Wolf Dread

I promised myself I wouldn’t put entries here that were just “I’m ill again”. So I guess I will write this as a draft, and then if it looks like anything one other person might want to read, I can publish. I’m getting very anxious again, the word I always use for something which is more like dread, very hard to explain, or a very silent kind of internal extreme panic. Dread is the best word for it: the feeling that at any moment, something terrible is going to happen which is finally going to bring the curtain down. I’m about to die, or find I have some terrible disease. L is about to disappear. The few strings I’m hanging off are about to break, or something, something is about to happen to finish everything off. I used to be anxious – everyone is of things they are scared of and have to do, or of things that may happen to them – but it’s just not the right word now. Like describing M.E. as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: it’s hardly the point.
And I swear it’s a thing-in-itself – no matter how attached your panic seems to the given objects – it has a life of its own. Maybe it’s chemicals. M.E. eats your brain.
So I’m going to call it dread because it’s something I couldn’t explain now to my earlier self of 10 years ago, and that word’s the closest to it I can get. It’s something like an evil cake-mix of extreme anxiety, internal panic, and clinical depression which pops out when the panic’s briefly masked by something in the foreground – but all chilled in a fridge into a horrible stillness. It’s like someone your whole life is built around has just died, and you’re reeling and don’t know how to keep standing up, and your legs are giving way. But this is all so unsatisfying because it’s all figurative – I could stand now if I needed, if my soul could tell my mind to tell my body to do it; if the house was on fire, I guess I’d find out. All I know is that I had it from Boxing Day until the first week in January and it’s back. It creeps back up on you like a wolf, you can hear it padding towards you if you listen hard the day it comes back into your neighbourhood – that was yesterday. wolf.jpg Wolf Dread pads around you and tries to divert your attention from himself – whispers that you’re terrified of this, then that, any hooks he can find to divert your gaze to a passing object of fear rather than himself. So you think: “I’m scared that my right ear is going deaf, it just dipped in volume again, I’m sure”, and your heart races. You spend a few hours on that, then a few hours later, Wolf Dread’s whispering to you about how you’re never going to be well enough to get out the house again, and how the lovely ring of friends you once had don’t remember you much now, because let’s face it, you’re no fun anymore, you can’t post funnies to their mailing lists or go round and eat jelly with them, and who can blame them. You can’t go out to see them, and you’re teary on the phone, and who wants that for two years running? Then two hours later, Wolf D tells you that your heart’s racing and you feel sick and you can’t think straight because the one friend who still lives near you and visits is about to move away. Oh wait, no, it’s because you’re never going to be able to get back to work, your income will plummet, you’ll lose the house, your whole motivation to get out again, you won’t ever get another job, and with no sugar, wheat or dairy to eat, no friends, no music and no feeling of worth you’ll be dead in a year. Then he whispers that it might be a relief anyway, wouldn’t it? No-one lives forever. Apart from Wolf Dread.
When I was little, I had a repeated nightmare, which always ended vividly with a wolf walking up our driveway in my childhood home, opening his mouth, and swallowing me whole – at which point I awoke.
The problem with dealing with Wolf Dread is he doesn’t snarl, he doesn’t howl like wolves are supposed to, and he doesn’t even smell doggy. His plan is to get you to hang your dread on any hook you can find, and I have as many hooks as the entrance hall to a primary school. When he’s desperate and snarling for blood, and he’s so finished you off you’re wanting unconsciousness, he uses the last big hook: “you’re going to go into another month of dread and soon it’ll be all you are”. He makes you dread dread itself, because you know how it makes you feel and what destruction it does to the very things that might drag you out: people, enjoyment, peace.
All the panic disorder articles I’ve read tell me it’s all about this fear of fear, fear of pulse racing, fear of dizziness that sets up a vicious physical circle. But I don’t get this: I swear I don’t, so I can’t use these books. I can feel dread – it’s gnawing at me now – when my body’s completely quiet. I have awful self-inflicted shaming panic attacks, but that’s not Wolf Dread, that’s.. Squirrel Panic, and not a subject for today.
I don’t know where this dread is from: I don’t know why he picked on me. I can account for it logically with the build up of different predisposing factors from growing up as a little girl baffled to find herself in a boy’s school but not daring breathe a word, and instead ingesting it as guilt, from the disabilities and life-wrecking effects on any chance of a social life that a long-term chronic illness has (humans, like wolves, are social animals: he knows us well), from the partial or complete loss of the remaining source of joy – music – that my hearing loss is likely to bring. Or I can say it’s a chemical feature of the disease(s) I have. Or I can say it’s the months of Roaccutane I was put on a few months before I contracted the illness that switched on all my CFS/M.E. lights, 12 years ago. But in the end, I don’t know, and not knowing matters. It’s hard to explain this to people who say “live in the now, and deal with the now” – no, I need to know where to aim my glare, even if the object aimed at doesn’t flinch. Do wolves look away when you glare at them, like cats? I bet they attack.
Anyway, I heard him padding around me yesterday – you get attuned to his footfalls after a few years – and tried to dismiss it. Took some clonazepam. Last night, bad dreams, bad sleep. Today, mid-afternoon, rocketting panic based on a particular hook I hung it on, followed by generalised dread – now. My thoughts turn to this space. The only thing that’s seemed to make me feel better recently is typing here. Please, somehow, keep the wolf at bay – I can’t afford this to happen to me now, or to those I mail telling them I want to be gone – again – because it will make it even harder for them to stay my friend. And Wolfie knows that when I’m finally alone he has me completely his, and can gnaw at me with ease and at his leisure.

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