My life as a trapped animal.

I’ve got a grump on[1]. I don’t often grump – or if I do, it’s usually very brief and passes in a couple of hours, because I filter my own thoughts like a crab filters beach sand. I throw out anything unpalatable. But I’ve now had the grump for a few days – since that first lovely frost, a few days ago. And that’s basically the reason. This always happens at this time of year. The first cold we get: the first truly dark evenings, and I get this burning need to be outside in it. I want to get the allotment done. I want to have the lovely cold air in me, and be able to run again, and be able to go romping across fields and through woods with a gun, the smell of it on my cold hands and my coat, and to see friends, and go to a pub and … dear god, I want my life back. Or a quarter of it. An eighth.

No, all of it, all of it.

Mostly I disconnect from this. I don’t notice myself clambering over the elephant in the room in the same way that, in my childhood home, I never noticed that I habitually stepped over the spot where the cat always curled up. Until the cat died, and I caught myself still doing it a year later and realised that I had done it the whole intervening time without realising. That’s how automatically I avoid it. But sometimes I tread on the elephant-in-the-room. When that happens I spend a few days trying to ignore it. Then I spend some time not exactly ignoring it, but furious and sad and unbelievably lonely and hopeless, and flatly refusing to cry about it.

And that is where I am right now and that is why I have a grump on.

I don’t want to be fucking rescued or helped or looked after. I’d gnaw my own foot off before I let that happen – I can’t help it, I’m a feral. But I do want to run and to walk in solitudinous[2] places, and look up at a white sky through black branches, and to meet people who have bodies, and wrestle with a friendly dog, and go swimming, and get muddy, and read a book without it taking me a fucking year. And finish editing the one I have written.

I do not want the rest of my life to be like this. I’m not depressed, I’m furious and stuck. Even feeling that will make me more ill. So I had better find a way to pretend everything is fine again, and soon.

[1] I have ME/CFS. I have no life.
[2] It’s a word now.

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About chiller

Rachel Coldbreath spent 20 years working internationally as a technical specialist on large data collections for law firms, before becoming disabled. She blogs on a variety of topics from the news and politics to gardening and how very annoying it is, being disabled. Habits include drilling holes about 1mm away from where they ought to be, and embarking with great enthusiasm on tasks for which she is neither physically nor intellectually equipped.
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7 Responses to My life as a trapped animal.

  1. Fles says:

    I can’t imagine what it must be like for you – but you describe the feelings and situations so acutely that I don’t need to. I’d tell you that you have my sympathy and understanding but you don’t; you have my respect and admiration. Reading your posts is the most insightful glimpse into the life of another that I have experienced through prose. I feel your frustration and I empathise with your anger. Have a cyber-hug.

  2. mary murphy says:

    My daughter has lived with ME for 11 years and the ups and downs are horrible. Every time she thinks she is getting better she relapses and the cycle just continues. I can feel for you and your tweets are so amazingly energetic its amazing. Be. Good to yourself

    • chiller says:

      Your poor daughter. I’m the same way. Every time I have a couple of good weeks I think “this is it! I’m getting better!” – then back it comes, like someone dropping a piano on you. But (I suspect like your daughter), while I accept the need to lie down and be quiet sometimes, I will never, ever give in to it. I don’t think any of us do. It’s human nature to keep getting up. I hope your daughter gets better. Properly, I mean. xx

  3. I admire you so much for your fierce independence, for your flat-out refusal to let circumstances dictate to you. In the same way as I admire Aegeus for keeping his promise to kill himself if he saw a black sail. Heroic but pointless. Would it not, on balance, make sense to accept help if it is offered? Everyone would benefit from help, whether they admit it or not. (I know I fucking would.) Pride has its uses, but it makes us forget were not designed to stand on our own.

    • chiller says:

      “I admire you for being what you are … now change into something weaker.” No.

      You mistake me, it’s not pride. I have absolutely no pride. It’s fear. I would rather be Aegeus. Death isn’t scary. What’s scary is being nominally alive, with the burners turned right down.

      • Sue DeNym says:

        I struggle to find the suitable words needed to convey my admiration for this blog and your goodself. I would offer the token gesture of a interweb ‘hug’, but I fear it would be naught but trite and patronising.

        I am in awe of your ability to verbalise both your feelings and your situation, and find myself overwhelmingly empathetic towards them (I don’t have M.E and couldn’t fully comprehend how it affects you or anyone else, but I do have a body that restricts me from the life that I want, and has warped my sense of self to that of someone that I don’t wish to be.). The fear that you are merely existing can sometimes be dulled, but it seems to inevitably be one that refuses to die. Worse still, I find that my moments of ‘happy face time’ are corrupted by the understanding that it is fleeting.

        Unlike yourself, I guess I would say I’m too proud to say that it is ‘anything’ and it frustrates the fucking bejesus out of me, but you kind of just dust yourself off, don the façade that everyone else wants and cope. Unfortunately, that is never enough…

        Damn it, I want to ‘rage rage’.

        Erm… So… Probably got carried away… I shall conclude with this is, and you are, amazing… ‘Insert Happy Face Emoticon’

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