Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's All In The Attitude

I spent my youth frowning. Its kinda funny sad when you think about it. I did not particularly enjoy being a child. I think most type A's don't...not enough control over your circumstances, ya know? I recall the start of 6th grade. I moved in with my dad and step-Mom the summer before because they had just bought a house in the 'burbs. I was used to life in Los Angeles, the only blonde WASP on the block. This was a nice Southern California suburban planned community with tract homes, trees planted in the median of the main streets and good public schools. I guess when my step-Mom let me loose to line up with my class that first day of school I had my face set in a determined little frown and my arms folded across my chest. Very closed off. What I recognize now as fearful. My teenage years were spent seeking to define myself in the extremes, extremely wild, to be exact. It was how I got attention and was able to "compete" with the smart or pretty or rich girls. I spent the middle of my 20's in therapy for Major Depressive Disorder. There was absolutely no reason for me to be depressed. I had just moved to San Francisco, the city of my dreams, with the love of my life who had just become my husband. Everything should have been fine. Yet I would storm up and down the streets of North Beach, stopping in churches here and there to beg and plead with God to fix me. I would march up and down Pier 39, observing the happy tourist families and couples laughing and enjoying life and each other, all bent out of shape at their good fortune. I was so bitter and angry and incapable of "snapping" out of my funk. I was even pissed at the homeless that would bombard me for change daily on the way from the bus to work! Why the hell did they not have to get up and go to work and be responsible and take care of themselves? Why were they off the hook? Yeah, I had the angry bitters pretty bad.

In therapy I obtained tremendous amounts of clarity about myself and how to navigate out of depression and into the life I choose, a life of happiness. I learned about responsibility and how my choices affect my reality and how much hard work is required to take what you are given and fashion it into a life worth living. It took a lot but I fear for how I would have handled CFS & Fibromyalgia if I had not discovered the choice of attitude before they consumed me. As I lower my dosage of Prednisone, Fibromyalgia is taking huge biting hunks of flesh out of me (not really but that's what it feels like) and I am reminded again how hard it was to get that beast managed. I am not where I was pre-strokes. I am in a lot more pain and on the "verge" of illness constantly. I need lots of sleep and am pretty unmotivated! I vacillate between knowing I am using excuses to get out of pushing myself and reminding myself that taking it easy is necessary for me to heal. Well which one is it?

But the choice is always ours. We can allow our trials to define us or become a part of us. It is hard work to not give into impulses and fear and laziness! For some reason the human condition seems to like to go there. Maybe it was all those years in caves as early man, who knows? But I do know I can sit around and whine all day about how much pain I am in or how I don't want to walk the dogs or how I need to clean this or cook that but feel terrible so I do nothing...or I can pace my activities and recognize that I am gonna hurt regardless, so I mine as well take some control back in my life and start where I get the biggest bang for my buck. My morning walk and yoga set the tone for the rest of the day. It is an investment in my health and well being that feeds my brain with the information that I matter, I am worth making a priority. I know the only way back to managed Fibromylagia comes through hard work and determination. Couple that with a healthy dose of self-respect and compassion and I will find my way there again. Oh, but there is one benefit to not liking one's childhood. I am 34 and don't have any laugh lines!

Thanks for joining,


  1. Thanks for the great and brave post.
    Did your therapist ever figure out what triggered the depression? Have you ever had another major episode? Having 1 tends to put a person at higher risk for a second or third. Hope you are doing well.

  2. Ha ha I think my depression was triggered by puberty...always had it and that is why I "self-medicated" so much in high school and college. It is something my docs watch for, as do I. So much of it is keeping control of my circumstances which is no easy feat with Fibro. I am good now ;)

  3. That was a great post, Leah. I was an angry little girl (I don't know why) and became an angry adult. I have wondered if the anger within (stress) could be an early trigger for FM & CFS. You are so fortunate to have seen the therapist early in are way ahead because of it. Seeing and talking to a therapist is a life-changing experience. We resist it, though. We want to take care of things ourselves.....hard to admit defeat and hard to accept help. You have just led hundreds of people to seek help sooner rather than later. Thank you!

  4. Marsha thank you for that! I really need to hear such a positive affirmation. Abacus girl is struggling with technology and getting very irritated and that was just the kick in the pants I needed to keep me going! Bless you ;)

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