Short Cuts

Tonight my husband accidentally slammed a chair into the edge of a door he was carrying it through. It was loud.

I crumbled into tears. A slow accident. Waiting to happen? Probably.

Elaborating: there are times when sounds, smells, visions produce unexpected but not unexplained reactions in us. Think about the times you’ve smelled a memory. Times when a song or even a riff have taken you straight back to a point in the past that you had forgotten about. Things you’ve seen that trigger some link in your mind to something else.

Context: tonight I have a migraine, and this impacts on my senses quite profoundly. I’m light sensitive. I have a buzzing in my ears, and loud sounds are like a major thunder-crack right inside my head. The sound of solid wood impacting on a timber-framed glass door shocked in my ears as a physical force. It sent a flood of adrenalin from my shoulders to my fingertips, like a cold downward rush of air. That reaction triggered a memory. More accurately: many memories that I had rather not be reminded of. Then, as a result partly of the migraine and partly of the now-instinctive correlation between that sort of adrenalin and nausea, I immediately felt ill. Rushing in faster than I could keep up with was another reaction more emotional still, and the dam wall holding back angst and tears failed. I was there, back there again, in 2009.

I have not talked much about 2009 yet. I’m not up to that in the linear narrative stakes. But the mind doesn’t wait sometimes. Tangents are often necessary for one reason or another. So here we go: a snippet of the worst year I’ve ever had, and its happy ending.


I’m on my hands and knees in the hallway, attempting to understand why my strength is failing me and I can’t make it to the girls’ bedroom to sort out what they’re squabbling over. I’m nauseated. I don’t know why. I do know why. I don’t want to know this. But I do.

I know I am pregnant with my third baby. I am so happy about that fact. That fact. It’s not a fact yet. So I’m not really happy. I’m sick. I think it’s gastro. I want it to be gastro because then this awful feeling will pass in a day or so and I can feel better. I don’t want it to be gastro, because I want it to be a baby. I am all over the place. My insides are all over the place.

Ten weeks ago I took my last anti-depressant tablet. After months of careful planning and gradual weaning, I was doing very well. My depression was nowhere to be seen. I was elated.

Now, I am far from it. And it’s not just the debilitating nausea, which was not confirmed to be officially pregnancy-related for many weeks. By now the nausea is so bad that it also affects my sleeping hours. I will wake many times each night, feeling equally awful and struggling to get back to sleep. Anyone who has suffered from insomnia knows the panic that can then creep in when you realise that, in a few hours, you will have to face the demands of the world dragging through the fog of utter fatigue. With children, I find this particularly challenging. They can be relentlessly self-focussed (of course; they haven’t yet learnt to be otherwise). They don’t lack compassion; their compassion only lasts as long as your trouble is fixed in their sights. Not long at all. They are human, inevitably.

Before long, panic attacks wake me each night in the dead hours. I am suddenly, awfully, completely awake and alert, while inert. My heart chugging as though I am running to get away from some horror. But there isn’t a way out. I cannot divorce my body, and so I cannot get away from the cloying, painful, rolling nausea.

Depression drags at me again, bringing clinical anxiety along for the ride.


All this (and some more) is partly why I now have such a strong reaction to nausea, especially if it is coupled with a shot of adrenalin.

It’s ok for me now. It really is. I went off and had a cry in my room. My wonderful hubby came to check on me and I was able to articulate some of what I was feeling before returning to the dinner table to conquer my kofte. The children, all three of them, were happily munching on their ‘meatballs’.

I wiped a stray half-tear, and my now two-year-old son took my hand and pulled me in his direction. He gave me a kiss and said, “Mama.”



6 thoughts on “Short Cuts

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