I had taken on the responsibility for ordering theatre tickets for our household for two shows, and I did that online this morning.
I found it so stressful — just ordering two sets of theatre tickets — that straight away it made my tonsils hurt as my immune system went into freefall; then, once the order was complete and I was calming myself down playing Solitaire, both my shoulders went into inflamed mode, sending pain all the way down my arms into my hands. For goodness sake!
Because I keep a very strict discipline in how I eat and what I allow into my life, I will come back from this without difficulty; just a calm morning will sort things out. But it's a good thing no one's asking me to run the country, is it not! I do my very best to appear normal, reasonable and stable, with wildly varying levels of success.
Two things happened recently — one I said no, the other I said yes. The first was my mother's birthday. She is now very fragile, but my best beloved wanted to take her out for a birthday treat. She was keen to do this, and wanted to check that I would be coming too. When I explained it would be just my beloved and her carer, because I simply cannot cope with the stress of all the complexities of taking her out (transport, wheelchair, malfunctioning stair lift, her own unique personality, going out into the world at all, interacting with different sets of people, etc etc) she found this impossible to understand, and concluded it was because I don't like looking at her in a wheelchair. Noooooo!!! Fortunately she has since decided all by herself that it's too much, and a normal social birthday visit I can easily cope with.
But the thing I said yes to almost did my head in. I was prevailed upon by simple need to offer to tutor Local Preachers for our Methodist Circuit. I used to do this years ago, but that was before my Mental and Physical Elves became so insistent and demanding, and before the training course was savaged by out-of-touch technophiles into something we peasants have the utmost difficulty driving. Having agreed to do this relatively simple task for which I am eminently qualified, I have been quaking and wringing my hands in terror and a conviction of utter inadequacy. Only because my beloved keeps telling me I can do it and if not me then who, and because I have flaked out of so many things under pressure of bullying by my Mental Elf in particular, have I not got in touch to say actually I can't do this.
But gee, anxiety is a spectacular companion every minute of every day of every week! Those of you who also walk close with the black dog and its friends will understand immediately what I mean. By living the most disciplined life and sticking rigidly to the diet that optimises my health, I can keep writing and preaching. Then that's it. No socialising, no other useful contribution to family or wider society. Nothing else. That keeps my Elves tolerably in line.
How about you? Do you also live with Elves? How do you make it work?
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*If English is not your first language, I should explain that I'm using Elf as a play on words for the English word "health". And the black dog is an expression used in UK English for depression.