(This picture was taken just days before I had gotten sick this time around. My son and I had enjoyed natural hot springs and taken a hike. I felt really free. I had no idea what was coming. Late January 2018)
I wrote this text today to a very dear friend who suffers from PTSD and debilitating anxiety. She is very young and a bit of a “project” for me. A project in the sense that I want her to have healing from what ails her much sooner than I did at 41. I love her like a daughter and consider her a bear cub of mine. I shortened her name to just “R” so not to out her identity. So, R, this whole post is dedicated to you and your healing journey and to all others who are working hard at making good lives for themselves. Please learn from my mistake. The text follows:
“R, please learn a lesson from me. If there’s something you want to do, do it no matter how bad your anxiety or PTSD symptoms are. There may just come a day that all the amazing things you want to do are suddenly ripped from you and the only places and things you can do are in your imagination. Live life R. Do the crazy, fun things you want. I hope you never end up disabled as I’m not only disabled, but full of regrets for the inhibitions my anxiety and depression caused me for years. If I wasn’t so scared, I could have had a life I could be looking back on fulfilled knowing I did what I wanted. Conquer your anxiety! And just live! As I can’t do much of anything.”
Please take this message to heart everyone. A very special therapist once said to me “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I wish I would have followed her advice before I became so sick. My fellow warriors in struggling, do your best to make your life what YOU want and do the things your heart desires. Please, if you have an able body, get out of bed or off the couch that anxiety is telling you that you need to stay in to be safe. Safety is being good to yourself, continuing on despite adversity, and having peace in your heart.
I challenge everyone to do one thing, no matter how small to make your own life just a little bit better and to show anxiety or depression that YOU are in charge. I think I’ll start with painting again tomorrow. What will you do?
(An image of my mom filling my head with lies that still govern my life now)
Sorry I’ve disappeared for a bit. Ever since I had those infusions 3 weeks ago, I have been beyond sick and in so much pain that I didn’t even know this amount of suffering was possible.
I’m seen as a pillar of strength to so many and seen as inspirational to a lot, and now that I’ve had to draw some serious boundaries on what I’m capable of doing for others or supporting others, I’m getting a whole lot of nothing in return. So honestly, I’m really bitter. I’m in the worst place possible with my health and it’s a rare day that my phone rings or anyone messages me anymore as I can’t support other people right now. I have a couple, but they are busy with their own lives, and I appreciate what they can do.
It’s the people I spend countless hours helping that I just can’t do it right now that have stopped that make me intensely angry. It makes me angry as all these screwed up ideas that my mom planted in my head get reinforced like, “only happy people deserve love”. I know that’s a bunch of ridiculous BS, but it’s proving true in my life over and over. Yes, I slammed the door on a bunch of toxic people as they couldn’t support me, but why was that? Was it because I became very sick and was no longer “happy”. I was never happy previous to really working on my trauma this past year, but they thought they knew a happy Lizzie. So, maybe it is true. Maybe people have no interest in real connection.
All I know is that I’m alone, in the worst physical pain of my life where I can’t even enjoy reading or writing or doing my art or anything meaningful I’ve managed to create in these four walls.
What I do know, is I’m often curled up as a sobbing little ball of mess as no one apparently cares or at least that is how people are acting. Sorry all, I’m not happy right now and if that’s what’s expected for me to have people around, I’ll choose to be alone.
Going back to sobbing now as I’m in so much pain.
(Feeing sick, but content and peaceful)
I will say there is a certain amount of joy in being chronically ill as well as having complex PTSD. You probably wonder how I could ever find joy. Becoming so horribly and chronically ill has snapped me out of so many of my distortions of living that complex PTSD had forced upon me. For example, my perfectionism got thrown right out the window with chronic illness. When you barely have energy to shower, there is definitely no energy to put on a pretty face and make perfect hair. I like it as I don’t feel like it most of the time anyway!
It also snapped me out of black and white thinking and into a place of taking the middle road. There are no absolutes in life when chronically ill. In fact, the middle road is a the best and most peaceful place.
Chronic illness also taught me that I just don’t care. I care deeply about certain people of course, but I dropped so many people in my life as I realized they just dragged me down and I really don’t care about any of their drama anymore.
I’ve also become “selfish”. I am selfish with my time and energy as there is so little of it left that I get to choose how I use it and who I spend it with. This usually means it is devoted to only the most special people in my life and activities that I want to engage in.
Best part of all?? Retired at 40!!
Anyone find they are breaking old patterns for any reasons?
This picture is from a few days ago when I had just started to receive infusion treatments for autoimmune issues that are pretty serious and was told this was going to truly help. I was full of so much hope that I was going to get some energy back, a bit of vitality, and even get in a hike before the snow falls on the Pacific Crest Trail.
A few hours, post infusion, I was sicker than sick. I managed to get in for my second one, and was literally crying as I left the infusion center as I was in so much pain. I skipped the third and have been trying to lay low with a cluster of symptoms that are making me feel horrendous. I found myself getting extremely heartbroken and disillusioned that I will never feel well. I had to put a big old STOP to that! As the truth is, I have a life. It might not be the life I had envisioned for me, but a life nonetheless. My mind is mentally stronger than it ever has been. I genuinely have more hope than ever, and the best part is, I am surrounded by good people, as long as I don’t push them away. So no, my life isn’t ideal for pretty much anyone, but yes, my life is ideal for me. It’s slow. It has time to reflect. It is full of time to rest. It is full of time for me. I dream of hiking the mountains I can see from my window. I yearn to swim in ice cold clear mountain lakes miles from my house. For now, I have to stay put. I can go to those places in my head and see them from when I went before. I can write about those experiences and relive them when I read what I wrote.
So this post may not be so much about trauma or complex PTSD, but it is proof that even under the most adversary of circumstances, life is there.
Remember that people around you admire your courage no matter how much you think it doesn’t show. My 11 year old son looked at me today and said, “Mom, you are the strongest person I know”. In my mind, I thought he was just disappointed in me for never being able to do much as I’m just too sick. His “strength” was about my character and made me realize that even if I become the most horribly, physically weak person on the planet, I am still strong. I am strong because I choose to do well with my life despite so much set back.
Who knows you are strong? Do you know you are strong?
I want to spread the message that if you are hurting today and find absolutely nothing good in this world this afternoon, Good for you!! We can’t be inspirational all the time, or even any of the time for most. Finding meaning in our pain is a lifelong process that some of us are lucky to find a little bit, or if you’re super lucky, you will use your pain to make a life worth living for YOU!
I give this shout out today as I found out a third person I’ve known now in 5 months committed suicide as they just couldn’t get over the pain of their life. It takes courage to live as long as you can when you feel so awful. It takes courage to secretly live a life so painful that no one even knew this person was suicidal. How courageous that they protected us all from their pain so we could all be ok while they were suffering the ultimate suffering?!
I absolutely don’t advocate suicide, but I understand what brings a person to that point as I have been there more times than I ever admit. But there was also courage in this person’s choice. Am I intensely sad they are gone? Yes. Am I intensely befallen with grief that I couldn’t help? Absolutely. Am I intensely enraged that another friend of mine is dead because they couldn’t see the beauty I saw? More than you can ever imagine. I am happy in that I can only hope they are finding some peace before their spirit moves onto whatever is next. Well, “happy” is the wrong word, it’s more like I find solace in hoping they are finding some peace.
I also just want to give a shout out for all my friends that I’ve attempted to help this past week. So many of you are completely lost in the pain of depression or allowing others to hurt you. So I applaud you for making the choice to live through it. I admire the courage you are all engaging in to make it another day when people around you cause you to question your goodness or you are believing your inner critic telling you that you aren’t good enough. Shout out Shout out Shout out for continuing on as I’m getting sick of my friends dying.
If you’re having a particularly rough day, contact me. If you know me personally, then contact me personally. If you don’t, send me an email via this blog.
Today I am sitting with gratitude that I can share what has made my life better. It’s not that my life is amazing and easy, but every moment gets the slightest bit better, even the super painful ones.
I promise to share more of my personal story and how I came to this place. I have just been contemplating how and what to tell as I don’t want to do it in a triggering manner, but a way you will all see that it was a lot of work, and I come to this place in complete honesty of knowing a life that was beyond hard.
Just remember, shout out to the suffering today!
Are you an amazing magician that can disappear when you need to the least? I am! What I mean by this is we have a tendency to disappear and not talk to anyone when we need help the most. Why do we do this? If you have any kind of trauma, our trauma taught us that if we are suffering, there will never be anyone reliable or safe to care for us if we really need help. Unfortunately, these were the times we were taught to go it alone.
I write this as 3 different people in my life have disappeared for a bit. One said something along the lines of not being in a space to talk to anyone. Another said she was going through a hard anti social period, and yet another has just been trained to be alone as a lifelong way of dealing with the world. It makes me terribly sad that my friends go hide by themselves when they hurt the most. What hurts even more, is that I understand why. I feel like no one wants to see me pain. Sometimes, it definitely gets validated that no one wants to see my pain. BUT, the new way of doing things for me IS to reach out. I have different levels of people I can tell what really hurts. I have a friend on the other side of the country that I can tell everything and never overwhelm her. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a person I can contact and just say, “I’m having a bad day. Could you please help me reframe what is good in my life?”
What I have definitely learned is that reaching out, just a tiny bit, helps so much. I may need to cry my huge tears and feel horribly painful emotions for a bit first, but then I do reach out. I let people know my struggles. Having a very very very small circle that walk beside me helps a lot. Thank you to those of you who work so hard at keeping me following the right path to healing.
If you are hurting today and doing a disappearing act, reach out to me. Your emails to me are life saving and life changing to me. I love hearing from you and supporting others the best I can. You can also feel free to comment. (Remember when commenting, you never have to give a real name if you want to stay anonymous. I understand!)