Today my husband is feeling rotten, laid flat with a virus that has made him worn out, given him a sore throat and makes him dizzy when he stands up. Obviously this is a Bad Thing. I don’t in general want people to be ill and in particular I don’t want my best friend whom I love very much to be suffering in this way. Being selfish, it’s not good for me either as having the other member of the parenting team out of action means more work for me.
And yet there is a small part of me that is relieved. You see, I’m just about over a virus thing that wiped me out and gave me a sore throat and swollen glands in my neck. I think I spent most of the 24 hours of Saturday asleep. I’m not really sure, I can’t remember very well, I was pretty out of it. Anyway the symptoms are pretty similar so it’s probably the same bug.
So, why the relief? Because him being ill with very probably the same thing I had, means that I was almost certainly actually ill. I wasn’t being lazy or malingering. I wasn’t not coping. I was ill. I don’t have to feel guilty that I didn’t pull myself together and do more.
I didn’t realise that I was worried about this possibility until I got relieved that it wasn’t the case. But it makes sense. There is a fine line between genuinely not coping with your life properly and not pulling yourself together and getting on with it. I’m not sure it’s even as definite as a line with things one side of it or the other, it’s more a blurry haze in between the things definitely one side and definitely the other.
Personally, I like sleep, I’m not good at mornings and I’m rubbish at going to bed on time. So when I don’t get up on time, is it because I’m tired or I’m unorganised or I’m being lazy or I’m taking advantage of hubby (who is much more likely to get up and deal with the kids)? Or is it because I’m feeling anxious, have a pit of worry in my stomach and can’t face the world?
Similarly, when I feel a bit ill (with fairly vague symptoms) and sleep lots, is it because I’m ill or I’m catching up on sleep or I’m malingering or I’m feeling sorry for myself or I’m taking advantage of hubbys good nature or I’m not coping?
So today, I feel confident that I have actually been physically ill. And that’s a relief. I think maybe I also feel relieved that husband will now be confident that I was actually ill, not that he ever implied that he thought otherwise.
And I feel disappointed that I trust myself so little that I’m now in the position of feeling relieved. Or maybe that should read I feel frustrated that I struggle to read what is really going in on my life so much that I’m now relieved.
In addition I feel aware that this kind of bug is one that I can catch and pass on and discuss the symptoms of with my peers easily. Unlike my anxiety. Which means that when I’m having an anxious patch (and I’m therefore more vulnerable) I’m not getting the validation from seeing others “come down” with what I had (as its not infectious) as well as not feeling able to discuss symptoms with my peers. If the relief of knowing these things is so important to me when I’m feeling mentally ok (just having been physically run down), how must not having that relief play into the mix in my head when I’m feeling at my most vulnerable?