The Guilt Game

That sense of feeling
totally drained is one with which I’ve been all too familiar these past few
years but, when my beloved falls victim to a flu type virus, I find myself
shocked that she should be so wiped out. She spends so many days, or at least
evenings, in the company of a physically and emotionally drained wreck, called
Malcolm, and still manages to cope whereas I, in just a few days of looking
after her feel almost on the verge of depression as well as being physically further
de-energised than is my norm. It really makes me think about the burden that
illnesses of any kind place on those who love and care for the invalid. Mind
you, I don’t usually think of myself as an invalid, simply as a human being
whose mental and physical stamina is greatly reduced from its former plateau.

 

When I first became really
ill in 2003, I kept struggling against the odds, suffering from frequent
collapses and an increasing sensitivity to bright lights, sudden noises and
even quite modest crowds. I think sensory overload best describes that
sensation. Not only did visits to Jazz clubs, galleries, cinema etc go out of
the window but, I was no longer even able to enter a busy supermarket – a combination
of giddy light-headedness, achingly leaden limbs and the gnawing chest pains of
a panic attack, put paid to that socializing activity.

 

The number of major supermarket
visits made in the past four years can easily be counted on my fingers, perhaps
even on those of one hand. Much as I enjoy cooking, I am totally at the mercy
of ma belle grocery shopper to ensure that the necessary ingredients are to
hand.

 

Yesterday, Helen managed to join me downstairs after a few
bed-bound days and, today she felt that she may be up to doing a bit of grocery
shopping but, for that, required my moral support. As we went around the
supermarket I was more than grateful to have a big trolley to support me. After
the first twenty minutes or so, I became totally light headed, the head
floating about in some kind of space far removed from my torso. Not only was I
feeling washed-out but, judging my beloved’s reaction, I had also visibly
whitened! I did manage to hang on until the mission was completed but, it was
such a relief to get back to the car to be chauffeured home.

 

So now the absurd state of
play is Helen feels guilty about
putting extra pressure on me by being ill and, my being guilty about feeling so
jaded and that so obviously displaying itself to my beloved. Perhaps guilt is
the most draining emotion of all and, I find myself more than usually unable to
concentrate on anything. I really have to struggle hard to think on the many
blessings I have to be grateful for, but then that’s how the guilt comes into
play once more.

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