Monday, September 28, 2015

Another day, Another journey

Here I am, a week and half jobless, and stressing like I'm going crazy. Anxiety is a funny thing because even when you remove the things that usually stress you and cause anxiety; your brain finds something else to be anxious about. Since I've started my 'season of change', I've thrown myself into a couple of new things. The biggest thing being cooking. I've been cooking up a storm almost every day. It's been fun and it seems to keep my mind on something else that I can be proud of and feel in control of. So that's a good start. The next new thing has been counselling. Now, I've only been to one session so far but I was basically told, "You definitely need to come back again." As in, "You need help." Which is completely accurate at this point. 

Over the last year I have felt that it was important for me to speak out about my illness. There was a lot of reasons that I did this. The biggest reason was that I believe that Chronic Illness shouldn't be a topic that makes people feel uncomfortable. It should be a topic that we can discuss openly because so many people suffer with chronic illness or chronic pain. Another reason being that for someone living with a chronic illness, it can be very isolating and make you think very badly of yourself. We don't purposely talk down to ourselves and hate on ourselves; but when your body physically can't or is seriously pained to do the things you want it to do, you tend to blame yourself. I decided that throughout my journey; the words that I would say could either be depressing and self-loathing or they could be all about the honest struggles, triumphs and emotions that come along with the journey. From what I've heard and from what people have said to me, I have been able to help them understand a little better what it is like to live with illness and how they can better support friends and loved ones who may be in the same or similar kind of position as I am.

Now, my blog has been an outlet for me and I've stated that many times. I love being able to write openly and honestly about how I feel. This blog isn't always read and that's okay because I do it for me more than anything. Although, I do feel that getting it out there could impact a lot of lives. It can offer understanding for those who feel the same way. I hope that over the next little while my blog continues to be just as honest and forward as it is now. There are always ups and downs and I try my hardest to be open about them. As I start this new season of life where I am going to counselling, taking a break from working, pursuing treatments and options and learning to accept who I am and what my life is without putting my whole identity into being a "sick person", I will continue to update this blog and share the journey.

I know I make this "journey" sound lovely and insightful in the above paragraph but really it is anything but that. Already in the time that I've stopped working I've had multiple doctor's appointments, new diagnoses, new medications, multiple anxiety attacks, I've fully broken down about 4 times, cried in a public place, fainted at the doctor's office, finally opened up and broke down in front of my mother, begun to talk about taking a break from work, seen a counsellor, realized how messed up my head has been because of this, realized that my identity has been seemingly lost in the fog of chronic illness and also, I've done more cooking than I ever have in my life. And this is a big mess of all the things that I am trying and going through all to improve my quality of life. It would mean a lot to me to have your continued support. Being 21 (almost 22!) and not working and living at home automatically makes me feel guilty and it is not an easy path for me take. I am trying to be okay with it, and I hope that you all can support me in that.

I also want to say how much I appreciate every single one of you. Every person who has read this blog, every person who has asked me how I'm feeling today, every person who has donated to my cause, who has encouraged me to do things that I am afraid to do, every person who has let me vent and every person who is praying for me. I appreciate you all so much and I could not continue on this journey without the support of all of you. You guys really do get me through and I want to thank you for your love and understanding.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Seasons of Change

I feel that in everyone's life there are seasons of change. I am going through a big season of change right now. If you are close to me or if you keep up with my blog, you will know that I have been experiencing chronic pain due to illness for over a year now without a break. I've had countless tests, procedures and even surgery to try to get some answers and help alleviate the pain. All the while continuing online schooling, working and trying to manage to have somewhat of a social life. I am glad that I was able to do all of those things. I am glad that I did not give up and shut everything out. I am glad I pushed through and persevered as long as I could. I am glad I was able to do those things. Able. 

Able - Definition: having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something.

I find that using a textbook definition of a word often helps me to figure out exactly what it is that I want to say and how I feel. I like the accuracy of knowing the meaning of something.  Words are very powerful and that is huge part of why I love to write. My emotions and feelings are best expressed through the written word and I hope that I never give that up. There is something that I did give up though over the past little while. 

I believe that for me personally, in order to be happy and content in my life, the biggest things to consider are my relationship with God and my mental state. This is something I have yet to open up about to many people. I do live with anxiety and at times it gets to be all-consuming and extremely overwhelming. It often causes me to fall into depression as well. When I am depressed, I don't want to try anymore. I don't want to try at the things that matter the most to me like improving relationships with loved ones and friends. I shut down and I block people out.

Thankfully, I have a couple wonderful ladies in my life who haven't let me fall completely into the pit of depression. They have lifted me up when I needed it, encouraged me when I feel like I'm failing and hurting, let me vent and yell and cry in frustration and loved me when I am not acting so lovable. Hope and Ariel, you have done more for me than you know. Because of the two of you, I have been able to make some realizations that I believe are going to drastically improve my quality of life. I love you both a ton and am so thankful for your presence and support in my life.

As I said earlier, anxiety can be all-consuming. Recently, I left my job because things were going to slow down for the winter and I wouldn't be getting the hours I needed. Ironically though, after I left, the job become unavailable as the company decided to shut the store-front for the season. I pursued other jobs and was offered a job that I was really excited about. It wasn't anything huge, it wasn't a pay raise, it wasn't a job to brag about; but it was a job that I felt I could be happy at. This job was a full-time position that required me to be on my feet constantly. For most people my age, this wouldn't be a big deal. I was so excited about this position that I was unrealistic when I accepted. I thought that I could push through. Maybe if I just try hard to forget that I'm tired; maybe if I drink enough coffee and be positive enough, I could do this. After a couple of grueling days of training, I realized that I was in over my head. My training shifts were only 4 hours long and I would be expected to work 8 hour shifts at least. I came home shaking in pain and fatigue and riddled with anxiety. And then it hit me. I can't do this job. 

I exhausted every option I could think of from 1) Keep pushing and trying and knowing that I would fail. 2) Asking for part-hours instead of full-time. 3) Deciding this isn't the right position for me, and leaving. I went from considering option 1. to seriously considering option 2. to deciding on option 3. But it was not a decision I made easily or took lightly. It involved 3 nights straight of anxiety attacks and a lot of crying. It involved a pep-talk from Ariel and me breaking down and flooding out all my frustrations of how messed up my life has become because of Chronic Illness. Ariel helped me to realize some of things that I needed to fix in my life if I were going to feel a bit better, mentally.

After a long, much-needed talk and cry with Ariel and then with my Mom; I decided that it would be best for my physical and mental health to leave the position. Not only that, but to decide what I need to do to improve my quality of life. I've decided to start going to councelling and to be more open with my parents about how I feel because I tend to hold in all of my anger and frustration from them and it ends up hurting me more.

The stress of my unrealistic expectations of myself became all-consuming and led to my rock-bottom breaking point. So this, is where I'm at now. The biggest commitment I have in my life at this moment is to myself. To my mental and physical health. It is so important that we don't bash ourselves and judge ourselves because we don't meet an expectation. I realized that I would never dare talk to a friend the way I talk to myself. I would never judge a friend on the same scale that I judge myself. I would never make my friend feel guilty for not meeting her own expectations or anyone else's expectations of her. 

Sometime's we need to just focus on what is the most important thing. We need to pursue happiness and contentment in order to be satisfied with our lives. Right now, although unconventional, I am unemployed and I am in my early twenties and I am living at home with parents. That sentence used to make me feel so belittled and "lame". This is what I need to be doing for my health and for my life; and I shouldn't let anyone's opinion of that get in the way of making improvements for myself. 

I want to remind you all that you are the only one who knows how you feel. You are the only one who can improve your life and create happiness for yourself. It is up to you.