What does chronic pain look like? What does chronic illness look like? Why should we have to LOOK like anything to get any kind of support? Some days my limp is really noticeable. Some days its not there at all. Is this who I am? So who am I really?
I am not my illness that is for sure. I am not the girl that limps. I am not just a mother. I am not just a wife. What and who we are is so complex. Some days its hard to see past the limp. Some days its hard to see pass the overwhelming panic attacks. Some days when the depression from all that we deal with is so overwhelming its easy to see only what is wrong. It is easy to say there is nothing positive.Its easy to see only the dark.
The truth is when you have chronic illnesses you have to search for the positive. You have to hunt for it constantly. If I don’t try to see at least one positive thing each day I get overwhelmed. Sometimes I find silly positive things. Like if I hadn’t run out of gas in the grocery store parking lot I would not have remembered I forgot zucchini. Sometimes more deep positives are to be found, like how lucky I am to be a mom to begin with.
Its a hard thing to do to self reflect almost every day. Its something I have to do. Its like a daily check in. Am I doing what I need to be doing? Its so easy to get swept up into everything that is going on. Its so easy between running errands and picking up kids and cooking dinner to just go with the flow. Setting aside me time is so very important.
I realized this yesterday when I was so wrapped up in what was going on the past two days that I was in anxiety overload an so completely frazzled. It took a friend pointing it out to me. I had not realized how wrapped up in it all that I was. Twenty minutes talking and laughing and I was on my way to being refreshed.
Its the thing I struggle with the most. Taking time out of the day just for me. The more my chronic illnesses flare, the more I need it. It is so hard to just allow myself to relax. To allow my body to catch up. I struggle with what I can get done now compared to what I used to get done before. I have to continually remind myself …Its okay. Its okay. Its okay. I am just me. This is who I am now. Lets not look back at what we were…Thats in the past…Lets focus on now…Who we are now. Sometimes who I am today is not who I was yesterday.
Its been a two year process to get to this point. To know that I need to feed my mind intellectually daily, that I typically need to clean or organize something daily and that I also need to escape into sci fi fantasty daily as well. Its easier to do now that I am not working. However its also harder. Its harder to remember to feed my brain intellectually daily as its something I have to stop and do. Sometimes it happens helping the kid with homework. SOmetimes it happens with her questions. I don’t know but we can find out. Sometimes with having NPR on in the car I get it in the little snippets I do hear. Right now my main intellectual feed is reading the basics of Zen.
If I ignore my OCD. It explodes and then I flare and I am not better off this way. I know this. Do I always practice this? NO! Should I? YES! Again this is a time I have to say. Its okay. lets just fix it from here. Monday I organzied my daughters clothing drawers. Tuesday I took everything off the kitchen counter and lysoled it and bleached it. Wednesday I didn’t do anything. Today….everything is bothering me. The kitchen table is probably what I will attack or maybe it will be my dresser and my clothes ….most likely it will be both. I know this. I will probably fight it. My head is constantly full of these kinds of battles. With my body chirping in to say…Dude this chair is sooooo comfy though. My OCD has really taken more of a backseat out of necessity. I can’t physically do all the cleaning I was doing. Or the checking. I have now developed “mess quotients” I can handle the house getting this dirty and then it must be fixed. This has helped me come off a flare instead of aggrivating it. It wasn’t easy. It took many times of just pushing through the flare and cleaning anyway and be unable to clean for weeks on end because of pain.
There have been alot of things lately that have been kind of ahh ha moments for me. Things others have said that didn’t click until recently and I was like…Ahh ha thats what they meant. Recently after one such ah ha moment I picked up my Zen book. Removed the bookmark and here is this quote staring me in the face.
” Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” Chinese proverb.
Yes! If I hadn’t had those people say what they said. My mind would not have been “opened” to that idea. When it clicked I had entered by myself. It was a very powerful moment and one that I said I am going to be more true to myself. To who I am. I am not my illnesses. They do not define me. I am just me. Just me is pretty wonderful. Just me has been able to change and adapt to each new circumstance. Just me hasn’t gotten lost in chronic pain or illness, or well never for too long. Just me has realized that change doesn’t mean I have lost myself. All in all just me is pretty wonderful