eye tent bed
light smile
ground home_
_about me

_mouse timebomb
(tic) (tic) (tic) (tic)
I'm naturally tense. I'm tense around other people.
When anyone shows up, I wind up like a clockspring.
I like people. I want people to like me.
People wind me up.

(tic) (tic) (tic) (tic)
I work in a crowded office.
I do what I'm good at. I work hard.
I want them all to see.
They see. They take advantage.

(tic) (tic) (tic) (tic)
I'm making a raincoat for the winter.
Heavy rubber, shiny gunmetal grey.
I seal all the seams watertight with glue.
Watertight against the Northern weather, I'm protected.

(tic) (tic) (tic) (tic)
My right shoulder is a rock-hard knot.
I'm loosing control of my right hand.
It never happened before I took this job.

(tic) (tic) (tic) (tic)
One day I leave the office in tears.
When I ride my bike home I can't look over my right shoulder.
It's frozen.

(tic) (tic) (tic) (tic)
If I don't stop now, it's just going to get worse.
I know that, don't I? So I pretend nothing's wrong.

(tic) (tic) (tic) (tic)
I've just finished painting the ceiling. My apartment looks great.
I lie on my back on the floor. I'm no stranger to pain.

It's all over now, girl. You can't work, you can hardly move without pain. All you can do is rest and try and make it better. And when you cut through all the myth-making and speculation by people who think you're "making it up" you can see that this is nothing new. You can call it RSI. You can call it mousearm. You can call it stress overwork hysteria bad posture burnout writer's cramp whatever you please, but you can be sure you'll have to find ways to deal with it before you can work again.

This is going to take time. It could be with you for the rest of your life. You have no choice but to accept it, accommodate it, work it into your lifestyle. That's tough when you don't believe you're really ill. But without work you have nothing but time: yawning wide-open empty tracts of it. Nothing else between you and mortality.

Consider this: If the disease follows a pattern, can you find that pattern in your body? Your history? Your nature? To put an end to it, you look inside yourself. You've broken yourself with work, now fix yourself with -

with what?

Your body isn't strong enough. You can't defy gravity every day hour minute because sooner or later something will give. There is no smoking gun, no easy explanation; instead, you'll find a trail of damage leading back to the source. How many times have you been told that "it follows a personality profile", as though it were somehow your fault? Hard workers. Driven people. Never the lazy ones. Damn that Protestant work-ethic.

Now you are your own physician. The others can look, they can advise, and if they're any good, they might even be right once in a while. Only you can follow that trail, and it is up to you to do so. You can recover, but not until you've discovered your cure.

Exercise in the morning, tai-chi in the afternoon. Therapy twice a week. All these things seem to help. Learn how to relax and try not to worry about the future. Avoid stress. Cultivate boredom. The people around you are always busy and you are no longer part of their world. They joke about the nice holiday you're having, secretly believing you're swinging the lead. Your illness is invisible, therefore it does not exist.

I'm standing on the bridge, wearing the coat I made in happier times. People still admire it, even now it's beginning to fall apart. Now I can't sew, I can't draw, I can't even write. I've lost the thing that meant the most to me. I can't create. There's nothing left now. It's over. The water invites me, cold, glossy and endlessly dark.

He talks me down gently. It's been difficult for him as well, being the butt for all my frustrations. I should learn to be less selfish. It isn't the end of the world.