When You're Trying Not to Be Afraid of Good Mental Health Days

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

Right now, I feel amazing. I got the right dosage of my medications and have been able to sleep a little bit more and eat a little better. I’ve also been with my family, which means the burden of care for my 3-year-old has been lightened for a few days. Right now, I feel like I could do anything. Right now, I want to apply for jobs and create businesses out of thin air, pulling from the rush of creativity that has been stifled by my sickness. Right now, I can handle the fact that we are snowed in and stuck, unable to complete work that has strict deadlines. Right now, I am peaceful.

But last week, I cried because the sink was full of dishes. I laid in my bed for hours as pain washed over my hands and into my chest and abdomen. It was the worst flare-up I’d ever had, exacerbated by the extreme cold weather and the wrong dosage of one of my meds. I allowed my daughter to watch countless cartoons and survived off pizza and takeout, because I had neither the energy to cook and eat good food or clean up afterwards. I reached a level of fatigue that made me feel reminiscent of that last two minutes before you fall asleep, but for the entire day. I had vertigo so bad I had to be helped to the couch from the bathroom. I had flu-like body aches for weeks. I went to urgent care for chest pain and got sent home with an inhaler and a recommendation to “rest and take Tylenol.” I had a kidney test and a chest x-ray to try and find the source of my all over body pain, to no avail. Then I got results from my thyroid test as I started one of my medications, and the combination of the two new medicines, a few warm days and childcare turned everything around.

I’m no fool, I know the good days won’t last forever, and that scares me. My good days are shadowed by the memory of the vicious cycle of depression and chronic illness. My chronic illness is progressive and incurable, and one day I won’t be able to fix things this easily. However, I want to make the conscious choice to enjoy today while I have the energy and freedom from pain, and I am doing my best not to let myself get overwhelmed with the fear that this is all just a fluke, that it’s all a placebo effect. If the meds help me to find the positivity and intentionality that I need to move through this season, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I am freed up by these pills to do the heavy mental lifting that my spirit really needs in order to heal, so that’s what I’m going to focus on.

Medicine isn’t the right choice for everyone, but for me, it is a gift to see through the fog for even a few days.

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