t “gone wrong” (as I put it to my flatmate Kelly) was immense. That’s why it’s important to tell people – it genuinely helps others.
Do you know what else helps? Music. Endless amounts of it. Even when you don’t want to dance to it, cry to it, or feel to it – music is always there to distract and eventually, to motivate you back in to health. I’ve (finally) discovered the vital sound of Nine Inch Nails, and I’m grateful to my older brother for not being mad at me for ignoring his suggestion to listen to them five years ago. We all need something to lean on when we feel weak; and NIN’s desolate, raging, brutally honest lyrics have been medicine to my ears on the most toxic days.
Whether you’re feeling low due to poor physical health, or just generally out of sorts; put on a record, whack your little diary out, and write until you don’t make sense anymore. Read it back when you’re feeling better, and cut yourself some slack. Life can punch you right in the tits sometimes, but if you tell someone how you feel (or write a blog about it), chances are you’ll feel relieved in some minor way. I can’t wait to show you what the spoils of shaking off Glandular Fever look like for me. Keep your eyes peeled, and listen to this in the meantime.