When My Mom Pointed Out That 'It Never Ends' While Talking About My Illnesses
I spent the day in urgent care yesterday for what I originally thought was a sinus infection. I came home with a prescription and another diagnosis to add to my list. I used to be amazed at the lists of conditions that people had after their names on this site,back when I only had one measly diagnosis after my name. Years later, I’ve added to that one diagnosis and I’ve managed to get a pretty good start on my own list. Anxiety, chronic pain, Depression, fibromyalgia, joint hypermobility syndrome and now migraines. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of drug sensitivities and allergies and a general dislike for opiates thrown into the mix to make everything super hard to treat.
I messaged my mom when I got home after my long day of CT scans, tiring eye exams, noisy, bright hospitals and long waits, still sporting a lot of the headache I went in to urgent care complaining about. Her response, “Stacey, it never ends. You never feel healthy. What is the answer?”
It set me off. I didn’t respond kindly. My mother, who is first to stand up for me and support me in all things, got a response laden with all the exhaustion, pain and anger that had built up throughout the day. I yelled at her for blaming me for my illness. I yelled at her because I didn’t get it treated earlier because I didn’t know it was a migraine. I said, “This is ridiculous. How am I supposed to navigate all this crap? I have medical background and I can’t keep up! I’m tired of it too! Tell me what you’d do differently and I’ll do it. I’m out of ideas.”
How many people on The Mighty relate to this statement? Everybody wants to tell us what they’d do differently, but they’re not the one navigating the every day of these illnesses. I told my mom the screen was hurting my eyes and that I’d talk to her later. Overnight I got rest. My headache continued to fade. I was in a much better frame of mind when I awoke, but I felt very guilty. I wrote her first thing in the morning.
I’m sorry I got angry with you last night. I was angry in general and I took it out on you and DH, the two people that help me the most. That wasn’t right.
The truth is, I do get overwhelmed by it all. I don’t think it’s right or fair or good. I don’t like that I’m only able to live half a life around managing my health and suffering the effects of it. When I dwell on it, though, I’m angry and withdrawn and unmotivated. It usually makes me feel even worse. So I’ve tried to accept and manage and do my treatments. I ask questions of my providers and read about solutions. I’m willing to try new therapies. Sometimes they work, sometimes they work for a little while, some don’t work at all. I take the good days and try to find something to be happy about on the bad ones. I try to accept that this is my life and while it’s far from “OK,” I have a better life if I mostly accept it.
It’s taken a lot of work in therapy to get to this point. My therapist has loaded my toolbox with acceptance techniques so that when I want to fight, I have the energy to. I’ve learned to make decisions better. She’s helped me to learn not to load up my schedule because just because there are hours in the day, if I use every one, I’ll pay for it the next day, or week, or even month. She’s helped me to accept that it’s OK to disappoint people sometimes when I have to decline an invitation, or leave early. That my health is more important than their disappointment. She’s helped me to see that while it’s silly to take multiple cars, sometimes I need that ability to leave and staying just because I see DH having a good time, or always expecting him to leave isn’t fair to either of us. Most of my friends have learned to accept my limitations and not make me feel bad. They want me to feel well more than to ease their own disappointment. Those are the people I make an effort to see and talk to regularly. Others have drifted. I try to accept that they have their own things to deal with and not take it personally.
But today? Today, I’m feeling a lot better. So I’m going to take a shower, go to acupuncture and visit my family. I’m going to go to a movie with my sister and my niece. I’m going to take my own car in case the noise and the screen bother my head too much. And I’m going to live when I have the energy to live.
I love you.
I hope that this helps someone to know that they’re not alone. I hope that you’re all finding ways to deal with the stresses of these illnesses. I hope that you’re able to see that the people in your life who criticize, recommend or offer advice are mostly coming from a good place. And I hope that you’re able to distance yourselves from the ones who are not. I wish you all more good days than bad days, because you know as well as I do that my mom was right. It never ends.
Getty Image by Thiago Santos