Doughnut distract me





Ah, the future. Once so promising, now so… so nothing. Just an abyss, really. Nothing to see here, people! Move along and leave me alone in the dark!

By way of disclosure, I’ve recently been diagnosed with several traits of Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m lucky enough not to have the whole shebang, but it still makes a breakup absolute hell on earth. Not only does my future seem to be erased, my whole sense of self seems to be demolished. Some days, I’m not sure I’m even a person.

So many temptations: maybe if I can find the right words, and say them, my beloved will realise he loves me too and come back! Maybe he’ll forgive me my millions of flaws and agree to give things another chance. Maybe he’ll realise I’m not the devil, I’m just a woman struggling to recover from mental health problems (and by most accounts, doing fairly well).

Or, maybe, just maybe, trying to talk to him will only make him feel suffocated and annoyed, and he’ll run even faster, and I’ll be left feeling even more rubbish about myself than I feel now.

With all that in mind, I’ve made a list of possible distractions from the Why Can’t He Love Me and Come Back? problem.

Devote myself to career

  • Pros: job satisfaction, confidence boost, socialisation with colleagues, money-making.
  • Cons: No career to devote myself to. Jobs of the type I used to work are no longer suitable due to my stiff, arthritic fumble-fingers. I’m capable of neither physical work nor sitting still at a desk.


  • Pros: improve health, lose weight, fit into more of my clothes.
  • Cons: it hurts to move, I only have one pair of shoes that fit my orthotics (and they’re broken), and I’m too exhausted anyway.

Get a hobby

  • Pros: everyone loves a hobby. Want to meet someone special? Sound more interesting on paper? Get out of the house and avoid your cat’s death stares? Get a hobby!
  • Cons: none, except I already have hobbies, I just can’t do them. (See lack of money, mobility and finger dexterity.)

Go out with friends

  • Pros: support, fun. Hurray and so on and so forth.
  • Cons: I’ve only told one friend about the breakup. She lives on the other side of the world. Also, I’m extremely introverted. I dread company until I have it.

Watch another costume drama

  • Pros: excellent suggestion!
  • Cons: I’m not sure there are any I haven’t already seen multiple times.

Join a cult

  • Pros: painful thoughts will be replaced by Cult Think. No fears of the unknown when future = cult. Uncertainty banished by all pervading “Cult is Best and Always Right” thoughts. Automatic social circle. Depending on cult, home possibly provided: no more stress about rent/housing crisis.
  • Cons: Children may not like cult. I may not like cult. Cults are creepy at best and take a dim view of members leaving.

Drown sorrows in doughnuts

  • BINGO!!


Two is long After Eight

After Eight chocolates left in box: zero.

After Eight papers eaten by toddler son: unknown, but, judging by unusual nappy contents, more than zero.

Sleepiness level of son at 2:10 am: less than zero.

My wrists: feeling sprained.

Elbows and fingers: rusty.

Feet: bruised.

Rings on Gielgud: zero. Just a mark left by the engagement ring I had to have cut off because of Gielgud’s changing shape.

Fiancé: gone.

State of mind: in sync with Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Watching while my son waves at Tess, laughs at cows and sticks a pencil through the teat of his bottle.

Questions watching Tess of the D’Urbervilles: How could Newt Scamander be so cruel?!

Gielgud honks hello


Gielgud the swan: my fingers like his style

Gielgud was the first to go: left hand, ring finger. Sudden pain at the base of my fingers at 3.00 or 4.00 a.m. and then, thanks to the nightlight, I saw that my finger had changed shape.

Normal finger to swan neck, just like that. Shock and tears and my lovely fiancé holding me tight.

Two more fingers on the same hand followed, almost immediately. They weren’t as bad, but they certainly weren’t straight.

Oh, God, oh, God, I thought. It’s begun. My fingers are deforming.

To my fiancé, I said: “I’m sorry for crying.”

“I’d cry, too, if my fingers did that,” he said, and held me tighter.


The pain started some months earlier, late in my pregnancy with my second child. I woke in the night with severe pain in both my hands. Sleep-baffled, I assumed I must have been lying on them, gave them a wriggle, and fell back into exhausted sleep.

The next night, I woke with pain in my hands again. This time, I knew I hadn’t slept on them: something odd was happening.

When I next saw my midwife for a checkup, I complained about the night pains, and also noted my swollen hands and feet, my stiff and sausage-like fingers and toes.

“Carpal tunnel,” she said of the pain, “very common in pregnancy.” And, since my blood pressure was fine, I was told not to worry.

Some months after my son was born, when the pain and stiffness in my hands and feet  (including my ankles, wrists, fingers and toes) had spread to my knees, elbows, shoulders and the base of my neck, I finally persuaded my doctor to refer me to a rheumatologist.

“That wasn’t carpal tunnel,” the rheumatologist said. “That sounds like inflammatory arthritis.”


The tricky part was – and still is – getting the right diagnosis. Initially, the suspect was seronegative rheumatoid arthritis.

“Classical presentation,” said one rheumatologist.

“That’s what it looks like,” said another, “although there’s a lot more ligament and tendon involvement than we’d expect, so we’ll need to look at whether there might be anything else going on there.”

It’s the ligament and tendon issue that’s seen my fingers deform, and two of my toes collapse. I have finger splints (useless) and orthotics (saviours).

I have rheumatologists with conflicting opinions, and no care plan as a result.

I am, explained a professor, one of those people whose diagnosis will be difficult. I will have to be patient.


I named my ring finger Gielgud, after the violent swan in Sue Townsend’s hilarious Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction.

On bad days, when I’m struggling to pick up a pen or type, or when I’m thinking of the knitting and crochet I can’t finish for my small son, I imagine my  fingers honking and flapping with rage. Gielgud and his gang, eyes blazing, beaks sharp.

Think of all the power in my hands! After all, to quote so many of Sue Townsend’s characters, “A swan can break a man’s arm, you know!”