Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hypochondriacs Anonymous

Secretly, I hoped it was swine flu. I did. Something big and real and scary sounding, so it would be ok that I am languishing in bed. So that it had a name, and I had a real excuse for feeling so lousy.

Oh dear. Some things are hard to grow out of.
See, we kids, we stayed in a place where there was no doctor. Mom even had a big book called Where There is No Doctor. Now that I have Google I am even more of a compulsive self-diagnoser than when I was ten. When I really wanted an illness with a scary name so that I could be the one that everyone felt sorry for.

But see there really were big scary diseases around us and so it was not cool to cry wolf. Not cool at all. 'Sides, Bonkar was from the 'if there's no blood don't cry' school of hard knocks (and we're talking buffalo-sized hard knocks here.) Being strong and stiff upper lip made you more likely to get points, especially if you really were sick with something horrible. So first prize was to be really sick with something horrible, but not complain at all, and then get the gratifying diagnosis -'she's so brave'.

Worst thing was to earn the title of 'hypochondriac'. My friend Patrick periodically had every kind of feel-sorry-for-me attention-getting injury you can imagine - he would look in a cobra's eyes to make sure it spit in his. Hypochondriac? Drama queen? Oh, you couldn't compete with Patrick. But it was a competition.

And what were our childish aches and pains compared to the stories all around us - the man who was found by the side of the road holding his intestines in his arms after a buffalo encounter? The man who lost his arm to a leopard? Even a very ow scorpion sting has to be endured with a bit of grit, you know?

Sister and I, when we came to the big smoke for the first time, we shopped with mom at a huuuuge wonderworld called the Hyperama. It was a supermarket. I had never seen one on that scale before. Somehow, this became the tag name for if one of us was feeling sorry for themselves with an illness of some kind. "Hiiii -purrrr -rama!" we would chant at each other when anyone complained about an ache or pain.

I'm glad that complaining wasn't tolerated in my culture. I understand where it all comes from - the British Army stoic grandad, the need to be tough. My poor mother, with hepatitus, malaria and all kinds of other lurking lurgies around us - it was best not to alarm her. Or false alarm her, should I say. (though I did take great delight in creating false gory injuries on my body when I got my first Kryolan make-up set).

But truly, what a mess it created in my childish mind. I am still so bad at taking time out when I need to rest - I overdo it time and time and time again, pushing on through with the mind over matter until my body won't let me anymore, and then its silly, coz the downtime is so much longer. Matter can really give Mind a revenge-klap when it gets its chance.

Still paranoid about not being a wuss. If I complain about not feeling well theres a big tribal voice in my ear that says, 'Come on now, Stop dying and Get back on your horse.'

Of course now I also understand about somatising and how the body expresses emotional unfinished business. Oh lordy, and is my body communicative with me. I guess, what you resist persists. I am a hypochondriac. I do get very stuck in what Myss calls 'wound power'. And I've been hearing myself lately - full of complaints, negativity, blahblahness. Yuk. Hence the blogging silence. I just can't listen to that shit.

The truth? I need a lot more introspection time than I give myself. If I spend too long in the company of others, giving, giving out energy all day long, rushing from one thing to the next, I just end up getting sick.

Ok, well there's my navel-gazing confession of the day.

And I leave you with the story that a wise old therapist told me once: A man, wishing to become more holy and enlightened, went to the local holy man, and told him that he was going to survive on bread and water for as long as it took for him to get wise and holy. The response? "that is not a good idea. if you can survive on bread and water alone, you will expect those after you to survive on stones."

I love that story. To me this is the ultimate story for children of stoics.

Maybe I should form a support group?

PS its not swine flu. its acute sinusitus. owwwwwww.


The Bug said...

Here I sit at work 6 days after having surgery on my shoulder so I've got nothing for you. Would it have killed me to stay off until Monday? Apparently.

Hope you feel better soon!

tam said...

Hah! I am not alone! Oh dear, Bug, you get the cake. Take care. No, don't take it, on second thoughts, give it - to yourself!

Angela said...

Dear poor Tammy, I remember somebody in your family who suffered like you, haha. It`s in your genes, you can`t help it. But you have the self-irony to cope with that wound power! Allow yourself all the rest you need and wait till your nose gets better, and next time you go to the dentist and the doctor right away, before you are knocked over!!

Miranda said...

ah boy, sorry Tam. I hear ya

Mud in the City said...

Am typing this with one hand as the other is in a splint as the Dr think it might be broken. Am I at home, taking it easy? No, in the office and being decidedly useless at getting anything done. Not sure where the logic is there....

Sinusitis (sp?) sounds proprely grim. Thinking of you!

tam said...

Mud! Let us not forget that you ran a marathon with a broken leg! truly, you are the stuff empires are built on. my grandfather would have been very proud.
Geli - I didn't stand a chance did I?

well, i knew it was a proper mean virus and not piffling old sinusitus! Went for some acupuncture and the good lady said there is such a thing going round. Its got teeth and scales and it attacks your muscles and stomach and sinus. Feel better? No, coz now hubby has it. I'm paying for something, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

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