When Your Worst Enemy is Your Own Brain and Body

I don’t remember a time where my body and brain were on my side. My earliest memories are of constant ear infections, and not understanding why I would always throw up breakfast on the way to school. When I hit puberty, I got the first case of stage III-c dysgerminoma in the province. Yay, at least that was an upgrade to the adult hospital.

Then there’s the years of abuse, medical complications, and the car accident.

What I deal with day to day is what’s called chronic pain, and chronic illness. What’s gets you these labels? Length of time: dealing with the issue for over six months, and no signs of a full recovery. Whatever the issue may be, it extends beyond the expected period of healing.

There’s that old saying that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t think that saying is for persons like me. No matter what I do to keep my body upright, I always feel like a pathetic weakling. In those sparing moments of accomplishment, I realize most times a soon coming tomorrow will be wasted in bed, with constant intrusive depressive thoughts. One day, I’ve done too much. That too much? Finishing that load of laundry, putting away that one glass on the higher shelf, or walking for 45 minutes instead of 30. Some days, it’s over when I’m done my shower.

Sometimes, it’s because I decided to see a friend, visit a relative, go out in a very crowded area, smell something that reminds me of the hospital, or see someone who reminds me of university. Anything, really, that involves the five senses that brings up my traumas.

Bonus: having cPTSD automatically leaves me in a state of constant tension. Even in my sleep, I don’t truly get a break.

Image courtesy of Newbridge Spine

There’s no panacea here. The best thing I did for myself was acceptance. The minute I accepted that these are the cards I’ve been dealt, it makes it easier to focus what I need to do for each card.

In my had are a few Jokers: those are the cards that I know, deep down, that I have to discard facing up. I don’t have any control over flare-ups, if something in the outside world causes my brain to send the wrong signals, and things like not being able to eat for a few days to stop a partial bowel obstruction from turning into a colostomy bag.

I do have control, however, how I react to the world around me. I choose if that flare-up in my SI needs stretching/movement or full on rest. All while thinking terrible things about myself.

Acceptance is not giving up. Acceptance is acknowledging what my body and brain have done to me, and choose to do anything with resolve, dragging them along.

It sucks, but it’s working.

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