Monday, September 29, 2014

Fear Of Engagement

Last weekend I ran into a former coworker at the mall. She relocated from San Francisco to the L.A. area and is working for our previous employer again. It was so wonderful to see a friendly face from my past! Memories of a time when I had a paycheck, friends, and somewhere to be haunted me for the next few days. I realized a large part of me missed my life as a department store makeup girl. I didn't miss working weekends and holidays, standing on my feet for eight hours, or dealing with an often difficult general public. But I do miss having a professional identity and a way to make friends. After not getting a paycheck, of course. 

In the four years since I've worked I've become a recluse. For a long time after my two strokes my brain was fried. Darn near every public encounter left me either confused or in tears. I took a couple classes at the community college. That really helped pull me out of my shell. Engaging with the world, working on a deadline and cultivating relationships forced me to move forward in life. Going back to the gym even exercised my public encounter muscles. But I'm still a recluse, and have to admit I've developed a bit of social awkwardness. So when I got my friend's text, asking if I would ever consider returning to my former profession, I didn't know what to say. Lord knows I need the money. But, like everything else in my life, it all comes back to my health. I've got this outrageously high-maintenance lifestyle in place to manage my Fibro. It takes up a significant amount of my time and without it I get sick again.

So I talked to my friend and inquired about freelance makeup artistry. Then I hung up and freaked out. What am I thinking? I can't do retail! I'm not trying to go back to living on narcotics and tears of pain! I'm a writer now! Albeit unpaid, but I have to finish my book before I can sell it. Am I only considering this opportunity because it's familiar and won't challenge my fear of the unknown? Or do I need to shut my ego up and realize this is this a great way to make ends meet while pursuing my passion? But I haven't even looked into writing employment. Why would I just go backward without trying to move forward first? And the questions keep coming. The doubt and fear and uncertainty scare the dickens out of me. In an all together different way I'm facing a familiar cliff, and just don't know if I should jump.

Thanks for joining,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Cost

On Friday I skipped the gym for absolutely no reason whatsoever, other than I didn't feel like going. It's the first time I've done that since I started working out six months ago. Naturally, I proceeded to flog myself over my own lack of discipline. Within an hour I became convinced I was going to gain all the weight back I worked so hard to lose. When Shingles pain started throbbing in my face a few hours later, I realized I was actually in a pretty bad flare. That made me remember I've been in a horrible suppressed immune system flare for months now. In fact, I've pretty much been rolling from one flare to another with a mere couple days in between. My weakened state easily overexerts when I'm exercising, and I've taken to injuring some random tendon or ligament or another every time I workout. No wonder I didn't want to go to the gym!

Moving to California knocked the management of my Fibro back to pre-juicing days. A place in time where I couldn't count on myself for jack squat, avoided the nitty gritty of life because I just couldn't cope with reality, and most certainly didn't wake up even close to the same person every morning. I was one sick girl who was rapidly losing the will to keep fighting. This marvelous refresher in Fibro 101 reminded me how hard this illness is to live with, and how difficult it's been to get my life back. The experience helped me find some much-needed compassion my recent flourish of anger forgot was so necessary for survival.

I'm a driven, determined woman on a quest to live a quality life, accomplish my dreams and make a difference. I also happen to share my body with a virus that damaged my central nervous system, hijacked my immune system and generally obliterated my entire life. While said virus won't kill me, it ain't goin' anywhere. We've had to learn to live together, Fibro and I, seeing as we share the same host. While we haven't made peace, per se, I've found a way to keep going by becoming as healthy as I possibly can. But the truth of the matter is sometimes those efforts cost a really painful price.

Thanks for joining,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Desperately Seeking Motivation

Hindsight is so golden. I'm sitting here desperately trying to regain the quality of life I worked so hard to achieve in Arizona. It's not working. I'm back to falling asleep after 2 AM and getting up at 11, keep injuring myself at the gym, and am so damn bitchy I'd do anything to get away from me! My discipline is sorely lacking and anger is back to defining the way I spend my days. Sigh. I've already danced this tango, and almost didn't survive it once! It was so much work, but I actually got to a place of ownership in my life, and felt like I had a modicum of control over my circumstances. And then I had to go and move back to California.

Despite the raging heatwave scorching the Southland, and my broken air conditioner, I don't regret the choice to relocate. I just don't know why everything had to go so seriously wrong for months on end. When I start recanting the litany of ills we've endured; movers not showing up, car accidents, broken appliances, flooded dining rooms, a sick dog, termites...and the list goes on and on...people tend to laugh at the absurdity. I wish I was laughing. Any one of those complications are stressful and time consuming. But everything strung together in a consecutive string knocked this Fibro patient over here on her ass. 

I don't know how long it's going to take me to regain my lost ground. When I wake up in the morning I'm mad. Then I remember I used to get up happy and full of purpose, which makes me feel desperate and abandoned. The only good thing is I'm reaching the end of my victim-complaining rope. Endlessly kvetching about my reality is getting old. I want to move forward! I want to contribute to the world's health and well-being, not gnash my teeth and pull my hair because life turned out a lot harder than I ever in a million years imagined possible. I want to succeed and accomplish and inspire our collective consciousness. I want to have a positive impact on my broken, hurting patient population. I want to help the world to understand what living with Fibromyalgia is like, and help Fibromyalgia patients survive the way this horrible illness can wreck a life. I want to do all this and so much more! Maybe simply writing it down, and making myself accountable, can be the first step?

Thanks for joining,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nothing To Give

My interpersonal relationships have been struggling tremendously since I moved back to my hometown. For two and a half months I've been vacillating between fulfilling expectations and stewing in resentment. The more expectations I meet, the more demands seem to come my way. I knew full well I couldn't keep going at that pace, but didn't know how to relieve myself of the normal, everyday, healthy-human burden of reciprocal relationships. Ahhhh, this is why I don't have friends. I'm not capable of reciprocal relationships! I barely have enough to take care of myself and my husband. Being there for other people isn't even in my lexicon. 

I suppose I should sit everyone down and deliver a dissertation on how my life is different than theirs. Explain that while they are merrily pursuing that inalienable American right called The Pursuit of Happiness, I'm barely hanging on to mere survival. It seems more like seeking approval, though. Laying out my trials and tribulations, listening to bad advice that only makes the advice-giver feel better, inviting judgment of my lifestyle, or strategies on how I can change my circumstances. None of which take into consideration I am a chronic illness patient. And really, Miss Jaded & Bitter over here doesn't expect it to make any difference, so why put myself through the torture?

I'm defeated and broken. Spent and exhausted. Weary to the bone. Sick and tired of being sick and tired. And even more sick and tired of pretending life is okay, when it so profoundly isn't. I can't do it anymore. For whatever reason my journey in life is a tremendous exercise in struggle. So much trauma for so long has severely limited my ability to engage in the experience of living. My life can still be good. I can still achieve success and experience joy just like everyone else. But unlike everyone else I can't do it towing five other people behind me. This lone wolf simply won't survive a pack.

Thanks for joining,

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I Was Looking For Health

August 2014

I got sick in 2005, when I was in the best shape of my life. The previous Thanksgiving I suffered from a near-fatal pancreas attack. My inner party-girl took a backseat as I started exercising and learning about nutrition. It was a short-lived effort. Over the course of the next six years medications, inactivity, pain, fatigue, panic and anguish took a terrible tole on my physical appearance. But it was nothing compared to what I felt like on the inside. Now I know the inner workings of health are written all over a person's exterior. But back then I was quickly descending into a prison I couldn't escape, the endless nightmare of constant and pervasive sickness. My doctors called it Viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I called it sheer, unadulterated hell.

March 2011

In 2011 I was 34 years-old, and could hardly hobble down a flight of stairs. I was in so much pain gravity felt like it was crushing my organs. I struggled around with limbs so heavy, it felt like they were injected with lead. My muscles crackled with snaking whips of ripping pain. My mental state was as broken as my body. I simply didn't want to live. It was too hard, hurt too bad. And there was no helping me, the double stroke-survivor who cowered under the shield of her Fibromyalgia diagnosis. Modern medicine had no answers for me. I couldn't function in society, engage in activity or relate to the world in any way. The only thing I could do was be sick. 

From this broken and dejected low I rebuilt my health one painstaking step at a time. There isn't any one plan I followed, or guru I assigned blanket trust. Just one woman, determined not to keep getting so sick I almost died, set out to make sense of the health sham perpetuated by the modern American lifestyle. I unlearned everything I knew about exercise and nutrition. I relearned how to live in healthy harmony with my body. My relationship with food evolved from one of dependence and indulgence to something that helps manage my illness. Exercise used to not only cause me horrible pain, it would make me sick. Now it's my favorite immune booster and narcotic in one. It was a very hard road getting here. But today I feel so much better it's like crushed-by-gravity girl is floating on the fluffy cloud of a wonderful dream. People keep telling me I've lost a lot of weight. Undoubtedly, I have. But that was never the focus. I went on a quest looking for heath. On that path I reclaimed my life.

Thanks for joining,