For the last few days – since my ESA money came through last Friday, I have been trying to write, as I have had basic things to document. But I’ve been so fucking tired I’ve not been able to. I’ve started pieces and then given up. Deleted words in a fug of odd feeling. Trying to keep the thread in my head from knotting has been impossible. There have been the basics to note: money comes through, Migraines, Pain, Sleep, Seizures and Diahorrea. And then there have been more subtle happenings: my fear at spending the money I have – I had forgotten what it was like to be able to commit to a purchase over £15 without being scared. Ordering flowers for my Neighbour’s Funeral, with flashbacks to doing the same for my Mother. Practical problems with building work, and contemplating a negative future if my Dad is found to have Cancer.
I last wrote 6 days ago, and since then I have experienced so much, or feel I have, that it feels like a much greater time. I feel compressed and so sore, so tired, as 2 days after an operation when the floaty feeling of analgesia has worn off and the bruising has really set in.
In those 6 days I’ve gone from having 40p to my name, to being able to re-stock my store cupboard of ‘Things That Make Life Work’ – Co-Codamol*, Folic Acid (which helps me absorb Vitamin D), Cetaphil (a wash for sensitive and Acne prone skin), setting powder (I have to use this in conjunction with foundation to cover my Acne – my powder costs £4), and plastic travel bottles so I can have small amounts of Gaviscon in my bags. When I first went to purchase items in a well known Pharmacy, I was so anxious I could not believe it. I added everything up and it was above £20. Could I afford it? Yes. And it would all last longer than a month, so if I lose my ESA, I’ll still have these things. They are an investment**. My biggest expenditure is on over-the-counter painkillers and foundation. I have fair, badly scarred skin that is very sensitive. I can’t buy high-street foundation. I really wish I could. But I can’t go out without foundation. And when I say ‘can’t’ I mean it. I’ve had Acne for 25 years. I’ve not left the house without coverage for all that time. I can’t look people in the eye when my cysts and scabs are ‘natural’. And I certainly can’t look in a mirror. We don’t have many mirrors in the house. One in each bathroom, and a small one for my make-up application. I take my glasses off before I apply the first ‘coat’, and only put them back on when most of the damage is covered. I used to use my Acne to self-harm, so I’m a mess. When I am low I can spend hours attacking my face, making infected lumps. The make-up does not aid this negative behaviour, as many people think, it just aids my having a normal life sometimes. I’ve not bought a foundation since February, and I’ve learned how to dry it down so it doubles as a concealer – so I’m as thrifty as I can be with it. As you can see, I’ve learned to price and ‘justify’ everything. Now I have my necessities.
In addition to the above I ordered flowers for my Neighbour’s Funeral. Eileen knew me when I was a bump. The family – two couples, a Brother and Sister and their Spouses – have lived here since before my parents bought our house. Eileen and Charlie, the Brother and Sister, are old school Cockneys. When I was young, they lived there with their partners, some children and their Mother. The Mother died, the children moved out. Eileen’s husband died, Eileen got dementia… Eileen did not have children, and she had a soft spot for me. She bought me my first grown-up perfume and a real pearl bracelet. I was very fond of her. Her death was not a surprise. The whole group are keen gardeners, so I made sure I ordered a Summery arrangement for her – no lillies or gerbera***, but soft flowers with scent – peonies, blown roses and freesias. I also ordered a bouquet for Pat, Charlie’s wife. Pat’s brother died last week, suddenly, and after Eileen. So much sorrow in such a short time. Pat and Charlie have always been there, next door. The family re-built our garden in the 90’s, and were very kind and understanding about everything we did as kids. And also very supportive when Mum was ill.
I got money, and was scared of spending it. I had to order flowers for a Funeral. And tomorrow I have to go to the hospital with my Dad to begin investigations for Prostate Cancer. You may recall that my Mum was diagnosed in May last year with Terminal Lung Cancer. She died last October. My Dad will be sitting in the same clinic 14 months later. He was last checked 5 years ago, and had Pre-Cancerous cells then. Two men in our family have had Prostate Cancer, and one has Bladder Cancer. They are all still alive. They say it’s 1 in 4 don’t they. Hmmm.
All of the above has created a mass, slag heap of Anxiety that seems to be weighing on me. A contained force, an un-exploded explosion that has expressed itself in Itching, Seizures, Migraines, Headache, Earache, Palpitations, Blood Pressure fluctuations, Torticollis, Diahorrea and extreme Fatigue. To name a few. I feel like I’m boiling or erupting, that there will never be enough sleep. And I can’t eat properly either. I’ve given myself 7 days free of the DWP. 7 Days from last Thursday, to not be fighting, but just living. Just buying Vitamins and Painkillers and Funeral Flowers.
The Temptations of St. Anthony by Matthias Grunewald. c.11512-16. Part of the Isenheim Altarpiece: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isenheim_Altarpiece – this is how my Anxiety feels, this is how my Body and Mind and everything else feels at the moment.
*Paracetemol and Codeine available over the counter at Pharmacies. I have a prescription for a stronger form of this – Co-Dydramol, but I choose to save that as I only have a limited amount and don’t want to waste it on average pain.
**My face powder is bought over the Internet – £4 for at least 2 months is good value – cheaper than a McDonalds. I do not have my hair cut or dyed. I do not have a manicure, I never have. I don’t wax, or shave, or tan. The money I spend on myself is just to keep me going – like putting oil in a car. I am not an ascetic – don’t get me wrong – but I don’t have enough money to be frivolous. Also, I have to live the life I’m given, and that has a budget. To get used to a different way of life would be stupid and lead to anger.
*** I find ‘architectural’ flowers annoying. The scent of Lillies is too strong for me and Gerbera are boring and everywhere. This is just my opinion. I am picky about flowers and I want them to smell. If I could, I’d have a bouquet of stocks, old roses, freesias, large carnations, peonies, delphinium and candytuft for shape. I love the smell of stocks, freesias and carnation – dry and spritely, I also love herbs. I’ve just had planted purple sage and heartsease and myrtle in my garden, along with copious lavender.