Gnat Bites and Button Thieves

I had this whole post planned about how I’m finding it harder and harder to be philosophical about the shit life throws at people. How, if Stoicism is that handy thing for a writer to shrug on when needed, like a winter coat when the rain starts, then someone’s sneaked up on me and nicked the buttons.280e7b5be45ca394102ee2f0b8f6f070

Mostly I’ve been reflecting on how a (slight) bodily infirmity can screw with you Big Time. For most of this year, I’ve been feeling tired. Not just a little bit tired, but sleeping away the entire afternoon tired, fuck-do-I-have-chronic-fatigue tired. Achey. Old. Down at the mouth a bit. It was exacerbated in early June by the Chest Infection From Hell (©) and that walloped me like a runaway train. Mowed me down. I was downright shaky on the old pins at times.

Nothing serious! All this is, apparently, is Vitamin D deficiency. Otherwise I am your proverbial horse when it comes to bodily health. Take a pill a day for a year and you’ll be fine, quoth the GP. Except I am still tired and achey and I have a headache and tinnitus so bad the entire world resonates along with it. And the publisher I sent Gilded Scarab to still hasn’t responded, six weeks later.

And there it is! The point where my philosophy started deserting me.

I have less resilience than I used to. I’m finding it harder to shrug and say “Hey, they say it takes up to eight weeks and you still have two to go. Stop blethering, you idiot, stiffen up that lip and wait.” I can’t say that, because whoever it was nicked my coat buttons, is also whispering in my ear: “Huh. If they liked it they’d have got back to you by now. It wouldn’t still be at the back of the queue. It’s shite, you’re shite and why don’t you turn off the PC, sew on a couple of buttons and then take a nice nap?”

You know, it takes a real effort to turn on the button-thief, stare him in the eye, ignore his soft-voiced I told you so!s and respond with the deeply philosophical argument of a resounding “Fuck you!”

God knows, compared to some of my writer friends, I have it easy—you know who you are and that I wish to god my superpower was the ability to reach through the PC monitor and smoosh you, because you are great and you deserve nothing but love and happiness.

I am LUCKY. I don’t get silenced, I’m not oppressed, I am (in material terms) comfortably off with an assured income and no debt. Hell, that’s so lucky compared to those of you who struggle, and I’m not even going places where  poverty, want and war cause real misery and suffering and death. I’m fucking lucky. I know it. But today this is me complaining about little itsy bitsy gnat bites of unhappiness, of things that attack us when we’re at our most vulnerable, who come and steal the whole damn coat and then spit out the buttons at us over their shoulders, derisively, as they dance all over us.

adult_fungus_gnatIt’s hard to be cheerful all the time. It’s damned hard to be hopeful all the time. It’s even worse when you know the gnat bites are as nothing compared to the shit that happens all around you and you are being a selfish, self-absorbed twat who deserves a genteel kick up the arse.

But this is my new philosophy. I acknowledge that they’re gnat bites. But if I deny myself the gnat bites because of being sooooo far down in the competition line of misery, I’m allowing myself to be silenced. That’s not healthy. So, instead, I’m giving myself the two minutes it takes to read this sorry-for-itself, whinge-fest of a post to wallow in the misery of the gnat bites, and then I’m turning on the button-thief with that very loud dismissal.

Fuck you!

And yes, I do feel better. Thank you for asking.

Mind you, waiting is still pretty hard. I do wish the publisher would hurry up!



  1. Be careful with deficiencies like that. My dad is finally coming home after his various problems that started ages ago. He had a serious electrolyte imbalance because his body wasn’t absorbing the calcium & vitamin D that he takes on a daily basis.

    On the writing front, I can understand the frustration. I loathe waiting. And while I have never had a gnat bite, I have had frequent mosquito bites, one deer fly bite (they *hurt*!), and several fire ant bites. *And* I have had tinnitus as long as I can remember. It’s gotten worse with age & exposure to loud sounds, but it’s usually bearable.

    I don’t have any advice, other than try sleeping with a fan if the tinnitus gets too bad. Or I also use silly sitcoms; when there are voices, my brain will listen to them rather than zeroing in on the high-pitched feedback in my ears.

    And maybe some calamine lotion for the gnat bites. 😉 Figurative calamine lotion, in the form of Guylian pralines or something. *looks innocent*


    • It’s taking longer than I anticipated for the supplements to kick in and actually work. I suppose that if it takes weeks for your body to degrade from lack of essentials like that, it can take weeks for it to recover, too. I’d just love to get through a day where ordinary life wasn’t wearing me out. I did the ironing this morning – followed by two hours napping to recover. That’s just depressing.

      The tinnitus has become the norm this year. Not before then, but certainly all of this year. Nothing to be done about it and normally I can ignore it.

      The Guylians are a **great** idea. I may get D to bring some home with him…



  2. Make sure you keep the high potency Vitamin D out of Molly’s reach. One capsule can kill a pet! Now that I’ve given my obligatory warning, I’m going to tell you something that was said to me when I was whining about the gnat bites in my life compared to the catastrophic bullet wounds in the lives of others around me. A very good friend once said to me that a penny, held close to your eye, has the ability to block out the entire moon. Not because the penny is larger than the moon, but because the penny is closer to you. Your problems are real, and they matter to you because they are close to you. They aren’t invalidated because you aren’t a starving girl-child in Afghanistan (my sort of marker for ‘how bad is it? You aren’t a starving female in a third world country, are you?’)

    I hear you with the lack of resilience. I used to be a lot tougher than I am now. It takes me longer to recover from things, and I don’t deal as well with the things I’ve been battling for years. Your defenses get worn down, particularly when you’ve been as ill as you have. So cut yourself some slack. I have faith in you AND in Gilded Scarab. It’s an awesome book and any publisher would be delighted to have it. You’ll see. ❤


    • I will absolutely keep them from Molly – thank you for the warning!

      Your friend is absolutely right. Perspective is everything, isn’t it? And while my gnats are so small as to be almost invisible, denying that they bite would be foolish. Especially, as you say, when my physical resources aren’t what they used to be. I am most concerned that the chronic fatigue doesn’t appear to be letting up, to be honest. It’s ludicrous that exertion = several hours of recovery, even when the exertion is as mild as doing the ironing. It’s silly and I’m tired of it.

      As for Scarab…. well, I feel it’s the best thing I’ve written. I think Rafe is delightful and Ned is beautiful and sweet, and I have so much of me invested in them both that the waiting is becoming intolerable. It may still be unread in some editor’s inbox. It may have already been tossed aside while an admin sorts out the bugger-off-we-don’t-want-it letter. It’s not knowing that’s hard to take. And I can’t shake the feeling that the longer it takes to get an answer, the less enthusiastic the publisher is about it. Irrational, I know, but there you are. That’s the biggest button at the moment.

      Hugs you. Your support means so much to me.


      • Hah. I can tell you that your paranoid feelings about the lack of information are exactly the same things I tell myself every time I submit a story and it takes months to get an answer. But you are right, Gilded Scarab IS the best thing you’ve written to date and better than ANYTHING I’ve written. The publisher will be utterly delighted and enchanted, as I was. 🙂


  3. When I was diagnosed with Vit D deficiency last fall, my doctor told me that it was becoming more and more common as people spend more time indoors. Rickets is making a come-back in children, too. He said he was starting to tell his patients to get outside more and wait fifteen minutes or so before putting on sunscreen or covering up.


    • The GP said the same thing to me: this is an increasing problem as we’re more and more an indoors species!. I’m out every day with the dog, though, and have an hour in the park each morning. Given our recent blast of hot weather, I should be getting *some* benefit!

      Was it long before your treatment kicked in? I’m about a month in now and not noticing any material improvement. I may need to go back and see if there’s more they can do.


      • Honestly, I’m really bad about taking medicine, so I didn’t see much benefit to the high dosage pills. I’ve started spending several hours every week outside without sunscreen — sunbathing by the pool, outdoor yoga, walking the dog, etc. — and eating more oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, etc.), eggs and mushrooms. They’re all good sources of Vit. D. With the change in diet and sun exposure since last fall, I’ve found that I have a lot more energy and fewer aches, so it’s doing something. I haven’t had a blood draw since, though, so I can’t tell you my levels. My deficiency may not have been as severe as what you were experiencing.


  4. Firstly and most importantly, I *do* hope you’re feeling better by now. *hugs* Secondly, reading this post this morning was very timely – my reason for being so behindhand in my reading is due to gnat bite annoyances and I had this very conversation with myself yesterday when I began to feel down about it. Yes, I’m phenomenally fortunate on many, many levels. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get fed up sometimes about other things. You’ve beautifully articulated my somewhat less structured thinking on the matter. Thank you. 🙂


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