It seems I’ve been nothing but ill my whole life. It has been there for as long as I can remember in some way. My first one was mental health – neurosis, severe anxiety, panic attacks, then severe depression and all the other things that came along with it. Along with those things, a bunch of other stuff came along. I feel like I’ve never been anything else – so much so I feel like this is all I am. This is all I have. This is my existence and there’s nothing else to me. Nothing positive, nothing likeable, nothing productive. Just nothing.
Just a parasite on people, society, family, friends and colleagues.
A Raggydoll. A Raggydoll with no other purpose than to be a Raggydoll.
Being A Raggydoll…
I feel like I have no other personality traits but illness. From when I was a child I’ve struggled – with mental health, physical issues, health problems… I’ve always been the “problem” child. “Problem” person. Always sick, always upset, always in pain… always something. I feel as I have nothing else to offer – that there isn’t anything else to me. I am simply a burden and feel guilty of being around anyone – family, friends, work, anyone. A parasite that drains resources without being able to give back – or what little I can give back is just nothing compared to what other people give. What do I have to offer – what could I possibly have to to offer?
Basic things are difficult – making food or even a cup of tea feels like a hurdle to climb over. Sitting, standing, walking, even lying down, are all difficult. I can’t even offer being a nice person… I seem to be just permanently grumpy and snappy. I feel awful for it, and seem to have no idea how to get over it. I wish I could be at least nice. I don’t know why that part of me is broken – but living with this just makes me feel irritable, miserable, lonely, and so tired, I just can’t seem to manage to be consistently nice. This seems to render me a very unpleasant person. One I do not really recognise. One that I am very sorry that I am.
It’s an isolating existence. It’s also a catch-22 – I don’t really want to be a burden to people and try to keep my distance, but then I feel lonely and isolated and depressed, and feel even more of a burden, and the whole circle thing starts again. I have nothing to offer people, and feel bad for asking for anything. Even help or support. It’s keeping me from work, isolating me even more. I had to accept my boss closing my contract because I couldn’t do the work to the standard required – and as a contractor they have no obligation to me, and in fairness gave more to me than they were obliged to before then. So I also lost my job because of it. You can’t be a data quality analyst, working with important data that needs to be completely correct, when you’re exhausted, in pain, unable to concentrate, and doped up with strong painkillers with side-effects including vertigo, nausea, and disorientation. I have never been able to sleep, but with the pain it’s even worse. Or I take the pills and I have nightmares from them. Either way, I am exhausted every day – and added to lack of sleep is the fact that simple things are difficult and take a lot of effort.
It’s like there’s nothing else to me than this. That this is my identity, and I have no other. I have even had a job offer revoked (several years ago) because they thought I might be too ill to undertake it. It makes me sad when I hear about the ill, sick, and disabled being told by government contractors that they are “fit to work”. You know who disagrees with that statement? The employers. I’ve just been asked to leave a job because I cannot do it, because I’m too sick to work right now. They think I’m no longer fit to work. It’s hardly surprising… I can barely walk, I am three-sheets-to-the-wind because of painkillers I have to take to simply manage very basic things, and I can’t focus on anything. I can barely go anywhere alone, when I walk my legs become numb, when I sit my back is in agony and my legs become numb, and I cannot stand still for longer than a few seconds before my legs start going numb and my back is killing me. I am also mildly depressed and just feel miserable and vulnerable all the time. No employer is going to want to come anywhere near me. People are worse off than me health-wise, and like me they still would like to work, but can’t. Employers aren’t catching up with this way of thinking – they want perfect people. They don’t want Raggydolls.
This is how I am seen – how I will be seen. It’s the ID card I feel I am wearing around my neck. It makes me want to burrow into a hole and stay there. Just hide. Put my physical difficulties with my mental health ones, and I just feel like one giant ball of pointlessness. A failure at being a human, because I’m not perfect. We don’t exactly live in a world, or society, that likes weakness or anything that’s not perfect. London isn’t kind to people who are not healthy and perfect. It hardly has many options in any area for people who have difficulties. It is prejudiced. People who aren’t fully mobile and in full health are incompatible with it. It’s probably worse when people don’t look it. So people assume there isn’t really anything wrong – as if they know. As if they know what’s going on inside your body. Chronic pain, mental health, mobility issues that don’t require a wheelchair – they’re all invisible disabilities… Meaning they stop you from doing stuff. Or rather, stop you from doing things in the way other people think you should, specifically in the way they normally do them.
My ID Card?
Because of all these things, it leaves me feeling like this is the only way I can see myself. That it’s the only constant thing in my life, the thing that defines me. Is it? Logic says no. Emotion says yes. I fear it’s the only way people see me, hence feeling I have nothing else to offer because they just won’t see anything else.
I would like to believe that if I had a shining personality, this would be the only thing that would be seen, but I don’t think I have one of those. I am a quiet, introverted geek with mental health issues and problems connecting with people or feeling anything good about myself. I don’t think there’s much of a chance of having much of a personality beyond that.
I was told once that I should stop being afraid of what people think of me and just be myself – that nothing was expected of me, except to just be me. It’s probably one of the kindest, most reassuring things I’ve ever been told. This person knows me probably better than anyone (except my mother, that is…!), and it’s something I’ve been thinking about in the last few days since it was said. It may have even been said to me before, but it has never penetrated my head before in the same way if it has. The thing is, I just don’t really quite know what being myself actually is. Well, I think I do know… but I don’t know. Not consciously. I know fear of everything I’ve just written masks anything I might know inside. Fear that there really isn’t anything else to me. That being ill is simply being myself, that that’s all I am.
I would like to think it’s only part of me. That somehow I can compartmentalise it into just being a small part of my life – a fact, but just a gliding one – one that just passes over my head. Like being short. I barely scrape 5ft on a prayer, and it does stop me from doing things like reaching stuff in a supermarket, or even in my own home, and it means I cannot wear about 90% of clothes out there as all women’s clothes are made for people over 5ft 6, and the rest is all for those over 5ft tall – even the petite section – no matter what they claim. But I do not think about it day and night, I do not concern myself over it, and I’ve adapted to it. Sure, it pisses me off sometimes, but only sometimes.
This is how I should see my limitations with health. Physical and mental. In fairness, I have adapted and accepted my mental health issues – over 15 years of therapy and dealing with it will do that for you. However, in those sessions, it was only my mental health that was dealt with. I was never taught how to come to terms with being in constant pain. In fairness, the extreme chronic pain has become worse in the last 6-10 months, with issues leading up to it becoming this bad. It wasn’t ever quite this bad before, though. Things have gone from awful to impossible in the last 3 months, and I feel like I’ve gone out of the frying pan and into the fire. A fire that hurts like hell, leaving me wondering whether this is all I am.
I am hoping that one day (and one day soon, if I’m to stay on the right side of a nervous breakdown) this is how I will see this thing I am going through. It’s lonely, isolating, and difficult – but I still need to get through it in one piece, so I hope that I will be able to accept it as a part of me, but not all of me. It just needs to be a small fact of my life that is less consequential than being my entire identity.
Perhaps one day I will be able to. But I just don’t think that it’s going to be today…