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The questions I hate most these days are ‘What are you doing? ‘, ‘So what have you been doing lately?’, and my all time fave, ‘So what is it that YOU do?’ (that one is usually asked by people I first meet in relation to what career path I’ve chosen)

What DID, DO, or WILL I?

Absolutely nothing, thanks for asking!!!

Well of course that’s not what I say…. I mean, not out loud anyhow. I usually say ‘not much’ or mumble how being a Mom keeps me busy (If they only knew my son is in Grade 5, makes his own lunch every day and is very independent outside of school.), or I try to just change the subject. ‘What are YOU doing?’ seems to be a good enough reply. People like talking about themselves generally, and are only too happy to take the focus off of me and onto themselves.

Ring ring…. Ring ring…. ‘Hey! How are you? Whatcha doing?’ is how many people start a phone conversation….

And by text, it’s know different. ‘hey? Are you busy? Can you chat?’

Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

Now I don’t think I’m THAT cynical, but the more I’m asked that, the less I want to talk to anyone these days.

What seems like an easy and benign question to ask is one of the most painful ones for me to answer. It is extremely frustrating at times. And it is a daily reminder to me of WHAT I AM NOT DOING, and WHAT I CANNOT DO.

I am not driving a car.

I am not going to school.

I am not working, nor am I working towards a career….

Vacuuming? Nope.

Laundry? Not today.

Out with a girlfriend? There aren’t many of those left.

I can’t even chat about a funny conversation I had the other day. Chances are, the conversation did not take place!!

Unless you mean the conversation that I had with my body. I have lots of those. I just don’t like sharing them with too many people.

I sit for 6 hours every day. By myself. Sure, I knit, make jewelry, try to write…. I play with my sweet puppy… I eat lunch (usually). I try and make time go by faster…. And I take a walk in the afternoon when my boy gets out of school.

But there’s only so many times I can stand having conversation about WHAT I’m knitting and whether it rained or not on the way to school!!

This life isn’t just about the pain we feel, the medication we take, or the appointments we have to go to. It doesn’t just effect our HEALTH. It effects everything.

The next time you bitch about your job, or do the laundry…. Remember how privileged you are to be able to do those things.

The next time you want to share an absolutely fascinating conversation you had, or movie you saw…… Remember how lucky you are to share those things.

The next time you stress over your paycheque being too small.. Remember that you HAVE a paycheque, and celebrate the fact that you can earn one at all……

And if you are like me, know that you aren’t alone…. And the next time someone asks you what you’ve been up to ‘these days’, tell them you’ve been working hard. You’ve been climbing insurmountable obstacles and working hard to be the hero in your own life.

XOXOXO

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When you look at me,

there are many things that you don’t see…

You don’t see the millions of tears I have shed,

or the way my heart breaks each time my pain prevents me from

doing all the things that most take for granted.

You don’t see the many times I have had to cancel on my friends,

or eat my meals in bed.

When you see me smile,

you don’t see the intense pain that flows through my body,

every minute of every day –

the copious handfuls of pills I have taken,

or the way my pain breaks my Mom’s heart.

You don’t see the helplessness my Dad feels, or

the sad resignation my son has so maturely made

on days that I just can’t play with him the way he’d like me to….

You don’t see the midnight tears, and how my love wipes them away –

he hides his anger well… never angry at me but loathing the pain he cannot take away.

When you look at me you don’t see

how much courage it has taken me to get out of bed that day,

or how hard it is for me to make dinner for my family some nights,

or do the laundry,

and sneak in some errands before my body starts yelling for me

to stop.

You don’t see my freedom, or lack thereof…

the many times I’ve been disappointed,

the many times I’ve felt like I have let my family and friends down.

With that said, you also don’t see

how grateful I am,

to survive each day.

This is only a glance into a life with an Invisible Illness.

Some take life at face value,

those living with and

surviving

Chronic Pain

cannot.

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Thanks everyone for all the support and encouragement you have all given to me this past week… I can promise you that is had made a difference… and I apologize if I haven’t gotten back to all of you… It has been hard enough treading water the past few days… I will get back to all of you, it just might take a bit of time…

It was a week ago that I threw my lower back out, and unfortunately not much has changed… I am getting through one minute at a time, looking for distraction, giving into my pain, fighting through it, sitting with it, ignoring it, getting mad at it… doing whatever I can in the moment to get myself through….

There has been some downfall after my joints gave up… subsequent muscle spasms, over-compensating, referred pain.. all the nasty stuff that comes with it… so what started out as back and hip involvement has turned into a really heavy all-over body pain… sleep is hard to come by, food only serves a purpose – to add something to my belly other than the caustic meds that are swirling around in there… and the smile on my face hurts… meaning… it isn’t a joyful smile, more a grimace with the corners of my lips turned toward the sky… I am trying people, I am really trying…..

I have a Doctor’s appt. this coming Monday, and I am already dreading it…  I know it is coming… I will be told again that the ‘professionals’ think I am depressed… and I am NOT… Do they understand that there is a difference between feeling desperate when the pain rises, and having uncontrolled emotion that has an effect on everything you say and do in your daily life?  To me, there is a HUGE difference!

You know, the normal questions they ask to try to gauge how depressed you are….

Are you sleeping?

Have your eating habits changed?

Are you finding that enjoyable experiences in life are dulled or unappreciated?

Um… HELLO?  DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE LIVING WITH EXCRUCIATING PAIN DAY IN AND DAY OUT?

Yes, my sleeping patterns have changed, only because when I crawl into bed at night the searing hot pain won’t let me turn off…

Yes, my eating habits have changed, because when it is hard to breathe, and the pain immobilizes you, it tends to take the enjoyment away from making homemade chili, with fresh-baked buns, amd a lemon meringue pie for dessert…

Am I finding that enjoyment and pride I should be feeling when my son brings home a 100% on his science test, or do I laugh when I am watching that funny new sitcom?

Well obviously NOT… but it isn’t because I am depressed!!  It is because my pain is all-encompassing!

Dinner tastes like pain

Bread baking in the oven smells like pain

The smile on my son’s face is beautiful, but the ‘pain’ glasses I see everything through blurs things a little…

My heart can SOAR with pride, but my body has a different visceral reaction, and I can’t control that.

Holding hands with my love feels great in my heart.. it however hurts my skin…

And I would be over the edge JOYFUL spending an hour in my jetted tub with my wonderful lavender bath salts… if it was by CHOICE that I was in there… if I was able to lay back and read in the tub with a glass of wine, instead of holding the edge of the tub white-knuckled, and rocking back and forth because it hurts too much to sit on hard porcelain…

Depression is a serious illness, it shouldn’t be taken lightly, and I commend EVERYONE who admits to struggling with it, and getting proper medical help… God knows I have been there before… IF you are there right now, I urge you to let someone IN and get help… PLEASE… Depressions isn’t something to mess around with…

What I am feeling right now is very different….

The difference is.. If my pain lightened JUST a little at this VERY moment.. If  I could flip a switch and INSTANTLY come down from a 9/10 to a 7/10 I would be the happiest girl on the planet…. IN AN INSTANT!!

Depression doesn’t work that way… It takes weeks, months and years of multi-modal treatment to be able to feel happiness and joy when you are really suffering from depression…  The road can be long… It has been for me anyhow.

All I need is a 15 minute break from this nasty winded feeling that goes along with intense pain…

I have a beautiful family, amazingly supportive parents… a man who is in LOVE with ME… the real me…

I have a precocious and brilliant and compassionate young boy, and he is my world…

I have a creative mind, a big heart, and I love myself more than I have ever done in my life.. I accept ME.. and it has been a long process getting there… 36 years to be exact…  I accept the ME that lives in Chronic Pain each and every day… and I try daily to make the very most of the life I have been given.

I have a network of inspiring and beautiful friends in my life, and I ‘belong’…. THAT is the most wonderful feeling.

So no, I am not depressed… I can see all my blessings…

There is just a wall of pain up between me and all of that…

Pain is the issue at the moment… Depression is not.

I just have to convince ‘them’ of that.

I want TREATMENT for my PAIN… I am not interested in taking a medication I don’t need.

I AM FRUSTRATED… and I am ALLOWED TO BE…

Wouldn’t ANYONE feel that way after 168 days of unrelenting pain? 7 days in agony and counting…. (Okay so it has been more like YEARS than days.. but I mean this past ‘flare’)

I am STILL blessed… I’d just like to get back to embracing those blessings…

I have a bear hug bubbling up inside me… I just need to be well enough to give it away.

**If you are reading this anywhere other than http://www.gracefulagony.wordpress.com it is because this post has been stolen. Please click on the link provided to return to the site of origin

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!

HAPPY BIIIIRRRRTTHHHDDDAAAYYY

GRACEFUL AGONY!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!

CAN YOU BELIEVE GRACEFUL AGONY IS ONE YEAR OLD TODAY??

365 days ago, I made the commitment to myself, and to whomever wanted to take this journey with me that I would share my life openly, honestly, and completely, in hopes that I could somehow make my ‘Chronic’ life purposeful.

I nervously wrote my first post, and published it… and waited… I didn’t know if my words would be heard by ANYONE…

I wrote my second post… and my third… and the craziest thing happened!  PEOPLE FOUND MY BLOG!!  People were actually reading my words!!!

I very quickly realized I wasn’t the only one sitting ‘alone’ with my pain… There were so MANY people feeling the things I felt, experiencing the things I did, and crying the same frustrated tears I cried.

I FINALLY found a place where I was completely understood.  And it was the most overwhelming feeling I have ever had.  I cry at this moment as I look back upon this past year and reflect on how quickly my ‘heart’ changed, how my perception of my pain has gone through a metamorphosis,  and how the courage of others inspired me to find my own strength….

Shortly after starting this blog, I also started a facebook-based support group… and I don’t honestly know HOW, but people started to join… 15 members… 20 members… 30 members… People started to open up and share openly about their OWN lives with Chronic Illness and pain… And I made heart-to-heart connections with strangers from across the world who were suffering the same way I had been for years.  Who KNEW that these ‘strangers’ would end up being my dearest friends, and an integral part of my every day life. You all know who you are, and my heartfelt appreciation, and my utmost respect goes out to all of you… Thank you for making our family what it has become this past year… it is ALL because of you!!

Much “LIFE” happened in between writing posts, making friends, and sharing experiences this past year….

Some of us experienced great loss and began personal journey’s of grief…

Some of us found love…

Some of us lost it…

Some of us found hope,

and others needed the hope and strength that only OUR friendship could bring…

But through all of it, the one thing I know for sure is that we all got to ‘know’ ourselves in a way we hadn’t, all of us played a ‘role’ in our own as well as some one else’s healing.. and we all made a difference in the lives of the people we love.  WE BECAME SISTERS… united in something much stronger than illness and pain.

365 days ago I started writing as a way to reach out to others, and the most miraculous thing happened…. I ended up reaching out to myself…. I started a journey of my own healing, found strength I never knew I had, and found happiness in a way I never knew was possible while living in agony.

Because, in sharing my life with others, I found love, hope, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance for so many other people, and those people mirrored myself… By seeing my reflection in all of you, I found me….

It has been one crazy ride, hasn’t it?

290 posts

21,600+ hits

210 support group members

Invaluable lessons,

and forever friends….

THAT is how I measure this past year…..

Take a minute to reflect on the last year for YOU… and all the blessings, wonders, lessons, and love it has brought into your life… THAT my friends, is THE REASON…

Thank you so very much for following my journey this past year…

Thank you for reaching out and becoming a part of my life…

Thank you for your friendship,

Your support,

Your encouragement,

Your tears,

And your love.

AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALL OF YOU!!!

THIS IS YOUR CELEBRATION!!!!!!!

I hope the year ahead brings peace, healing, hope, and above all, a lot more love and friendship across the web, and in our homes and hearts.

NOW…….

LET’S PARTY!!!!!!

 

DOES ANYONE WANT CAKE??

QUICK, MAKE A WISH AS I BLOW OUT THE CANDLES!!!

XOXOXOXOXO

 

**If you are reading this anywhere other than http://www.gracefulagony.wordpress.com it is because this post has been stolen. Please click on the link provided to return to the site of origin

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The White Rose Centre food court. Taken on the...

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I went to bed really angry with myself last night.  It’s clear that I am still far too hard on myself some days….

I conserved ALL my energy yesterday because I knew we had to head out to the mall after we picked up our little dude from school.  I was really proud of myself that I had enough foresight to pace properly throughout the entire day.  Some days I am pretty good at doing so… Others, not so much.  But yesterday I was on top of everything (Or so I thought).  I made sure I took adequate medication, I made sure that I rested throughout the day… I even mapped out the WHOLE mall inside my head, from one end to the other, I had a map of where I absolutely NEEDED to go, and a corresponding list of things I needed to get.  THIS time a trip to the mall was NOT going to knock me on my rear… end…

I knew I was hurting really bad yesterday, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me.  I was going to be in control… I was going to be productive… I was going to conquer my pain….

Pulling up to the mall, I knew EXACTLY where I wanted to park, and where we were headed…. There was a method to my madness, and my boys, knowing me the way they know me, didn’t let out a peep.  We parked where I wanted to park, got out, and began our shopping excursion…

We were looking for a suit for Little Dude… he is 9.  Have you ever tried to find a good quality suit on a budget for an adult let alone a 9-year-old?  Can you say NO SELECTION!  The poor kid had to try 4 of them on in the first store we went too… and he wasn’t all that happy about it.  The first suit was WAS too small, so I had to go fetch another… The second suit was still too small, so I had to fetch another… and so it went.  By the time the fourth suit hit the change room door  I was starting to get cranky, and I had sweat dripping off my nose… So did my son….

So off to the second store we went….

Now I was REALLY starting to hurt by this time, and it kind of caught me off guard.  I mean of course I knew that I was sitting at about an 8/10 on the pain scale BEFORE we headed out to the mall, but I wasn’t going to let THAT get in the way.  Have I also mentioned that I can be really pig-headed as well?  Sorry, it runs in the family. 😉  My legs were REALLY burning, and I was really confused.  Why all of a sudden are my most comfortable boots feeling like 6-inch stilettos?  Go figure.

I started to walk faster….

I needed to get to where we were going as fast as I could because I already felt like time was running out, and I had 11 other things on my list to still do…

We ran up to the children’s clothing section, and I started to grab suits off the rack in a frenzy… trying not to grunt and groan audibly as not to tip off my honey that I was already done in…

The first suit didn’t fit….

The second suit didn’t fit…

The 3rd pair of pants fit, but the jacket didn’t…

Okay, I am on to something, or so I thought.   Maybe I need to buy the pants and jacket separately, so I head off to the coordinates…

The 4th pair of pants that were the same size as the 3rd pair were and they were WAY TOO BIG!!

Oh lord, how am I going to get through this…. I started to feel a lump well up in my throat… I can’t cry in the Kids Department of Sears… I CAN’T CRY IN THE KIDS DEPARTMENT AT SEARS….

My honey, feeling my stress level spike, started looking through racks himself….

My son sat down pant-less in the change room, and waited as patiently as he could….

By the time we were on our way to finding SOMETHING that worked, the change room looked like a bomb hit it, and there was a trail of navy and black fabric out the door.

We ended up with 2 pairs of pants that fit, and 2 shirts that fit… No Jacket.  I felt like I had failed.

The boys were getting hungry, so we paid for our purchase, took the pants to the tailor so that they could be hemmed, and then we decided we were going to head to the food court… GREAT IDEA!  It would give me a chance to sit down and catch my breath!

But we never got there….

Now I am one to almost always push through just about anything when I can, because I very well know the feelings from living the opposite way.  I once spent over a year being almost entirely bed-ridden, and it was the hardest time I have ever gone through – to date.  I am usually the LAST one to admit when I am NOT okay… But my honey knows me so well, there isn’t much I can get by him.  A quarter of the way to the food court, as I was limping and now grunting with almost every step, I asked him to please slow down….

He said “That’s enough.  We are leaving.  We can do EVERYTHING on this list another day”.

I got mad.  REALLY MAD.  But not mad at him.  I was really angry with myself.  WHY couldn’t I suck it up just long enough to get my son a burger and go look at shoes?  Why can’t I just look like all the other busy Moms that were fluttering about the mall?  This was NOT the plan.  I was supposed to conquer my pain, conquer the MEGA-MALL, Conquer the line up at the Food Court, and STILL have enough energy to find a cute pair of kitten heels and have a wonderfully relaxing glass of wine with my honey when we all got home.  And instead, I am near tears, black circles around my eyes, limping back to the car as my boys were trying to hold me up.

Grrrrrr………

This is so unfair.

By the time we got home, I was doing everything I could to just hold on.  My heart was racing, and the pain was so bad I was praying out loud.  My little dude should have been proudly putting his new clothes away, and instead he was concerned about me… My honey stood by helpless, asking me what he could do to help… ANYTHING he said, just tell me how to not feel so helpless….I felt like a failure again.

Once I got my meds on-board, and my little dude off to bed, I sat down on the couch, and checked my email, chatted with an old friend, and went to bed.  All the while I was fuming, I was just so furious with my LACK of control.  I laid in bed in the dark and starting talking to myself, and realized that I NEVER had the control in the first place.  And being a failure is not a part of this equation.  I can only ever do my best.  Some days my best doesn’t look the way I want it to, but I need to accept that it is all I have got to give in this world.

Today, I have made the commitment to more gentle with myself.  Jolene, BE MAD AT YOUR PAIN – but don’t get mad at yourself.  They are not the same… That has been my mantra for the past few years, but I am human, and I make mistakes.

I thought that I had already learned that lesson,

I guess I still have a long way to go…

 

psst… Have you voted today for the Canadian Blog Awards?  Please click on this link for more info: The final Round of Voting has begun! and thank you all so very much for all of your support!!

**If you are reading this anywhere other than www.gracefulagony.wordpress.com it is because this post has been stolen.  Please click on the link provided to return to the site of origin

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THIS IS THE LAST ROUND EVERYONE!!

ROUND 2 – THE FINAL ROUND OF VOTING FOR THE CANADIAN

BLOG AWARDS FOR 2010 ARE NOW OPEN!!

AND I REALLY NEED YOUR HELP!!

YOU MAY VOTE ONCE PER DAY, EACH AND EVERY DAY UNTIL OCTOBER 26TH

FOR GRACEFUL AGONY

in EACH OF THE CATEGORIES I HAVE BEEN NOMINATED IN!!

(just click on the links below)

 

I NEED YOUR HELP!!

YES, YOU!!!!


Are you on Facebook??? Please ask all of your friends to vote!!

Are you a member of a health related forum or message board?  Please ask them to come visit this site and vote!!

Do YOU have your own Blog?

Have you participated in the Graceful Agony Blog Carnival???

Feel FREE to make a blog post and include all the info here (copy and paste it if you want!)

Do you have friends or family that have been touched by a chronic illness or chronic pain?

Take this time to tell them how much you care – and let them know that I am representing the whole ‘Chronic’ Community in this Competition!

Do you have an email or twitter account??  Please forward this post!!

Forward it as many times as you’d like , get your friends to repost it and so on and so on…  😉

If you don’t believe that your vote won’t make a difference, please think again!

This has been an amazing opportunity for me, and I am honored to be included with some amazing bloggers!


My wish when I started Graceful Agony was to spread the word, and increase awareness on Chronic Illness and Chronic Pain.  I wanted to be able to light another person’s path through a life that is often misunderstood.  I wanted to leave my footprint, make friendships, and be a part of an amazingly supportive online community…. and THAT is the biggest gift in what I do here.  I get all of those things and so much more every day.

The rest is icing on the cake.

PLEASE GET VOTING, AND JOIN THE CAMPAIGN!!

SPREAD THE WORD!!!

VOTE!!!!

PLEASE!!

Thank you to everyone that has given me such amazing support and encouragement through this process.  Graceful Agony wouldn’t be a part of the world-wide web if it wasn’t for you.

You keep me inspired,

keep me coming back,

and keep me loving what I do…

In spite of Pain.

XOXOXOXO

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Ahh I remember the good old days… The days that existed before pain.  It isn’t easy for me to go back in my mind and think of those days very long.  It hurts.  A lot.  My body might not have any visceral memory of what it felt like to live without pain, but my mind does if I let it.

In those days the only limitations I had were cash (or lack thereof) in my pocket and a mandatory 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night, other than that the world was in the palm of my hands, or at least that is how I remember it anyhow…

I spent HOURS on the phone making plans for EVERY night of the week.  If I wasn’t out dancing, I was out for coffee with a girlfriend.  If I wasn’t out with a girlfriend I was enjoying the peaceful evenings browsing through the mall and fantasy shopping…. I planned vacations… I had friends… I had a social life… and then that all changed.

First I became a Mom, and settled down – but I changed my life because I wanted to…

Illness changed my life without asking my permission.

The things that I once loved to do hurt too much.  I couldn’t do them anymore.

No more dancing, no long trips to the mall, and coffee dates ALONE replaced those with friends because I never knew until the last-minute if I could go to a coffee shop or not… so when I can I just go myself.

I was thinking today about how I have changed my comfort level in the past 5 years… each time something gets taken away by my pain, I grieve over the loss – but I have no choice BUT to move forward somehow.  I have to move forward.  I don’t think I necessarily accept any of it, I think it is quite the opposite actually, but turning off somehow and becoming complacent is sometimes the only defense mechanism I’ve got.

So I numb myself out, and try to convince myself that I am fine just the way I am….

That I will never need anymore than what I have….

That my existence is completely fulfilling….

Until I realize that my comfort level is so teeny-tiny now, I don’t have room for anything outside of this little box.

I get up and spend the first hour of the day with my son and send him off to school, I take my meds, I sit on the couch and blog, email, read… and then I pour another coffee and knit for a while… and then I take more meds…. and then my honey leaves for work and I am ALL alone except for my pets…. and then I pour myself another coffee…. and then I get on the computer for a while…. then I go pick up my son, come home, and knit for a while before dinner… and then I take my meds…and well, you can just keep repeating that until bedtime save for a few moments that keep me sane.

My honey loves me immensely, and he gets me out of the house on his days off.

My little dude loves me too, and he likes to sit at the coffee shop with a book and a cookie while I get my java and a little background noise…

But it is all the same really.

When did I lose so much of myself?  Where did the fun-loving effervescent girl go?

She is hiding in the teeny-tiny box she put herself in…..

Now others may not see me this way at all, but you would have to ask them for I have no perspective than my own.  But when days turn into weeks, and week turn into months and the pain doesn’t let up – I brace myself against the world, I brace myself against EVERYTHING to protect myself from more pain.

Social anxiety replaces confidence….

And the teeny-tiny box gets even smaller.

But knowing the problem is half the battle as they say.

Maybe I need to change things a little for MYSELF….

 

Maybe it is time I get a little uncomfortable……

Because I’m telling you… Comfort sucks sometimes.

I miss me some days.

 

**If you are reading this anywhere other than www.gracefulagony.wordpress.com it is because this post has been stolen.  Please click on the link provided to return to the site of origin

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