What happens to you when you feel a bout of something coming on? What’s your tell? The reason you start to panic or brace yourself for the ensuing episode? Mine is the start of my zombie features – a period where I swing between bouts of obsessing over my dry skin and general mania.
The reason I’m asking is because I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (surprise surprise).
It goes like this – I see a wee red patch of dry skin on my right hand (kind of like stigmata! There is nothing holy about my reaction). Once I notice the patch, a sense of dread courses through my body as I fight my way to the mirror to examine my scalp – looking for signs of inflammation or crustiness. I am generally not happy until I find something, anything – YES. I am turning into a zombie – I knew it.
The reason I relate my ‘symptomatic’ state to that of a zombie is because they both share similar physical features – such as:
- Falling hair
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- White coating on the tongue
- Dark circles under eyes
- Red, chapped flaky skin
I know all of the above can also be signs of other stuff – an allergic reaction, an intolerance to dairy, wheat or countless other things or simply some sort of infection. I have thought and thought (and thought again) about all of these things – usually on a loop once I notice that bastard patch of skin appear on my right hand.
The internal reaction to my physical appearance becoming zombie like is usually mild to manic panic. Constant worry and questioning about WHY this is happening, WHAT is causing it and HOW can I stop it?
My obsession with spots are a recurring theme – maybe they are indeed the problem and I have brought all of this on myself. The constant questions my brain asks along these lines are also a clue that I am experiencing ‘an episode’, ‘being symptomatic’ or just having a generally shit time of it.
I find it hard to concentrate at work or in conversation – probably because my brain is busy asking the same stupid effing questions over and over. I also find it hard to make decisions – what to wear, what to eat – total brain fog.
How does noticing this help?
I’m unsure which came first and now which feeds what, but as soon as I see that little red patch or start to feel the other symptoms, feelings or manic thoughts – I try and remember it’s just thoughts, red patches or an inability to make a decision. I don’t let one add to the other and make me feel worse.
I think naming something, realising what’s happening and being prepared is useful – eventually. It takes time but every time one of these smaller things happens – I call it out for what it is – just something that’s happening which isn’t the end of the world.
As I now know what’s coming – just my feelings, just a patch of skin & just my own thoughts – they have less power over me and are gradually becoming easier to manage.