There are undoubtedly many stages and layers of healing but I find most interesting about these six stages is the last one, Maintenance. It involves returning to the earlier stages to continue healings. As I look at these six stages, I see myself in each one, and part of me wonders why I’m not entirely healed. I realize now that I’ve returned to the earlier stages, several times, and my healing is ongoing. It is deeper now than ever before.
I know for a fact that if I had a traditional “physical disease” people in my life would be more understanding. For some reason crippling depression, complex PTSD, and migraines that not only offer blinding pain but impaired cognitive function are “all in my head” and I should be able to “get over it.” My family would not be embarrassed or disappointed in me because of my illnesses. My boss and co-workers may not have accused me of “faking it to get out of work,” and maybe I’d still have my job. But I don’t have a traditional “physical disease,” so I must work harder to heal and overcome the stigma others, with no concept of my ailments, place upon me.
Even the tail lights are too bright during a migraine. I try to avoid driving at night whenever possible because the headlights are painful and blinding. I wear special glasses that reduce the glare otherwise all I see is bright light drowning out everything else. The migraines only come a couple of days each week now, and I can manage that. There was a time when they came virtually every day and driving felt like torture. I’d keep a bowl or large plastic cup next to me because nausea, my migraines best friend, often resulted in vomiting – yes, while I was driving.
I only drove to take the kids to and from school and to see the doctor. I couldn’t drive alone at night because I had to close my eyes at stoplights and needed one of my kids to tell me when the light turned green. The tail lights from cars in front of me were too bright, and the headlights from cars on the other side of the intersection flashed in the dark when traffic moved by which exacerbated my feeling of nausea. It probably wasn’t safe for me to be driving, but there was no other option. Headlights hurt when shining in my eyes and they will never be my friend.
I remember struggling to think of something I enjoyed doing or even something I’d like to do. I didn’t do anything for fun, and I felt embarrassed. So much of my life was filled with the task of making others happy that I lost myself. Fun is still something a bit foreign to me, but I’m learning to enjoy parts of my life again. I’ll get back there, in time…
Learning about Spoon Theory changed my life and made it livable. I’ve always been the kind of person who pushed through any illness or pain to get the job done. When I became chronically ill, this attitude only exacerbated my illness. I’ve had to change my outlook on life, learn to say “No,” and maintain a schedule to accomplish what is most important. No matter how much I want to, there are things I will not do because the consequences outweigh the benefit.
The opinion of others always came first in my life well above my own. I’ve spent most of my life trying to please others while neglecting myself. Finally, I am ready to take care of myself and do the things I feel are most important. People can say whatever they want, but I know the truth. I must be able to live with myself and my decisions. When I go to sleep at night, I want a clear conscious, so my dreams are my own. I appreciate the opinions of others, but I listen to my own voice now.