This recent struggle is overwhelming and at times, unbearable. It feels like running a marathon and sensing the finish line is within reach, but suddenly being forced to run with two broken legs. It is the exhaustion setting in along with the absence of rest that weighs so heavily on the body and mind. There is no option to quit. There is no option for failure. I will crawl if I must, dragging these broken and bloody legs behind me to claim the prize – healing, rest and most of all, peace.
This is me today and all of last week with a non-stop migraine. I’ve been out of order but still trying to function. Every task requires so much more effort. I make so many mistakes which take even more time to go back and correct. The pain has subsided – for now, but I am thoroughly exhausted. My body feels heavy and weak. My brain feels like it is swimming in foggy oatmeal and my thoughts are slow and shallow. When I talk, many words are forgotten, slurred or mispronounced. I make no sense, and I recognize the look on my children’s faces. They are worried, scared and try to help me, all the while warning me not to do too much. “We don’t want your migraines to get any worse,” they say. It hurts. It sucks. It scares my children. This is the first time in many months a migraine has lasted more than a day or two. I’m desperate for the end of this episode.
Depression is much more than the feeling of sadness. Feeling nothing is like insulation against the cold, stabbing pain of guilt, anxiety, self-loathing, hopelessness and isolation. Sadness is a painful feeling, but combining it with all the other feelings is overwhelming.
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.
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…