It Didn’t All Suck.
If you’ve been following this blog, you might have learned how/why it came about (if not, go to –> menu –> TheraPaint Is… to find out). You might have picked up on some of the events that have taken place throughout 2017.
My psychotherapist has been helping me to remember that it didn’t all suck. I knew that when January 20th came back around, I would feel overcome with lots of weird things. She and I prepared the board that I’ve posted below to reference different parts of the year rather than focusing on the big bad part. This board has been pinned up in my room for about a month now. I’ve placed it in a spot that I know I could see it as soon as I wake up and gaze into as I fall asleep. I’ve spent hours just staring at this collage.
As we were going over the events of each month, my therapist asked me to find the positive in each one. January destroyed so much of me. What was the positive in that? How could she expect me to find the good in this very bad thing? Nevertheless, she kept encouraging me to find that good part. As I was drowning in my own pity party I realized something; the fact that I could even talk with someone about this means that I wasn’t completely defeated; I SURVIVED.
Yes, this whole thing bleeping sucks but I still won something in the end…I lived while most don’t. This is something I try to constantly repeat to my ungrateful self. I call myself ungrateful because I still fail at accepting my situation. Maybe that’s because I don’t really understand what my situation is quite yet. One year sounds like a long time to figure your stuff out…but I’m even more confused now than I was on day 1 of this detour. One entire year later is when I finally learned more about my conditions. For so long, I was ignorant and I couldn’t understand what was happening. Now that I’m able to acknowledge what my body is dealing with, it is somewhat of a relief because my therapists and doctors can help me figure out the proper way to treat this. I’ve been pushing myself harder and further to “speed up” the healing process which made things worse because, in reality, there is no speeding this up. I now know that this isn’t going away. But, I do believe I will get stronger in due time. I’m too stubborn to quit trying. I now understand how to manage this better and it will be something that I will continue to learn.
This is slow and painful and I know that. But the hardest part is seeing other people do the things I miss doing. I miss having fun, going out, and being carefree – without needing a wheelchair or walking sticks – without people staring at me like I’m a martian with an antennae and three eyes – without missing out on concerts because sitting for too long sends debilitating pain down my legs – without being dependent on someone else to drive me – without needing someone to carry my things when my hands can’t grip or my arms can’t handle the pressure of air itself.
I know I’m rambling and I know I sound ungrateful. That’s why I called myself out earlier. I know I’m still angry and bitter and sad and scared. Believe me, I’m trying to change those things. It’s hard.
It’s those times that I have to remind myself of the beginning…the fact that I can use walking sticks is an improvement.
There were times where I couldn’t walk myself from my bed to my own bathroom (about 10 feet away).
There were times where I couldn’t feed myself because a fork was too heavy to lift.
There were times where I couldn’t brush my own hair because my arms were too weak (granted my hair can become a wild mess).
There were times where I couldn’t make it down the stairs.
There were times where I would scream in pain throughout the night.
There were times where I could barely sit in a car for more than 15 minutes.
There were times where I couldn’t grip a pen or hold a book or type at all.
There still are many things I can’t do – vacuum, drive, walk much, keep my balance, type continuously, sit for long, etc.
BUT there are things I am building a tolerance towards…
I am able to sit in a wheelchair comfortably enough to go to a museum or go to the mall.
I am able to work through my hair a bit better – I did try to be fancy and braid my hair…my hands were not happy with me for days. So, no more fancy-schmancy stuff for now.
I am able to type in increments (FYI google docs allows you to talk to type!)
I am able to walk up and down the stairs on my own.
I know that this “able” list will get longer and I know that I will not only tolerate doing this these things, but I believe that I will master these things again one day.
I have learned so much of myself and others that I couldn’t imagine figuring out in such a short time. I’ve learned that God gave me an angel in the form of significant other. Significant could not be emphasized more in this case…he has helped me in ways I never thought I would need help. Those times I mentioned above about not being able to walk – he was there to hold me up and help me get there. He didn’t judge me as I have sometimes had to crawl up the stairs on my hands and knees. He doesn’t rush me when it’s negative xx degrees outside and I am walking like a 90-year-old woman, slowing both of us down. He doesn’t make me feel ugly for only washing my hair every 8 days or so. He holds my purse with no shame when I can’t. He carries my backpack along with his own (with laptops that are ridiculously heavy). He misses out on fun because I can’t handle going/staying out. He drives me just about any and everywhere my heart desires. I have always aimed to be independent and to never “need” anyone. It was hard for me to learn to need help and to accept it, let alone ask for it. He allows me to need him and for me to not be ashamed of it. The best part – he has never made me feel like a burden and he has yet to give up on me.
I’ve learned who my real friends are. You see people fade away very quickly when you can no longer do certain things. I’ve seen best friends become strangers. And that’s okay because I’ve seen the one(s) stick around during this trial – the one who didn’t disappear because our friendship wasn’t convenient anymore. The one who would drive 45 minutes each time and then drive us another hour away just to go on our little adventures. The one who never ever made my limitations an issue or a disturbance to our friendship. The one I can rely on when I want a good time or even when I need help. I’ve learned what a true friend means – it’s unconditional love even when things change – and guess what…life always changes! It’s giving your time and effort even when it’s not easy. Major shout out to my homegirl Koko <3.
I’ve learned that I have relatives that may be across the country but are still there for me when I’m in need. My sweet cousin Maryam has spent her time on the phone with me – praying with me – reading to me to help me fall asleep when I was in too much pain to relax, sending me information on whatever she could find that would uplift me. My cousins Eva and Tamara, praying with me and finding links for sermons I could listen to that will encourage me to keep going. My aunty Oda – spending time with me while visiting…picking me up from physical therapy, calling me to check in. My beautiful family, these are things I will never forget.
I’ve learned that my parents are absolute freaks of nature – they never stop trying. They never stop loving. No matter how mean I become or how destroyed I feel…they always find a way to help me get through it (even if it means surrounding me with three amazing pups). I’ve learned that my brother can talk me out of my anxiety attacks…that he can calm my nerves by reminding me to breathe it out. He answers my calls whether they are in the mid-afternoon or in the middle of the night…he’s got my back.
I’ve learned that I have to be my own advocate every day. No one knows how to help you better than you can help yourself. Even those who are paid to do it. I’ve learned to be my own insurance adjuster, my own trainer, my own therapist, my own caseworker and even my own lawyer at times. I’ve learned to stand up for myself and to make sure I am taking care of myself in every way I can.
I’ve learned to say NO. My life was a busy and productive one. That has slowed down tremendously. Maybe one day it will pick back up…for now, I have to say no to many things and that’s okay. I’ve learned that mental and physical health comes first and that I have to decide what is best for me. Don’t let a negative impact remind you of this…say no when you’re tired or need time for yourself. Take care of yourself because no one else can do it better. Trust me in this.
So, as you can see…I’ve learned a lot.
I’ve learned how to survive the scariest and hardest parts that life has thrown at me.
I still have a lot left to learn. I’m surviving but I want to do more – I want to thrive! And hopefully, soon I will…
But, It Didn’t All Suck.