I have to come clean. I’ve been living with a secret for such a long time. I have to get it off my chest …. I’m not a phone person. There it is, out in the open. I’ve said it. I think back to my high school days sitting on the floor of my parents dinning room chatting away for hours (or as long as dad would allow) and the thought terrifies me.
It’s not that I’m an antisocial person. I love catching up with friends and living so far away from many means a phone call is sometimes the best way to keep in touch. The problem is, I don’t have the energy for phone calls. I’m not trying to sound snobbish or self-important here but the truth is phone calls exhaust me.
Living in chronic pain is tiring. No, tiring is not the right word. Exhausting doesn’t even seem right. It’s generally known that patients with fibromyalgia have heightened pain sensors. It’s like someone has turned the pain control into overdrive. The brain sends out pain signals in response to every little bit of stimuli that reaches the body. This means it’s not just physical touch that is a problem but things like vibrations, sound and movement are all dangerous. What isn’t also realised by the wider community is that it’s not just the pain control that’s been turned up. Every single sensor in the body is heightened. Everyday life therefore is exhausting.
Take this morning for example, two girlfriends came over to join me for my morning walk and breakfast. Our “walk” was shorter and much slower than I’m used to. Due mainly to the excessive amount of talking that was taking place. Now I have to say here that I have extremely lovely girlfriends who are always conscious of my limitations. When we got back to my place for breakfast they got stuck straight in to setting the table, getting out the food and making drinks. After we’d eaten they cleaned the table and went off to pack the dishwasher. All of their help means that no more was required of me than if I’d had breakfast on my own. Still, even with all of their help, as I waved my girlfriends off and closed the front door my body slumped. Simply interacting with other people takes energy. Talking takes energy. Listening takes energy. Sitting at a table and being present takes energy.
All day, every day, if I am out of the house I’m fighting off my tiredness. Generally, I am lucky to be able to do this and it’s not until the end of the day when I make it home and sit down on the couch that it sets in. It feels like a wave comes over me and everything I do from then until I go to bed is calculated to use as little energy as possible. I don’t want to talk, or think, or cook, or move. I just want to be. Alone, on the couch watching simple TV that does not require the use of any brain power.
This is why the thought of talking on the phone terrifies me. Because if I pick up the phone when I’m on the couch trying to conserve energy my day gets longer. When I’m home my mask is off, the thought of putting it back on, of trying to listen and think and interact, that thought is too much.