Does anyone care to join me for a walk through the
rain pain? or maybe even try out the pain walk? The pain walk is a bit like the moon walk, but you go backwards even more so, and even Michael Jackson couldn’t have donned a leather jacket and got close to making this pain bollocks look cool………
You don’t have to grab your crotch periodically as you read this series of pain-filled posts…that would just be wrong, and unbefitting to the mood I’m currently in. (Though you may want to wear rose-tinted specs to prevent the blue mood affecting you. The post is layered with deeply embedded sarcasm throughout, though be ready for the honest bits which may catch you off guard).
I did some doodling earlier and wrote the four letters P A I N, four times, because that was what my brain came up with when I reflected on what I was feeling. I realised I was in PAIN. (And incidentally, 16 was the age I was first diagnosed with clinical depression.
Fascinating forgettable fact there.
Each time I wrote the word, I chose a word to describe how I feel for each letter, P. A. I. and N. This is version 1. (Version 2, 3 and 4 will be in separate posts because there is lots of blog material here.)
Anyhoo, insert pre-amble doodle caption indicating the point of this post.
I slightly PANIC everytime pain arrives, builds up, or consistently lingers within me. I’d love to be able to just wipe an imaginary bead of sweat off my brow and say “CHIIIILL SUMMER” (not a contradiction in terms, honest)…”It’ll pass. It always does! Dread and panic is totes unnecessary here…why don’t you mindfully peel a Terry’s chocolate orange and seek comfort that way? It’ll all be totally fine.
But although I always endeavour to try and do that, I do usually hit a wall of panic fairly pronto after the first pang of pain makes it’s unwelcome appearance on the dials of my pain barometer.
Because my needs for the basics in life are met….shelter, check, food, check, clean water, check, loved ones to cuddle, check, money (check-ish)…my brain thinks that not being happy [and that elusive happiness being temporarily replaced with pain or discomfort instead] is just NOT ON.
Way back when, when I felt dread and hurt and pain as a child, primitively speaking it was because something awful and traumatic had just happened, or was soon about to happen. So emotional pain is quite a scary complex-PTSD signal of emotional danger.
Mystic Meg predicted the arrival of the pain train in my cerebral station.
If my amygdala doesn’t panic when pain intrudes, then I start to wonder why I’m not panicking and I think the only explanation is that I’m going mad, which makes me panic.
QUALITY LOGIC SUMMER jazz hands
Then after P, there is A. A is for apathy.
Apathy to me is not caring about all that much, even quite important things like whether I live or die. When I am apathetic the pain feels fairly inescapable. I don’t think I can do much to budge the bugger, so I just shrug my shoulders and let it consume me (because I’m too tired to fight it). Apathy is very similar to Martin Seligman’s concept of ‘learned helplessness’. I don’t feel powerful when I feel apathetic. I don’t feel capable either of improving the pain. Or even useful to anyone or the world.
My unique brand of ‘summerSHINES in pain apathy’ is sitting in one position in the sofa feeling not very much at all, in my own dreamland, being subliminally aware there are children and a husband and two dogs circulating around the house and garden at all times but essentially being vacant.
“The lights are on but nobody’s home.”
My husband will ask me to do something small and annoying and insignificant (to me), yet highly useful and sought after by him, such as “DAUGHTER TWO WANTS A DRINK SUMMERSHINES, CAN YOU GET HER A DRINK FROM THE KITCHEN?” yelled from upstairs somewhere.
In my head I think this v e r y s l o w l y….
….which daughter is daughter two?
….which room am I in?
….where is the kitchen?…..if I attempted this ambitious feat, how many strides could I do it in? approximately?
….what is my most efficient pathway through from room A to B?
….what is my contingency plan if I have to navigate an obstable en route such as furniture or a moving human who could have got their own drink?
….isn’t an 8 year old capable of fetching her own drink?
…..am I a bad mother for not wanting to pour my child a glass of water in a den mothery way?
….do other mothers resent sacrifice of this
magnitude epic insignificance?
….if I wait long enough, what are the chances of them maybe getting tired of waiting and husband fixing the drink so I can stay say right here….
I like sitting here….
sitting here is nice….
…..until I knew I might be required to leave this sofa, I hadn’t realised how comfortable it actually really is….
I think I might stay on the couch a bit longer….
…..this couch is my happy place
E X T E N D E D pause while I reflect on the answers to these vital quandaries…..
Oh great, someone else is getting the drink!!!!
RELIEF IS REGISTERED.
I am momentarily feeling pleased to replace vacant misery that I was feeling (before the initial panic.)
I will stare at this wall some more then :) but really appreciate staring at the wall so much more now I know I might have had to leave this beautiful sofa that is so nicely padded…and isn’t the fabric lovely…so soft! I hadn’t relished the padding till now, and the fabric of this lovely flamingo cushion, and the fleeciness of this fleece blanket that I draped over myself about 47 minutes ago and haven’t moved from underneath since….isn’t my life super comfortable and almost…………ok.
That is apathy.
I is for intrigue.
INTRIGUE is what I think makes me a valuable person in some ways, in some eyes. My social value as a blogger and friend I have come to believe is (in crude terms) someone who feels pain, writes about pain a fair bit, describes pain in minute and ever-so-relatable detail, allows others to connect with their pain, to not feel as alone in their private cesspit of pain, and to reassure that person that although they might be in pain themselves, at least there is that mental health blogger out there called Summer (not even her real name) who feels this kind of painful shit too but still tries to be british and as’ keep cheerful and get on with it’ about as much as she can.
Humans are interested in the pain of others, in certain moods anyway. If you are feeling temporarily happy and you read something written and shared on social media by a hurting person in one mood (ie. when you’re happy), you might start to feel your energy sink and think ‘this is definitely a post to skip over if ever I saw one’.
In a different mood however (one where you are also registering some degree of pain within yourself), you might well be intrigued by someone else’s pain, because they are feeling something which evidently hurts like yours hurts, but maybe in a slightly different way to the way you’re currently hurting yourself (for a different reason), so you can share the hurt and be distracted from your hurt by someone elses hurt and be glad that you don’t have that person’s source of pain on your shoulder’s as well as your own pain.
Also, if you’re a bright and breezy person that is always cheerful and actually isn’t putting on an act and actually IS cheerful and psychologically well-adjusted, you might want to read about the deep pain of another because it is something of great curiosity…an escape from your wondrous everlasting joy. Or alternatively, you might do it to feel gratitude that you’re not in pain yourself, or just because the only pain you ever fucking feel is second hand (lived vicariously through your sadder friends who you select and pick to make yourself even happier that you are happier than they are).
That was so cynical wasn’t it. Pardon my mood.
I don’t think many are like that however. My perception generally of the human race is that levels of psychological fuckeupness are on an ever increasing volume of fucked up, at an unprecedented scale. The weird ones are becoming the ones that are not fucked up.
The only parties being held now are “I’m coming out as fucking miserable just like you are” parties. When I shared my 1 in 4 picture on Facebook, I cannot imagine the fact I am not happy has slipped by unnoticed among my comrades. It was no shock that I suffer with mental health difficulties.
She’s unhappy? NO SHIT!
It’s so bloody good that Prince Will, Harry and Duchess Kate have made it ok to chat unhappiness and struggle with people in our everyday lives. This is the beginning. Soon, it won’t be the 1 in 4 with a mental health problem requiring professional support that have to out themselves bravely on social media with a I in 4 selfie. It will reverse. It will be the 1 in 4 brave souls who admit they are fucking happy that cause a stir.
They’ll be too scared to admit to being the 1 in 4 happy ones.
Taking this metaphor to unreasonable ridiculous and unlikely (but interesting) proportions, the one in four who are happy will be those who are the people we will possibly even PAY TO SEE in the not so distant future!
There will be living museums populated by happy people in their happy people natural costumes eating their happy food and happy drink, and us sad people who feel pain can point and stare at the happy ones in their happy habitat of happy wondering how they can be do damn happy.
I can TOTALLY see happy zoos springing up all over the world….somewhere we will go and observe actually really sincerely happy people, being happy, just for the sheer curiosity of it!
We will listen in on their happy chats. We will laugh and gufaw at how small their list of life problems is!
We will pay good money to mingle with the happies in the happy petting zoo.
We may grab a happy person, plonk them down on our laps and feed a happy person a bottle of happy juice. We may have our photo taken with the happy person as a parting souvenir. We will visit the happy shop gift shop of happiness at happy town and purchase happy memories belonging to a happy person in the happy zoo. Then we can have a shot of happy anytime we like after that designated happy day.
We may even adopt a happy person to ensure their future happiness for a minimum of another year, and get regular updates of happy about that weird creature we adopted on that bonkers day at the 1 in 4 happy zoo.
That is TOTALLY something I can see happening before long!
Finally, leaving the happy zoo aside, the N of pain is the word “NO”.
A baby learns they can refuse a spoonful of Farley’s rusks if they twist their face away at the last minute. Better to have rusks on their cheek than in their mouth. Rusks suck.
Toddlers soon learn to say no. They learn the power of NO.
No is often a first word above mama and dada.
When I feel in pain, “NO” becomes my favourite word.
“No thanks-I don’t want to watch television with you.”
“No thanks- I’m not keen on washing the dishes now. I’ll do it tomorrow, promise.”
“No thanks- I don’t want sunday lunch at the mother-in-laws. I’ll stop at home thanks”
To my friends… “No- sorry but I can’t help you today. I’m not feeling good. Sorry”
‘NO’ is said far more than ‘yes’ when we’re hurting.
No is self-protection.
No is damage limitation.
No is stress-relieving.
Saying yes would have exacerbated our stress for sure. So we block affirmatives from our vocabulary almost entirely. Except for “yes, I need help. Please help me. yes, that help would be amazing-thank you.”
We also probably lose some social graces when we hurt and get more bluntly honest.
Do you think…..[insert negative judgement about a person]?
Answer. “Yes, actually I do.
Pain distorts yeses into no’s and a NO into a YES, but usually yesses become firm NOs.
We turn our nose up (in my case anyway) at food, conversation, volunteering to do extra chores, even getting dressed in the morning.
“NO. Not today”, a pained person says.
No is powerful. It’s how we cope, especially if we are someone who characteristically says YES to things [because you’re a classic people pleaser.]
A usual yes type person who turns more NOish, is a person in pain. Our pain is diminishing our potential to be the brilliant friend we usually aim to be for you. Our pain DOES make us more self-centred, and saying NO to things is a communicative social signal indicating “I’M KIND OF STRUGGLING A LOT HERE. PLEASE CONSIDER ME AND MY NEEDS AND PREFERENCES TOO. I cannot always relpy with a yes”.
These are my first four aspects of what PAIN is to me. I have three more posts like this up my sleeve. Right now, I’m knackered. I therefore, with power, say “NO” to sharing all my ideas with my blog audience in one go. I’m far too APATHETIC to be motivated to do that. But don’t PANIC, I’ll be back to INTRIGUE you with more pain sharing and pain analysis tomorrow :)