Friday, February 7, 2020

Stupid Society

The Super Bowl commercials this year were dumb. Usually they're funny, or poignant, or heart-tugging. This year exactly two of them made me laugh and two of them made me tear up. That's it. Everyone's been raving about The Irishman. All the billboards told me it got 9 Academy Award nominations for best picture! I watched it and was furious I wasted three-and-a-half hours of my life on such a pointless journey. Aside from Al Pacino's acting, I was not impressed. I'm sorry, were the women even invited to speak? Yet this is the stuff everyone thinks is groundbreaking...

I'm constantly on my own case for not engaging with society. Write a blog, I tell myself. Connect with people. Reach out. Go on Facebook. Post on Instagram. Tweet something funny or silly. None of it's that hard. Yet I don't. I remind myself that there are people in the world who care about me and I make no effort to reach into their lives. Why can't I force myself to engage with what's relevant? Is my social estrangement even necessary anymore, a condition of my ailments, or is my self-absorption pure habit. I'm not depressed. Is this a symptom of long-term bitterness?

But maybe it's not me. Maybe my Super Bowl Irishmen experience showed me the world has just gotten stupid. No wonder I don't want to engage. I don't want to dumb down to intermingle with mainstream society. I'd rather sit in my isolated existence and write a book, praying one day it's good enough for people to read. People in the world I've completely lost touch with. Don't worry, the bigger picture of my conundrum isn't lost on me.

Thanks for joining,
Leah

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Supplement Yourself

I've always wondered if nutritional supplements work. I started on them in 2006, the year I was diagnosed, and have tried pretty much everything under the sun since. There's no way to really know if anything is doing anything. I don't know what's malfunctioning in my body, giving me fibro in the first place. So how could I possibly know if a specific herb is helping a specific problem caused by I don't know what? My pre-surgery experience gave me some answers.

My doctor instructed me to lay off herbs and fish oil for two weeks prior to my surgery. Science doesn't know how they impact bleeding. Most vitamins, minerals, and amino acids were fine. So per her instructions I stopped taking milk thistle, turmeric, resveratrol, spirulina, and fish oil. I stayed on magnesium, potassium, lysine, vitamin D, and a probiotic. By the end of the first week my flare had taken me over. It was the kind of flare I get when I'm in a much sicker overall state. I hadn't had one this severe in months, possibly even a year. Of course I throbbed and ached, couldn't sleep, and found it impossible to keep my eyes open for the better part of the day. But all of that paled in comparison to the mental takeover. I became absolutely convinced there was no point in continuing to live. Surgery was a waste of time and money. I'm such an unimportant member of society, why was anybody squandering their efforts on me? I was terrified it was going to increase my pain or create more problems than it fixed. I wondered if it was going to kick me into another five-year relapse, which is not outside the realm of possibility. The world became a dark, cold, awful place I was certain I didn't possess enough strength to survive. I actually called my mom and told her the devil had taken me over and she probably shouldn't come out from Arizona to help assist me. I had no way to guarantee my mind would perceive anything accurately. The last thing I wanted was to permanently damage our relationship. Lord knows I've done enough of that.

Fortunately for me during this entire experience of mental anguish, I couldn't take a full breath to save my life. That's one of my earliest symptoms of this illness I don't experience very often anymore, the inability to breathe. The whole time my mind was folding in on itself, my lungs were rejecting air. It was an astounding physical reminder that my emotions were not coming from me, they are a manifestation of my illness. My physical impairment was so strong I couldn't ignore its relevance. Perhaps that's the only thing that got me to surgery day without losing it completely, the constant reminder every time I tried to take a breath that something was seriously sick inside me.

The day I came home from surgery I started on my full regiment of supplements immediately. I haven't dipped as emotionally low since. I haven't flared as badly since. I haven't been unable to breathe or want to obliterate my own existence since. No, I don't know what's wrong with me, what fibro is, what's actually causing these problems inside my body. But after my surgery/supplement experience I'm more convinced than ever that my potions and herbs make a tremendous difference.

Thanks for joining,
Leah

Monday, January 13, 2020

And So I Try

I'm on a mission of self-improvement. The life I'm living isn't one I want to keep investing in. Instead of continuing to make excuses for myself, all the while growing increasingly more miserable, I'm determined to do something about it. Concurrently I have a chronic illness that kind of does what it wants regardless of how well I take care of myself. Which these days isn't all that great. The result is my life is pretty much a joke. What can I do but try?

This is a good example that kinda sums up my reality. It concerns my lack of regular exercise. I used to be in shape and while I'm not anymore, I'm still capable of getting through a yoga or weightlifting session before coming home to die in private. When I had surgery my doctor said to take two weeks off all exercise. Last Monday would have been 17 days post-surgery. It was also the first Monday in the new year AND decade. Didn't everybody plan on exercising last Monday? Well I didn't do yoga until Friday, when my fibro pain got so bad I had no choice but to force myself through an agonizing practice, the relief I anticipated afterward my ultimate reward. Except the pain emanating from my low back ever since is not a reward, it's a disabling punishment. Now I'm a rotation of heat, ice, and ibuprofen who can't get off the sofa. Sigh. I tried.

On a good note here's what I did last week to move my life forward. I joined both the library and a second book club. I set my alarm for 10:30 a.m. every morning. I resumed drinking coffee right after waking up instead of waiting. While it's giving me more energy in the morning, and more of a drive to start my day, it's wreaking havoc on intermittent fasting. Yes, I've gained a few temporary pounds back. Also I've started listening to this really hardcore, ex-Navy Seal, excuses-don't-exist motivational speaker while I put on my makeup. I don't know what he's doing to my brain but at least I'm putting on makeup. And I'm writing this blog. Knowing I had to put something on these pages kept me accountable. I can't yet tell if it's stemming from sheer embarrassment or an honest desire to improve myself, but with week one and some tiny accomplishments under my belt I did what I set out to do. I tried.

Thanks for joining,
Leah

Friday, January 3, 2020

Hello Again My Old Friend

It's January 3rd and I'm starting to write this at 3 a.m. So I guess that answers my question, new year same me. I stopped blogging in August after I got hit with another health hiccup. I kind of stopped doing everything involving other people except going to my monthly book club. Talking to strangers about a neutral topic is fine. But people I know, well, it's too hard to be sick and an actress at the same time. I'm weary of the game, pretending I'm okay regardless of what's really going on. Like, who has that in them after fifteen years? Not me. But who only wants to hang out with strangers who don't really know who you are? Ugh. Reality.

Unfortunately the mental result of withdrawing from people has been pretty catastrophic. So once again I'm forcing myself to reach out. Untangle the mess that is my life. Let people know I'm alive. I did manage to do something worthwhile in 2019. I wrote a novel. After my stint in the ER in August, I decided if I were to perish I needed something to show for myself. So I shut out everyone and everything and wrote for like 15 hours a day, six days a week. I'm now in the process of turning the rough draft into a first draft and boy did I do a rush job! But the essence is recorded and I have the raw material ready to be formed into something beautiful.

This isn't the book about a girl who gets fibro that I set out to write nearly a decade ago. I already wrote that book twice and made so many mistakes I needed to start over a third time. Which proves I can effectively sit here and write books to myself for the rest of my life and accomplish absolutely nothing in the real world. Scary thought. Starting the same book for the third time was awful. I was weary of my characters and bored with their choices. Then I realized I was telling too much story in one story. Sweet relief! Still passionate about my original idea, I decided to write the prequel. This book is about a famous feminist in her 60s who decides to look for the child she was forced to give up for adoption as a teenager. Little does she know, her daughter looked for her decades ago and did something terrible.

In order to sell this book I have to edit my rough draft, get back to writer's group, reignite my social media, hire some test readers, edit more, solicit an agent, deal with epic amounts of rejection, land a publishing contract, promote the hell out of me and the book, deal with epic amounts of criticism, and somehow be lucky enough to have all of this actually happen. Exhausted yet? I am. How on Earth is a woman who can barely function as a nonfunctional housewife supposed to do any, let alone all, of that?

So here I am. Ground zero. 2020. New decade, new promise, new hope. I have to rebuild myself from the ground up. I had surgery the week before Christmas and am still a little under from that. My lifestyle habits are atrocious. Admitting all of this is embarrassing. And incredibly liberating. Laying myself and my dysfunction out once again is proving cathartic. Hopefully taking this blog along on my journey becomes an effective tool to help turn the ship of my life around and stop spinning my rudders in the muck of sickness and isolation. 

Thanks for joining,
Leah

Monday, August 26, 2019

Isolation Street

I'm doing it again. Isolating. Not writing. Not engaging. Nothing is important enough to blog about, so I blog nothing at all. I'm back to being fully enmeshed in writing my novel. My YouTube channel is still the thorn in my side, like each time I have to step out of my book to create, film, and edit our weekly episodes, I'm being pulled from the womb of creation. Shoved into the cold, bleak reality that I actually live in, not the over-dramatized and fully manipulate-able world I'm creating where people can engage in all sorts of insane behaviors and I suffer no actual consequences.

My real world is nowhere I want to be right now. Especially after I spent 12 hours in the ER the week before last, suffering from and being diagnosed with an acute case of colitis. The simple action of receiving a diagnosis in 12 hours is a miracle that's hardly lost on me. Hell, I've had fibro for 14 years now and they still have no clue what's causing that... But I guess my body wanted to offer up some diagnostic proof for my pain, so the CT showed inflammation in my lower intestine. Is this another chronic illness or a one time thing caused by an infection or something? I don't have any of the symptoms of colitis on a regular basis. Did intermittent fasting, or the way I was doing it, kick something off? I guess I won't know until my GI appointment in September.

The mentality I had to adopt in order to survive my CFS relapse is, by normal standards, the laziest way a human being can possibly live. Basically I had to lay around all day and could only be active in short burst, until the first moment that veil of fatigue started to slide over my eyes, whereupon I had to immediately resume doing diddly squat. ASAP. If I ignored the muslin obscuring my view and pushed on, I faced long spells shrouded in thick velvet cloak of extreme fatigue. No short bursts were possible at all. That does something to a person's mind, forcing oneself to not exist while existing. To squash down every biological impulse telling me that to endure I must fight, push back, work harder. Where in the survival of the fittest life chain does a person with chronic fatigue syndrome exist?

It took years, and I'm still not sure why or how, but thankfully my tango with CFS is behind me. But my mind has not recovered. It's not that I sit around all day doing nothing. No, that's not it at all. But that extra push that's required to get me back to a normal, functioning, productive, part-time member of society, well, I'm terrified of it. I'm terrified of myself. I'm terrified I don't know how to recognize the line, what it takes to not fall flat on my face in the cesspool of never-ending sickness. So I sit here in perpetual excuse mode going nowhere with my life. Years are passing me by.

The only times I've ever changed my life were when I got so sick and tired of my own shit I couldn't handle me for one moment longer. Or I became so terrified of the impending consequences continuing to travel down the road I was on would yield, I didn't feel I had an option. So what I really want to know is, am I there yet?

Thanks for joining,
Leah

Check out the YouTube channel I started with my husband! We're vlogging about our experience with intermittent fasting...which I don't think will be the channel name much longer!

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Reunion

My birthday came and went with a bang. The celebrations are still trickling in, actually, in the form of the twice-a-year get-together-for-our-birthdays with a couple of friends. This fortieth didn't hit me nearly as hard as my first fortieth, or even my second. I haven't noticed any new wrinkles. My gray hair isn't multiplying. No new aches or pains. Thanks to intermittent fasting, I've even lost eight pounds. So naturally I thought I could sail right into this next year feeling, well, not older.

Then I found out about my twenty-five-year high-school reunion taking place at the end of the month. Seriously? Like, I graduated from high school twenty-five years ago? How is that even possible? So I called up my best friend from back in the day and we started reminiscing, bringing up all sorts of people I haven't thought about in years. We talked about what they're up to, how life turned out, how many kids and what kinds of jobs, how many husbands or wives?

It was all fun and games until that feeling of having my life robbed took over. Sigh. I'd made such progress in taking responsibility for my circumstances. Showing myself compassion, not anger, for never having become a famous interior designer or cosmetics CEO. Accepting my reality for what it is and seeking to enjoy and improve my life instead of being angry over what getting sick has cost me. But hearing about what my contemporaries are up to depressed me. Everyone seemed to get the whole cake while I'm sitting over here with a sliver of pie.

The desire to crawl back in my hole of isolation rose up. This is hard, trying to rebuild after another bout with this strange sickness. What a nebulous and unpredictable existence. I drop out of life for years at a time, unable to physically and mentally engage with others in any sort of consistent fashion. Then I get "better" and start my juggling act: trying to get all the dropped balls of my life back into the air without winding up sick all over again.

But enough, really. Because this is it. That is my reality. Love it or hate it, I'm forty-three years old and cannot spend one more moment of my precious time and energy being angry at what is. It took this whole twenty-five-year-reunion trauma to remind me how damaging comparing myself to others can be to my self-esteem. So I'm shaking it off and proceeding on my way. Reminding myself that picture-perfect lives usually have their own source of discord. Mine just happens to be plastered all over the outside of me.

Thanks for joining,
Leah