How many times have you passed a colleague in a hallway to be greeted with the ultimate British question of “How are you?” with your catch all answer of “I’m fine thanks, and you?”.
How many times are you actually fine?
I’ve been going through these motions with a fake smile plastered on my face but I’ve been lying. I’m not fine. I’m not okay. There’s only so much of being ill that I can take but I know that my hallway colleagues don’t want to hear about it.
Being ill is boring. For a few days, or for an infrequent ‘flyer’, we can solider on through. We can tuck ourselves up in bed and fully indulge in a couple of days of being ill. For a parent, that’s pretty self-indulgent when we can do that. In fact, it’s a bit dreamy.
But what happens when that couple of days turns into a week, a month or 4 months?
I’ve been ill on and off for the past 4 months, usually being ill for over a week at a time. This last week’s episode that I’m entitling “the one where I felt really sick” has been particularly bad. I’ve been living with it by largely ignoring that feeling inside that says “I want to throw up on your face and shit on your shoes”. I’ve also lived with it largely by being a complete grumpus and from wishing each day away.
I haven’t actually been sick with this it’s just that horrid feeling, almost the same one as when you’re hungover. It’s the other end that I can’t rely on and I don’t know why. There’s not really any pain, for which I’m thankful for.
Luckily in this episode of “the one where I felt really sick”, the ongoing feeling of anxiety I experienced before was replaced with the feeling of sick. So, swings and roundabouts. I’m not sure which I prefer.
The truth is, I feel like I can’t really talk openly about it. Sure, I’ve written a few blog posts about it, but having persistent diarrhoea isn’t something that people generally want to shout from the rooftops.
It’s embarrassing, so I largely haven’t told people what it is unless I either work closely with them or if they are friends. We say it’s a tummy upset or other nice words. Never that I’ve been shitting like a volcano persistently in the morning. I don’t want to be known as ‘that’ person. I’m scared that people may start treating me differently.
Like that girl at school who always smelt of wee.
If I had migraines or something else, it would be easy to talk about. Easier to openly say that I have a problem. To admit that I’m having a shit day (hah). It’s a lot harder when that problem involves something that we’ve been brought up to not talk about. It’s rude, it’s disgusting and only those four toilet cubical walls should hold your secret. We flush away the evidence and nobody need know that we’re not made of sunshine and rainbows.
It’s something I feel I should be ashamed by. After all, there’s no dignity in it. People shouldn’t talk about every bowel movement. But it’s something that affects my every day, something that I’m worried about and something that I want to get rid of.
I feel like I’ve been silenced by politeness and that’s not okay.