Bitching In Private

Today’s Daily Post prompt is to write about what it takes for you to ask for help when you’re unwell. I’ve had a lot of practice at being sick as of late, so part of me feels that this prompt is a natural fit for my circumstances, while the rest of me just wants to ignore it and move on. Which is fitting, really, since that’s how I deal with illness and misfortune, in general.

I learned pretty early on that no one really cares if you’re not feeling well, or if you’ve got emotional issues to deal with that impede your ability to function day-to-day. Sure, if I call my parents and complain that I’ve got a bad cold, and can’t stop coughing, my dad suggests herbal remedies and my mom expresses general concern. But in the end, they live 1,000 miles away and no one is hopping on a plane to come and comfort me. I’m pretty sure that if the cough grew into lung cancer or tuberculosis, no one would hop on a plane then, either. It’s just not the way my family functions.

A few years ago, my dad almost lost his leg due to an infection. He didn’t tell me for a few months, by which time it was just a hint thrown into a passing conversation. My grandfather had cancer a few years back. He didn’t tell my mother, his daughter, until after he had been treated successfully. My other grandfather died of cancer of the lymph nodes. He didn’t tell anyone – not even his wife of over 40 years – that he was seriously ill. One day he went to the hospital and was admitted. He died a couple of weeks later. You can probably see the pattern here. My family doesn’t talk about being sick, and as a result isn’t equipped to deal with you if you are sick.

Unfortunately, the same applies to mental health and general life issues. Having trouble? Keep it to yourself. Or tell someone, but they won’t have anything constructive to say because the code of conduct calls for ignoring life until you die. Anything other than soldiering on without complaint is so disruptive that all you’ll hear on the other end of the phone is embarrassed silence, followed up with a, “Well, you hang in there.” So useful.

And The Man is no help, either. I try to talk to him about what I’m feeling, but it turns into a mess. A good solid half of my problem is my upbringing, but he’s no better at the task of sharing. We both feel stupid when we talk to each other about things, so we don’t. And it doesn’t help that I love to hear him talk about himself, but he hates hearing me express my needs, since he can’t understand what I’m saying and thus can’t “fix” it. Typical problem between men and women, but talk about a recipe for disaster. I’m tired of living this quiet little mouse life, when I want something big and effusive. Maybe I wouldn’t let my problems eat me alive if I had somewhere else to put them.

Interestingly, now we’ve come full circle. I feel sick. I bottle it up. It makes me unhappy. I cope in unhealthy ways, so then I feel more sick. I only share here on the blog, which is why you guys get an earful of complaints. That’s my life – bitching in private, trying to figure out a way to break the circle. Thanks for being there for me, readers.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Olga Brajnović says:

    I’ll try to be here for you, Anna. so sad I can’t do more

  2. Anna says:

    Thanks Olga 🙂 It’s just nice to have this blog and know that there are people out there who take interest. Blogging is such a comfort, and I’ve loved connecting with all of you lovely minds across the internet – so many unique thoughts, hopes, and dreams out there!

    1. Olga Brajnović says:

      Thank you for sharing. It takes courage. I’m glad to know you.

  3. I think blogging is a great way to connect with other people who are going through the same things you are. I don’t think anyone is supposed to try to handle all of their problems on their own.. 🙂

    1. Anna says:

      I agree, other Anna 🙂 It’s nice to have this community of folks from all walks of life to laugh with and lean on.

  4. Anna, I’m here with support if you need at any time! I’ve had similar issues and have lost both my parents within the last ten years. In hindsight, I know I did all I could, but convincing my parents to just call me if they felt unwell, was a very difficult endeavor. I believe some of their resistance had to do with the generational influences in which they grew up with.

    This is a topic that needs more conversation, truly.

    I’ve a history of panic, anxiety & insomnia for many years. There have been many times that my husband or children could not understand. Now I have become more aware, and if I’m experiencing symptoms, I’m sure to say, ” I’m feeling anxiety right now” or “I’m having an panic attack right now, so if I’m seem unwell, please understand.” This helps, and it also opens pathways for others to communicate with me, tell me if they’re unwell too.

    My thoughts are with you, Anna & I’m grateful for discovering your writings!


    1. Anna says:

      Thanks so much, Cindy 🙂 It’s good to know there are great folks like you out there. Just read through your blog a bit and really like it! You’re right about there needing to be a larger conversation about expressing our states of mind/being/etc. I’m just now coming to terms with what’s been happening to me for the last few years. Sometimes it feels like getting smothered in a big yarn ball of conflicted emotions. Part of it is just growing pains, and outside influences, but anxiety plays a large part and I’m just getting used to stepping back and noticing when I’m not feeling “right.” I’m slowly getting more comfortable with saying “no” when I need to, and setting clear boundaries and intentions. There’s a long way to go, though.

  5. I know the feeling well, recently I scared myself to death thinking something was worse than it really was. I have my parents close, im lucky for that, and a few friends that I can count on, but there are always those people who just brush you off. I hope things get better for you.

  6. Anna, don’t forget that you can choose to change all of this. You have the power to choose for yourself – no one can take that away from you. Don’t let your family limit you if that is what you choose.
    I can see that you have a lot of support from bloggers and I am happy to join them 🙂 But don’t forget how powerful choice can be if you let it

  7. Anna,

    Hi, hope you’re doing well or at least better. I believe I first came across your blog discussing a yoga related topic. I know there’s Bikram Yoga New Orleans on St. Charles St and it looks pretty cool from the website. Are you still practicing your yoga? I find that it helps mind, body, heart and spirit. Best wishes!

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