I'm doing quite well at the moment. Since I got out of hospital in June, whenever I see someone and they know all my stuff (I mean, like, second tier family and friends of various relatives and parents of friends and neighbours and all that), they look me in the eye and ask 'how are you?' But they do it in that way that's meant to portray real sincerity. And who knows, maybe they are truly sincere- I'm not judging. You know, the real, the proper, 'how ARE you?' (always the emphasis on the 'ARE') and sympathetic arm touch. It makes me uncomfortable, which is silly, because I made myself so public and besides, I'm OK with people knowing everything. I think it's because they think they're privvy to something really quite secret and serious and it's really a bit disconcerting- I have to remind myself that there is nothing about the situation that's as big or as serious or as secret as they think it is.
It's also uncomfortable because I have nothing to say in the little play, not only do I feel OK and have no deep feelings to offer up but also, I'm the wrong character for this situation- I can't be natural because I don't fit. I'm not comfortable with the question and all the desired emotion for the answer, because I am English. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. I'm comfortable with the normal type of greeting, you know when you just pass people in the street and you simultaneously, as you're walking by, say 'hihow'reyougoodyeahbye!' It's difficult when people want a real answer, it's not the way that kind of social intercourse works (although I've met people who think it is. The ex-neighbour who told me about the menopausal symptoms, for example, outside Marks and Spencer's, that one time) if we were close enough to give a real answer- presuming there was a real answer to give. But there really isn't; remember, I'm OK- we'd be so close you wouldn't need to ask.
I've had a lot of practise this last month, in this new type of action, though. I've got it down to a tee, I'm a cracking actress and I just have to remember the hundreds of other conversations like this I've had over the last few weeks... my rehearsals: a shuffle; look down to the floor; then that sort of sucking noise, the one that implies pain and bravery and a 'I don't want you to worry' type of thing; and then a little shrug; a wry smile and finally, 'oh, I'm FINE. You know!' Which of course they don't, but that really doesn't matter. They smile sympathetically and we all mentally congratulate ourselves for handling the situation so well.
I sound like such an arse and I am a bit of arse, but you would be too. It's all very scripted. They ask like that and do the sincere act because it's what you do when somebody has been ill. And when you've been ill, you have to act brave but you have to also display scars. We're all playing a part and I don't mind- it makes it much easier. Especially since the drugs are working quite nicely right now and I feel ALRIGHT. Just fine. Not even close to how I felt a month ago, that feels so long ago. My anxiety is manageable. My mood and behaviour are relatively stable. My eating is bad, but I've compartmentalised- it's not massively effecting how I feel. But it's oddly rude to answer in a flippant way, although that's how I FEEL, to do that is to not acknowledge somebody's careful sympathy and that won't do, I'm too polite. But it's exactly that, the careful sympathy, that I'm most uncomfortable with- I can blog about it because I'm not typing to a sympathetic audience (the opposite in fact, I know how hostile people are) and because it's not part of the little ritual, that follows illness.
But really- I'm alright, thank you. How're you?