0725/7th November 2023

Yesterday when I launched my post, I noticed a slight lift of the weight that had seemed to be suffocating me these past days.

Distraction is no doubt the best way of dealing with stress and maybe it had helped. One has to move on.

What other choice is there?


It was getting late, so I went to the kitchen, thinking about feeding the dear little darlings.

On the counter was the elevated set of bowls we bought for Toby so very recently, hoping it would help him.

Catching sight of it was like a hard slap in the face.

As a kid I never cried. English children didn’t. It was a sign of weakness and to be discouraged!


Scraped knees and broken toys were soon forgotten.

It was separation from my mother that embedded itself deep in my heart and soul.

Thousands of children go to boarding school and don’t grow up to be emotionally damaged.


It was not so much the separation that pained me as the fact that it was unacknowledged.

My time at those early boarding schools was stressful. I realise now that being ostracised is traumatising for a child, and my parents did not even listen to my story, far less address it.

Separation anxiety has always been with me, perhaps a result of my mother’s six-week absence when I was only months old.


Mum told me once, why I don’t know, that after two weeks of breastfeeding me, she decided I must immediately adapt to a bottle.

One supposes that very young children forget and I am quite certain this is not true.


Separation anxiety such as I have is debilitating. It makes me appear mentally unstable which is why I have sought to understand from whence it originated.

It is certainly why I feel so deeply the loss of beloved pets.

Sadness is inevitable, but these losses reawaken the deeply imbedded pain of all those long-ago separations.

When you have identified the origin of mental problems, I used to think one was released from their grasp.


It is a start, but in my case I needed something more. Only it wasn’t something I had control over.

What I needed was for those who knew me to acknowledge the circumstances that turned me into a seemingly-neurotic person.

Accepting in good humour, names that were given me was all very well, but no-one seemed interested in what made me “The Grump”, for example.


Anyway, I had another meltdown last night and what I intended to say about that was that it is better to let it happen, cry the tears, feel the pain.

Because if you don’t, eventually you will choke on it.

Grant fortunately understands completely. We prop each other up as the waves of sadness come, striking us at different moments.

It is amazing to me that the mere sight of an inanimate object can provoke such a strong reaction.

“Don’t give it power over you!” I hear.

Yes, well, I am still learning how not to do that.


There’s emotional pain, physical pain and then there is itching. Given the choice, I would always opt for pain over itching.

Itching may be resolved with a good scratch but this leads to more severe itching and tissue damage.

Chickenpox, measles, my generation will all remember those childhood treats.


Cambodian mosquitoes were an additional delight of my childhood.

My legs were particularly tasty it seemed and I scratched till they bled.

As a defense against scratching at night, my legs were bound up in gauze but the wounds became infected, which made them sore as well as itchy.


The sores had to be anointed with iodine which stung and soon I got fed-up with this and made a fuss.

Mum knew how to handle a fussy child. She prevailed upon an American friend to dress my legs, knowing I would behave well for him.

It was a fairly miserable situation that was mercifully relieved when we took a brief trip to the sea.


Salt water cured the infected bites.

Instead, I acquired a severe sunburn but that soon healed. Somehow after that, I was not as much bothered by mosquitoes, at least not in Cambodia.

A whole variety of insects have bothered me ever since, however.


On the first warm day of any year, a selection of winged beasts descends on me, usually around the back of my neck which comes up in welts.

This Fall’s last bug found me.

One unseasonably warm day, a couple of weeks ago, idly brushing my bare arm I thought: “what’s this?”


A perishing tick.

It was removed and the mouth bits dug out.

It itched a bit but there was nothing else to do.

Yesterday, the itching became distracting. I am an expert on itching. When it’s really bad it can make you feel nauseated.


So eventually I went to the bathroom and ripped my sweater off to view the wretched thing.

“Oh my!”

It takes a bit to impress me, but the bite was flaming red, an inch in diameter and the surrounding tissue significantly puffed up.

I had felt vaguely off, yesterday morning, with a particular sort of headache, so came the thought:

Tick-bite fever?


Nah. It’s psychosomatic.

This morning I felt so crap I almost went to lie down, but instead took a dramamine tablet for nausea and a couple of some over-the-counter-thing-or-other.

Then I dished out cat lunches, had a cup of Milo and carried on, feeling revived.


When I had tick fever two years ago, I dismissed all the symptoms as being just a bad day and by the time I sought help I was seriously sick.

So I am paying attention and trying not to assume the worst. Serious itching is not necessarily significant.

For now, mercifully, it has stopped.

13 thoughts on “Psychosomatic

  1. After writing all about your problems, I do hope you will feel better tomorrow, Carolyn!

    Also, there are no insects during the winter.
    I like the bins display, although, I prefer the trees and the sky in your collection of photos.


  2. Meltdowns are OK, tears are OK, and they do help to take away the raw hurt. It’s surprising how just the smallest thought, sight, or action, can bring a surge of memory and pain, often long after the event. Love and hugs to you, as always. I do hope that the bite heals quickly and that there are no further ill effects.

  3. Oh My! So much going on in this post from infant trauma of abandonment and parental neglect and emotional denial. And then insect bites, then and now serving to bring it all to the surface yet again. May the latter be resolved tout suite. Attachment to others – including pets – can cause it all to come back to haunt us. All the best to you as always.

  4. I’m glad you allowed the tears to come out a little, Carolyn. But you must cry as and when you need to because that too is love and sometimes, love just cannot be held back in. It needs to come out, to have its roughness smoothed over by acknowledgement, tender-ed and respected. We’re all sorts of persons on the inside but never a weak one just because we grieve. I’m glad that you have Grant with you in this difficult time. And I’m glad he has you.

  5. I hope it is not tick fever. I am also one of those people who get bitten by anything that can bite. Only last week, despite the season, I had a large itchy bite on my head from something flying around that I didn’t see. I also have a skin condition that developed after retirement, Pityriasis Rosea. There is no cure, and when it flares up the itch is so bad I have been known to scratch my body with metal implements, and that makes it bleed.
    So I really understand, and my sympathy is from personal experience.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Pete, that is ghastly. When I was in my 20’s I was one night spontaneously covered with hives. Huge, itchy. all over my torso and on my face. I was on a training course at the time and it was most distracting. Eventually it was cleared by steroid injections and an allergist concocted a serum which I got regularly for months. But no cause was ever identified and whatever it was remains in my body, manifesting usually by a lump in a lip. It is surprising really that humanity is not afflicted with more such delights, given the mass migrations and climate change.

  6. I absolutely agree with you Carolyn – cry when you feel like it. It’s a way to express emotions (like saying them out loud to yourself or writing them down). Just keep an eye on that bite and if it gets worse it’s better to visit a doctor … but you know that.

  7. So sad to hear your story from your childhood πŸ˜’ I hope you start to feel better after telling how badly you have been treated when you were child. It is ok to cry! Take care 😍

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