Ever tried to describe the texture of water to someone?
Or the sensation of light?
It’s almost impossible isn’t it?
It’s a bit like that when you are trying to explain chronic pain and fatigue to a healthy person; And when you try to explain the the turbulent relationship of these symptoms and a recurring or constant mental heath problem and you might as well be describing the aforementioned analogies to a bat, in Latin.
However I shall attempt to try (not in Latin by the way).
Imagine your body as a car, you have a battery that works all the electronics; they are your brain and your nerves: you have a radiator that regulates the temperature, you have lights that are the like your thought processes and so on.
Now when the car battery is beginning to ware out, it struggles to keep its charge.
If you are not careful you get stranded in the middle of the motorway at night with no lights.
As the battery loses charge, ideas are weakened and and visibility down life’s motorway is almost impossible.
one by one your electronics start to fail. First you lose your radio (the part of you that takes enjoyment from things) and your air conditioning.
Then its down to the engine.
and as you try and crawl to the hard shoulder to wait for a way to recharge, you are can hear all the other cars speeding by to their next destination leaving you alone in the dark.
So that is what the chronic fatigue feels like, the pain is a bit easier to explain.
think of yourselves as one of those stretch Armstrong type toys and you are at the mercy of a relentless toddler determined to see how much you can be twisted, pulled, squished and mangled before you eventually break, the only difference is that I feel like the toddlers big brother is trying to use me a voodoo doll at the same time.
and now is the really hard part; the mental health. it is very difficult to describe mental health as something tangible. You can describe the symptoms; for example for me every thing looks darker, and i mean physically darker, like you are wearing sunglasses all the time.
but actually describing what is psychologically wrong is much harder.
so lets try and think as a child would.
How many of you used to believe that there were little people in the T.V or that there was a mythical person that snuck into our houses and left things around the house for us to find?
right, so in the place in your mind that is reserved for you and you alone (a “mind palace” for example)
you are sitting in favorite spot doing what you love and that’s where the story begins.
“Once upon a time there was a child sitting…….. Because this was the thing they love best.
all of a sudden. the child feels a chill and all around them a thick fog begins to rise.
Though the fog they hear voices, not very loud but they are close.
The child recognizes the voices and tries to find their guide.
“Conscience, can you hear me?”
but their friend did not reply, so he tried to call the others.
“Logic? Empathy?” Still nothing.
He called again and another voice replied.
“they are here but I am more fun to play with. I am Paranoia.”
the child looked very scared and said “where are my friends?”
“they are in the dark woods playing with Guilt and Desperation. We have lost Optimism he didn’t like the dark woods.”
reluctantly the child takes Paranoia’s hand and follows him deeper into the fog an the tangled trees of the dark wood.
the child follows deeper into darkness and feels someone beginning to follow close behind. the voices grew more distant until they became more like whispers.
All of a sudden the child falls, but they doesn’t hit the ground, they just keep falling.”
Now don’t misunderstand there is more to the story but that is for another day.
For now I just want to explain how hard it is to explain the sit-com style love triangle between mental health, chronic fatigue and chronic pain.
p.s. If you have read this and thought “she knows nothing about cars or stretch Armstrong” then I have proved that it is hared to explain anything when there is a party that only has a limit knowledge on the subject.
Try flipping it and thinking how would I explain the working of a car to a person that cant drive?