Hello dear blogging friends, and many apologies for my abrupt and unheralded departure last week. I’ve been having a little health nightmare, caused by what began as a mild infection that simply would not go away. I thought I’d got rid of it twice just by resting and taking care of myself, only to have it come back. Then I took some antibiotics; the first set gave me a violently adverse reaction, which was no fun. And the second lot, after seeming to start work, only exacerbated the infection which then returned worse than before.

At this point, I’m afraid to say I lost it, quite spectacularly.

I thought I’d been good and well-behaved and tolerant and that I deserved to be healthy again, which was the angry side of the coin, with sheer terror that this infection was actually never going to go away on the other. This was Friday evening, on the brink of a four-day holiday weekend which ought to have been a pleasure, but which was looking like a desert of doctors, chemists and help. Now, I knew really, with the small sensible part of my brain, that I would be okay. But I triggered my anxiety, that old enemy from whom I have been enjoying a lengthy break. And so the next two nights found me fighting panic attacks, which were even more unreasonable since I’d been improving health-wise, since stopping those last antibiotics and taking a herbal medicine route. Why is it that these primitive parts of the brain can short-circuit all the intelligent sophisticated parts? How do I prevent this happening again? Because after having felt mildly but quite tolerably under the weather, I now felt gruesome, having poisoned myself with excess adrenaline.

So I am resting now and waiting to feel human again. And I’m telling myself there are things to learn from this, particularly about practising calm in tricky situations. Thank you to all who have left fantastically interesting and thought-provoking comments on the previous blog. I will respond as soon as I’m back on my feet again. Do hope you are all having a great time, whatever this finds you doing. I’ll be back to blogging as soon as I’m able, but probably not before the end of the week.


69 thoughts on “AWOL

  1. Dear Victoria – after the recent death of a loved friend, my old enemy the panic attacks came back. I have stopped maintaining a stiff upper lip these days and went straight to the doc to get medication. The awful feeling of anxiety is horrid. You have my sympathy and a big hug

    • Elaine, I am so sorry to know that you have this battle too, but I can quite see why the death of a close friend would cause panic. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s when some event brushes up too close to our mortality that the really piercing anxiety begins – and I was so sorry to hear about your friend, too. You did perfectly right in getting medication – I left my anxiety far too long before getting medical help. But bless you for this comment, which I found full of sympathy and encouragement. Big hugs back.

  2. It’s a very understandable reaction given your history. Anyone who has ever had a chronic disease can understand. The hard part is to learn to accept that health fluctuates and a minor cold doesn’t mean we are back in bed again for a long time. It’s very hard for me as well. I’ve learned to accept that I will always be somewhat frailer than the average person and have to be more careful. Antibiotics are deadly for me too.
    I hope you will find your balance very soon again. It’s not funny.

    • Caroline, thank you so much for this comment, which I found wonderfully helpful and comforting. That’s exactly it – I fear every time I fall ill that I’ll end up back where I started, stuck in bed for what felt like an eternity. And it’s true that my illnesses never really follow conventional paths now. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone in suffering from antibiotics – although I could wish for both of that that weren’t the case! I am still struggling to accept that I am a bit more fragile than other people. It helps to know I’m not alone.

  3. Sorry to hear that you’ve been having such a horrid time. How frustrating that the antibiotics just make things worse. Hope you’re resting well and that you feel better soon.

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Pete. It’s been really frustrating. I think I am finally on the mend now – just tired out after the illness and the worry. There must be a better way of doing this!

  4. Oh poor litlove, I am so sorry to read this and wish I had some advice to offer. I hope very much that resting works its magic quickly for you and you soon feel better. A big hug from me too.

    • Bless you for your lovely comment. After reading that you are one of life’s very healthy people, I often find myself wailing, I want to be Helen! I want to be Helen! Alas, I haven’t managed to transform myself yet. But I’ll definitely take the hug! 🙂

      • Oh my, I AM insensitive sometimes! Thank you for not taking it amiss. My partner has ME, thankfully fairly mild, but I haven’t always been very understanding of him. And it’s nice to be aspired to! I fear you’d find the reality not worth the transformation though. I hope things stay on a more even keel for you healthwise now, you are welcome to the hug! 🙂

    • Not insensitive at all! It gives me hope, and something to aspire to! Plus I think it is incredibly hard for the partners of people who have chronic conditions – I know how tough it’s been a times for Mister Litlove. I would actually rather be the ill one than the one who has to watch and look after the ill person. It’s hard work.

  5. Oh no, I’m so sorry 😦 I really hope you feel better soon. I know from experience that the anxiety spiral is incredibly difficult to find a way out of. Hugs and best wishes!

    • Nymeth – I think you are probably better than me at figuring out what helps you to get out of it. I read somewhere the encouraging if rather daunting thought that every relapse into anxiety is a chance to do things better, and I have been taking note of what seems to perk me up. Hugs from blogging friends are right up there!

  6. Oh Litlove, I am sorry to hear you have been unwell. I wish too that I knew how to avoid that short circuit of the brain…it certainly would save me a lot of grief and self-recrimination in life. I will be sending good thoughts your way.

    • Ruthiella, that is so kind of you, thank you. If only it were easier to manage our minds, eh? I try and keep mine quiet with lots of reading, but still it rebels!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Arti. Sometimes just stopping and taking it very easy is all that can be done. I think – and hope – I’m on the mend now.

  7. I’m so sorry things have gotten worse, just in time for the shut down of services over the bank holiday and hope that the anxiety trap releases you soon. I’m sure there are things to learn here, but don’t worry too much about working out what they are just now. Analysis can come when you’re up and fit, for now lots of tea and terrible bank holiday films are probably best.

    • Dear Jodie, love your prescription for better health – spot on, I think! You’re quite right that I am always trying to figure out answers for things way too soon, and often in situations where there probably aren’t any helpful ones! I’m on the mend now, I think. Look for an email from me soon.

  8. Oh, I’ve had anxiety attacks before and it was most unpleasant. Hope your GP can help. Take a good rest, mind and body, and look forward to seeing you posting when you are ready!

    • They really are horrid, aren’t they? And so very draining of energy. I promise I’ve been putting my back into the resting, though! And I think I’m on the mend now, thank you for your kind words.

  9. Poor Litlove! That sounds miserable! I had an adverse reaction to an antibiotic one time, and it was a hell of a few days — I kept bursting into hysterical tears and feeling sicker than ever and thinking the strep throat I had was going to actually literally kill me dead. I hope you are feeling much much better and getting lots of rest.

    • Jenny, it is always encouraging to me that we are so alike in many ways. Perhaps one day I’ll write posts as witty and amusing as yours! The adverse reaction was the pits, really not something I want to go through again, if possible. Thank you for your lovely comment.

  10. “Courage I said, as I took him by the hand…is one white flower in a fire swept land.” You will get well…and your friends will be here.

    • It’s been pouring with rain almost every day I’ve not been well – so the summer hasn’t got off to a great start either. Perhaps this is all just the pathetic fallacy at work! 😉 Thank you for your kind words, Becca.

  11. That’s the problem with anxiety…it’s such a primitive reaction and we are helpless before it. Nymeth is right to call it a “spiral”. Hang tough. Hope you feel better soon. And another hug…

    • ds – ah my friend you speak the truth there. All this sophisticated thought in my mind is indeed useless. Hanging tough here, and definitely getting better. Thank you for your lovely comment.

  12. Very sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather Litlove, best wishes for a speedy recovery from both infection and anxiety.

  13. So sorry to hear — and I too think that a little panic is perfectly understandable, especially after the drug reaction. There’s something about that that can be even more alarming than the illness being treated. Take good care. Love to you.

    • Thank you, my dear friend. You are quite right – the bad reactions to the drugs were what really freaked me out. I wasn’t doing too bad up until then!

  14. Terribly sorry to hear this and hope you are back to normal sooner than soon. I was imagining you had been whisked away on a surprise break by Mr Litlove or something like – speculation the progenitor of error. Makes our cooker having conked big time on Friday teatime just as everyone shut down seem trivial. Still brings my culinary expertise with a primus and a tin of beans into service. Forty-odd years training finally pays off – if you really like beans ! Do get well soon. Best wishes.

    • I like your version of what happened much better than mine, dear Bookboxed! Can we rewrite history and have me whisked off to a fantasy location instead? If only! And very sorry to hear about your cooker. I think that qualifies as a disaster in my book – but glad that you could at least get the lid off the beans. 🙂 Hope you’re back to full culinary power now.

  15. Oh, Litlove, I am so sorry you are going through this! I know what you are dealing with is so not fun. Health scares are seriously the worst, especially for those of us who have issues with our health. Write me when you feel better. I appreciated your last email but did not want to leave too much personal information there!

    • Dear Ali – I knew you’d understand. I’ll tell you much more about all this when I write – and it may well be familiar to you! Still, we can at least lick our wounds in solidarity. More very soon, my friend.

  16. Sending you good thoughts and best wishes from Barbados – hope they float across the Atlantic and into your home. Rest up well. By the time you’re back online I’ll probably be on holiday, so I’ll see you in a month!

    • Oh have a lovely holiday! (Where can you go that’s nicer than Barbados?) And thank you so much for the good wishes – they do me a great deal of good – and clearly are much better for me than conventional medicine! 🙂

  17. Get well soon! So understandable that this would all be triggering and I am angry on your behalf that the antibiotics made things worse. Take good care of yourself and looking forward to you posting again.

  18. Hello Litlove, I’ve discovered your blog and realised you taught my sister Vicky for French literature. She always spoke so highly of you!
    I’m sorry to hear of your battles with anxiety, but I completely understand. I’m in my early thirties and have suffered from anxiety-related issues since my teenage years (constant insomnia, panic attacks, social anxiety). I find it has got worse with age too, which is not a good sign. I live in Paris and a few weeks ago, I had an awful episode of vertigo which led to a panic attack on the top floor of the Centre Pompidou art gallery, even though I’ve been visiting that art gallery for years and never felt like that! Now, I daren’t go back for fear of having another panic attack! It’s such a vicious cycle.
    Anyway, I really hope you feel better soon!
    All the best,

    • Dear Helen, thank you so much for your comment! You have all my sympathy as a fellow anxiety sufferer – it really is the pits, isn’t it? And I have exactly the same sort of problem with revisiting places that have triggered anxiety. The memory of the event is so overwhelmingly powerful. And it’s really hard to get to the bottom of what causes it – my husband always tells me that I may never know, and whilst that’s true, it doesn’t seem like a good solution. When you suffer from anxiety, the urge to figure it out and fix it is quite overpowering. Warmest wishes to you as you do battle with the demons. And as for your sister, how about that! Do say hi to her for me, won’t you? Send her my best regards and tell her I hope she’s doing great.

  19. I think your problem with antibiotics is that your empathic sensitivities extend to your microbiome and you can’t help but recoil at their decimation in collateral damage!

    You’ve started the process of interrupting that short-circuit by recognising that it happens. That it does happen is only natural given your past experience of being overwhelmed by illness. Always remember that neither illness nor the fear that can accompany illness is a sign of personal failing. Illness is often outside of one’s control. Accepting that can itself be difficult. I think you tend to be rather harsh on yourself in this regard.

    Anyway, enough of the speculative psychology. I hope you feel fit and well very soon.

    • No, no keep going with the speculative psychology! You’re doing brilliantly! You made me laugh about the antibiotics and hmm, well yes there may be truth there. 🙂 Plus you are quite right – I am always hard on myself when I’m ill, out of a combination of horror and frustration. And it really doesn’t help. I think you hit a nail on the head there – things would be better if I could stay patient and accepting.

  20. Get well soon Victoria. Forget your blog for a while and focus on healing yourself. Walks in the countryside are the way I always ground myself when life gets stressful. Best wishes.

    • Dear Neil, thank you so much for your kind words. I think you are quite right that walking does help get the system back in balance again. I’m taking your advice and just wish I had nicer countryside around here to walk in!

  21. Sorry to hear those antibiotics caused such havoc to your body–how awful when something is supposed to help only ends up harming. I was wondering why it had gone so quiet here and thought you were still recuperating. I didn’t want to send an email thinking you likely need a break from everything, but I have been thinking about you. I hope a little calm and quiet and rest will put you back on the mend soon. Sending good thoughts your way! Hope you are feeling more yourself very soon!

    • Dear Danielle, bless you for your lovely comment! It really was upsetting when the antibiotics kept making me feel worse. 😦 I’ve certainly been taking a break from everything, and it does help (not that I’ve had masses of choice in the matter!). At least I can read again now, as feeling too. poorly to read is the worst! I do hope to be back up to more or less normal in the next few days.

  22. So sorry to hear you’ve been going through all this, and I certainly hope you’ll be back on your feet and feeling much better soon. I’m sending lots of positive thoughts your way. (Meanwhile, find some good comfort reads and comfort movies to get you through it all.)

    • Dear Emily, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I can’t tell you how much comfort your thoughts, and the good wishes of my blogging friends have brought me. You are by far the best medicine!

  23. Dear blogging friends – now that I am relatively germ-free, I hug you all right back! Your comments here have kept me going this week and been hugely uplifting and encouraging. I can’t thank you enough for your kindness and understanding. I will reply to you all individually but for now, just what to say and huge and heartfelt THANK YOU!

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