Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)

When I was in my car accident (October 2008), my life suddenly came to a complete hault! I couldn't work, I had to move back home with my parents (oh, how I'm so grateful to have such amazing parents!), and I had to face a whole slew of imperfection that I wasn't prepared for. We'll fast-forward a bit (partially because I'd rather not even try to remember, and partially because I simply can't remember, the months directly following the accident).
"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches.
If suffering alone taught,
all the world would be wise,
since everyone suffers.
To suffering must be added
mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness
and the willingness to remain vulnerable."

- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
After living with my parents for the 10 months following the accident, I moved to Tulsa to start graduate school (and live alone, until Jeremy and I were married and he finished school early the following year). I felt that I was ready to try to return to school... and/or maybe I just couldn't cope with the thought that I wouldn't be able to return to and do well in school. I didn't have a clear-cut financial plan, but I was able to get an assistantship lined up a few days before classes started. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
"A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault." -John Henry Newman
So, I became a full-time student, a part-time graduate assistant, and I was planning a wedding for mid-semester... not the best of ideas, but I was excited and determined... things that I hadn't felt in months. My health didn't play along well with my plans, though.

I felt like I was keeping up well with my classes, so I never disclosed or sought accommodations for my disability... at least not until the end of the semester, when it was "too late." I was scared to death by some of the things that I was feeling for the first time... I'm actually scared to even say it here... I'd never even thought about cheating before I started having so much trouble with grad school. I lost a lot of productivity because of my health, and my brain simply didn't work so much of the time -- I wasn't able to read and/or I'd start reading and have to constantly re-read passages, knowing that none of it was going to my memory... I misunderstood even simple questions... I couldn't think on the spot, which affected my participation in class... I struggled with recalling information on tests, even once I sought assistance and was given more time for testing (it helped a little, but I still struggled so much). I HATED myself for the mere fact of even having thoughts of cheating. I didn't act on it, but that showed in many of my grades. It was an extremely rough cycle.
"Unless I accept my faults I will most certainly doubt my virtues." - Hugh Prather
I did start seeing a therapist / counselor on-campus, but it didn't help at all. I started seeing someone off-campus in the spring / summer, who was able to help me with my PTSD, which had been getting worse (flashbacks, still super-jumpy in cars, etc). It seems to have helped a lot (with my PTSD, but not with coping with chronic pain), though I still struggle with being jumpy in cars.

Anyway, I completed the semester by being placed on academic probation (because my GPA was 2.67, less than the required 3.0). That was a breaking point for me! I know that grades aren't everything, but school and academics has always been "my thing." I've always identified myself, at least in large part, by my intellectual capacity. And, then, I found myself on academic probation?!
It wasn't even just that... I was barely able to work any hours for my graduate assistantship (I won't even say how few I was able to work because it's embarrassing and heartbreaking to me). Between my migraines, anxiety, and trouble keeping up with classes... I just couldn't do it. Then, the spring semester got even worse! My graduate assistantship was with a different professor. Between her being sick, my health being worse than ever, and lack of communication between us... let's just say that I was chewed out and humiliated several times, putting  things like my dependability and hard-working qualities into question. I hit another breaking point! All of those things that she criticized me about (communication, dependability, availability, and hard-working) are things that I felt confident and proud of myself for being... at least before the accident. Another huge piece of my identity missing.
Back to academics - I worked so hard during the spring semester (on academic probation), and utilized the assistance from the school's center for student academic support - Jeremy and I were married, and he was living with and helping take care of me. I was determined to get myself off of probation. I knew I may not be able to return to school, but I wanted it to be my choice - I couldn't bear the thought of getting kicked out of graduate school (the pain of that thought was even more painful than the thought of not being able to finish the program). I completed the semester with a 3.67 GPA, which raised my overall GPA to 3.17. My health took a huge beating, though.

I decided to take a leave of absence, not knowing if I'd ever really return. It was extremely difficult to make the decision to not return to school to finish the 2-year program (plus internship). There were a lot of different considerations in making the decision, but it was the right choice for many different reasons. Honestly, I knew for a while that I wasn't going to return, but I couldn't handle making it an official decision... I had to work to get to a point of accepting it, first. This kept us in Tulsa longer than we would've liked to have been, but Jeremy was very understanding that I needed to really come to terms with my decision about school before I could leave.
"The imperfections of a man, his frailties, his faults, are just as important as his virtues. You can't separate them. They're wedded." - Henry Miller

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)

I know that no one is capable of being perfect or always being #1... we're all imperfect humans. But, the impossibility didn't seem to affect the standards I held for myself.
"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing." -Harriet Braiker
I breezed through school pretty easily. I did my homework, studied for tests (I think - ha), took honors classes, etc... but, I really never struggled much with school. I participated in sports (cross-country, track, softball), I had friends from many different cliques (I wasn't popular, but I had a good group of close friends). I don't think it really occurred to me that people smoked, did drugs, drank alcohol, had sex, etc. - I knew that some of those things happened, but not in my circle of friends - yes, I lived in a protective little bubble.
"All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible" - William Faulkner
When it came time to apply to colleges, I applied to three private universities... and was accepted to all three. I selected my favorite (and the one that offered me the most money - still very expensive, but the best financial option of the three) - it instantly felt right, when I stepped foot on campus. I definitely chose the best college for me! I did very well in college, but it was the first time I had to try that hard and the first time that I had to truly come to terms with it being okay not to get all A's (not sure I ever really did come to terms with that, but I tried). I made some great friends and memories, and grew so much as a person.

I worked (part-time) through much of high school and all of college. I got every job I applied for, and even completed two paid internships during college. When I began searching for a full-time job for after graduation, I applied to A LOT of different jobs. I had several different interviews, and got a job offer from all but one. I accepted a job about a month before graduation, and started working just two weeks after graduation.
"One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection." - Chuck Palahniuk
I succeeded at my job in ways that I didn't even expect. I learned a lot, even though it wasn't the right job for me. I never thought of it as permanent... my intentions were simply to do the best and learn the most I could from the job, earn as much money as I could to start paying off student loans, and then return to graduate school to continue my studies, marry my boyfriend (since high school... and long-distance relationship all through college), and live happily ever after (so to speak). Let's just say, that's not exactly what happened.

I applied to several different graduate school programs, but I was only accepted to one (I was "runner-up" to one of the other schools, but all of those accepted to the school decided to attend). It was pretty difficult for me to come to terms with not being accepted to more schools. I know how selective and competitive these programs are, but it didn't matter... I expected more from myself. I didn't know how I was going to move away and pay for yet another private university, so I postponed my graduate school for a year. That would've been fine, but I had my auto accident a few months after making that decision...
"Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways." - Samuel McChord Crothers 
By the time I was in my mid-20s, several lessons became abundantly clear (painful, yet important lessons):
  • Grades aren't everything. It's more important to integrate the knowledge and formulate your own self-philosophy than to simply regurgitate the information on a test.
  • Life experiences and achievements are not to be forced... they are to be lived and savored.
  • A full existence requires a combination of "rain and shine."
  • Just because I want something, and work my hardest to get it, doesn't mean that I can get or do it. I can do everything I'm "supposed" to do, and things still may not work out like I want (or expect) them to.

Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)

From as far back as I can remember, I was terrified of being "imperfect." I don't really know why or from where this stemmed from. My parents have always loved and supported me unconditionally, and yet I place(d) so much pressure on myself to be "perfect."

Honestly, I never thought of it as perfect versus imperfect. I just had SUPER high expectations for myself, and I was very critical if I didn't reach them (even if I came very close... actually, mostly when I came very close).
"Always live up to your standards - by lowering them, if necessary." - Mignon McLaughlin
My parents have told me that the first time I got a 99% (instead of a 100%) on a homework assignment in elementary school, I came home in tears... they probably knew at that moment that we were in for a rough ride. Apparently, they tried to tell me that a 99% is very good, but I just wouldn't hear it. HA!

Realistically, I haven't reached MANY of my expectations and goals. I could list them here, but that would be a bit depressing. It's always bothered me, though, that many of my goals were missed by a mere hair. I was just a little short of meeting them, and that actually made it more difficult to accept.
"When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target." - George Fisher
I was brought up believing that I could achieve anything I really set my mind to. And, for the most part, that was true (based on my experiences). All through school (including college), I was good at a lot of things, but not "brilliant" in anything in particular.

I wasn't like those people that have known since childhood that they wanted to be a teacher or doctor (for instance). I went through different phases of what I wanted to be... none of which were really connected (vet, artist, architect, accountant, psychologist, business woman, writer). I truly believed that I could be good at whatever I chose, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I was "supposed" to do. I felt that God could use me in any of those fields, so I didn't know where to go. Constantly hearing, "You're so lucky to be good at so many things... You can do anything, whatever you want" is beyond stressful! I didn't think it was luck at all. I felt almost cursed. Others around me felt a clear calling for a certain vocation, and I felt... LOST! I still feel pretty lost, but let's continue on with this discussion of imperfection...
"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius
Part of me wishes that someone would've told me that there's so much more to life than being perfect... but, I think that A LOT of people did tell me that, and I refused to truly listen. See, I knew it to be true, and yet I continued to try to hold myself to crazy-high standards (it probably didn't help that I was surrounded by over-achieving perfectionists, too).
"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."
- Vince Lombardi

Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)

This is a continuation from Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1).

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business” - Michael J. Fox

Perfection is the evil twin of excellence. Seeking to be perfect is all about me. Perfection demands to be right always, and it sets us up to becoming very self-righteous. Seeking excellence, on the other hand, is about honoring God. It's about being willing to change and improve, so that we can become what God made us to be.
"Perfection is motivated by the flesh. Excellence motivated by the Holy Spirit.Perfection glorifies self. Excellence brings glory to God.Perfection is rooted in insecurity. Excellence is rooted in a secure relationship with God.Perfection is being seeking to be perfect at all times. Excellence is doing your very best at the level you are.Perfection is running a race that never ends. Excellence is going the extra mile.
Perfection can not be obtained by anyone except Jesus Christ. Excellence can be obtained by the youngest or most mature Christian"

Tim Forsthoff at Cornerstone Church
God’s Word teaches us that:
  • No one can ever be perfect "We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins" (Romans 3:22-24)
  • Seeking perfection is trying to act like God - "There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God" (I Samuel 2:2)
  • God wants us to seek excellence - "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8)
  • Excellence is possible "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Philippians 3:12)
  • My partner in seeking excellence is the Holy Spirit "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:26-27)
Erika at Keeping It Personal has a beautifully written post, Perfectionism. It's a fairly short read, but it's so very powerful! Here's just a sample:
"I want my life, my efforts, all of me to count for something... Friend, you do matter... far more than you think. Not only are you a daughter of the King, God has gifted you and called you. He has put desires and dreams in your heart. For most of us, we have let distractions, busyness, good intentions, and worries mute the cry of our hearts and bury those God-given dreams. But they are there. Find them. Ask Him to open your eyes and soften your heart, that you might know His calling for you... For it’s not perfectionism that stops us, that holds us back. It’s fear. Far too often, fear is the dictator of our lives. And that’s not how we were called to live" (Perfectionism).
Sandy at God Speaks Today has also written a couple powerful blog posts about Freedom From Perfection.
“Perfectionism is a spiritual weight that directly affects the freedom promised to us in the Word of God" 
"So, maybe excellence is more a pursuit of character qualities—the attributes of God, like virtue and love and justice and mercy…God cares about how we do things. Whether it’s done well, or not-so-well. But I think He’s much more concerned with the attitude behind the doing…That we see with spiritual eyes the depth of acceptance God has for us, even in especially in our messy condition. That we always remember, because we have been forgiven much, we can love all the more. That we finally and completely Embrace Imperfect—and then go in peace"  
God Speaks Today, "Freedom from Perfection
Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)

Well, it's pretty fitting that I haven't posted this until now (though I started it back in April) because I wanted to get it "just right." But, I've gotten to the point where I just need to get it out there. I'm never done learning, so all of what I write is unfinished.

Perfectionism is "a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable; especially: the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness."
"Perfectionism is the need to be - or to appear - perfect. Perfectionists are persistent, detailed and organized high achievers. They vary in their behaviors; some strive to conceal their imperfections, others attempt to project an image of perfection. But all have in common extremely high standards for themselves or for others. Perfectionism is not officially recognized as a psychiatric disorder. However extreme forms of perfectionism should be considered an illness similar to narcissism, obsessive compulsiveness, dependent-personality disorder and other personality disorders because of their links to distress and dysfunction” - Gordon Flett, professor of psychology at York University in Toronto
Our society seems to support the idea or belief of perfectionism, and imperfection is viewed negatively. But, perfection is merely the idea of a perceived ideal state. It's not attainable, and yet we strive to be perfect.

I've struggled with perfectionism for the majority of my life. I often keep myself in this vicious cycle of setting unreachable goals and then failing to attain them (even before my accident, when I wasn't limited in the ways I am now). I place constant pressure on myself, becoming self-critical and anxious, which has often lead to depression. Thankfully, I'm (slowly) learning to ease up on myself.

I've always tried to do everything myself, my way. Perfectionism is self-reliance that has gone too far (that's gone amuck). I've always had this need to at least feel a sense of control, which I can now see kept me from really letting go and handing things over to God... I always tried to hold on to it, just a little. I've been able to let go of much more than I used to (still a learning process), and it's truly liberating!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)
Living life striving for perfection keeps us from ever truly feeling a sense of happiness and satisfaction. How can you enjoy the present moment, if your mind is constantly planning and thinking about the future... or thinking about what went wrong in the past? I've struggled so much with this... struggling to feel satisfaction or contentment because my perception is always clouded by perfectionism. But, there is no peace in a life striving for perfection.

All of this is not to say that we shouldn't strive to do well and be the best we can be. But, there's a very fine (yet life-changing) line between striving for excellence and striving for perfection.

Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

For the last two years, I've written about 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know (2010, 2011). Some of my answers are the same or similar. But, I think it can be good to review how you've answered these questions in the past, so you can see where you were and how far you've come.

1. The illness(es) I live with is: Chronic post-traumatic headache/migraine (intractable, with and without aura), anxiety, depression
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: Chronic migraines - 2008 (after a car accident). The others were diagnosed around 2002.
3. But I had symptoms since: dealt with headaches (and some migraines), anxiety, and depression since (at least) my teenage years.
4. The biggest adjustment I've had to make is: not always being able to take care of myself / depending on other people so much.
5. Most people assume: that nothing is wrong with me and/or that I can't hurt as much or often as I do.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: getting up without feeling rested, and  not knowing how much pain the day will bring.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House, CSI
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my cell phone
9. The hardest part about nights are: getting to sleep, especially when the pain is bad.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins: I plead the fifth
11. Regarding alternative treatments I have tried: massage, physical therapy, chiropractic
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I'm not sure. At least with an invisible illness, I don't always have people looking at me strangely or asking me what's wrong/what happened.
13. Regarding working and career: I have been unable to work since the accident in 2008. I tried to return to graduate school for a year, but ended up taking a leave of absence and then made the difficult decision not to return. Since then, working and/or school hasn't even been an option.
14. People would be surprised to know: I am in pain (often severe) every single day... all day, every day.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: that I have changed, and things will never be the same.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: plan the wedding of my dreams
17. The commercials about my illness: are very misleading as to what migraine really is and how debilitating it can be. The one about chronic migraine, where the lady is laying on the couch and everything is happening around / without her, is a bit more realistic.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: This could be a very long list... I miss being able to actively participate in life.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: who I was before the accident... I still haven't completely let go of that yet.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: blogging
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: have no idea what to do with myself (assuming "normal" is feeling "good," not what my "normal" has become)! I don't even know what life without pain is anymore.
22. My illness has taught me: to recognize the strength that I DO have. It is teaching me to TRUST God more... but it is definitely a long and difficult process.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Migraines are just bad headaches; take some pills and keep going / move on, it can't be that bad.
24. But I love it when people: Show that they care. Even just little things like: being aware of how bright a room is, asking if the TV/radio is too loud, rubbing my neck/shoulders/head, treating me like a person rather than the disease/illness, being considerate at a restaurant by allowing me to sit facing away from windows (so the glare shining off of cars doesn't worsen my pain)
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:
  • "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)
  • "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4)
  • "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart" (Jeremiah 29:13)
  • "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6)
26. When someone is diagnosed I'd like to tell them: keep yourself informed - research things online, ask your doctor questions, do your best to understand and articulate your experience with your disease/illness. Don't feel like you're alone - join blogging, church, or other support group(s) to help you through the difficult times that you will go through. Be ready for a roller coaster ride of ups and downs.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how strong, yet vulnerable, I can be. Everything I do has to be a conscious decision to use my energy for that specific thing (even basic things, like taking a shower).
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn't feeling well was: take care of me... When I have a bad migraine, my husband does everything he can to take care of me (feeds me, makes sure I take my medicine, massage my head/neck/shoulders/back/feet [if I can handle being touched], make sure I'm in a dark room and am as comfortable as I can be, and anything else that I need).
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I feel that we need to speak out and get more awareness, research, and understanding out into the public view about invisible illnesses - they are real and often difficult to bear.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: heard/validated, and hopefully a bit better understood. It gives me hope that invisible illnesses can be better understood, if only people will listen.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Suicide Prevention

This week (September 9-15, 2012) is the 38th Annual National Suicide Prevention Week. This coincides with Pain Awareness Month. National Suicide Prevention Week Activities can be found: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and American Association of Suicidology.

September 10th (of each year) is World Suicide Prevention Day.

More information about suicide prevention can be found:
You Matter, Let Us Help You Through
American Association of Suicidology
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
World Health Organization

If you, or someone you know, is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Invisible Illness, Visible Hope

September 10-16, 2012 is Invisible Illness Week. This year's campaign is "Invisible illness? Share your visible hope." There are some great resources on the website - bloggers will be blogging and sharing images about living with invisible illness, and there will be seminars throughout the week.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Stages of Grief: Depression

I think I've written about the stages of grief before, so I'll just do a quick overview. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross put forth a model of how we work through and grieve a loss.
The five stages of grief are:
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
These stages are not always all felt by someone experiencing a loss, and they don't always happen in chronological order. You can move between them, and even go through some multiple times.

People living with chronic illness often continue through these different emotions, as the pain continues, there are changes in one's limitations, and so forth. Even if someone reaches a place of acceptance, they can fall back to the other stages. It can feel like there are waves of acceptance. But, I'm stuck in a dip / valley, and I'm not sure how I got here or how to get out. I didn't even realize that I had come to some sort of peace with things... until I no longer had that level of acceptance (hindsight's 20/20, I guess).

I'm finding myself in the depression part of the model. I'm trying hard not to sink into a deep depression, but I know depression well enough to know that I'm there... just trying not to slide further into the darkness of depression. I need to reach out to a therapist, but it's difficult to do. I have an accountability partner, which will hopefully help me get the help I need. But, it's a huge step that I even am writing this out.

Depression isn't something that you can really articulate. I feel somehow disconnected (dissociation) from God, myself, and others. I don't find joy in some of my hobbies. I'm trying to go through the motions that I know I should take, but I really just don't care. I just feel unmotivated and STUCK.

It doesn't help that I also deal with anxiety and panic attacks, which have both been worsening. I sometimes feel weird and need to sit down, but then I need to stand and/or move around... so, I'll just sit, stand, sit, stand, and so on. Meanwhile, my heart feels like it's about to beat out of my chest. I take my blood pressure and pulse, and they're normal... NORMAL?! How can they be normal, when I clearly know that something's wrong?!

These feelings of depression and worsening of anxiety didn't come on quickly (it's been a build up over months), so I can't expect them to just go away. I just need to find the strength and courage to reach out for help and start climbing out of the pit. I'm NOT done fighting yet!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lessons: Finding Joy

I've come so far in being able to feel true happiness for others and the things that are happening in their lives, but sometimes I find it so very difficult. It makes me feel guilty, and I hate being unable to share in their joy.

Since my accident, I've struggled with feeling like everyone else is moving forward, while I just seem to stay in place... stagnant. Sometimes, everything seems to be happening around me, while I remain on the sidelines. A good friend of mine described it as being on a treadmill - constantly walking, but never really getting anywhere.

I love that people are doing well. I think the world would be a horribly miserable place, if everyone was living in chronic pain. I also love being able to share in other people's lives, and I want people to be able to tell me anything, not having to "walk on eggshells" with me. But, it's sometimes heart-wrenching. When people talk to me about their hopes, dreams, goals, and achievements, it can be hard for me... especially if these things are similar to what my own hopes, dreams, and goals have been / are.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith
produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be
mature and complete, not lacking anything"
(James 1:2-4)
I struggle with jealousy of people's lives because of what they're able to do that I can't. There are some things that I simply can no longer do. I'm coming to peace with some of the limitations that I have (not in a roll-over-and-let-the-illness-win way, but just accepting that there are limitations and trying to live the best life I can despite them). But, I haven't formed any hopes and dreams for my future with this disease. I don't know what's in my future, much less how to get there. So, seeing others move into areas that I have a passion for (and used to be very prepared to do) can be hard to swallow sometimes.

The struggle, guilt, and jealousy may not always be so strong as to bring me sadness; but I think they're always there, lurking in the background. I don't want to feel these things, especially not so strongly. I truly am grateful for all that I have. But, sometimes I just want to scream "WHY?!" Why does it seem that no matter what I do, there's no reprieve? I just feel so weary and worn down from the constant battle.

Sharing About Migraine

I try my best to be very open about my life with migraine disease... at least here on my blog.

I open up to those loved ones that I trust 100%, but most of my conversation about how I'm doing with migraine disease are pretty superficial. I try to pay close attention, and if someone is asking questions and seems truly interested in learning more about my experiences and/or about migraine disease, I become an open book. I've learned so much through all of this (and I'm still learning), and I'm happy to share that with people that really want to know more.

I've always been able to open up more through my writing, but it's been a BIG step to put it out there and allow others into my world. Since I started this blog two years ago, I've been greatly blessed with a caring and supportive audience. Thanks to the fact that I've been met here with open arms, it's been much easier to allow myself to be more vulnerable than I would normally allow myself to be to others. And, it's so freeing!

I can't tell you how good it feels to be able to share my journey, and it's a bonus that my words and journey have helped others along the way. My faith gives me hope of better days, regardless of whether or not that includes chronic pain. It fills me up, and I can't help but share with others. Of course, I still struggle. But, I know that my God is watching over and working through me. It is only through Him that my words bring hope to others.
I Hope...
I hope for love, joy and laughter.
I hope we'll have more than we'll ever need.
I hope we'll have more happy ever afters.
I hope we can all live more fearlessly and we can lose all the pain & misery.
I hope, I hope.
Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

What I write on this site is my own, and if it is someone else's, I take special care to attribute it to the original author. So, please don't use any of my material without proper attribution or permission. Thanks.