It’s OK Not to be OK

 

Everyone has bad days and more often than not we feel guilty or sad or angry or frustrated, it’s OK to have these feelings. Look, I get it, I honestly get it, it’s more than impossible sometimes to feel grateful when you aren’t feeling well or are fighting off the latest round of depression. Especially when you know you are letting down the people who depend on you for normal everyday activities.

Today, I’m sick, it’s been going around our house for over a week, and Jimmy even took it with him when he went back to driving over the road. But I can’t stop and take care of me so I can get better. I’m the one that takes care of everyone else and do not get to take the time off from my duties of making sure everyone else is doing the things they are supposed to be doing. At least not like I should, I won’t slow down until I can’t go any further, by then it will take me a week to get back to being able to move farther away from my bed than just the distance to the bathroom. Too many people rely on me.

Not being able to take care of me when I have more pain than anyone around me can imagine, or can’t breathe because the crud that others have had as sinus congestion and cough has settled in my lungs and I feel like I’m gasping for air, is at best inconvenient. Especially when some of those around you can’t actually “see” the illness. I’m always hearing “you don’t look sick” or “you’ll be OK, it’s not a big deal”. Yes, it is.

Two years ago when Jimmy was working for the company he’s gone back to driving for now, we had amazing insurance, and I took full advantage of it. Well, at least I thought I did. I wanted someone to tell me why I was hurting so much, why the nerves all over my body often times feel like they are on fire and why I can barely walk some days. I chose a doctor that came highly recommended and did everyDAMNthing she told me to do. The thing is, she didn’t listen to the things I was telling her. In my medical records, it says I’d been treated at one time for acid reflux. That was in 2005 when we lived in MD. Since then, in 2009, I’ve been diagnosed with HPylori and have gone through the full exam, tests, and treatment to make sure it doesn’t get worse. I will always have this bacteria show up in any blood test I have, so I make sure to disclose it when I see a new doctor. Bottom line here is I don’t have acid reflux, and I became very tired of her continued determination to treat me for AR and not listen to the things I told her I was concerned about. So, after the second mammogram that April, and an additional visit to the doctor for the findings in the mammogram, and her continued refusal to listen to what I was saying, I stopped going altogether. Yes, I know I could have changed doctors, by this time I was over doctors in every capacity and chose to just not do anything about it. Just one more reason in my very long list as to why I do not like most medical professionals.

When I don’t feel well physically, it has a huge impact on my emotional health, too. I get depressed, which leads to oh so many different issues. I can’t sleep, I sleep too much, I don’t want to eat, I can’t stop eating, I cry at the drop of a hat, my anxiety goes through the roof which in turn causes panic attacks with the pain in my chest being so strong that at times can be bad enough I can’t breathe. Do I let this show? Do I let anyone know what I’m feeling or how much I need someone to take care of me? No, I rarely tell anyone anything about how I’m feeling or if I’m sick or if I’m hurting. However, that last part about how much I’m hurting is becoming more difficult to hide, it shows up at the most inconvenient times, like when I’m trying to walk across the room. And every time someone tells me it’s going to be OK, and to stop thinking about the pain and negative things happening in my life, to think about the good things and have happy thoughts, I want to slap them …across the face… with a flat edge shovel!

Self-care is the most recommended method to manage chronic illness, depression or pain. But, what if you don’t have time for self-care? What if your entire day is spent doing for others and by the time you are able to find a few minutes at the end of the day, you’ve barely enough energy to crawl into your bed? I have more of these kinds of days than I care to admit. This is where my journaling comes into play. I am able to have “me” time in the morning when I’ve got my coffee and writing in my journal at this time of the day is not only quiet time for me, but also forces me to wake up and focus on the day that lies before me. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to find a tiny reserve bit of energy in the evening after my bath or shower, right before I turn out the lights for the night to take a deep breath and let go of the things I couldn’t fix before the day came to an end.

Today I’m an emotional basket case, I’m crying at everything. I’m in pain, I have a cold (or bronchitis or maybe the flu?) settled in my chest and all I want is my blankets. But you know what? I’ll get through this cause that’s what I do and It’s OK Not to be OK.