December 7th, 2004


There's nothing wrong with you, the simple life gets complicated

I feel incredibly irritable at the moment.

There, that's all the warning you get. After that, it's your own fault if you step on anything that blows up in your face. And any minute now somebody will say "Are you on the rag?" and I'll tear their head off with both hands; yes, it's "that time of the month", so the raging hormones are probably part of the problem, but that's not the whole story.

I don't like being ill. It's unfortunate, then, that I seem relatively prone to minor illness -- coughs, colds, headaches, slightly upset stomach, occasional patches of eczema, and so on. All very mild, but extremely irritating when they stop me doing things that I want to do, or even just slow me down a bit -- and very, very boring when I'm not allowed to forget them. Coughing and blowing my nose is NOT INTERESTING.

Now, normally I try (believe it or not!) to avoid talking to other people about things which aren't interesting. But with illness, it's not always that simple. It seems more honest to tell somebody "I don't want to do X because my stomach's feeling a bit uneasy" than just to say "I'm not interested"; more reasonable to say "I have a headache, and it hurts when I move my head, so I'm reluctant to move too much" than to lie and say "I just don't want to have sex with you, thanks". Unfortunately, in this context, honesty is unutterably dull.

But the problem is not just this brief bit of boringness (which is often necessary for a purely factual communication). It's the fact that it's so often assumed that this is more than a transfer of information; that it's a statement of interest. In other words, that I want to talk about my minor illnesses: or, in other other words, that I am a boring person. I don't want to talk about coughs and colds, or stomach aches and headaches. There's only so much you can say about different brands of aspirin, or the benefits of softer tissues, or the healing powers of peppermint and ginger tea, and none of it is exactly riveting conversational material. I want to just be able to say "there has been a minor system error, but normal service will resume shortly", and then just carry on as normally as possible.

I don't like being incapable of doing the things I want to do, and I don't like being treated as an invalid -- even down to being teasingly or affectionately coddled when I have minor illnesses. It makes me angry. I think what it boils down to is that I've put an enormous amount of effort into taking control of my own life in the ways that matter to me; I don't like to have that effort overridden by something as irrelevant as a cold virus or a stomach bug, and I don't like to have that effort devalued by other people. I know people often think they're doing me a favour when they say things like "You just rest, don't tire yourself out," but to me that's barely even one step away from "Don't you trouble your pretty little head about it."

I think there are also a lot of post-depression hangups involved here -- though the fact that I said "post-depression" without thinking about it reassures me. Collapse )

Disclaimer: The above represents a small cross-section of a subset of my own opinions and beliefs and is not intended to be a guide to living, a statement of any sort of 'one true way', a judgement call on other people's opinions or beliefs, or a personal attack on any specific situation, individual or individuals (living or dead). It is not even intended to be a definitive and conclusive account of what I think or believe, as it is necessarily incomplete and, besides, I have been known to change my mind. It may, however, contain traces of nuts.