Tuesday 24 March 2020
I started having very irregular periods in the middle of February. I had a very heavy, early period, and then I had about a week’s break. From the beginning of March I’ve had continuous, period-like bleeding all month and it’s doing my fucking head in.
So I went to the doctors yesterday. I hate going to the doctors normally, but going at a time like this is really nerve-wracking. You’re constantly questioning if you even need to be there, berating yourself for taking up precious NHS resources, and for venturing outside when you could have the virus (if I do have it, I’m asymptomatic, but I think lots of people even without mental illnesses have rightly been worrying about this), ad infinitum. So I go in to my appointment, hoping that they won’t— as they did when I went two weeks ago— take one look at me and tell me it’s probably chlamydia and I need to have an STI test.
Part of my OCD when it was at its worst, back in 2016-17, revolved around sexually transmitted infections. I’ve had one, it was awful. Having had this experience, I deserve to not be patronised and told I ‘probably’ have one, even after clearly stating that a) I haven’t changed partners since 2018 and b) I am extremely conscientious and had an STI test back then as well. I’m instead quite worried because I have had anaemia problems before, and I’ve lost the equivalent of three or four months’ blood in as many weeks. Ugh.
So, anyway, thankfully, yesterday the doctor and nurse were much better and actually listened to me, did some blood tests and whatnot. I had a lovely chat with the nurse about goth fashion (she had great lilac hair and told me she liked my red shoes) and the doctor actually listened when I told her that I didn’t want to discuss contraception because I have too much on my plate at the moment (I’ve tried loads of different pills and they all make my mental health deteriorate rapidly and unbearably). However, it’s still unpleasant having to attend doctors’ appointments for probably-minor-but-not-ignorable-things, especially having spent years— decades?— believing I’m not worthy of basic care and, at worst, that my presence in the world actively hurts other people.
Lots of people are talking about the importance of maintaining a regular routine when working from home. This has become quite literally impossible for me, because I need tons of sleep at the moment to counteract the intense fatigue caused by this bleeding. My PhD isn’t going great at the moment anyway, so I have done no work on it since last week. My mood is also more erratic than usual (possibly also because of the bleeding, since my hormones are probably messed up), which means I have been driving my partner, who I live with, up the wall with manic laughter that turns into manic crying and vice versa, often switching between the two several times in about five minutes.
I don’t hallucinate very often, and when I have it’s been mostly related to my OCD, but it can also be brought on by tiredness. Yesterday I saw a huge patch of glittery sequins superimposed onto my partner’s face, probably because I enjoy sequins with the same intensity that a small child might, and I told him with an ill-considered turn of phrase, ‘Your face is a big sequin’. He thought I meant it looked concave and octagonal. We later had a conversation about whether it was or wasn’t a hallucination— I personally am not that interested, and couldn’t really tell at the time— which went around in circles with him asking if I know the difference between real and imagined images (I do), me answering that I didn’t imagine it on purpose, and it went in his face like a hologram, which imagined images don’t often do, so it was probably something different than that, if not a hallucination. I’m talking about this not because it led to an argument between us (it didn’t) but because it’s quite illustrative of how he’s having to be around me continuously at a time when I am both more anxious than normal and also more erratic mood-wise than normal as well. This unfortunate collusion of circumstances would have provoked some pretty horrendous conditions in some of my previous relationships, I imagine. So I’m grateful this is happening now I’m here, aged 24, an adult, and with him in particular, if it had to happen at all.
That said, I am worrying about those people who are at critical points in their life whose futures are being disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis. I worry especially about the children and teenagers who are stuck in difficult home environments without school to go to. I also worry about sixth formers whose university attendance might be disrupted or delayed by the cancelled A-Levels. I know when I was 18 I wouldn’t have survived much longer than I did if I couldn’t go to university, move far away from where I grew up.
I’m not used to being stressed when I’m not also desperately unhappy. Growing up, I had so many mental health problems compounded (caused?) by abusive relationships and a difficult situation at home. It’s a strange experience for me to be very stressed and worried about Covid-19, while also being safe in a peaceful home. So I think this is a time for me, who’s always been mad, to also be grateful I’m not as mad and unsafe as I have previously been.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. We ask that you seek our permission before you use any of our material – this includes researchers who want to harvest our data for analysis!