Posted in Fibromyalgia

Chasing Ghosts

I’ve written so much about my struggles with fibromyalgia that at times I can’t imagine any new way to describe it all. Thankfully fibro keeps changing and evolving, constantly giving me new material! I know how that appears. Why is there always something wrong with that woman? When will she feel good? How can she have that many things wrong with her? How can it hurt if there really isn’t anything wrong? And those are just questions from my own brain, what the hell are other people thinking??!!

It’s near impossible to imagine pain with no cause (rebels with no cause are cool, though). I didn’t break my leg or get injured; my nervous system is injured which means you can’t really see my pain and it doesn’t appear to follow much rhyme or reason – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

I have a new primary care doctor, recommended by my pain doctor (when does that even happen?), and he is wonderful. But I can’t help but to think he’s at the “why the hell did I accept this patient” stage of our relationship (even though I was told he loves a challenge, hence why he got me). If I had to be honest I would tell you that I feel emergency levels of pain several times a month, every month of my life. This is pain that my body knows is bad and needs urgent medical attention because something inside me has to be in the process of dying in order to feel this way. My brain, however, knows that this is just par for the course and that the last time (and time before that, and the time before that time) I went in there was nothing wrong with me. It’s like going on Maury on a regular basis, each time certain you have found the daddy of your pain baby, only to hear those words “you are NOT the father” and now everyone just thinks you are a pain slut.

I might’ve taken that too far.

*shrugs*

It’s embarrassing. At least it is for me. And if the attitudes are just right, or if I feel the attitudes are just right, i.e. judgmental, I can very easily be discouraged to come in for any kind of treatment for a very long time out of pure shame or simple self doubt. Knowing I can’t trust my body and that I can rarely tell if I’m actually sick, actually injured, or if I’m just chasing a ghost means I’m not going to trust my uncertainty with just any practitioner unless I absolutely have to. Which means I often end up in a bad place that was completely preventable had I just gone to the doctor. It’s a crazy, endless cycle.

This is my life. This is why I’m a total dipshit.

Every day I am monitoring myself for hints of things going wrong so I can stop them before they get too overwhelming while already dealing with whatever has already gotten overwhelming. This is why when I feel good I just go batshit crazy and do all the things, which must be terrifying for people because I don’t even know how to socialize anymore; I swear to sweet baby jeebus in his little tiny sparkly spaceship that the last time I escaped and tried to be social I sat down next to someone and said “I like pot-roast”.

I’m a grown-up, you guys. I’m in charge of a kid and a dog (and a cat, but we all know no one is really in charge of a cat). Someone let me loose on this world and thought I could adult and check my own engine oil and not explode microwaves and otherwise just basically function, and I don’t even know what a normal human body is supposed to feel like.

WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA????!!!

Take me to your leader right meow.

Posted in Fibromyalgia

Breaking the Silence

Yesterday was my 6 year blogiversary here at Still Smihlen (thanks to my friend Rita for naming it!), and seeing that little notice really kicked me in the ass. I realized that I haven’t been here as of late. You know, here. Not necessisarily here at this blog or on my facebook page – which really sucks because posting ridiculous stuff for you guys is on my Top Ten List of Bomb Ass Shit – but, yes, both here at the blog and here in the normal, functional world. Since I checked out I have taken blow after blow after blow and each time I thought about chronicling my experience I just cringed. It was too depressing, too dark, and simply too painful to recount while I was trying to recover. It’s a bit like falling through an ice covered lake in subzero weather and someone offering you a glass of ice water once you finally pull yourself out. No. I need a blanket, dumbass. STAT.

And so I climbed into that blanket and just stayed there until I could feel my toes again. It took almost a year and a half. I’m not proud, yet here I am so perhaps I should be. Not everyone makes it back.

Writing is normally very therapeutic for me, but I haven’t been able to pick up my blogging ever since my last fall. I’ve tried, but the nagging feeling that I was avoiding something, that I was leaving something important out of the story blocked me every time. And so I am going to tell you this part of my story and just get it out there and over with in hopes of being able to move on AND in hopes that it will help someone else.

So here we go.

Let’s talk about Depression.

In high school I decided I’d be a great psychologist because everyone told me I would be a great psychologist. I remember one time being called out of class thinking I had done something wrong, but it turned out a peer was in crisis and only wanted to speak with me. Yeah. Pretty badass, right? I know. I know.

Once I was an adult (and not a psychologist lol), I really enjoyed studying and reading about psychology. And I’m glad I did because it really came in handy after I almost caused a severe car accident due to my irrational fear of spiders. That experience really shook me and I knew I had to do something about that fear before I hurt myself or others. So I read up on desensitization therapy and did it my damn self. Successfully. I cured myself of the fear of spiders and also learned that my mind is my own and I am absolutely capable of keeping it in check.

Fast forward about 20 years and there I was crying in my bed, isolated and hopeless, a prisoner of my own mind. I hadn’t posted a single thing on social media in several weeks. I’d try…but nothing would come out. Nothing.

Also, I couldn’t feel happiness for ANYONE.

New baby?

Meh.

Promotion?

Meh.

And creepily I had no reaction at all to people dying or any otherwise awful event. I remember saying to myself “I know I’m supposed to feel something, but I just don’t”.

I was depressed.

We tend to think of depression as sadness, but I’m here to tell you that it’s actually closer to nothingness. And that is quite terrifying.

I set out to help myself and quickly found that no amount of indulgence (I got a dog,) or ridiculousness (I watched only cat videos for several days on end), or self-help (allll the books), or meditating (books and apps and books and apps) was completely lifting me out of the dark, and no amount of telling myself to just snap out of it and feel things that I couldn’t feel was working. I needed professional help. So I called and made an appointment.

Going to therapy felt great. I appreciated having someone objectively examine my situation and explain exactly how I got where I was, by no fault of my own, and how we could improve things. Having a therapist diagnose my fibromyalgia pain as the cause of my depression was the biggest relief of all. Why? Why did it matter? It mattered because I didn’t want to have that flaw that caused me to not be able to control myself. I didn’t want to be weak. Please, anything but weak.

When you are fighting something like chronic pain or depression, you are also fighting stigmas. Mental illness and invisible illness are perceived as lapses in character or strength and control; a poor choice that you continue to make and dare to complain about. If your heart fails you are rushed to the emergency room and prepped for surgery; if your mind fails you are told to smile.

I have always fought these stigmas for others, but when depression landed in my lap let me tell you that my PRIDE took a beating. Everything I knew to be true about mental illness didn’t matter because I was stronger than that. Or at least I was supposed to be.
That pride nearly killed me once before so thankfully I knew better than to let it win, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. The mere fact that it was even an issue at all proves how deadly these stigmas can be.

I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve got a good mix of medication and therapy and coping skills to help ease the symptoms but I am not in the clear yet and I do not know when I will be. Also, I’m pretty pissed. I’ve been busting my ass to beat depression and the truth is that I may not pull through this until my pain is under control – which, based on my medical history, could be never. I honestly thought that if I worked hard enough I could just eliminate this issue from my plate. Learning that it doesn’t work that way has sent me into what I can only describe as rage.

I grieved my former life, I did the soul searching to find my worth beyond a paycheck, I found ways I could still help the world and feel satisfied with myself and yet I still ended up severely depressed. I was not prepared for the level of isolation and utter exhaustion paired with my pain and frustration…. but who could be prepared for that? And then, after I crawled out of that hole, I had to discontinue a medication that sent me into actual for real withdrawal. I’m talking cold sweats and spasms, brain zaps and nausea, and pain like I’ve never felt before. And I was right back in that pit all over again.

It’s not easy. And it’s been a non-stop cycle that I just can’t see myself talking about every day because I need to use that time to watch dumb videos that make me laugh and write ridiculous things on my page so that I do not hate life.

I have support. I have a great medical team. I have an amazing family, beautiful friends, and my child shoots sunshine from his butthole. I’m educated on mental illness. I have everything I need to recover but I have to accept that it is a very slow process that is much more like a rollercoaster than a marathon. There is no quick fix.

So there you have it. I don’t have much more to say about it other than if you’re going through something similar, just know you are not weak and you are not alone.

Now go watch that damn Sharkira video. That shit is hilarious.

(: