Tuesday, March 01, 2005

On Flu

Which I have, again. Don't worry, I'm not going to write about the physical symptoms this time. What I want to write about is the funny effect that any illness can have on ones psyche. It's like I'm a different person when I'm ill, or at least like I'm living in a different room of my brain, one darker and less airy, with older furniture and odd memories piled up in the corners.

What interests me when I'm ill is not what usually interests me, and in some ways illness gives me the opportunity to be someone different. Maybe people who have trouble with empathy should think about themselves when ill? This might let them understand how someone else might feel about the world. For example, the weakness that has come over me is instructive for understanding how some of the elderly live every day, how they have to choose which parts of the chores to do and when. I have an orange marmelade jar in the kitchen which refuses to open in my feeble fingers. Why are jars made so that we can't open them unless we are healthy? And why do I want to get the hammer and smash the damn thing?

Then there is this feeling I have in illness of looking for something strong enough to break its shell and return me to the realm of the healthy, but I have no idea what that "something strong" is. Is it a food or a drink or a certain physical exercize or a thought that could suddenly blow all the heavy clouds out of the door? Or is the whole feeling just awkwardness in being unaccustomed to visit this particular room of my mind? And if so, should I fight back and start looking through the rubbish that is piled up in the corners? What are the memories that I have selected not to look at on my normal days?

Some of them crop up in my fevered dreams, like the memory of watching another girl lose her grip on some gymnastic equipment at school. She fell down head first. I can see why this particular memory has been stored in the back of my brain, but I don't really get why I should dream about it right now, unless my usual prohibitions are weaker and just let more stuff through.

Ok, this is turning into something morbid and I had better stop right now.