Fog Lights

I am not the only thing in London that is lost today. London itself has been engulfed in a thick fog that has at points made it impossible to see more than a few meters ahead. Normality lurks somewhere within the fog, but it’s hard to imagine that the landmarks I am so familiar with still stand in their usual places when my eyes are pretty sure that they no longer exist. It was creepy, eerie… Lonely.

Processed with MOLDIV
Top left: No the camera isn’t blurry, this is the view from my bedroom window this morning – where several blocks of flats, a park, and Canary Wharf used to be. Top right: The hospital, The Gherkin, and the rest of central London appear to have been erased. Bottom left: Excuse me but where did Bromley by Bow go? Bottom right: Some blocks of flats putting up a valiant fight against the fog.

Why am I rambling on about the weather (and in doing so fueling the stereotype that in Britain the weather is a hot topic of discussion)? Because this isn’t the only kind of fog I’ve been surrounded by today. Finally starting to think about my health hiccups and the reality of the situation I am in has left me lost in a mental fog. Like an fog, normality and clarity lie within and beyond it, but unable to see them, I’m struggling to remember that these things are still there. Like any fog, it is isolating and a little scary, and I’ve no idea if I’m going the right way or doing the right thing because I can’t see clearly enough to make that judgement. Like actual fog seems to have deadened and silenced London, I feel numb and hollow in the presence of the nothingness that has settled in my brain.

I know I’m not alone. Health issues in general can be like a fog in many ways, for many reasons, at many different times (and I’m not just talking about the frustration of brain fog here). They settle on normality and cloud it from view. They hide elements of the life that we once had and leave us lost in places that are so familiar to us. I was kind of shocked today at just how thick the fog was, at just how smothering it felt, and how it changed everything. But it was also sort of nice to be lost. It was sort of comforting to see a visual representation of how I felt. It was weird to see cars crawling along in the middle of the day with fog lights on, and to wake up at 3am last night because the light reflecting off of the fog was so bright I thought the sun was rising when it woke me up.

In any fog, you kind of need fog lights. In the case of a metaphorical fog, I think those fog lights are often friends who sine about blindly in the mist until they stumble across a potential route and walk through it with you. Most of my friends don’t even understand the fact that I’m lost right now. Most of them just don’t understand. I’d forgotten how isolating health hiccups can be. I feel like they are on the other side of a ravine that can only be bridged by an understanding that they will never reach. I’m bad at opening up. I’m bad at talking about my health to anyone or even discussing it with myself.

So I spent my day trying to be a fog light instead. I went to the walk-in centre with the friend I call “Batman” after having to call her up and calm her down after she messaged me saying she didn’t think she could do it. I knew how hard it was, because it is something I still can’t do. I stood in the cold and the fog for half an hour, and then walked to the walk-in centre (out of hours GP) and sat outside waiting for another half an hour. I froze, but it was nice to be out, and I liked being among the autumn leaves and the fog. I knew “Batman” needed a lot of support to get there, and I was beyond willing to provide that support. Honestly, when we sat in that waiting room, I had never been so proud of a human being. I provided hugs and talked and tried to calm her a little. I offered to do whatever she needed, which in the end simply involved bursting with pride in the waiting room while she walked in to see the GP, and hugging her and telling her just how proud I was (about a thousand times) when she walked out. Anti-depressants were prescribed, because they were needed. Nothing weak about it. And “Batman” is now my hero because I honestly know how hard it is to face the thought of accepting an offer of medication for mental health stuff (I couldn’t have done it. I can’t. I just say no. I’m seriously, seriously impressed).

I know what it’s like to be lost in a fog. My physical health issues are currently having a pretty significant impact on my mental health, in combination with a lot of other stuff (and ‘m unable to even attempt to run – even though it would make me pass out – because I’ve torn my gastrocnemius/ the top of my achilles. You can read about my attempts to get back to running again and raise money for charity doing so here). The least I could do was try to help someone else find their way out of a very different fog.

As for me, I’m so, so happy for “Batman” (I wanted to jump around and throw a party. It’s such a huge step for her) but I am still very lost in my own stuff and kind of numb. People keep posting in group chats about how they want to cry over university work, and  have that on top of things they couldn’t even imagine. It just makes me feel isolated. I’ve sort of withdrawn, which I know isn’t helpful. But I think it gets better from here. I’m so lucky, and soon my brain will get over itself and figure out what the right thing to do is (I came to the library to work and so far I have written another article/story for a website and now this blog post… This was not the plan!).

No more denial.

No way but through.

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