I saw this picture this morning that a friend shared on FB. I told her I might need to borrow it for my next blog post. I have been having trouble getting it to the point where I felt like it was ready to share. I know I have a tendency to over think things (a habit I am trying to lessen). Still, it was written on the heels of a rough day last week. I want to promote hope and resilience. But what happens when the hope gets dragged into discouragement. Everyone has been so supportive and encouraging. I want to be the strong and positive person I feel I am. But when one bad day turns into two, I start to worry (another bad habit I am trying to kick). I think what it comes down to for me is that the physical issues, though frustrating and painful at times, are much easier for me to push back against than the emotional ones. Not that I’m not strong emotionally, because I think I am, but sometimes life’s battles hits you right in your weak spot and you crumble. This is the place where my original blog post begins.
Some days there isn't hope. There's just angst and grumpiness and grrr. Today was one of those days. Not that anything new really happened. It was all stuff I expected to happen. But when it actually became real, it got really ugly. The school district that I was officially working for when this began let me know I was not invited to come back next year. Not a shock. I knew I couldn't go back anyway. They actually saved me from having to tell them. Still, now it's official. My teaching career is done. Drop the mic...and my heart.
The condo I could afford sold too. I knew it would. I never expected it to be around until my place sold, still.... The reality is that it leaves me with living with my folks or at the camp they own that's even further north away from people. The goal was for me to get closer to people not further away. Tomorrow is also my last birthday party at the center and it will be in the middle of a snow storm because they don't want to reschedule, so I'll have to pay extra to be plowed out for them. I want my life back.
Depression is often a companion to those with chronic illness. The never ending battle has a way of beating down even the heartiest of souls. I try very hard to be positive, I really do. I look for the silver lining. I try to adapt. I try to make the best of a bad situation. But some days are just lousy and the soul sucking vortex of despair and discouragement pulls you in until all you are left with is mind numbing fatigue, combined with apathy/rage. I'd like to eat and drink my way into oblivion, and in truth, that might actually make me feel better in the short term, except that all the stupid steroids and meds have left me twenty pounds heavier, which is enough to send me into a depressive spiral in and of itself. To add to it would only send me further into the abyss.
I can't even find a way to escape or live in denial for a while. There is nothing new or good on TV. I'd try to sleep it off, but part of my crankiness is due in part to the fact that pain in my body kept me from sleeping last night. I don't look forward to a repeat tonight. The days when my eyes blur are the worst because I can't even distract myself with reading a book or the computer. Though I try to express this in a slightly humorous way, the reality is less than funny. It is scary. This is not a place I feel comfortable hanging out. I'm on the wrong side of the tracks of my emotions.
Sometimes I think that the psychological effects of this new isolation are not that far removed from solitary confinement. I mean, I love my fur babies, I really do, but they don't answer back. Sometimes I just long for a conversation that doesn't involve fur, a keyboard, or octogenarians. I love my parents too, I just feel like I am slowly losing who I am. I'm becoming an 80 year old pet. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. No really, please....
This is where I am suppose to reveal some great lesson learned or positive message, but the fact is, I got nothing. And I guess, therein lies the message. Sometimes there isn't an immediate mighty comeback. Sometimes life sucks, and the best you can do is agree to stick around long enough to fight another day and hope your faith and optimism returns with the morning light. I'd say snuggle a cat except that mine didn't want to be held and scratched the heck out of my finger with one of his back claws. It somehow feels fitting. The pain is a reminder that I am still alive. I’ll take that as a good thing.
I think it's important to realize that just because you try to put a positive spin on things doesn't mean it is going to be easy. It's like trying to lose weight. I want very much to do so, but it is not going to happen just by wishing for it or wanting it really badly. It will come only with sacrifice and effort. It will be hard. Coping with a serious illness or chronic condition is not easy either. Just because I want to stay positive doesn't mean I will always be so. Just because I can cope with the pain and frustration one day, doesn't mean I will automatically do so the next. It is a day to day commitment, just like losing weight. One good day of eating will not make me instantly thin again. Neither will one day of good perspective guarantee the same for the next day.
It is both simple and silly, and it doesn't end. Every day I wake up to the same battle. It drives me crazy when one day I am fine with something like using the stroller or the arm cuff canes to walk, but the next day I am repelled from them like I will catch the cooties. I think to myself didn't I just accept this yesterday? I seriously have to do it again? Sometimes I feel a little bit like I am in “Groundhog Day” or “50 First Dates”. Ironically those two movies have always bothered me a bit. I always thought it would drive me crazy to live in that kind of situation. I guess I was right...
The snow has started for what appears to be the first of two April storms upcoming in the next week. I have no choice but to make the best of it. Tomorrow's weigh in will be sacrificed for the brief, but effective feel good moments of the low-fat ice cream in my freezer combined with large sized dark chocolate chips. Ahhhhhh. It is sweet and tart and a bowl full of deliciousness. Sometimes you just have to eat ice cream and chocolate. I'll deal with everything else tomorrow. Tonight I shall live in the moment of comfort foods. It is as simple as that.
And then just as suddenly, you wake up the next morning to realize it finally is a new day. The storm has passed and the driveway is cleared long before people arrive. An email alerts you that another condo in the same complex is now for sale. There is both sunshine and snow in the forecast, but the sunshine offers hope and warmth. And perhaps today it will be a little easier to grab the canes/stroller and just enjoy the time with the pups in the sunshine. One day at a time.
Sometimes it’s the silliest things that brings the smile that breaks the negative spell. Snapchatting with my son led me to this crazy app called Bitmoji where you create your own emoji to match your own physical features. There are hundreds of stickers and even outfits. I decided it was like digital paper dolls. Obviously, I got quite a kick out of them. It was the distraction I needed to make me laugh. Once the laughter had begun, it continued to change my whole mood. The frown was turned upside down!
And so the contradiction of life continues. The laughter in the midst of the pain. You’d think there would be an easier way, but it seems it is the combination of both emotions that makes it all work. In "The Book of Joy" by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, (an AMAZING book of insight and encouragement that I highly recommend) they state that often the greatest joy comes after times spent wandering down paths of darkness and pain. That certainly isn't what we'd wish for, but sometimes you can't get to the better without going through the pain. Life is funny that way.
We see it all the time in movies. Would Westley and the Princess Buttercup in "The Princess Bride" (one of the BEST movies ever) have been reunited had they not gone through the Scaling the Cliffs of Insanity, Battling Rodents of Unusual Size, or Facing Torture in the Pit of Despair? We all love the happy ending, but the movie wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable were it not for overcoming the trials along the way.
Unfortunately, it is a little harder to appreciate that thought when you are in the midst of it yourself. Good thing there are comfort foods, silly apps and good friends for those moments (for those of us lacking a giant, a swordsman and True Love to rescue us). Wishing you caring friends (online or in person), ice cream in your freezer and dark chocolate chips in your cabinet, and may the RoUS es that cross your path be few. ;) <3
Kristen is a former kindergarten and special education teacher with two wonderful grown children, two precious fur-baby dogs and a mischievous cat. Diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis in September of 2016 and Multiple Sclerosis in December of 2016, and Optic Neuritis in January 2017, life has changed in a big way in a short amount of time. But HOPE springs eternal as she rediscovers and reinvents life along the way.