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April 30th, 2008

Dare I Say It?

It's been quite some time since I've wrote on my personal life here, or taken the time to update my readers on my two great life struggles - my mental and physical health.

The reason I haven't been writing about my life is because...well, to be honest, my life sucked. Nothing particularly awful was happening other than the regular nuances of day-to-day living; it was my mental state that was, quite literally, sucking my will to live.

That's just it, you see? I had no will to live - not much of one at all, and that grew every day. As I, almost mechanically, went through the steps of getting through each day I always felt - just in the background - this omnipresent feeling of the other shoe about to drop. I would wonder how much longer I could go on this way. I didn't really speak to anyone about it, because I couldn't quite a put a finger on why or how it was happening...I just knew it was.

Everything I did was steeped in anxiety, frustration, and apathy. I woke up, forced myself to work, smiled and laughed appropriately at everyone, and came home exhausted from the exertion of pretending everything was okay. It wasn't. Baret saw this more than anyone, naturally, and how negatively this playing at a life I was uninterested in was destroying my very spirit.

The problem was the constant, nagging depression - just enough to not be overwhelming - and the growing anxiety. My anxiety has gotten worse as I've gotten older, and things I used to do with ease and no thought cause me to silently panic often. I don't share this with many because I have always been strong; the person who could do anything and had no fear. My growing fears and anxiety were like a sign of failure and weakness to me and I was terribly ashamed.

I was the one my mother and sister, more reticent and naturally shy, would look to or depend on to do the talking, sort of lead and take over if we were out and about. I liked this aspect of myself - I liked to be strong and dependable; someone that made others feel comfortable while I sort of took the reins. As this ability in me dwindled, I became much more introverted and solitary. I am no longer the social person I used to be. I've always preferred to stay at home, but that has grown into a leaving-home-makes-me-panic scenario. I am ashamed to even have to admit it and furious with myself for being weak.

A lot of it - I am sure - stems from the severe depression I was thrown into after my first surgery failed. I had to re-learn how to be comfortable in my own skin; for almost two years I felt like a prisoner in my body - a being that existed only in the mind looking out from the eyes of the broken shell I inhabited. Though I attended holidays and social functions, I was never truly "there". The ability to walk about and mingle was gone, too, so I often found a place to sit and sat there like a stump silently crying that I could not join in or be part of the activities and gaiety surrounding me. Isolation was my life.

This faded to some degree as I learned to live a now disabled life, and re-learned how to "live" inside my broken body. I learned new ways of coping, of surviving, and getting around. I can say I am never truly "comfortable", but even that is something you get used to. However, I do believe this left a (hopefully not) permanent scar on my psyche...so that now I am not the outgoing, extrovert that I once was.

It doesn't help matters that I have an obvious, severe limp with my "frozen" leg and often have to use a cane or even a wheelchair to get about. People stare. I can say that it doesn't bother me, but it does. I'm not like everyone else anymore, and I may never be.

Add to all of that struggle the fact that my brain is chemically imbalanced; even for a regular person learning to live with a painful disability would be challenging - it is even moreso for someone who is naturally prone to depression, anxiety, and mania.

All of this has accumulated and I - at this point in my life - was going downhill rather quickly. I knew it, I felt it, and I pondered when the end would finally come. At some point, I realized, I was going to totally lose it. A nervous breakdown would have been the least of it; suicide the worst.

This didn't frighten me as much as you might think. In fact, in some ways, I wished for it to come. I was that miserable. I knew I could not continue to live with this warring in my brain for much longer.

Then, suddenly, things changed. I got a new primary doctor - one who cares about his patients. (Why I left my old one is an upcoming post) I got referred to a new pain management specialist, who also cares about her patients. Sadly, since 2002 when all of this began for me, a doctor who gives a crap has been nearly impossible to find. And now, I have two.

I have been put on Lyrica...and it is changing my life. I started it on Friday night (April 25) and by Monday was noticing a difference. My pain management doctor is working me up to 75mg twice a day - but I am already seeing results at 50mg.

Lyrica "tricks" my brain into thinking there is no or less pain (or at least makes me okay to deal with it). Since starting it, my intake of Lortab (I was on Hydrocodone 10mg) has decreased noticeably. Whereas I was having to take upwards of 4-6 pills a day (something I constantly worried about and the consequences to my liver), so far on Lyrica I can get by with 2-4 pills a day. I am hoping even that will lessen as I increase my Lyrica dosage.

Not only has my pain improved, my mind has! It has been nothing short of a miracle. My pain management doctor explained that Lyrica is also a mood stabilizer and will help with my anxiety. And has it ever! By Tuesday morning, I realized, I felt...

It's really hard to say it because I can't believe it myself. I felt HAPPY. I vaguely remembered the feeling and Rose estimated it's probably been close to two years since I've felt that way. Instead of worrying about everything with my mind racing, I was just...ok...and "in the moment". I walked into our breakroom that morning and stopped to enjoy the beautiful sun rays coming in the window and was stunned. I was appreciating the moment, enjoying the sun, and my mind was not worrying or running crazy in the background. I marveled at this, and wondered, "Is this how other people feel?".

It's only the second day of feeling "ok" and I'm scared to be too hopeful, but so far so good. My pain is already less and I think we can make it manageable. My mood has improved in leaps and bounds - Baret is stunned at the difference in me - and I now have two good, caring doctors who are going to help me heal in all the ways I need to. Of course part of me is terrified to be too hopeful - that has blown up in my face so many times in the past - but I can't help but feel this is it, this time I am going to get "fixed".

And so that is that and where I've been and where I am. At this very moment I couldn't be happier - something I haven't been able to say for a very long time. Cheers.

2 Responses to “Dare I Say It?”

  1. A Graver’s Journal » Blog Archive » Not Dead Yet
    A Graver’s Journal » Blog Archive » Not Dead Yet says:

    [...] problems that are beyond the scope of this blog (you may read about them on my regular blog here, if you're so inclined). I would just like to say that everything is now much better, and I believe [...]

  2. » Dare I Say It?
    » Dare I Say It? says:

    [...] Hoyden About Town wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt It’s been quite some time since I’ve wrote on my personal life here, or taken the time to update my readers on my two great life struggles - my mental and physical health. The reason I haven’t been writing about my life is because…well, to be honest, my life sucked. Nothing particularly awful was happening other than the regular nuances of day-to-day living; it was my mental state that was, quite literally, sucking my will to live. That’s just it, you see? I had no will to live - not much o [...]

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