Illness

This is probably on my mind more than usual because I’ve been off work for the last two days.

I don’t know whether this is an autism ‘thing’, but I find it very difficult to tell when I’m actually ill. The high temperature and falling over when I tried to get out of bed was a bit of a clue this time. But until it gets to that stage, I genuinely don’t realise that there might be something physically wrong with me. Which means that I can’t rest or get things organised before it gets to that stage.

It’s similar with mental health, as well. I can’t tell that my thinking is starting to become disordered until I suddenly realise that I’ve become practically suicidal. That happened over the weekend, too, so it’s a double whammy of being mentally and physically unwell at the same time.

There also isn’t a clear delineation between the mental and physical for me. Sometimes I can feel ‘ill’ but I don’t know whether it’s anxiety or whether there is an underlying physical aspect. I suspect that it all links into how I perceive the world – for instance, emotions for me are a physical as well as a mental sensation.

It makes it quite difficult to know what the right thing to do is. I normally compromise with sleep, as that can work for both mental and physical ailments.

The practical side of illness is also challenging for me. With reduced resilience from either a mental or physical ailment, my capacity to think and plan also reduces. I can’t think of the steps I need to take to do quite simple tasks. And, unfortunately, there’s no-one I can call on to help me: it’s something else I need to cope with completely on my own.

This can lead to some rather unhelpful outcomes. Yesterday, with a raging temperature, I really needed to drink a lot of water and take some paracetamol to try and bring my temperature down. Logically I knew this. But I couldn’t organise myself enough to work out how to get the things I needed. So I had to just do without. I couldn’t even manage to get to the kitchen to take some medication I rely on to be able to function on a day-to-day basis. Today has been a better day, but I still haven’t been able to do everything that would help me feel better (I’ve managed water and medication, though).

It’s worse when other people are ill. Even though I can’t look after myself very well, at least I have some idea about how I feel and what would help me. With other people, I am clueless. I don’t have a script and I am not able to do anything practical to help.

Which makes it complicated with my father at the moment.

There seems to be this expectation, with cancer in particular, that families will rally around each other to help out.

That’s happening, to be fair. Just not with me.

I think my father understands why I can’t help; that it is just not within my capability. It’s not that I don’t care, or that I am not worried. I am just unable to provide the help he needs.

But I am aware that I am not sticking to the script. I am on the outside yet again. And when the dust settles, I don’t know what will be left of my family relationships. Probably not much.

I am glad my father has help and support through this difficult time. I am glad my mother can call on her extended family.

But it has made me think. If I was in that situation, I would have nobody. And that might be OK. If it was me going through the treatment, I might be able to cope alone.

It’s not me, though.

And I can’t cope with this alone.

But, as with the last couple of days and my own minor illness, I don’t have much of a choice.

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