You know those really annoying people that walk around with their ipod headphones on and blaring all of the time so that if you were to speak to them, there’d be no way that they’d hear you? Well, that’s me. Not all of the time and sometimes I will try to be aware of other people in case they are trying to talk to me but for the most part, I’m plugged into my music. And that’s the way that I like it. It allows me to completely block out the outside world and to just be in my own head and my own zone.
I also use the headphones to speak for me, say, if I’m seriously not in the mood for conversation – in the house, in a store and otherwise – I put them in, and loud, and hope that people will see that and refrain from attempting to make conversation. I don’t do so to purposely be rude, but sometimes I just get so lost in my own feelings and thoughts that the thought of interacting with people is just highly unwanted. Often times the action of going to a store is such a source of anxiety and displeasure, with which having to smile and chat instead of put myself on autopilot until I get the heck out of there is just so much worse. And, I’m usually in a hurry, A.) because I’m terribly impulsive with money, B.) like I said, stores make me uncomfortable, and C.) my brain is always so overloaded with pain that it’s so easy for me to forget or get confused and screw up whatever it was that I went shopping for in the first place.
For me, with my “brain fog” (this is the name they give to what happens to your brain when it’s always overloaded with pain signals), I’ve developed a routine for shopping. When I get out of the car I stop, make sure that I’ve locked it, make sure that I place the keys in my purse, make sure that I have my purse, all of this often repeated multiple times, just to make sure because I can’t trust my brain. Then as I go through the store, collecting the item(s) that I need I keep checking to make sure I haven’t put anything down and left it somewhere or that I’ve read the label on the item correctly so that I hopefully won’t have to come back and exchange it (even with the double and triple checking you’d be surprised how often this happens). Getting to the checkout is more of the same, make sure I grabbed every bag, triple check that I put my wallet back into my purse etc. By the time I get back out to the car my head is usually pounding worse and my back is killing me. Then I thoroughly make sure to put everything in the car, check to make sure I have my wallet again, and steady myself before driving.
Despite what you make think, aside from steadying my mood, having my music blaring during this entire process helps me focus and block out more external stimuli and interruptions. And since someone talking to me makes it impossible for me to think because I then have to concentrate so hard on what they’re saying, if the sight of my headphones deters any would be conversations than that’s a huge bonus. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be unfriendly, I’m just overloaded and on a mission and it’s not like if someone did try to talk to me I’d ignore them or be rude, because I won’t.
It’s kind of sad how much energy and prep goes into taking a trip to the store for me. My mom is the same way because of her pain. It’s just like Christine Miserandino’s “Spoon Theory” describes. Doing things when you have a chronic condition or illness of any kind takes so much more out of you then it ever would for other people. When you’re chronically ill you lose one of life’s best luxuries; the ability to just do, instead of think. Just do. have a shower without fearing one of my ribs will dislocate while I’m washing my hair, just give someone a hug without lecturing them on not squeezing me too hard first, run up the stairs without thinking about keeping my heart rate as low as possible, lift a bag without wondering if it’s under 20 pounds. I could continue on with this forever.
“…the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.” – The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino