i'm fine, i'm dying, don't worry, everything is okay, unwell

Are you mean to yourself when you are ill?

So here I am making a list of things I need to talk to my therapist about between appointments. So I don’t forget the moments of extreme tension/torture. You know how it is: one minute you are in the pit of despair, next minute you are ‘I can’t even remember not feeling completely fine. I know it happened, but I can’t reach it.’

At the top of this week’s list is this: Why do I get so furious with myself for being unwell? Even when in extreme and constant pain.

Perhaps I should back up a bit. I have really bad *insert boring tooth-related pain thing*. And instead of taking care of myself and giving myself a break I get out the whip and start lashing: Out to dinner? Bring it on. Who cares if I start weeping halfway through and can only eat/suck lukewarm food? Stop letting everyone down. You are letting everyone down. What is wrong with you? *tiny inner child points to tooth* Or a child at a charity fair needs a wingman for the three-legged race. Me? Hold my beer. Even though all movement is excruciating and we come last.

I delay making an appointment with the dentist. It will take too much time, I’ve got to work, it’s only a bit of pain. And I begin making mistakes. I send something to the wrong address. I ruin a presentation. And then I punish myself even more.

Why do I do this? Why can I not give myself a bit of breathing space when I am clearly suffering? A bit of a break. As I so readily – probably too readily – do for others. Why do I have to be the giver of care whilst never deserving of it? Someone once told me, when I was in extreme distress, that you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Or you are no use to anyone. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup. But in the moment, when everything is kicking off, I just feel furious with myself for being a failure Now I have to go because my tooth fucking hurts.

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