Author Kate Riordan had two miscarriages which then brought on severe health anxiety. Here she describes how she got through the storm
This time last year I was keeping a diary, the writing small and meticulously neat. In it, I recorded everything that happened each day. Not in the outside world but to me, inside my own body. It was the only thing that seemed important enough to set down. “Lots of muscle spasms today,” I wrote on 20 February, pen pressed hard to the page. “Aches and twinges on my right side, getting more acute in the evening. Left leg still weak.” At the back of the diary were lists: girls’ names, US states, English counties – all written out alphabetically. While my days were spent obsessively monitoring my physical symptoms, the lists were getting me through the silent winter nights. Putting my brain to work on “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas…” was a diversion tactic to stave off the worst of the panic.
It was two miscarriages and their medical investigations that turned my mind inward until I could do nothing but mentally scan my body, looking for trouble. I was told I had endometriosis and an underactive thyroid, and this completely wrong-footed me. If my body had kept this from me, what else was it harbouring in its darkest corners? OK, I’d been watching a lot of Game of Thrones, but I felt like an unpopular queen in a court of traitors. My body had become a thing apart from me, capable of keeping secrets.