MEMOIR: THE WRONG LENSES: The Scales Postscript (Update)
I wrote a long essay about my anxiety last year over our wayward, unreliable scales, and my need for accurate information about my weight.
Now, while it’s not that I regret writing it, I am feeling deeply stirred up about it. That whole experience, the intensity of my neediness, my self-hatred over the effect it was having on Michelle, was dreadful. When I think about what a shit I was, how I often I felt the urgent need to apologise, because I knew Michelle was fed up. She was doing her very best to humour me and help me, and was utterly wonderful, despite a very demanding job, and the other calls on her time. Writing about that period reminded me, even made me re-experience to some extent, that same sense of need and shame, how dreadful it was, and one of the worst things was knowing it was affecting those closest to me.
Anxiety about anxiety. Thoughts about thoughts. Feelings about feelings. The thing about my sort of mental illness is it’s like when you’re at the optometrist, and you’re sitting there with this thing against your face that makes you look a bit like a suburban Aztec Sun God, only in a t-shirt and tracky pants, and the optometrist is slotting different lenses into the Sun God mask device, and you say, “better” and “worse” until he gives you a lens with which you can see clearly. The illness is like all those wrong lenses. It distorts everything you perceive, including your perception of yourself, and you sometimes don’t understand how much its affecting what you see–but sometimes you’re only too aware, too hyper-conscious, that you’re looking through a very wrong lens, but you can’t help it. It’s your whole brain that’s wrong.
You know it’s wrong, and that people around you are upset, but there’s nothing you can do. You’ve got the wrong lenses in. You know these lenses are wrong. But you’re in the middle of what the staff call a “cross-titration period” where you’re easing off one drug and easing onto another one. Your doctors are tearing their hair out trying to find you the perfect set of lenses, but it takes time, and experimentation, and patience. And you’re just hoping and hoping your wife and your mum and dad will hang in there with you until you can see the same reality as everyone else. But in the meantime you’re Mr Magoo.