Gearbox brainbox all brokened
It occurred to me last night, during a particularly restless period of being unable to drift into sleep, that there is a psychology of being unwell. Presumably as unique to every individual as is their more everyday psychology, this turn of mental and emotional tides will surely be characterised by the waters of similar experiences in childhood. Or by specific childhood experiences themselves.
Which is not especially good news for me when I have a chest flare-up. While I can summon up plenty of happy memories from my childhood under normal circumstances those that rise like stagnant silt to the surface when I am unwell are far more likely to be memories of the tensions of my childhood: my fathers barely suppressed, indeed frequently unrepressed rage, his sporadic violence both emotional and physical (presumably he still normalizes the former just as vehemently – and falsely – as he denies the latter ever occurred).
All that waiting for the volcanic eruptions, for the terrifying noises through walls and floorboards even if they did not occur in the same room as I was in most of the time, has left scars that still affect the landscape of my psyche. Chunks of my childhood were frightening, disorientingly eternal periods of tensing up and waiting, waiting, waiting for hell to break. My CBT therapist was of the opinion that the long-lasting effect of this on my mind is akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Small wonder, then, that times of worry, such as a flare-up of health concerns, should psychologically dump me straight back into the fear and uncertainty of those long past days.
Yes, as an adult I am now capable of greater rationalisation than most children can achieve. I can point to the times I have been through flare-ups like this and come out the other side tired but back to more normal existence. But this works both ways. It is also not incorrect to reason that the long-term prognosis with bronchiectasis is an inexorable decline of lung capacity and even, in the worst cases, a progression to lung cancer.
These are not possibilities it is helpful or healthy to consider when in flare-up but the very fact of my compromised emotional and psychological faculties means it is harder to avoid thinking of such things. Ill health returns me to those traumatic childhood times when I was tense and terrified and waiting for worse to come.
What I learnt from CBT is that at such times of intensified anxiety and negative projections there are techniques I can employ to attempt to counterbalance my fears. Writing is one method (sorry about that, no crazy words thrown around in abandoned fashion here today). Distraction is another. I have downloaded some nature programmes as distraction for later. Physicality can help but must be tempered with the acknowledgment that my body is in rebellion and can’t take too much stimulus. A nice hot shower is a good place to start, something my sense of smell will appreciate as well as I didn’t bathe yesterday beyond splashing some water from the sink at the more accessible parts of my anatomy.
So it’s a CBT sort of Sunday. I’d have preferred an out and about with some friends old and new sort of Sunday but such days will have to be put on hold for a brief while. I’m going to stand beneath flowing water and try to rise above the tensions and worries of my returning childhood fears for a while. Wash that man right out of my hair? If only.