My pain experiment.

One of the problems with chronic pain is that it’s a lot harder to treat than acute pain. With acute pain you can just knock it back with strong painkillers and then wean yourself off the painkillers. Acute pain also has a limited duration so there’s the option of putting up with it till it goes away.

Chronic pain isn’t going anywhere and over time the painkillers tend to become less effective. My pain is variable so I deal with it by only medicating it when it gets particularly bad and ignoring it the rest of the time. This is not ideal.

For the last week I’ve been experimenting with CBD. That’s cannabidiol which is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. That means it doesn’t make you high. There’s some evidence that it can be used to treat anxiety, inflammation and pain. Sadly it’s the THC in cannabis that works really well against pain but that’s the stuff that makes you high and you can’t buy that legally in the UK.

I’ve been vaping CBD oil as it’s the fastest way to get it into the system. I’ve been using it to deal with those times when the pain suddenly gets bad. Oral painkillers can take up to 40 minutes to take effect so something quicker would be handy. I’ve also been using it when I’m feeling anxious as anxiety can make Fibromyalgia worse.

It seems to be working. It’s been helpful when joint pain hits while I’m out and about. It’s too early to be sure but I’ll keep you updated.

For now I’m using a disposable vape pen in blackcurrant menthol flavour. I was dubious about that as a flavour combination but it’s surprisingly nice. I will probably move to a refillable one now that I think it’s worth the money. If anyone else wants to try the same supplier I’m using I have a referral link. If you use it and you buy stuff I get a discount. Here’s the link – https://cbdlifeuk.com/?raf=ref1943134.

There have been some proper trials done on CBD that showed a positive effect. However only a couple have been large scale double blind trials. Most of the studies have been of quite poor quality. So I would suggest that if you are going to try it you take it slow, don’t spend loads of money on something that might not work for you.

Stalled

There are times when I want to do a thing and I know I should do it but I don’t seem to be doing it.

Days pass and I continue not to do it.

I miss out on opportunities. I piss people off. Sometimes it costs me money. I know I should do the thing. I want to do the thing but I continue not doing the thing.

It makes no sense. I get angry at myself. Sometimes other people get angry at me. They demand an explanation. They expect some kind of excuse or justification. There is none. I wanted to do the thing. I was capable of doing the thing. I intended to do the thing but somehow I did not do the thing.

I forgot to do the thing. I just didn’t get round to it. I didn’t really want to do it. I was scared of doing it. I thought it wasn’t really important. None of these are true. I was acutely aware of the thing. I had every intention of doing it but somehow it did not get done.

Over the years I have developed some coping mechanisms. Whenever possible I do the thing immediately. I know that if I put it off I just won’t do it. I try to avoid volunteering to do stuff because I know that there’s a chance that I won’t do it and not volunteering is a lot less painful than volunteering and not following through. If I can’t avoid it and it can’t be done right away I try to delegate it to someone who is actually good at getting things done.

There was a time when this problem applied to everything. Over the years I’ve found ways to actually get some things done but it’s patchy. At the moment I have 3 overdue library books, a conversation I need to have with someone that I’ve been putting off for a week and a list of literary agents that I haven’t contacted. On the other hand I have meals planned for the next 3 days, 9 novels in various stages of completeness and I’ve been posting 3 times a week on this blog for 12 weeks in a row.

It still doesn’t feel like progress. No matter how many things I get round to doing it’s never enough. There are still those things that don’t get done or get done too late and every single one irks. I feel like an idiot. A weak and foolish idiot that can’t follow through on anything. Except, of course, for displacement activity. I can displace like a boss.

My problem with body positivity

I don’t have a problem with the Body Positivity movement as long as it’s your body we’re talking about. You look fabulous, by the way.

I just can’t be positive about my body because there’s nothing positive about it. My problem is not that I’m fat. Fat is not a problem. My problem is that my body is a worthless piece of toxic trash that has been torturing me almost from birth.

I hate my body. Everything I’ve achieved I have achieved in spite of it. All it does is slow me down. I can’t rely on it. It turns the food I eat into dysfunctional fat cells that lock the energy away. I can’t access that energy and the cells just build up on my legs looking fucking hideous, hurting and stopping my joints from working.

I’m trapped in this fucking cage. It doesn’t work. I can’t fix it. It’s made my life a living hell. There’s nothing I could ever have done to fix it. I’ve been struggling my whole life, blaming myself, thinking that I was a failure and the whole time it’s been beyond my control. I was doomed from the start.

If there was any justice in the world I’d be offered a do-over of some kind. But there isn’t so I’m just stuck here until this body stops working completely. I feel like my entire life has been wasted. Not just because this body sucks but because I’ve wasted so much time blaming myself for something that was outside my control and trying to fix something that was never going to work.

No more. Fuck this body. I’m done putting up with its bullshit.

Well I say that… but even as I type this it’s making a spirited attempt to get me to stop. My back is cramping up. The pain is all I can think about. My body is demanding that I stop typing and go back to bed or something. Realistically there isn’t much I can do about it.

My country wants me dead. Again.

At the last election I was faced with the realisation that the electorate of the United Kingdom either actively wants me dead or at least doesn’t care if I die. It was a sobering realisation.

This time it is, if anything, worse. Because now it’s not just the United Kingdom. Many of my fellow Scots want me dead. Why?

Seriously, Scottish Conservative voters, why do you want me and people like me dead? You’ve voted for a party that has cut disability benefits, attacked the NHS, cut Social Care spending and refused to condemn the forced institutionalisation of disabled people. People are dying. People have died. And if, as seems likely, the Tories cling on to power then more people will die.

If you voted Conservative in this election then you voted in favour of turfing out law abiding EU citizens, you voted in favour of the rape clause, you voted in favour of taking mobility cars from disabled people, cutting benefits to the mentally ill and to people with learning difficulties. You voted in favour of benefit sanctions that drive vulnerable people to food banks where they can hang out with nurses and police officers. You voted against the NHS. You voted in favour of fox hunting and selling ivory and cosying up to Donald Fucking Trump.

If you voted Conservative then why? What was it that you thought you were voting for?

Of course if it’s Scottish Conservative MPs that return the Conservative party to power against the will of the English electorate I am going to laugh for about a week. Particularly since the EVEL legislation, pushed through by the Conservatives in the wake of the independence referendum, means that they wont be able to vote on a lot of bills.

Polishing the dark side.

I’m terrified of dying. I don’t just fear the pain associated with death I fear the very idea of it. If I had some genuine religious faith then perhaps I would fear it less but I can’t bring myself to believe that there’s an after-life waiting for me. Other people? Yes. Me? No.

Maybe it’s a good thing. My fear of death is probably the only thing that kept me going through my teen years. That fear kept me from serious thoughts of suicide until I was well into adulthood. By the times things had got bad enough that I hated the thought of living more than the thought of dying I couldn’t do anything about it because by then I had responsibilities.

These days I often wish I was dead but I’m not going to act on that wish because it would hurt too many people too much. For years I felt lonely and unloved and I was sure that no-one cared if I lived or died. I didn’t know when I was well off.

I’m fond of saying that you should always look on the bright side and if you can’t find it you should polish the dark side. The bright side of my fear of death was that it kept me alive in difficult times. If I polish the dark side of how bloody awful my life is right now then at least it’s cured my fear of death. Death comes to us all and when it comes for me it’s going to be a relief.

Perspective shift

Last year I was diagnosed with lymphoedema. At the time it just seemed like yet another thing wrong with me. I almost asked the Doctor why he bothered telling me since it’s just another thing that I can’t fix. I did some research and found that it was either genetic or caused by being fat and while I was suspicious that it might be genetic it seemed more likely that it was caused by being fat. So not only did I have a new thing wrong with me that I couldn’t fix but it was probably my fault.

Today I found out that my research was wrong. My lymphoedema would appear to be caused by Lipoedema. It makes sense of a lot of things. It explains the leg pains I’ve had for years, the way my legs were huge but my feet didn’t have any fat on them, and especially the time I lost more than 8 stone (119 lbs or 54 kg to be exact) and saw little change in my legs – my body was 8 dress sizes smaller than my legs.

Now I was only able to lose 8 stone because I did get really fat. But not until after I tried anorexia for a while. I had fat legs when I was anorexic too. I don’t mean imaginary fat legs. I mean the last day I was actively anorexic I was 13 years old and I was wearing a t-shirt sized for a 11-year-old girl and size 10 women’s trousers which only just fitted over my knees and thighs but fell off without a belt.

When I stopped restricting my food intake my disordered eating snapped back in the other direction and I took up binge eating. Which didn’t help my legs or my already fragile self esteem. Every time I tried to change my eating habits I found that I couldn’t keep it up. The anorexia had left me unable to see any positive change in the mirror and the lipoedema meant that I wasn’t getting much positive feedback from my clothes.

I used to describe my teenaged self as fat and depressed. But maybe I was just an average girl with undiagnosed lipoedema and ADHD. I spent my childhood and teen years feeling stupid and worthless and deformed and it’s cast a long shadow over the rest of my life. What would I have been like if we’d known what was wrong?

The thought of it makes me feel queasy. I can’t think properly because of the unfamiliar sound of some part of my mind repeating “It wasn’t your fault. None of it was your fault.” It feels weird. I tend to assume that everything is my fault.

Not a real person.

One of the things I struggle with a lot is the feeling of not being a real person. I think some of it is imposter syndrome and some of it is a throwback to the bullying I grew up with. When everyone tells you that you’re ugly and stupid and worthless you tend to start believing them. If you’re smart enough to know that it’s not true you still can’t help suspecting that you’re not a real person because who would treat a real person like that? Real people have rights. Miss-treating real people has consequences.

But lets not forget that for a lot of people I am not a real person. I am a poor, disabled, depressed, fat, middle-aged woman. You’d be surprised how many people will lose interest in my humanity the moment one of those trigger words is mentioned.

There are a few men for whom no woman is a real person. They might not express it this way but it’s clear that to them personhood is a uniquely male quality. That’s why they think that rape is not a thing. Because they think that only male desires count. If you think of women as objects then of course you don’t care about consent.

There are a larger group of men for whom women are people but with an asterix. They say woman* or female* but that asterix leads to some mental footnote that defines a woman according to some personalised criteria. If you listen to them long enough you find out that woman means a cisgendered, hetrosexual (or bisexual but only for male entertainment), able-bodied woman, between the ages of 17 and 35, with a BMI in the underweight or normal weight range with an attractive face (and if she’s a woman of colour she’d better have a really attractive face) and “good” breasts. The rest of woman-kind doesn’t count as female because we have failed in some aspect of our femininity. Remember that to them the primary purpose of a woman is to be decorative. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we do only how we look.

There’s a lot of people for whom poor people aren’t really people. That’s why they don’t care about minimum wages or benefits or social housing. The assumption is that poverty is some kind of moral or intellectual failing rather than a necessary side effect of capitalism.

Some people make similar assumptions about both physical and mental health. There’s an almost superstitious belief that ill-health and injury must be a punishment for something. There’s also a surprising number of people who are happy to declare that depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, OCD and autism are “all in the mind”. Which of course they literally are. They are illnesses of the brain. They cause changes in brain activity, neurochemistry, and sometimes in the physical structures of the brain. No amount of willpower is going to remake the chemistry, activity or gross anatomy of your brain. You can’t just get over it.

I don’t understand why it’s so hard to agree that people are people.

Regardless of skin colour, nationality, religion or lack thereof, political affiliation, age, sexuality, gender identity, nationality, wealth, health, ability or IQ there is only one Homo Sapiens species. We all belong to it and we are all people. Even me. Even when I don’t feel worthy of it. Even when people in power are trampling all over those rights that I have but for some reason can’t use.