I went to the shops today. Wow, you’re thinking. Big deal. Well, frankly, given the way I’ve been feeling lately, it really is. I’m actually glad I didn’t run into anyone, as I would have heard,
‘Hey! Nice to see you out and about! You’re looking really well. You must be getting better.’
This friendly assumption of my health based on how I look can be incredibly frustrating. Because you haven’t seen the effort that went into getting me out today. So to give you an idea, here is a stream-of-consciousness run-through of this morning…
I wake up at 8am, having slept very fitfully. My head hurts; it feels as though I’m hungover, although no alcohol was consumed. I did manage to have a shower last night though; my first in four days, so at least I smell reasonable. I get up with a vague determination to make the most of my day (I have Things To Do! I am a Normal Person!) and struggle into my clothes. I put my contacts in as I don’t want the humiliation of going out in my glasses, as I feel ten times as ugly in them. My hair looks stupid. I brush it. Still stupid. That skirt makes me look fat and the tights are a ridiculous colour. Also, the shirt is garish. Off they come. I try a simpler outfit. I look like a dowdy 65 year old. I change the top. I change the cardigan. A bit better. I try and put some makeup on. I have put too much on. I look like a clown. I remove it again. I put just a little on, as I can’t go out with all those blemishes and bags under my eyes. I sigh at myself as an hour has already passed. I only need to go to the corner shop, 30 seconds away, to buy coffee and milk, and that is the tragedy of this. I contemplate going to the shop in my mind. I suddenly feel very anxious and tired. I go into the living room, with my shoes on ready to go, my bag on my shoulder, and I sit down and stare at the wall. I feel numb and immobile. I lie back against the cushions for a few minutes. They are comforting and embracing; a safe nest. I could always have tea, not coffee. I could always just have it without milk. I am talking myself into not going. I mentally slap myself. This is RIDICULOUS. I just need coffee and milk. It’ll take two minutes. I get up again and go downstairs to the front door. I hold my keys in my hand…and stand there. For another ten minutes or so. When I finally manage to open the front door and leave my flat, I feel as though everybody is looking at me, the Hermit Emerging From Her Lair. Ooh look at the special effort she made to get dressed. How stupid and over the top. My heart is pounding as I walk to the shop, grab my groceries, line up, and pay for them. I keep my head down, and avoid eye contact. I think of my couch cushions. I want to go back. I walk very quickly back to the flat, shopping bag clutched to my side as though it’s a shield. Once back, I make and drink a coffee. Then I go and lie on my bed, fully clothed and made up. I sleep for two hours, exhausted.
The above describes my typical thought processes when I have to go out. Often, I don’t actually make it out of the front door. This is the sad truth behind my well made up, well dressed face if you catch me in the street on one of those days. The saddest thing is, I used to be the woman who would skip happily to auditions in London and sing my heart out on stage in front of hundreds of people. If you do happen to run into me, I’ll be polite to you and seem pleasant and happy and fine if we chat, after all I am a great actress, but I’ll be thinking of those couch cushions and wishing I hadn’t come outside.
So please don’t just assume I’m fine.