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Chronically Grateful Day 12: What Is A Fear You’ve Conquered Despite Your Chronic Condition?


Having to always cancel plans, be left out of activities, know that you can’t do some of the things most people can, and always having to explain yourself, it’s easy to become worried about what others think of you. I wonder what they think when I try to explain why I can’t go on the hiking trip with everyone (for example) because my head will start hurting just five minutes in and the rest of the time will be like a living migraine filled nightmare for me. I used to fear people would think I was just making excuses or something. I’d fear that they would judge me for what I couldn’t do, and not for what I can do: which is fight a debilitating battle against head pain. There have been multiple instances where people don’t understand the severity of it and will say something like “oh come on! Don’t be a baby!” In which case I try my best not to get upset and defensive, knowing some people wouldn’t last an hour with a migraine while hiking 7 miles up and down a mountain (and from experience I know it feels like you would rather pluck your head off than continue hiking)

I’ve gotten over that fear though, because I know I don’t need to explain myself to everyone. The people who are close to me understand and don’t need an explanation anymore. The people who are close to us won’t demand an explanation. I also know that everyone has their own battles. Why should I judge them when I don’t know what they’re possibly going through? The saying “you can’t really understand a persons experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” couldn’t be more true.

If you get over the fear of what people think of you, you will do so much more in your life and feel so much more comfortable and confident 🙌🏼✌🏼️

2 thoughts on “Chronically Grateful Day 12: What Is A Fear You’ve Conquered Despite Your Chronic Condition?

  1. I certainly lived in these shoes.
    In my life a lot of people depended on my functioning, my mother and my grandmother when I was in college absolutely needed me to work and help pay our bills as well as keep our home going-and I think stress and responsibility were hard on me-but if they caused my health issues-I do not have proof of that.
    My mother had a stroke-though we did not know it was a stroke then ( it affected her in a way the scans at that time could not see in her deep brain stem) and her going under was incredibly difficult.
    My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and lived with us at our home dying from it-and poor as church mice. My father divorced my mother when I was 17, leaving her next to nothing, and no income-hard to start over at 56. She did her best-the trooper that she was. Especially after a major stroke it was a difficult time but my point is only that I lived to try to rise to situations to make things better…. and I think however poorly I actually did anything-or with whatever degree of human failure, I tried. I earned enough a month we kept a head above water. Kind of. It was hard times. Eventually I married-better times- had kids, but my health broke me wide open. Learning that still shocks me.
    in my case my neurological break down led to me not even knowing myself as I had. I recall one day at work in Greenfield when I had pins and needles in my legs and then did not feel I had legs for three months-totally numb.
    I’d always taken care of others-probably to a level hard to explain…my reality became unrecognizable really….but then I had mysterious issues, vague, bad pain, heart rate issues, until I was knocked out of work. Doctors took years and years to find these issues while everyone, everyone but my mother felt it was just a matter of my mind. I wasn’t able to keep being the person everyone knew. Or expected. I had a syrinx, and that is such a serious thing, I had intestinal cancers that recur, I had anemia for ten years with an iron count below 7 from intestinal bleeding with the cancer. I had true struggles with peritonitis 6 times, hospitalizations, several near death episodes. I bled almost to death from the intestinal tumor infiltrating my artery. I had to keep my head above water in a terribly demanding job. I was often judged, almost never asked about my health, and finally just in general avoided. I could not travel across country because for 15 years I might suddenly bleed out internally. I often cancelled everything.
    I had people who didn’t even understand the terrifically hard issues suggest I work on a “positive attitude” while I went to work, often on my knees at home, or raising three kids, dizzy, throwing up, in horrific neurological pain…taking care of my mom and brother, trying, trying, trying. I learned quite a bit. For one thing I had to finally once and for all realize that for some love and concern is extended only to those deemed to be whatever-healthy, available, somehow…something. I didn’t make the cut most of the time. People didn’t really know, or ask or want to get involved or didn’t know what to say or do. Who knows? I just reached a point where I could no longer be there-couldn’t shop for gifts, couldn’t get things done, couldn’t continue to make art to send to others, couldn’t take on a lot. Some days I celebrated if I was able to not shake, or not let pain overwhelm me. It took away so much. I think it deepened my understandings of things others might miss-I think. Certainly I narrowed to the point of just trying to live to see my kids to 21. I achieved that. For that I thank the God I came to know. There were many times that seemed an impossible goal. Pain is such a horrible companion. If I could I would take your suffering away. I suppose my own relationship to suffering is to realize that we should work to help those of us on earth in pain. I did learn things from reading about Buddhism, Zen. I didn’t become Buddhist, but I feel the way that suffering is acknowledged matches what I know. Life is suffering, and we try to have compassion and support for one another.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, I’m sorry you’ve experienced so much struggle and pain. I’ll be thinking about you and sending well wishes ❤

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