update | the things we don't talk about


our health. it's important to talk about. ~mental health, physical health, sexual health. it's all really, really important to talk about. i'm a massive hypocrite, because i never do, and now, i need to because i'm fucking terrified, and it's mostly because of ignorance and naivety in thinking i'm invincible and nothing will ever go wrong. well, something's gone wrong, and now i need to talk about it... please stop reading now if you're after a light-hearted blog post on my love life or how to dress like a unicorn, because... you're not going to find that here today.

when i was about 20 years old, i went to the doctor because i wasn't sleeping - at all, and left the surgery that day after being told i was showing "classic signs" of borderline personality disorder. my mum doesn't even know that. i never told anyone that until years later when it started to affect things like relationships and friendships; i didn't agree with the diagnosis, and happily assumed the stress and emotions i was feeling were just caused by hormones, teenage angst, home life, et al. years later, i educated myself on my 'disorder' (extreme anxieties, irrational moods, suppressed emotions), and i think probably the doctor was right. i also think that these days, medical practitioners are quick to call out 'mental health concerns' in their smallest forms, just to be on the safe side, and besides the things i couldn't control (at the time, the insomnia caused by stress), i wasn't concerned about myself. i've never had suicidal or harmful tendencies, and i have close friends who have suffered worse than me, so i will always count myself lucky that i've never been in their boat.

[for your information: it was recommended initially that i go on anti-depressants as a form of a sleeping aid, and also to "balance" my moods. i refused on the basis that i wasn't depressed, and that there had to be another way. i am also of the belief that medical practitioners are too quick to call on chemicals to "fix" things that aren't necessarily broken, that are maybe just... different to the rest. as much as i wanted that sleep, i wasn't prepared to lose my personality over it, and so that was that. more than ten years on, and i've "managed" just "fine" without the help of drugs. that's not to say that this would be the right answer for anyone else, and i make no judgements or recommendations based on my own experiences.]

that doesn't mean i've always been "good" to myself, of course. in my late teens to early twenties, worthlessness gave way to body dysmorphia, which gave way to low self esteem, which gave way to not fitting in - anywhere - and mixing with the wrong people. i had an awful boyfriend who exacerbated the problem in a really toxic, and emotionally abusive way, and when that particular shit-show ended, i swore i would never let anyone - ever - treat me like that again. that included me. i made a decision then and there to just not let it happen anymore; to ignore those voices, that questioned outfit choices, that called me names, that encouraged me to cake on make up to cover the spots i had spent hours trying to pick off my face. if i wasn't going to let other people talk to me like that, the hell i was going to do it to myself.

despite that - the "blocking it out" and compartmentalising just about everythiiiiing, i'm still not totally comfortable in my own skin. i'm getting there. i'm way more confident; in my appearance, size, and general humanness, but... i am a massive prude. i don't like being naked, or near-naked (bathing suits - no), and the less i need to talk about sex, the better. being this way is no doubt linked to my body anxieties, and it's never ~really been a problem. until now. because, i hadn't had a smear in about ten years. because they're undignified, and embarrassing, and uncomfortable, and gross. and because i was vaccinated against hpv when i was about 23, so i figured that was that. except it wasn't that. i was recommended a smear from my gp recently because this last year has been hard on me, mentally, and because of that i've been having irregular periods. like, every couple of weeks, or not for months. the doctor put me on the pill to regulate that, and suggested a smear to check everything was ok. i assumed it would be. it wasn't.

the generic paperwork that i received in the post with my "we have detected borderline changes" pamphlet (in comic sans font, seriously) was generic and impersonal, and did nothing to calm any of my fears. borderline changes can be nothing, and they can be something. i was informed that i had been booked in for a colposcopy in a week's time, and the letter told me what to expect; more of the same discomfort and shame and grossness from the smear, but possibly worse if abnormal cells were detected. which i was ~sure they wouldn't be. except today, they were. while i was butt naked, legs spread and hoisted on a birthing table, being poked and prodded internally, and having a solution dabbed on my cervix, i was told a biopsy was needed and i should cough when i was told to cough so i didn't feel anything when some of my tissue was cut away from me. cool. the whole thing took a few minutes, but as i re-dressed behind the screen and decided whether or not i'd need one of the giant sanitary towels they have for these such occasions, i couldn't stop crying. it all felt so undignified and embarrassing, and i hated every minute of it.

the worrying part is that the worst of it's not even over. if the results come back as anything other than clear, i'll have to go back for an even more traumatising procedure. one that involves the abnormal cells to be shaaaaved from my cervix, and removed from me under local anesthetic. and while i feel ok about what happened this morning, now, i didn't at the time, and it sent me into an emotional spin. i was overwhelmed by the gravity of the whole situation - about having been put in the position i was, spread eagled with cold medical implements inserted into me, and how it might actually get worse than that. and while it more than likely won't lead to cancer, it totally could do. and how - maybe if i had just had a regular smear and not been so caught up in my own insecurities, this maybe could have been avoided. i mean, that's likely not even true. according to the doctor, i could have already had hpv (it's very common, and can remain undetected for your whole life, it just depends on how well your body adjusts to it as to whether or not it becomes a problem) by the time i was vaccinated against it, they just didn't test for it until recently. which... makes me shake my head... a lot.

i am a negative nelly, a pessimist, a "woe is me", pity-party for one, "of course this would happen to me" kind of person. i'm a realist, brutally honest, and i tell it how it is. obviously i am also not ignorant to the problems that befall others, and realise this is nothing compared to what others have gone through, and i am very, very grateful that i have been able to avoid this type of scenario until now. but, like i said, i'm terrified. and because i don't talk about things with people - even though i totally should because it helps to get things off your chest, i needed to write it down, here, because now you know why i'm exhausted and not feeling myself. 

i tried calling my mum, and she didn't answer. she will learn about this the same way you do. she will likely be shocked, and hurt that i didn't tell her earlier. i honestly didn't think there'd be anything to worry about, which is why i didn't. more fool me.