Cabin Fever

Not many people would say what I’m about to. I have psychological problems. There, it’s out there. I don’t mean I’m a knife wielding maniac, or that I hear voices in my head and there is no current danger of me turning naked cartwheels down the street whooping like daffy duck, but I‘m certainly not acting like my old self. Thing is, I am suffering from what used to be known as cabin fever and below is the Wikipedia definition of the condition:

Cabin fever (also known as House Syndrome) is an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in, in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period (as in a simple country vacation cottage during a long rain or snow). Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, irrational frustration with everyday objects, forgetfulness, laughter, and excessive sleeping, distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the (less miserable) rain, snow or dark.

Round the world lone sailors suffer these effects and they can even include hallucinating and talking to imaginary people, which is something you would expect to see only in the clinically insane. I’m not, however, hallucinating and although I do mutter out loud quite a lot these days, I definitely don’t talk to imaginary people. Yes you do. No I don’t. Do. Don’t.

For a number of reasons, which I will probably spill my guts on at a later date because that’s what I seem to do these days, I am on my own practically all of the time. My life has shrunk over the years until these ever decreasing circles turned, three years ago, into a work and social full stop. Perhaps proving that I have become a little obsessive, three years is a total of 26,280 hours, or 1,576,800 minutes. Out of those 26,280 hours, I would estimate I have been completely alone for 98% of them and of the symptoms described by Wikipedia, I am indeed irritable, irrational at times (shouting at my computer for example when it goes wrong as though losing my temper is going to make any damn difference whatsoever) and very forgetful.

And very forgetful, or did I already say that?

My emotions are all on the surface and magnified in an extremely unreasonable way. If I feel sad, it is a deep gut-wrenching sadness – a feeling of doom – minor worries nag me into a stew that is out of all proportion and small irritations fill me with unreasonable rage. I don’t think I distrust everyone, but I certainly have a much more suspicious nature when it comes to other people’s motives.

One of the symptoms not mentioned in the brief description above, is that because when you live in solitude you have little input from the world, your brain takes whatever small clues it sees and extrapolates them into an entire story – a story that may be completely inaccurate, but without more information, becomes your reality. With little or no contact, you also think other people’s thoughts for them and if those thoughts are critical of you, blame that person for having them and hurting your feelings, when in reality you have no real idea what they think of you. That’s if they are even thinking about you at all, which they probably aren’t.

Being the centre of a very small universe tends to make you egocentric. I don’t mean in the sense of having a big ego, but in seeing everything that happens as affecting you directly. Using logic, I know people have more to think and worry about than what I may or may not be doing, but the slightly mad part of my brain doesn’t see it that way. I know these feelings are not really my own, or at least are completely out of whack, but that doesn’t mean I have any more control over them.

I’m sure it has been noticed my tendency to rip into folks on here that I disagree with and I realise that my responses are often neither appropriate nor measured. It seems quite normal to me at the time, but when I reflect on it later, it will be with a groan at my loss of control and quite a lot of shame.

The old adage, you need to get out more mate, has never been so accurate. As described, I do feel a need to get out of my flat at night whatever the weather, even if only to wander the streets, attempting to escape from my own thoughts and truth be told, from myself. However, the streets aren’t safe and having already been mugged twice, the second time being kicked unconscious and left in a pool of blood, even the poor option of wandering the streets has been taken from me and so I feel doubly trapped, which in turn worsens the heightening of my emotions and sense of isolation.

So if you have read some of the more aggressive things I say and have figured I was a bit of a loony, you were right, I am!

I have always been very open with my thoughts and feelings, but I think that has been taken to a degree that is a bit beyond a joke. And does knowing why I’m acting the way I am mean I will be able to shrug it off and become “normal” again? Sad to say that unless my circumstances change, it looks unlikely. I may know the cause of my problems, but illogical thinking is a very tangled maze that’s not easy to find the way out of. On the odd occasions I do meet up with other people, I’m pretty much my old self in a flash, so this cabin fever is by no means incurable and it’s effects dissipate from the moment the cabin has been left behind.

If I do or have upset you dear reader at any time, I apologise, but at least you now know why. Beneath the twisted thinking, I’m still a decent guy with a good heart and if you say otherwise, I’ll rip you’re bloody head off!

So, adding in my problems with depression and anxiety and reaching for the bottle rather too often, I can only end by LOL in a slightly crazed manner…

And I don’t talk to imaginary people.

Yes you do.


About tonyjayg

I'm a great bloke. That's all you need to know. ;)
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6 Responses to Cabin Fever

  1. And the fact that you have so many friends proves that they (me included) can tell that you are a thoroughly decent guy with a good heart. I can understand the cabin fever; I was virtually housebound for seven years and unable to escape under my own steam at all, and here I am back in that situation. That’s why interacting with others, even over the internet, can make such a difference. It just keeps you in contact with the outside world, albeit via a virtual one. I was fortunate in that I wasn’t alone at the time, but I have been alone and unable to get out because I had nowhere to go and no money to go with. It’s not easy. Distraction is the only thing that works for me – in my case, it’s games and puzzles that help the most, and listening to Radio 4 (yes, I’m getting older! LOL). It’s easy to become obsessive when you can’t share your immediate thoughts with another human being and get it out of your system in that way. More of us understand than you may realise. That good heart of yours needs to open up more to your own self, you know!

    • tonyjayg says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your troubles Yvonne. It is keeping in touch with people on here that keeps me sane (ish). Got a feeling I really would go mad without it. I’m enjoying the scrabble games myself. You’re a tough opponent. 🙂

  2. Tony, that was so sad! But as always loved reading it, I really wish I could do more for you and if you lived closer to me I would get on your nerves popping around every 5 mins bringing you stuff. Can you not ask the council to move you to a better area for health reasons? You are so entertaining with your writing and my imagination always gets carried away. I even know what your flat looks like, inside my head! xxxxxxxxxx

  3. ChasC says:

    When my first wife fucked off and I was forced to move 50 miles down the road at the same time, I realized that if I fell down the stairs on Friday night and broke my neck no-one would notice apart from the dog! I’d probably lie there until Wednesday before anybody wondered where I was.

    I joined a few things and went out to places I really didn’t fancy at all and forced myself to talk to people. I also found CB/ham radio a great benefit ‘cos I had people to listen to and to talk to complete strangers!! Wow.

    Now I find that as I have retired, my wife and I see very little of people outside of organised events and meetings. The younger generation all think we’re cunts. The neighbours have their own lives. The few friends we have we have met on holidays and all live hundreds of miles away but at least we chat over the phone.

    In modern times, people are increasingly isolated. We have much less physical contact and rely on e-mail, texting, blogging and the rest of it for social ‘contact’

    As I said in one of my songs recently ‘I’ve got 10,000 friends on Facebook alone, so how do they work out that I’m on my own?’ so ‘What does it matter if your friends aren’t real?’

    It’s not just you that feels isolated, he says slagging off lack of physical contact by using a non-physical means of contact!!! We’re all isolated these days.

    • tonyjayg says:

      I think you’re dead right Chas. Apparently there are now more single people living in London than married couples. All of my old community are gone, died or moved away or just not going out anymore due to pubs being too expensive now and the fear of going home in the dark. All who have gone have been replaced by immigrants and they just stick to their own communities. The conversations I overhear nowadays are all in foreign languages. As for falling over and breaking my neck, I would lay here until someone decided to investigate where the stench of rot was coming from. I haven’t spoken to a soul in months and if it wasn’t for my contact with facebook friends, I think I would have gone completely round the twist long ago.

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