This is not some sort of homage to Wallace and Gromit, I despise Wallace and Gromit, for reasons I won’t go into. This is the (no doubt protracted, verbose) tale of how one woman can alter the rotational axis of her mental world and blame it on an item of clothing.
Today I am wearing the wrong t-shirt. The t-shirt I am wearing is black, 100% cotton, comes from H&M and has a v-neck. It’s a perfectly nice t–shirt, goes well with the rest of my outfit (black linen trousers, red Converse high-tops) but it is just all wrong.
This is the second time in 5 days I have worn the wrong t-shirt, it’s not the same t-shirt but they both are now burdened with the homogeny of being the wrong t-shirt; I suspect that every t-shirt in my possession could easily be assimilated into this group under the right (or wrong?) circumstances.
The first day I wore the wrong t-shirt I was convinced I had worn the right t-shirt the previous day and the right t-shirt (black, 100% cotton, H&M, round neck) was therefore in the wash. The impact on my mental state of wearing the wrong t-shirt was disproportionate to say the least.
As soon as I had put the wrong t-shirt on I was gripped by fear and anxiety, my stomach was in knots, my head was spinning, my hands were shaking- I entered a phase of utter panic and I even think rather uncharacteristic tears were involved at some point. I adjusted the t-shirt (black, 100% cotton, M&S, v-neck) smoothed the t-shirt, pulled the t-shirt down, moved it back up but it didn’t help. I was having a meltdown and it was obviously because I was wearing the wrong t-shirt.
There was a vague awareness somewhere within me that my reaction to the wrong t-shirt was in fact a massive deflection. There were several things going on that day that were a source of some anxiety for me. It was infinitely simpler though to dismiss my issues and therefore the risk of feeling any emotion and blame it all on the t-shirt. I continued to obsess over the t-shirt- was it too tight? Was it too loose? Was it too black? Was it too cottony? I didn’t know, I just knew it was wrong.
The answer was simple- get a copy of the right t-shirt and put it on.
The keen eyed amongst you will probably have noticed that both the right and wrong t-shirts share a number of features- both black, both 100% cotton, both from H&M, both t-shirts- the only disparity being round neck vs v-neck. I don’t think I have any preference regarding necks on t-shirts; the wrongness of this t-shirt was far more intrinsic and overwhelming than just the shape of the neck.
So I jumped in the stupid car and went straight to H&M- having good shops nearby is one of the many benefits of living in a town that is essentially a giant university campus, I rushed in and hurriedly purchased 2 exact copies of the right t-shirt. I got home, took the wrong t-shirt off and put the right t-shirt on.
From that moment on, my day went swimmingly and I was happy, in fact I was cured…….
Not surprisingly replacing the wrong t-shirt with the right t-shirt did absolutely nothing to quell my anxiety and my body continued to over-react to every stimulus. Light was too bright, noise was too loud, the cry of “Mama” from the 6 year old that sounds so sweet at 8am was akin to shoving a breadknife in my ear- repeatedly.
I decided, having changed the t-shirt that I had done all I could and I would simply have to get on with my day as best as I could. I managed to identify the real sources of the anxiety eventually but it did little to alleviate the symptoms. I spent the rest of the day feeling horrible but made it through aided by too many cigarettes and my trusty “magic invisibility” sunglasses. I was even more relieved than usual to put my pyjamas on that night.
So today, when I finally got bathed and dressed after lunch (all the food groups represented in reasonable quantities) my palms began to sweat and my heart began to race I got completely engulfed by the sheer awfulness of it all and I felt terrible. The t-shirt (black, 100% cotton, H&M, v-neck) was wrong- again.
I indulged my body for a while and paced the bedroom in an attempt to silence my mind- then in a moment of self analytical genius I grabbed a pen (blue Bic Cristal medium- always) and notebook (Oxford A5 Plus- always) and wrote down the real reasons I was wearing the wrong t-shirt. Here, in handy list format in order to keep the reader engaged, is what I came up with-
I am very concerned about my financial situation- before I went mental the first thing I did every day was check the bank. The household budget was worked out to the penny and I knew every single incoming and outgoing transaction in great detail. I have somewhat taken my eye off the ball financially and now find myself in a very precarious position indeed. The DVLA took my driving license off me when I went mental but the bank let me keep my debit card, it may have been safer in the long term if this had been the other way around. At the moment I find myself almost completely incapable of even thinking about how to deal with this. This morning I rang HMRC to inform them of a change to my circumstances regarding Tax credits. The prelude to this phonecall was around 3 hours of all consuming anxiety at having to find and collate the relevant information and actually make the phonecall. The phonecall lasted approximately 3 minutes 43 seconds but it nearly killed me. Tomorrow I will consider whether to speak to the bank, BT and Scottish Power.
I needed to buy bread and milk- my local branch of Morrisons has been rearranged, it’s like someone has ripped my Morrisons mental map out of my head and replaced it with a giant terrifying void. I went to Morrisons earlier in the week and ended up completely bewildered, frightened and upset- I managed to find the milk as I think it was roughly in the same place but I can’t face going back especially as I suspect the reorganisation is ongoing and there is a risk it may have changed further. Today I drove 10 miles to go to Tesco for bread and milk. I can hear you all suggesting online grocery shopping but this is out of the question as it would involve someone else selecting and examining my produce- the risks are too high. I have done online grocery shopping in the past but the horror and trauma of “substitutions” may never leave me. Online grocery shopping and its delivery necessitates someone knocking on my door at some point within a two-hour time slot, the uncertainty and lack of control over this is too much for me. Again I find myself at a loss as to how to overcome this- mixed with shame at just how badly I am handling simple things at the moment.
My phone rang- a ringing phone strikes fear in my heart, I never answer the landline and I am very selective as to whom I give my mobile number. “Unknown number” has now rung my mobile 3 times today- if it’s you, text me and tell me you’re going to call, ask me if I will answer (my response will invariably be “no”) leave a voicemail identifying yourself and your reason for calling or email me but please stop calling. My body is flooded with adrenaline and I fear I may be on the verge of a heart attack. That heart attack will be your fault, my death and the end of one of the best blogs on the internet will be on your hands. There will be an enquiry and you will be grilled as to why you chose to kill me with your incessant desire to try and persuade me to engage in a telephone conversation. Twitter will hate you and will invent a # tag so that Tweets calling for you to be slain in revenge can be easily searched for.
The 6 year old was watching Stuart Little for the second time in 15 hours- I don’t know where to start with this one, a brief synopsis of the film, through my eyes may help you to understand.
Dr House and Barbara Maitland from Beetlejuice (a far superior film) want a child so they go to an orphanage and adopt a mouse (as you do). The mouse has an adults voice and can drive- they parent it anyway. The anthropomorphisation is inconsistent- the mice wear clothes but the cats do not yet both animals speak. The whole film is culturally unreferencable (my own terminology) the iron is from the 50’s but the bike (a proper bike, given as a present to the mouse-child) is from the 70’s, the wardrobe spans at least two decades. Something happens to the mouse, the most nauseating movie family ever invented all come running to the rescue and they all live happily ever after- or something. Twice- in 15 hours. The added irritation of this scenario comes from the 6 year olds continued inability to hear properly in spite of the insertion of grommets last month; everything he watches on TV has to be at “make Mama mental” volume. We live in the smallest house in the world, we have one TV- I can hear it in every room.
I have lost my ability to journal- I have kept comprehensive diaries throughout my mentalism, in the last few days I appear to have lost my ability to keep my diary- yesterdays entry is 3 lines written in the morning and the rest of the page is filled with biro scribbles. Without my diary I have no idea what’s happened during the day. I can cobble together a history with tweets, texts and drafted blog posts but the diary would’ve filled in any gaps- it’s gone. I live in a permanently bewildered state and my most frequent question during any conversation has become “what day is it?” I had a visit from The Guilt Riddled Friend- she used to be the Lovely Friend but as her holiday both this year and last has coincided with an entirely coincidental trip back to the bin for me she has taken it upon herself to accept rather a disproportionate amount of blame for my mental decline. Anyway, The Guilt Riddled Friend visited yesterday and I spent most of the time revealing the hideous state of my memory, I even had to be prompted into remembering the lunch we shared at the weekend. Yet again I am unsure what to do about this, I think I can forgive myself for not knowing what day of the week it is as it is the summer holidays (38 days left) and time tends to drift. I am inclined to think that my poor brain is just so overloaded with anxiety and paranoia (coming to that) that it simply can’t also cope with remembering what I’ve done, I think post-its may be the answer.
It is raining in St Andrews- again. I have good old-fashioned cabin fever as we haven’t been for a walk en famille for days. The 6 year old believes he is made of sugar and would therefore melt if he were to go out in the rain and it is so dark I could not employ the magic invisibility sunglasses without fear of bumping into things, or worse- other people. I could go for a drive but have avoided it for several reasons-
1.The stupid car is very small, conversation with the hard of hearing 6 year old is much like having him sit on my shoulder and shout questions about appendicitis, third world economics, dolphins and theology at me.
2.People with as much epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol as I currently have coursing through their veins should not be in sole control of over a tonne of metal, glass, plastic and spiky bits.
3.I don’t know where to drive to, I have a desire to drive to somewhere the sun is shining but I suspect this would involve a very long drive indeed.
I suspect people may be reading my blog- if anything is going to highlight just how irrational and mental I am at the moment it will be this. My blog has suddenly become very popular and has had consistently high views for days now. This is why I blog is it not? I certainly have no problem writing and publishing posts and I provide the link willingly, but I am caught up in a bizarre, compulsive mobius loop of posting, stat checking and paranoia. I can’t make any sense of this at all so I’ve chosen to ignore it and publish this post, if nothing else it will provide a bit of insight into just how crazy us crazies can be. I love people commenting on my blog, I soak up the praise like a big affirmation seeking sponge with very low self-esteem. I love the thought that someone somewhere is sitting laughing at my jokes and I like to think that I’m doing my bit to challenge mental health stigma by proving that even the most normal of people can go completely bonkers under the right circumstances……(you may laugh now)
There is no amount of medication that could even begin to address this kind of situation, psychiatry has no answer. I have no answer either, last week I was delighted at the number of readers, this week it is completely freaking me out. You’ll note it’s not freaking me out to the extent that I’ve stopped blogging, I am nothing if not paradoxical.
I feel anxious- again I am in danger of just sounding ridiculous but as anyone who suffers from anxiety knows it is fantastic at feeding itself- both physically and emotionally. My shoulders hurt because I am anxious- sore shoulders makes me anxious, so my shoulders hurt, which makes me anxious, which makes my shoulders hurt…..you get the picture. My body is wracked with pain and my mind feels as though it is filled with poison, a poison that in turn, seeps into my bloodstream, courses round my body and ends up back in my mind where the whole sorry cycle begins again. So I end up feeling anxious about feeling anxious.
I have tried many strategies to address the way I am feeling at the moment- mainly involving drinking tea and smoking cigarettes. I have had hot baths (boring) and pyjama time is rapidly getting so early in the evening that there is little point in getting dressed at all. So far I have resisted the temptation to use medication to alleviate my symptoms for two reasons-
1.Lorazepam makes me sleepy- I have two children to look after, 6 year olds do not generally allow their Mama’s to nap.
2.The Wonderful GP is away on holiday for 3 weeks. I realised I referred to her as The Lovely GP in my epic post, she hasn’t been demoted; it was just a continuity error on my part. I am rationing my lorazepam for bedtime use- refilling my prescription would involve facing The Different GP and I don’t think I’m quite ready to do that, besides I can’t imagine, given his interaction with me to date that he’d be too keen on handing over a prescription for benzodiazepines.
So here I am yet again in the throes of mentalism, my stomach is full of giant pernicious butterflies but I can only assume that this too will pass. I am coping, but only just, whatever you do don’t phone me to check if I’m alright.