SUNDAY #90 – Only

I said I wouldn’t talk about Glandular Fever any more (#getoveritKate), but when I returned to the office in July after a month off sick, one of my senior managers asked how my recovery was going. Physically, I’d completely recovered, but when he asked “How about mentally?” I decided to tell the truth and say “Not all that great”.

Post-fever, I naively expected to pick up where I’d left off and go back to my old self. Instead, I spent weeks feeling like I was sat behind glass, separate from situations I would normally be engaged in. If I managed to experience a drop of emotion, it was overwhelming, and it often brought on a panic so severe that I’d feel paralysed by it. Weirdly, I hid these panics 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 anything I was feeling at the time.

What gave eventually gave me comfort and some perspective was that my senior had been through the exact same thing when he contracted Glandular Fever years ago. 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’d come back to the flat after work, wrecked internally by nerves and paranoia; the comfort in knowing I hadn’t “gone wrong” (as I put it to my flatmate Kelly) and that this state was only temporary, was immense. That’s why I’ve written about it here. It’s important to tell people if you’re struggling.

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. We all need something to lean on when we feel weak; and Nine Inch Nails’ desolate, raging, brutally honest lyrics have been medicine to my ears on the most toxic days. I’m also grateful to my older brother for not being mad at me for ignoring his suggestion to listen to them five years ago.

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), you’ll be surprised at just how much relief it can bring.

I can’t wait to show you what the spoils of shaking off Glandular Fever look like for me. Keep your eyes peeled for more news, and listen to this vital tune in the meantime.

Making and Breaking Silence

In the last month, I have discovered new things about people I have known for a long time, and I’ve revealed things about myself that I’ve kept hidden for years. These revelations (some bigger than others) have made my brain buzz about the concept of truly ‘knowing’ someone. Can you truly know or understand what’s going on in other people’s lives? The short answer would be ‘No, Bob; so quit trying to be philosophical in your blog post and sort your life out.’ The long answer is ‘No, Bob; but please, do take the next 500+ words to explain why you think this.’

I am often quick to declare that people are ‘a bunch of bastards’, and that I hate the human race. Then someone I know will tell me something completely unexpected about themselves; and I have to step back and take the time to admire what they’ve lived/are living through. When I step back, I step back in silence, and I contemplate just how bad the lives of very good people can get. These silences are absolutely essential to my thought processes. I discovered some time ago that although I have extrovert qualities (I attend comedy classes, and talk a lot of bollocks on this blog), I am undoubtedly an introvert; and I need time away from things in order to process whatever it is that’s happening to me.

Sometimes however, the silence needs breaking. Someone will ask me a question I have been avoiding like the plague, and in that moment, I decide to be truthful and say ‘well, actually…’ rather than the usual ‘No, I’m fine thanks.’ I tend to break silences when someone offends me, or attempts to play on my pre-existing, and overbearing sense of guilt about absolutely everything in life. Breaking a silence is very powerful, but so is making one. Sometimes it’s the things we are not saying or documenting that end up being more powerful or important; and other times, it’s the reverse. It’s tricky to get the balance right.

Silence becomes more complicated when you throw in social media. The internet is so convenient and quick when it comes to expressing emotions; which is not always a bad thing (hence this blog post). However, a throwaway facebook status or ill-worded tweet, can make someone feel unbearably angry or humiliated. Some things don’t need to be put on the internet; but, then I suppose you could argue that this blog should remain unwritten too. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal choice; some people feel better broadcasting or venting via social media; others prefer to seethe in the silence, and then write a little ambiguous article about it in the hope that it will put the whole, ugly thing to rest.

Perhaps silence is censorship and should be avoided. Perhaps it is the coward’s way out. All I know is that I need silence more than I ever fully realised, but I look forward to cranking up the volume again when the opportunity presents itself. Ultimately, things break; people, relationships and friendships; and it’s the silence in-between that allows you to get to know yourself again; which is the only thing you can ever fully understand anyway.