Archive for the ‘Chronic illness’ Category

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been pretty much absent from social media lately. In fact, I’ve been somewhat absent from all of life. Those demons that lay dormant within me most of the time have been rearing their ugly heads over the past week or so. And when that happens, I retreat. I withdraw from everything and everyone and try to get my mind to just shut down.

When I’m coming up out of these black holes, I picture stepping in front of a support group, something like Alcoholics Anonymous. So…

Hi, my name is Jess, and I live in a place called Denial.

When dealing with the depression that has plagued me off and on all my life, these days it doesn’t come in the form of immense sadIMG_0095_2ness, loneliness, feelings of worthlessness or despair. No, these days, I just sink down into a funk, an emotional numbness, and come close to being a hermit.

That’s what I have been doing the past week. I haven’t written anything or felt productive in any way. In short, I’ve been a slug. My writing suffers. But so does everything else. Housework, relationships, even grocery shopping. Not that I don’t already look for an excuse to not go to the grocery store.

So, back to the denial. There’s one thing that has been forefront in my mind the past few days, and that is the fact that I need to get my shit together and start taking care of myself.

It’s been almost a year now since I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I wasn’t really surprised when my new rheumatologist told me. I had suspected it for years. There were too many injuries that had gone unexplained. Too much weird crap that had all my doctors saying, “huh…I really don’t know why that happened.” Let me tell you, that’s reassuring.

For a while, I tried to do the right thing, really I did. I took medication, changed my diet, and got more exercise when I wasn’t in a terrible flare. But for some reason, after changing medications twice already, I’ve just been holding onto the bottle of the newest pills for months.

I think subconsciously, a part of me thought it would just go away. I know, unrealistic. That doesn’t happen. I’ve been dealing with all the symptoms without trying to treat them. Why? I have no idea. Maybe a part of me is scared. These drugs for RA are like taking small doses of chemotherapy for the rest of my life. Maybe they will prevent further joint damage or the disease affecting my heart and lungs, but at what cost? All the side effects are annoying at the least, frightening and potentially deadly at the worst.the-good-news-is-not-cancer-the-bad-news-is-autoinmune-and-you-will-need-chemo-for-the-rest-of-your-life-dd4f8

I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a damned if I do, damned if I don’t place. Don’t take the pills, deal with the pain, swelling, immense fatigue, daily low-grade fevers, yadda yadda and risk deformation, eye, lung, and heart diseases. Take the pills and I’m faced with destroying what little immune system I have left, nausea, dizziness, hair loss, upset stomach, a long slew of other potential side effects, and oh yeah, liver failure.

Sigh.

I know what I have to do, and I’ve been kicking my ass about it all week. So, I’m writing this now to take baby steps out of my writer’s block, and tomorrow, I’ll swallow a pill and schedule an appointment with the rheumatologist.

Then, I’ll shower, shave my legs, do something about my ratty hair, plaster on a smile and face the day. The day I start living again.

In my tween years and beyond, I was ridiculed and shamed, called names, pointed and laughed at by my peers. All because of my weight. This subsequently caused me to jump from diet to diet for almost twenty years. I wrote about it.

In my teenage years I was full of depression and anxiety. I was a worrywart. A goth chick. A loner. A crappy poet. Eventually, a cutter. Still, I wrote.

In my 20s I went straight from being a daughter and sister living at home to being a wife a daughter-in-law. Still consumed by underlying depression.
In my work life, I was always some kind of Secretary or administrative assistant, then a registrar at a local high school. Though during this time, I felt my creativity had left me, I still wrote. Granted some days, it was just lists (over and over thanks to a generous touch of OCD) or scant paragraphs of scenes or a scribbled description of a dream.

In 2007, my life changed. It seemed on top of other chronic health issues, my spine had begun its descent into deterioration. I sustained a back injury that required surgery the same year my family lost our matriarch member, our cornerstone – my grandmother.

Little did I know at the beginning of that summer my life would never be the same.
All the time that elapsed and events that unfolded between the time of my injury, the surgery and the subsequent second surgery (that’s a whole other story – maybe another time) I developed something called sacroiliac joint dysfunction. That was the final nail on the medical coffin which would entrap me as officially disabled.

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I can’t begin to tell you what anguish, frustration and depths of darkness engulfed me. I was too young. There was too much I still wanted to accomplish. I hadn’t found my best fitting label yet.
But I had so many I’d gained throughout the first three decades of life. From others and self-imposed. Good, bad, and terrible.

Fatty. Weirdo. Lard-ass. Freak. Daughter. Wife. Sister. Caregiver. Cousin. Niece. Bitch. Angry. Frustrated. Depressed. Worthless. Hopeless. Broken.

I didn’t write.

About three years ago something changed. I can’t define the exact moment I decided to take charge of my life again. Maybe for the first time. I was done taking care of everyone else; it was time to take care of me.

First off, it was time to quit dieting. I have learned one of my medical conditions was making it very hard for me to lose weight so I decided to stop focusing so much on it.

Second, my marriage. We had been living for years like roommates and friends but not much else. We both deserved better. We divorced and I faced my fear of being alone head-on. I actually discovered I quite like it.
I took up writing again, joined a critique group, met some new friends.

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Now, I’m a co-founding partner in an up-and-coming publishing company with a family of authors who all support and promote each other.

And you know what? I still have those labels. I just have better ones now.

I am a businesswoman. I’m a publisher, a friend, an advocate, a survivor.
And most of all, through it all, I am a writer.

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#WomensRightToWrite