Community, Coping, Friends & Family

Remembering Why I Blog

My mood lifted almost immediately after I posted on Monday. When I sat down to write, I had no idea what was going to come out. The ideas that flowed through my fingers surprised me. And released the reminders of why blogging has been a crucial “treatment” for my migraine and chronic daily headache.

While writing, I work through what’s bothering me and discover feelings I didn’t know I had. I speak candidly without worrying you will be distressed by what you read (as I fear my friends and family will be). In fact, there’s a good chance sharing my grief or guilt or pain will somehow help in your journey and provide comfort. I also don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. You come here knowing I have a chronic illness. You don’t remember who I was before I got sick, so you don’t miss who I used to be. Nor will I scare you off by talking about my struggles, as I feel I do many new people.

Whenever I talk about the blog, I focus on helping other people who are in a similar situation. I say the relief and support I get from it are lovely, but I’m really doing it for the readers. Now I see I am the true beneficiary. Even though I have been absent much of the last two years, this community has been crucial in my emotional healing. Thank you.

Coping, Friends & Family, Mental Health, Treatment

Asking for Help & Beginning to Heal

Since stubbornness is one of my most prominent traits, I long thought sheer tenacity could snuff out the migraines. If not through willing them away (a useless endeavor), then by relentless pursuit of treatment. Instead, I have spent the last two years feeling like the migraines and accompanying depression had conquered me. Being obstinate wasn’t enough. Only by asking for help has my despair transformed to hope.

“I can do it myself” is probably my most oft-uttered sentence. When it comes to my health, I can’t. Sequestering myself only made it worse. The isolation wasn’t intentional. It started a decade ago with me thinking that talking about my ailment would automatically make me a complainer. It ended in November with me reaching out to my friends, screaming and crying and holding their hands as I fought through the worst migraines I’ve ever had.

Letting people know (and see) how bad the migraines truly are and the havoc they wreak on my entire nervous system lightened my heart. The severity of my depression since Hart and I moved to Boston is more than I wish to revisit. It is far from gone, but I can now see a way out.

People often tell me I’m brave for dealing with illness as well as I do. Asking for help took more courage than anything else I’ve faced. I was convinced I had let everyone in my life down. That canceled plans and unreturned phone calls (and emails and text messages…) made them love me less. Completely untrue.

If you are in a similar place of hopelessness, please, please reach out to the people you love. They love you whether or not you are sick. The rewards of asking for help make the necessary vulnerability worth it.

Friends & Family

Feeling Loved

Some friends stayed with us this weekend while they were in town at a conference. C ditched the conference yesterday to cook for me. She did all the prep, cooking and clean up. Chicken pot pies, meatloaf, twice-baked potatoes, pasta sauce and chicken enchiladas are in our freezer, waiting to be heated up when we need them.

Interspersed with the simple meals I make on good days, these dishes amount to at least a month of wholesome homemade meals. Today’s blustery weather calls for a chicken pot pie. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to taste the love with which it was made.

C, S (C’s sweetie) and I then had a private yoga class at my friend Kelly’s studio, Maple Leaf Community Yoga. We concentrated on poses that would aid healing and self-nurturing. Throughout the class, I kept thinking about how much I love her and how glad I am that we’re friends. Although she’d never met C and S before, she was caring for them with the same compassion and love she showed for me.

Before dinner, S, a social scientist who studies patient-physician interactions, and I brain stormed topics we could study together. Not only will it expand my career path, working with him would let me return to the part of academia that I loved. And with minimal exposure to the politics that drove me out.

I have many wonderful friends, but these three are at the forefront of my mind today. I feel so blessed that my eyes are filling with tears as I write. Thank you C, S and K for your generosity of spirit. My life and health are better because of you.

Coping, Friends & Family

Finding Love in the Strangest Places

In our never-ending quest to find ways to reduce my stress, thus hopefully reducing my headaches, we’ve decided to try a housekeeper.

We’ve had several housekeepers in the last few months. I have been uncomfortable every time. I hate knowing that I’m passing my dirty work on. I apologize repeatedly and explain my discomfort; sometimes I even tell them that I have an illness that’s exacerbated by overexertion.

Accordingly, I should have been embarrassed having J & D arrive on my doorstep. But no, I felt enveloped by love. Yep, you read that right; I felt love from the people I paid to clean my house. As soon as they walked in the door.

The “categories” someone would assign to these women, mother and daughter, are hippie and punk, respectively. Maybe because they wear their philosophies on their sleeves, I felt their caring. I think it’s more that they approach their work as a chance to make someone’s life, for whatever the client’s reasons are, a little easier.

With my pain levels and emotions in upheaval, J & D’s visit was an act of grace. Pure and simple.

A bank’s advertisement shows a woman, dressed in the exact stereotype of a hippie, saying that everyone should love one another. The commercial scoffs at this, telling you that at least you can get free checking.

Why is such love laughable? It can’t hurt to approach more people with a sense of caring. With my experience as an example, it seems that it could make living with illness a little easier.