The wedding…it was beautiful. I’m so thrilled for the stunning bride and her equally stunning groom. I wish them nothing but happiness in their lives together.
My body…it survived. I threw away everything that day, all of the stress and cares and inabilities. I chucked the woes aside and I danced with my arms above my head. I put my hands in the air like I just didn’t care because of that fact that I did care. I cared very much about having the best time that I could and celebrating such a wonderful day.
It’s hard to explain how I got through such a big event when, so often, I can hardly get through a day at home.
I was watching The Walking Dead over breakfast this morning, as you do, when I realised a possible explanation for how I sometimes manage to physically push through an important event that just won’t be repeated.
I was watching a character running for their life (no spoilers, I promise). Running through pain, stress and confusion. Running fast, propelled by the promise of imminent danger. People can do some pretty incredible things when they are threatened. That flight or fight response can create instant energy in a lethargic body. Our survival instinct understands that a threat is not going to wait until we are feeling well before attacking.
What if that instinct, that power to flee, that fire to fight…what if that can be harnessed and used to overcome less life threatening obstacles? What if desperation, in different forms, can tap into the primal desperation for survival?
I am no stranger to feeling desperate.
These days, I am so desperate to enjoy any sort of event or activity that I won’t wear my sad face on such occasions. I’ve spent quite enough time at home feeling sick and sad over the past six and a bit years, I’ve learnt a thing or two about feeling pain without showing pain.
Don’t be fooled because you remember my bearded performance as Lord Montague in that high school production of Romeo and Juliet, I’m an amazing actress. I have to be, I’m trying to fool myself and I’m a tough audience. You see, anytime that I’m not scrunching up my face, or falling to the floor, or sobbing hysterically, or making that absurd wailing sound that I’m fairly sure means that I’ll become a banshee when I die… anytime I’m not doing that I am acting, to some degree.
Chronic pain doesn’t take breaks. Sure, it has an unpredictable ability to fluctuate in intensity, but it’s never gone. When I appear well, it’s usually because I am coping well, rather than actually feeling well. When we are having a good time together, you usually won’t see my pain until my body reaches the point of no-functiony-collapsy-exhaustion.
My last blog post was on the topic of feeling empty. Maybe, the desperation to fill that emptiness with something, anything at all, maybe that helps to allow me to summon extra strength. It’s not a singular driving force. That particular sense of desperation is accompanied by the desperation to not miss out on all of life’s wonders due to CRPS and also by my constant desire to still be me, to still do things that are an expression of me as a person and a friend, not just a sick person.
I’m still in here, somewhere.
Perhaps, sometimes, overcoming is simply a matter of different streams of desperation, combining and combusting. The explosion lights up my darkened mind like a flare in the night sky, rejuvenates my strength like a sugar overdose in a toddler. Much like the toddler, I will collapse afterward. I will spend days, weeks, even months recovering from the physical ramifications of the emotional blast.
Much like the person fleeing zombies, my body will give out the moment that I am safe. At the end of the party, at the end of the thing that I’ve wanted to enjoy, I will shut down, pain will skyrocket and probably there will be a flashing empty battery sign on my forehead. If I’ve had myself a soul replenishing good time, I usually wear this collapse with a slight smile of pride (provided that I’ve sustained no infectious zombie bites).
And so, maybe, that is how I managed to have such a lovely weekend for my friend’s wedding, despite the fact that I’ve spent most of this year flailing about and struggling for breath. Aside from this one, magical, weekend, I’ve been feeling overwhelmingly useless. Coping with pain flaring has been more of a struggle than usual and coping with life stresses has seemed like an unobtainable illusion.
Coping? What’s coping again?
I want my mojo back and I’m going to have to trek some hard yards in order to get it. Such journeys always start with the smallest of steps, little itty bitty things that allow me to feel even the tiniest bit of control over my mind and body.
I have to practise my relaxation techniques and increase the amount of time spent doing Feldenkrais and physical rehabilitation exercises. I have to try to reconnect with life, friends, my writing and figure out some goals that are achievable. I have to expose myself to information that is inspiring, read the work of writers that I enjoy, follow my interests and (most importantly for my daily sanity) filter my social media feeds and interactions to only include people and things that don’t leave me feeling negative or drained.
Love & One of those itty bitty steps that I mentioned,