Whilst having a cupboard clear out, amongst old gig tickets from cringe-worthy bands I pretended to like to impress boys, countless, countless love letters, and 20odd years’ worth of birthday cards, I found my old diaries. I’ve kept a diary since I was around 14 years old. It’s been a confidante through my teens, a comfort through my twenties and a cause of major hilarity and heartbreak years later.
At the end of a year I tend to hide my diary away. This tradition probably stems from the happiness at the closure of a perhaps below par 12months, and the nervous excitement of starting a new one. But today as I came across my own past written in scrawled biro (with notable devotion given to CAPS LOCK), I lingered on 2010, and the year in which I learnt I first had Arthritis, followed swiftly by Crohn’s Disease.
As I fingered through ‘myself’, err my words that is; I found myself crying and cringing in almost equal measure. The first few months of the year were spent in compete denial there was anything wrong with me, despite all the evidence pointing otherwise. As I noted hospital visits, pain and toilet peculiarities, it was all done with a matter-of-fact attitude that after a while whatever it was would be fine.
‘Fine’ features a lot in 2010.
Reading all of this back now makes me feel almost embarrassed for my 26 year old self. She had NO IDEA what was to come, and no idea how to cope with any of it.
What struck me most in the pre-Crohn’s diagnosis days was how tired I was all the time. I don’t particularly remember that part when I look back now, (although that’s understandable as there was a lot more gruesome stuff to come), but I think it’s important to focus on it, as now I realise what a clear sign exhaustion is that something is awry. I feel quite the fool reading of my utter naivety now that I’m decidedly more versed in the workings of my own body, but back then I was a dunce in the deduction of illness.
Now I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of my own back passage of course, and not many 25 year olds' can be expected to have that, unless they are in extraordinarily specific and somewhat questionable professions…so I won’t beat myself up too much.
Anyway, one quote from my diary, which particularly upset me, and struck a chord even today, was in relation to my…relationship. I spoke to my leather-bound confidante on my permanent exhaustion and nausea, and how it left me cold in getting amorous with my beloved:
‘I couldn’t possibly try to explain to him why I don’t want to be with him and I think that’s what’s going to end up being the death of us, just not being able to explain the way I feel about things’
This made me cry a little because it reminded me how deeply the disease was affecting every aspect of my life, even before it had even been officially named. Already I was unable to communicate my feelings to the man I loved because I was incapable of communicating them to myself. I was completely and utterly alone. Trapped in my own failing body.
I feel sad for my former self because I want to scream at her to go back to the hospital! See the doctor! Don’t listen to that colleague! But as we haven’t quite mastered time travel yet, I just have to make do with saying the same to any of you who need to hear it.
It wasn’t ‘the death of us’ by the way, nearly the death of me, but I thankfully dodged that particular bullet too. I suppose the reason I’m relaying this afternoon of musings from my memoirs; to remind you that it’s important to trust your gut. (Even if it’s your gut, that’s letting you down). If you think something is wrong then push to get it clarified. Talk to the people you love – if you don’t understand what’s happening to you and can’t find the words then just tell them that.
If all else fails, write it down. Just don’t wait 5years to read it again.