A Day in the Life of a Warrior Battling Chronic and Mental Illness
If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.
6 a.m. – After two plus hours of tossing and turning, I finally get up. I put on a half pot of coffee and watch it drip until it slows down enough for me to sneak a cup. I’ll drink three half pots today, but because of my chronic pain I can only lift and pour half a pot of water at once. My dog Nugget gets up with me. I think he knows how badly I need his company.
8 a.m. – After two hours of staring blankly at the television, journaling about my feelings this morning (almost always emptiness, thanks to borderline personality disorder) and starting half pot number two, I get dressed. By getting dressed, I mean simply putting on different clothes than I slept in. Possibly still pajamas, but putting on fresh clothes every day is a goal I have set for myself.
10 a.m. – Another half pot down and I’ve done some reading: a daily devotion as well as some info on one of my many diagnoses. Time for morning meds, all 12 of them. I think about breakfast but am too tired to fix it or eat it. I lay on the sofa and doze for about an hour.
12 p.m. – My husband is up, and he usually fixes breakfast. He is physically disabled, so having him fix not only his own breakfast but mine too makes me feel guilty, useless and ashamed. I journal about the sadness and shame I feel. After eating I wash our plates and pretend to watch TV when I’m actually staring into space and trying not to fall asleep.
1 p.m. – I get up, walk around the house, do some yoga all in an effort to wake up.
2 p.m. – My efforts are unsuccessful and I take a two-hour nap.
4 p.m. – I wake up and put on yet another half pot of coffee. I wander around the kitchen trying to decide what to fix for supper. I’ll end up sitting down three to five times before actually committing to a menu, then fix a cup of coffee and sit down to rest. I journal about my extreme exhaustion, my pain and how worthless I feel. Some days I think about self-harm. Some days I do self-harm to get rid of the internal pain.
5:30 p.m. – I cook what is usually half the meal I’d have cooked seven or eight years ago. After cooking I’m often too tired to eat. My son graciously cleans the kitchen for me.
7 p.m. – Shower time. One of the most dreaded times of day. What will the shower feel like: a warm, tender massage or like slivers of glass bouncing off my skin? I won’t know until I get in. Every movement in the shower hurts. Often I cry, not because of the physical pain but because of the frustration that comes as a result from not being able to complete a task as simple as a shower. The shower is also a trigger spot for my self-harming behaviors, so I try to get in and out as soon as possible.
8 p.m. – Night-time meds, only five of those. Another half pot. TV, sometimes enjoyable and sometimes just background noise. I crochet to keep my mind away from dark thoughts, my hands away from self-harming and my physical pain in the back part of my mind. I have conversation with my family, which usually makes me feel content, and surf the web. Throughout the night I move from seat to seat, changing my position about every 30 minutes. This is the only way to keep the pain tolerable.
12 a.m. – 1 a.m. – Usually at some point in this hour I go to bed. I fall asleep quickly but wake up often. In a few hours, my day starts again.
What’s my point? It’s not that I want sympathy or pity. I want people to understand why I am always tired. Every second of every day I am fighting battles against both my body and my mind. And it’s exhausting. It’s a circumstance I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but there are some days I feel like a badass warrior just because I survived.