I had no intention of taking a break from this blog between the Christmas season and the end of Easter. However, apparently it was necessary.
I’m not entirely sure how I managed to keep it up during Christmas, to be honest, but I did. Once we were through that season, however, I found myself utterly exhausted, and the season since has been one of slow and partial recovery.
I have, in the meantime, I have finally admitted that my anxiety had reached the point of requiring intervention and restarted medication, something I should have done at least six months before I did. And I learned that my chronic pain is the result of a neurological disorder known as fibromyalgia. This is somewhat discouraging considering my history with migraines. I have yet to find a pharmacological treatment that my body responds to well over any length of time. It seems likely that the increase of pain and fatigue that I have experienced since carrying my youngest child four years ago is, in fact, my new normal.
However, I have several things to be immensely grateful for.
- My husband is incredibly supportive and understanding and is raising our children to be so as well.
- Fibromyalgia is not degenerative. Rather than enduring increasing amounts of permanent damage to my body while attempting to nail down an autoimmune disease, the pain is just pain. I have not lost four years to the progression of a disease best managed with early intervention.
- Answers bring a release of stress and anxiety. While I still have a few troubling symptoms for which I hope to find diagnosis, a great deal of my anxiety over the unknown has been removed.
And so begins my journey of acceptance. I purchased a cane for days that fatigue or joint pain or dizziness make getting around more difficult. I’ve actually begun using it, and it does indeed help. I’ve released any last resistance to identifying as disabled. It’s a label I always struggled with over my migraines because, well, I was still functional. It’s the same reason I hesitated over the cane, really. Was I impaired enough for the label, for the aid. The answer is, of course, yes, but we live in a society that makes us feel the need to justify any accommodation we require. We make disability a competition. Only the most in need somehow deserve the support.
Perhaps it would be the same in any society composed of humanity, but my hesitation was never about surrendering independence or admitting limitations, it was always about how I would be perceived.
Well, I’m here now. And I’m adjusting.
I still hope to find rhythms that mitigate symptoms. Perhaps medicine will advance and they’ll find a treatment I respond to. But in the meantime, I will find peace in where I am. After all, my hope is not in this world. This body is broken, and I look forward to some day receiving a new and perfect body, one without pain. I can’t imagine how light that will feel.
But I’ve learned a lot about myself these last few months. Admitting the anxiety had become unmanageable was difficult. I was proud of managing my condition, and I felt like admitting I needed medication was admitting I had lost control. All of that was subconscious, and I would absolutely tell anyone I cared about that was feeling the same that thinking of it that way is being unfair to themselves. Especially considering the last three years of global history.
I had to admit that my self-awareness is not as considerable as I had hoped.
I had to admit that my husband’s gentle attempts to voice concern had not been received well, and that I owed him an apology.
It was humbling.
When I received a diagnosis, I began to realize that the effects of anxiety went even deeper than I had realized. There are changes that I can make that might help my pain levels, that will probably help my pain levels. But these are changes I would have had to make regardless of the diagnosis. So why hadn’t I made them yet? Anxiety.
I wanted to be able to see the end of the road, or at least the general direction. Have a name for the street. Something. I wanted to be able to draw a map before I started the journey. And then there was the background anxiety that none of the changes really mattered if my body was tearing itself apart unchecked and the longer it went undiagnosed the more difficult it would be to manage. It was all just overwhelming and weighed me down. It made moving forward impossible.
We can’t see ourselves as clearly as we would like to. That just isn’t possible. We need the people in our lives, the people who love us, the people with a few feet of distance giving them perspective.
We need to breathe in the moment. Plans for the future are wise and helpful, but if the weight of the future prevents us is pressing us back, we need to adjust our perspectives. I can’t create an entire new habit in one day. All I can is decide what I’m doing with my time today. The future needs to live in my prayers, my notebooks, specific and limited conversations, and not occupy my every moment. My moments are full enough without being crowded by past regrets and future concerns.
I am turning 40 this year. I am by no means ‘grown.’ I do not have life figured out. I am still growing, still learning. And this has been a season of hard lessons and welcome progress.
Anyway, I’m back, and that’s been my last three months. For the next three, I’ll be attempting to post every day in order to catch up to the original plan. I’ve caught up before, I think I can do it again. What a journey this is turning out to be.