So, May started really well, we were doing ok…
And then BAM. Cyst pain, plus anxiety from hell that carried the crawling skin with it again. We have a deep-seated phobia of parasites, and all we wanted to do was cry.
The Dutchman has been so good with us, but yesterday really made us realise that he is in this for the long haul.
Monday- I’m at the gym. I’m feeling a little rough from a cold, very tired and weak and sleepy but I go anyway. The hamstring curl machine has a bench to lie on, but it’s angled so there’s a small raised part in the middle. I pull myself up a little higher before starting set three and suddenly, there’s a sharp, searing pain in my right lower abdomen, close to my hipbone.
Immediately everyone is panicking, and the younger two (14 and 15) start freaking out. What if it was something really bad? What if we were going to have to call an ambulance and wait three hours again? Nineteen isn’t happy, worrying about what happened last time there was this pain- five hours of hell before being discharged with a handful of painkillers, not believed, and told to man up. I’m frightened because I know this is cyst pain, but the pill I’m currently on for birth control should have stopped this.
Monday continues to drag on and the pain gets worse. There’s blood as well, and that just makes it all worse. How big was this thing anyway? How long has it been sat there? Fuck.
Tuesday- cyst pain is there all night, with crawling skin and sleeplessness. Anxiety claws at us all day. We struggle through choreographing a dance for some students who are going to take an exam soon, but pretty much teach from a chair. Then comes the last class of the day- beginners’ adult ballet, which basically means we have to dance flat out all the time so they can see what to do. Adrenaline helps us ignore the pain, but by the end of the evening we are struggling to put our shoes on. Eating has become difficult, for two reasons- 19 is so upset with our misbehaving body that she doesn’t want to eat, and it’s physically not appealing. We feel too full and aren’t very hungry.
Wednesday- Depression sets it. We wake up in the morning with more pain and blood. Gym is out of the question. We pretty much work on massage coursework all day and then head off to teach in the evening, where we can barely do anything because we feel awful. When asked to do class, we say we really can’t because we still feel so horrible, and we are told by our mum that it’s a little weird that we have been unable to do class for three weeks running. She alludes to May being a difficult month with suspicion, as if I’ve accused her of making May hard. It upsets us so much because she has nothing to do with making May hard- it was that fucking horrible boy way back in 2005 who has made May such a gargantuan struggle, but apparently she thinks it’s her somehow and is now annoyed with us because we are bleeding internally and can’t dance. We spend all of the rest of the day feeling awful, guilty and very upset. We’re also asked to cover classes on Thursday AND Friday. We’re left feeling like we are second-class citizens in our own home, because instead of being taken seriously, we’re told that we need to be more flexible and cover more classes. It hurts. Why is nobody listening?
Thursday- We wake up AGAIN with pain and bleeding. This has to stop. Please make it stop. The blood is triggering us, the pain is too. We head off to therapy, and I’m so tired from shouldering the pain for all of us that I have no energy to drive, so Nineteen kindly volunteers.
Thing is, our therapist is in a meeting and we had re-arranged for the day after.
Nineteen loses it.
She decides that she’s not eating for the rest of the day, and she then decides that she’s been lying to herself. She gets angry and upset and decides that even after being invited to lunch with Mum and Sis, she’s not going. So she drives us round the hospital and out, then on a network of roads where you really need eyes in the back of your head to be able to drive there. She refuses to open the window, despite the heat- England has been hotter than the Med recently, and yesterday was no exception. She refuses to drink, so we are weak and dizzy and dehydrated. She decides to walk us incessantly round the town centre when we would normally have our coffee break, and makes sure that when we do sit down, it’s somewhere cold and uncomfortable.
I can’t do anything, I’m too tired. I can barely raise my voice to comfort her. 14 and 15 are begging her to eat, they keep saying they’re hungry and frightened- both of them get upset easily when they haven’t eaten. 19 is so convinced that she doesn’t deserve love that she’s even ignoring the one person who can make us all feel less anxiety- the Dutchman is worried as hell, because just before 19 took full control of us, 14 sent a message to him. He’s petrified of us not eating enough and fainting on the motorway, so this is a huge concern to him. Nineteen then deletes all social media and leaves our phone at home. She doesn’t want the slightest chance for any of us to be able to contact him.
I finally persuade her to head for a shop and buy a bottle of Vimto. I tried to get her to buy Lucozade, but she says it’s too sugary and there are too many calories in it. She won’t even buy biscuits. She apologises a lot, and is on the verge of tears. She’s really upset and thinks everything she did today is evil. I have to eat the biscuits we keep at the dance school as a snack, and she says she can’t eat them because she doesn’t deserve food.
When we’ve taught our class and headed home, I’m finally able to surface for long enough to drive. I’m in pain and exhausted, my back is sore, the cyst (or burst cyst, because that’s what this is) is aching and we are all very upset. Nineteen is buried so deep somewhere in my head that she is hard to reach. The waves of self-loathing are crippling from her. We manage to get in and message the Dutchman- with a wave of guilt, we see that he tried to call us, not on Skype, but actually through our number. Nineteen feels even worse.
Fifteen and Fourteen take the call between them. I’m too exhausted even to talk properly, I’m shattered and upset and desperate for 19 to talk. She won’t come out. She’s decided to stay inside and not talk to anyone until she fades away, then we can have a lovely life with the Dutchman without her fucking it up. 14 and 15 relay all this to the Dutchman, who sounds very sad and concerned.
Eventually,. Fifteen is a badass and forces 19 to come out and talk. She’s less than impressed. 14 backs fifteen up, and they wait and watch and make sure she will actually talk.
They have a long conversation. Nineteen is so utterly convinced she’s evil, she’s even refusing the hypnotic hugs the Dutchman can create for her. She isn’t listening to him say to her he loves her, and instead thinks she has only got one option- to grow up and leave everyone alone, because all she causes is trouble. She doesn’t even believe we would all grieve for her and miss her. It’s horrible.
The one thing that finally gets through to her is the Dutchman telling her that of course she flipped out for a good reason today- people keep piling shit on her head and taking her spoons (Spoon Theory, we’ll explain in a minute) away without her permission.
That starts her off crying. Nineteen hates crying and doesn’t do it, as a rule. This time she’s in floods, crying into the hood of her jacket to muffle her sobs.
The Dutchman very kindly explains that she starts the day with a certain number of spoons. We think that, at full fitness and healthiness, we start with about 12 spoons. Imagine without spoons that you can’t eat anything, therefore you don’t have energy if you don’t have any spoons. At the minute, the Dutchman and Nineteen work out that we all have about eight spoons when we wake up, because anxiety and insomnia and pain are taking their toll. Add to that the fact that getting up, showered, dressed and actually getting breakfast takes about three spoons- it would take four but we ate, so we get a spoon back. Normally after that something unexpected happens- the other day our provisional booking form for getting married came back with all our dates changed, so we freaked out and had to ring up the registry office to find out what had happened. As it happened, that involved one call we made and another call we had to take, so take two or three spoons away for that. The Dutchman thought that taking three was probably right, because we are scared of phones, ringing people or answering calls. That means we only have two spoons left.
Next, we have to get started on coursework. That’s labour intensive, so take away four spoons- hold on. We only have two. We’re now in negative territory for spoons- that means we are running on less than empty. Lunch is currently only replacing two or three spoons because we aren’t feeling hungry enough to eat what we normally would, so that doesn’t actually help. Lastly, we have extra things- teaching takes at least eight spoons, so now we are at minus eight or nine spoons, and then tea takes so long to get into us (because we finish teaching so late) that it only replenishes about five spoons (that’s including the fact that normally it would give us six or seven, but at the mo, due to cyst pain, we don’t want to eat too much). So, we end the day at -3 spoons.
The Dutchman was kind to us all, reassuring to every one of us, and kept telling Nineteen he loved her until she finally believed it again. She thought that telling us all that we deserved our abuse was evil and cruel and she deserved no love for it, but he kept telling her that she’d been abused so much that she honestly knew no better. He kept letting her know that she had had a number done on her, that it wasn’t her fault, and eventually she began to tell him that she loved him too. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t believe that she’s worthy of love, but we will all help her get there.
All in all, May is proving vicious this year, which we’re disappointed by, considering that last year, it was nasty but not this bad. Please, please let the rest of the month not be like this. It’s a good job we’re seeing the Dutchman today, because we need the comfort. We’re all very fragile and wrestling with depression, anxiety, pain and panic attacks and insomnia. We just need a break away from everything.
Also, Nineteen? We still believe in you, we still love you. What you had yesterday was the mother of all panic attacks. The Dutchman said to tell you he loves you too.