Slow Road To Recovery

My presence here has been off and on, mostly off, for quite a while now. Things have been pretty rough for a hot minute. My health issues hit an all time low last year. Increased levels of pain and fatigue sent me to a rheumatologist, sometime around May or June of 2019 After decades of unnamed suffering, it was oddly comforting to finally have a confirmed diagnosis of an autoimmune disease.

I left the doctor’s office with a prescription, which I began taking the following day. This is where things get really skewed, as far as keeping track of time goes. Over the course of several weeks on the medication, I was feeling worse than before, then had a severe reaction to the new medication and was instructed to stop taking it immediately, which I did. A few weeks later, I went back to his office and was given another prescription which I began taking that week and continued to take the new stuff once a week for several months.

As time went on, there were dose increases which barely helped the pain, but gave side effects which grew worse as I continued to take it. I felt sick from my head to my toes, then my GI system began to revolt, big time. Finally, unable to stand it anymore I called the office and am glad that I did, because once again, I was told to stop taking the medication immediately, which I did. After another few week gap with medications, I went back in to see him and was prescribed weekly injections.

The first injection went pretty well, with little side effects so I felt hopeful. Then came the second one, and oh boy it was bad, plus my GI system still wasn’t healed from the previous medication. I felt relieved that I hadn’t had the prescription filled yet because I at least wanted a break from it. My body just felt like it couldn’t take any more. Then, six days after that last injection I woke up with both injection sites red and angry, and my entire body just felt ill. Feeling like I might be due for a trip to the emergency room if things got worse, I called the drug company and spoke to one of their nurses, as it was a Sunday. She was great. Despite my hope that I could continue that medication, she told me that I could not, because I was having a serious reaction to it which warranted immediate cessation of it. Thank goodness, I began to feel better over the course of about five days.

Now, I have been medication free for somewhere around three weeks (I think) and am feeling better than I have in quite some time. I’m in a good deal of pain, and my fatigue is still there but not as bad as it was before stopping the medications. That makes three different drugs, all of which made me more ill than before. So, I called the doctor’s office and left a voicemail a few weeks ago, explaining what had happened and letting them know that I’d like a break from all medications at least until my next visit which is scheduled in June. Just days after this happened, Covid-19 really hit the United States and ground everything to a halt. I did not hear back from them, as I believe they’ve temporarily closed their office. That’s fine by me, because I’m not sure if he would try to convince me to try yet another drug, and I’m not there for it.

About a week ago, I was going through some old journals to try to remember when I had seem something pretty cool that happened outside, and while flipping through the pages I found that my first entry about the medications making me extremely ill was in mid July of last year, which means that this had been going on a bit longer than I thought it had. I knew that I had spent months being ill, to the point of being mostly confined to the bed or couch, but thought it’d really gotten bad in the Fall. Wrong! It’s easy to lose track of time when illness grinds your life to a halt.

I’ve been spending the past weeks recuperating, and while it is getting better I’m not quite there yet. All those months of being utterly inactive have taken their toll, plus my autoimmune illness is not being treated. My decision though, is that I am not going to try any new medications unless/until blood work looks like it would be a necessity. I’m sure that there are other medications I can try if the need presents itself, but for now I would rather deal with the pain and give the rest of my system time to heal. For the first time in ages, I’m engaging with things I haven’t been able to for the better part of a year and that feels great. Hopefully, I’ll be making it back here again before long. While I miss writing and art, I’ve been focusing on my physical and spiritual recovery. My entire life has been changed as a result of all of this, among other things and I’m enjoying the process of slowly finding myself again.

It’s my sincere hope that all of you stay well. Take good care, and be safe out there.

Sending love your way.

Thoughts On Being In The Moment

This morning, I came across a quote which resonated with me, and sparked some thoughts that I wish to share. The quote is below.

“There is only the moment. The now. Only what you are experiencing at this second is real.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

The seeming simplicity of this quote is deceptive. So often, I have had the tendency to take something which is happening in the present and allow my mind to let it take on epic proportions. We all do it, and typically it involves the things which are unpleasant or stressful. When something is going awry, do you find your thoughts diving into the past, or projecting the issue into the future, feeling like the situation is going to become a permanent fixture? I certainly have, and have been learning to work on it.

It’s definitely a process, and a very conscious choice. The actual practice of mindfulness is relatively new to me. I’ve often heard people talking about living in the moment, and just thought that it was one of those nice things to say, but hard or impossible to do. I’m finding that it isn’t all that difficult (most of the time, anyway). It takes a lot of inner reminders, but over time it is becomes easier.

For myself, as someone who has dealt with a great deal of trauma over the course of my life, remembering that what is happening right at this moment is what is real has been an amazing tool to help me keep things in balance. No matter whether a thing is positive or negative, reminding ourselves that in the next moment things shift is beyond helpful. Life is constant change, and while sometimes this is hard, the alternative is to live in a state of stagnation. I should say trying to live in a state of stagnation, because no matter how concentrated the effort may be, we cannot stem the tide of change.

The sentiment I’m writing about doesn’t mean that we squash our feelings. It’s just as unhealthy to try to pretend that it doesn’t exist as it is to let our thoughts project too far into the future. Building too many expectations for the future can be at the very least disappointing at times, and at the worst can color our thoughts so much that we lose opportunities for happiness because we’re convinced that things will stay the same. We can set goals for ourselves without becoming overly attached to the precise details. There are often many paths to a goal, and unexpected ways that our dreams manifest themselves.

By remembering that the present is all that is, it becomes so much easier to savor our moments of joy as they happen. Not only that, it becomes easier to acknowledge that we may be sad, angry, heartbroken, or any other emotion that pops up, and be able to let it just be without falling into the rabbit hole of remembering all of the “bad stuff” that happened in the past, or convincing ourselves that life is always going to follow the same patterns.

Trust me, I know that this is not the easiest practice to adopt. As a relative newbie to it myself, I have seen how ingrained it is to step out of what is happening in our present moments to dwell in the past and obsess over the future. This whole year for me is dedicated to a continuation of my mindfulness practice. So far, it has been the most helpful method inner work I’ve tried to date. If you find yourself in a place of reliving traumas or being caught up in the type of thought patterns which I wrote about above, I encourage you to look into all of this a bit, and if you feel you need help with it, please reach out and find it. I openly admit that I have.

 

 

Settling Into Just Being

Okay, so my best friend wrote a post yesterday that so inspired my post today that the very title was something that she said in what she wrote. She and I both have had a pretty difficult time of it in the last year or so. To say that there has been a lot of learning going on would be an understatement. Please do head on over and read her post if you wish. Now, I’ll get on with it.

So, the past year and a half for me was a breaking point. This is something which needed to happen because I’ve literally spent most of my life living old patterns and it became impossible to keep doing so and stay sane, and I mean that almost literally. It truly was a breaking point in my life. These are patterns which were created long, long ago. In childhood in fact. The hell of it has been that they were set so early that the real me has not really had much time to come out and play. The real me had been almost completely buried.

Sure, there have been glimpses of me here and there, but for the most part I’ve slid back into those ways of being and interacting in the world which were drilled into me as a means to stay safe. While that was never okay, it was at one time necessary for survival. After that necessary time had passed though, I was simply reacting to things which evoked those old responses and instead of standing tall in my own being, I would either put another person first to my own detriment, or I would have a fear trigger and simply squash myself into what I thought would keep the waters smooth. Well let me tell you, this never works.

Maybe for a while things felt calmer, but in the long run it wasn’t sustainable. Sometimes when we feel like we’re playing it safe, we are only prolonging the inevitable, and putting ourselves through unnecessary stress and pain. There is a lot of history which I could go into, but I won’t. Not because I’m not okay talking about it, but because this post is about the present and moving forward.

I have forgiven the past. I have forgiven the people who have caused me harm. I have made great progress in forgiving myself for the role which I played in letting some of those situations play out. Granted, my heart was always in the right place, but there have been many times in which it was very misguided. I’m at a place in which I no longer feel the need or desire to think or talk about the past, unless it’s necessary for some reason. I’ve come to terms with what the past was, and have reached the point of breaking the patterns.

This isn’t to say that my work is done. In some respects I’m only getting truly started, but it feels so good. This is where the words settling into just being come into play. I’ve realized that I truly like who I am at my core, and I really like who I am becoming. A large part of doing this work has been simply allowing myself to settle into being. Learning to live in the present, not in the past and not in the future, is strangely liberating.

Sure, I’ve read about being in the present and it sounded good but I had never really tried to put it into practice before. I had some mistaken ideas about what it meant exactly. It doesn’t mean that the past is erased, it is more of a reminding myself that when parts of the past rear their ugly heads that I am not longer in that place, and that those feelings and memories have no power over me. It doesn’t mean that I can’t make plans for the future. It is simply a loosening of the expectations of how things will work and not trying to plan all of the minute details.

The deeper I go into this space, the less I find myself wishing for anything else. This very moment is a pretty good place to be. More and more, I actually remember to stop and ask myself if there’s anything that I can do about any given thing in this moment, and if there isn’t, it becomes easier to release it and just be. If though, there is something that I can do about something, I find myself being able to break it down even further into what I can do about it right now and to be okay with leaving the rest for when it’s appropriate.

While the deep trauma work which I’ve chosen to undertake isn’t for the faint of heart, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. To finally be saying goodbye to the triggers, fears, and anxiety is the most awesome feeling. Lots of things have fallen away, and some of those losses have been harder than others. I have to admit though, that every last one of them has needed to happen. I’m looking forward to what is to come, more so than ever. This feels a little bit odd to say because everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING in me has shifted, so my exact direction is not exactly clear. In the past, this would have scared the hell out of me. Now though it feels perfect, because I am starting with a clean slate and I’m not following someone else’s map…I’m drawing my own.