This year started with the loss of our beloved Citroen DS and me checking into a clinic to find possible psychosomatic reasons for chronic pain - the car actually died on the drive there when W managed to not make it slide into the roadside ditch after the engine broke down on a very snowy road. What was left got sold right on the spot to the mechanic who came to pick it up. This car had a steadfast love affair with the ADAC anyway so this should be a lasting match. After driving historic ones for decades W went with a car made in 2012 and after six weeks of exhausting therapy I came to the conclusion that the roots of my illness are not to be found in my head or heart, those two however do get affected by it.
It felt pretty much exactly like living in Thomas Mann´s Zauberberg with the clinic not only being specialized in lung diseases but also located on top of a (get out of here!) very snowy mountain. We even developed various respiratory diseases during our stay and seemed to get sicker every day, so all the breathing we had to do - being connected to electrodes, or doing muscle relaxing stuff and mindfulness exercises - got a bit laboured. My diet consisted of potatoes, rice, steamed-to-death vegetables and saw dust parmesan and we slept on hellish mattresses, maybe to test our endurance but probably because they were the cheapest to be had. After three weeks of seeing sickness as a chance, turning lemons into lemonade, getting lectured on the great quality of life to be had by cancer patients and disabled people by concentrating on the "really important things" and having to watch videos on Youtube made for toddlers, I lost it big time in art therapy. This tantrum was considered to be my big break through so I started to behave like a very angry teenager from then on, well, I tried, because I was also very sad and tired and sick since - as mentioned above - bronchitis and pneumonia was starting to spread. Lavender tea was distributed in tiny doses like heavy drugs in the evenings so we acted accordingly, developed an addicton and dealt tea bags on the hallways. My therapist was cat-crazy and very engaged, but even though the motto was treatment on equal footing all I felt was like a kid doing and having done everything wrong. By checking into the clinic one stopped being a capable adult and was degraded to a not really functioning human being in need of reprogramming - I very much detested that. Nevertheless I was actually really committed to trying everything they offered, I even joined a "healthful" singing group and played free style piano and kalimba (which gave me a very interesting tumb twitching).
The one thing about dropping my phone in the toilet that does not bother me is the loss of all the pictures I took during those wretched weeks.
A couple of weeks in I started fantasizing about the food I would make and eat when I would come home again, which was probably caused by my strange diet. Some evenings I was so hungry I actually asked fellow patients if I could "borrow" some of their sweets. I became a bit obsessed what kind of granola I´d make first - in the end I made my CLASSIC VERSION, but I also started dreaming about quinoa flakes, hazelnuts, goji berries and lots of salt and cardamom. Of course I over ate completely right after I left the clinic, making a pasta bake each day, followed by a healthy dose of gummy bears and Bavarian donuts. My pasta (or gnocchi) bakes are a serious matter, they consist of vegetables, fruits, nuts, fine cheeses and a bechamel sauce made of ghee and goat milk - a mixture prone to make you very sleepy and calm because there´s so much digesting to do.
I came to realize how I have probably always led a very small life, due to anxiety and various conditions causing more anxiety and then some conditions that made me a bit immobile even without anxiety - but also because that´s just how I am. For me the best part about travelling is the way home, the rest is sometimes just too much. I remembered how I started taking pictures to calm down during trips, to have something to focus on - now I found out this is an actual method to deal with anxiety called skilling. What also works for me is browsing the sale sections of my favorite online stores when the internet connection is really bad and it takes ages to load a single picture - this makes me loose my mind in a whole different way. Since this sounds like a very superficial thing to do I might add that producing GIFs also makes my mind feel at ease because I have to concentrate really hard.
In the last year I felt like that small life started to shrink even further, bit after bit started to slip away and I really hated that - still do. It has gotten pretty tiny so you might think by now I´m down to the essentials which would be great, but to actually fill a life with them, those essentials would have to grow, to be nurtured and tended to. And I was very fond of those non-essential parts of my life and I´m still very sad about the fact to see them go. Oh dear, this is hard work! Even harder because there is this part of me thinking if I only try hard enough I could overcome this pain, besiege all this with a merciless grip - trying hard is actually a good choice, but it seams to be more about trying hard to be patient and kind and sometimes allowing myself to be utterly devastated, full of self-pity. I have a strong will to get better but I simply can´t will myself so.
But it is very hard to accept my own weakness on a daily basis, even the thought of a week ahead filled with nice events makes me feel overwhelmed sometimes and then all of my weeks are riddled with really painful physiotherapy sessions which can be quite draining especially when I don´t feel that improved afterwards but more like maintained instead. Accepting the reality of this kind of life being mine now and forever is SO hard, like when I did a bit of work in the workshop again, loved it and was in SO much pain afterwards. Which means I am still at the anger stage of grieving and I haven´t figured out how to move in this new body and life of mine, I bump into things a lot trying to figure out how to work with those fresh limitations. And there is this voice in my head telling me to just get over it since it is starting to get quite boring, for the people surrounding me and myself.
So far when my life started to feel too small I tried to "create" a bigger one, either inventing it in elaborate day-dreams for my own pleasure, or making up actual worlds not only for me but also others to look at (maybe this blog is one of those worlds), or - most importantly - actually "making stuff happen", making life happen. I "invented" my job, it gave me a lot of satisfaction and money to live on. It even gave me new friends! Ace! My blog did so too! I "invented" un-imaginary friends - that´s quite an achievement!
When I finally came home I took a bath (taking a lovely smelling bath seams to be a treatment for a lot of things even in faculties dealing with the clinical depressed, but then this department was run by someone who believed sitting in rocking chairs to be the solution to a lot of ailments) even though I knew I would hate it and with that I decided to just stop doing the things someone else thinks are good for me and trust myself instead. So I slept a lot, I´m still feeling very exhausted actually from all that mental work and then I started to get shit done which is one of my favorite things to do. Before I went to the clinic I got buying cat food in bulk done so thoroughly I probably won´t even know how it is done anymore when I have to do it again. So now I started to take up the delightful task to deal with phone companies and insurances, finally put up all my so far acquired cat paintings so beautifully framed by my sister E and her boyfriend, started to build a trellis on my patio to block the ghastly view and tried to be very thankful for all those mice the cat dragged in (one of those desperate creatures even made it into the fridge somehow, but in the end I trap them all with a piece of chocolate - alive, of course).
My new identity (apparently i need a new one, since the old one was too focused on work) consists now on meeting up as much as possible with friends, snatching up a bright red Vitamix on Ebay (thank you RIKE for your inspiration) to avoid arm pains when cooking (a purchase that makes me feel rather guilty, which amazes me a bit since i never feel like that when shopping for clothes) and expanding my experiences with BREATH WORK. So I signed up for Lauren Spencer King´s 10 DAY BREATHWORK MEDITATION CHALLENGE right away when i read her announcement. Ashley Neese also posts a lot of breathing exercises like these for STRESS RELIEF.
So far I had an amazing slice of vegan poppy seed cake with a friend who let me vent a lot, fries at a Greek place, met up with my BOOK CLUB and let a bunch of bright red anemones almost rot on the kitchen table (the smell is fascinatingly bad). I wrote about it a few other times, but i find stones and minerals quite lovely right now - my sister E was visiting a couple of weeks ago and i introduced her to the amazement that is our local mineral shop, where the most insane things can happen. Like the rant of a customer about the hard time he has finding the perfect house with enough space to store a rain coat collection which wasn´t the only thing making him really mad - he also found out that his Japanese wife does actually not want to have children. The shop owners considerate answer to this was that he really had to take his pet rabbit to the vet next week. This made us buy a lot of those stone disks to be worn on a string of leather which i always hated but now came to love. Hopefully they are not only infused with mineral magic but also with that rollicking mad atmosphere.
I suddenly realized that I´m probably like the most annoying characters in various (children) novels - the one always having to retreat to bed, burdening everyone with their endless suffering and neediness. Definitely not the one facing a grave illness heroically with a smile on their face, wasting away while still working hard for others, finally dying oh so bravely. No, I´m the one either shut up in an attic or terrorising the family with migraines, neglecting the task of bringing up the children alright - simply because of a weak mind. Some likeable depressed characters come to mind but it seems I can´t recall a lovely forever sick one - were are the ones who make the average sufferer feel better not worse?
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