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I have been quiet for a while, immersing myself in keeping the household running, and everyone on an even keel while they sit exams. We are about half way through now and so far no one has missed breakfast, and no one has run screaming out of an exam hall. So that’s a success in my book.

Most of my (at home) job is reactive at the moment: I sit around being available for the next person who needs help with revision, or to go on a walk, or just to be distracted for a bit. We have watched lots of films (Julie) and documentaries (Duncan) and a lot of very silly sitcoms (everyone). I have explained calculus in words of one syllable, learnt the German word for mobile phone and copied out quotes from Lord of the Flies.

Meanwhile I have been having a battery of medical tests. How can so many tests involve fasting? It is cruel and unnatural. But the results of these tests are that I am in rude good health. Any pain I experience now is either imaginary or cannot be explained by current medical science. How charming to be told that lots of women of my age report similar pain – no hurry to try and find out what the problem is then. But the main thing is, I’m not going to die from it.

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Still waiting for the results of my thyroid biopsy: I’m in a state of limbo. When the long awaited letter finally arrived, it gave no results, just invited me back to talk about them. This last week waiting for that return visit to the clinic is proving the hardest wait of all. I am very impatient. Everything is on hold: social engagements, holiday plans, work commitments.

It could still be positive or negative. The one good thing about a positive would be that it makes a better storyline. If you can say you have cancer, at least people will believe you when you say you feel pain. If it’s negative and there’s still no name for your pain, people don’t always believe you. We’re very simple animals at heart: we still like to see physical evidence, glowing brightly on a screen, or a number on a chart.

If you’re mentally ill, you don’t usually have the benefit of physical evidence. People don’t necessarily believe that you’re suffering: you may have to go to extreme lengths to persuade them that your illness is real.

Perhaps this is why some people place such emphasis on the cause of mental illness. It’s not that uncommon to find books or websites that assert that all mental illness is caused by trauma, often child abuse. Perhaps they don’t think the illness is real unless it can be traced back to some real external event.

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