I’m taking control back

Over the past year or so, I’ve felt my life spin completely out of my control. Worker’s comp is a horrible thing to go through, because you’re so dependent on complete strangers to fix what’s wrong and they care more about the cost than about you. When I first injured my knee in September 2012, I knew that it was going to be a process to get it healed, but I never imagined that I’d still be fighting to get back to “normal” for this long.

I feel hopeless sometimes, because there is nothing I can do to speed up the bureaucratic system. Yes, I’m on WC disability, but that barely pays for my regular bills, even before I add in the cost of eating. Staying at home all day every day is a great way to slowly go insane. I seriously don’t understand how retired people do it. I’ve been steadily gaining weight since my injury, because I can’t do the simplest of exercises that might impact my knee.

I’m fed up with waiting to hear the determination on my appeal. Not knowing is stressing me out, big time. I need to keep my mind busy to stay sane. To that end, I’ve signed up to be a distributor for It Works! Global, selling body wraps and other products that help tighten, tone, and firm your body. I’ll admit that I was a skeptic when I first heard about these things, but then I kept seeing peoples’ results. I’m truly amazed at how much better I feel after one day. It’s not an instant solution, just like going to the gym isn’t an instant solution. You have to follow common sense and stay determined. Nothing is going to work for you if you don’t make other changes like eating healthier and drinking lots of water.

I’m not trying to make this post into an advertisement, and I’m not going to turn this blog into a commercial. I just wanted to share how I feel. I’m taking control of my life again. I’ve had some pretty serious mood swings lately because I hate this time of year. I’ve decided that I’m going to start working on improving me, and not waiting for things to improve on their own. I may be disabled now, but I’m not helpless. I’m still determined to get my life together and move back to my adopted hometown of Charlotte. It’s going to take a while, because I’m looking at several months of therapy after my knee does eventually get the surgery I need, but I’m writing down my dreams and goals, and I’m going to make it happen. Selling the It Works! products is going to help me get there financially, and I’ll finally get back to living the life I’m meant to have.

It’s also time to start working on my happiness project again. Lately I’ve been so busy being upset that I keep forgetting to remember all the good things I have in my life. Positive thinking creates positive action. I WILL hear from the state soon, and they WILL approve my surgery! Or, if not, then my doctors and I will try another direction. I’m not going to give up on myself. I deserve better.

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For every high, there is a low

It seems that my life is a constant struggle to balance out my highs and lows to maintain some sort of “even” that I’m not actually sure exists. I have good days and bad days, and sometimes the bad days outnumber the good days, but sometimes the good days outnumber the bad days. I’ve found that when I’m at my lowest point, staying busy and cleaning or organizing helps my mood. There’s something very satisfying about fixing something that is broken AND fixable or organizing a space and seeing the improvement afterwards.

I took a huge emotional hit two weeks ago when I found out that I’m going to need at least two more surgeries on my right knee, which means that I’m stuck here in San Diego for a minimum of one, but more likely two, more years. Worst case scenario, it might be as long as four more years. I know it doesn’t make much sense to San Diegans as to why someone would want to leave this “perfect” place, but it has no emotional ties to me, aside from a few very good friends who live here. There are planes. I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that I’m stuck in a city I don’t like, that has emotionally been nothing but despair for me, and instead making long-term plans for how I am going to escape once it gets to that point. I’m also working on building up my credit while I have the opportunity to do so, so that when I do move, things will be easier. There is no way I’m leaving my beloved Morgan behind, which means renting a U-Haul with a car hauler, which means expensive.

I’m also starting the process of weaning away at stuff I don’t need. There are things in my storage unit that I haven’t even looked at since putting them in there. Aside from my books, that tells me that they’re not necessary to my life. In all honesty, if it weren’t for my books, I doubt I’d need anything except my clothes. Everything else can be replaced. It’s time for me to really start getting rid of the detritus in my life, so that I can concentrate on healing my knee and my life.

At least I’ve pulled myself out of the deep, dark hole I was in for three weeks, when every day was a struggle to just make it through to the end of the day. I’ll get through this.  I have before and I will again, and I’ll keep on getting through this every day, even if getting through just means pulling myself out of bed and hugging my cat.

Today is the final day of “Mental Health Awareness Month”

I’d written previously about how May was designated as the official “Mental Health Awareness Month” and how I felt that it should not be limited to just 31 days out of the year. I, of course, still feel that way. For those who have not been following my blog regularly, or have just started reading it recently, I’ll give a brief overview. I have two forms of depression: Borderline Personality Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. I also suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. If you’d like to read more about any of these subjects, the NIMH website is a great place to start. It gives a detailed overview of the various types of depression, as well as a comprehensive explanation of what it all means.

Unfortunately, every person is different, and everyone’s presentation of mental illness and ability to cope will be different. I hide behind the walls I learned to put up after 6 years of drama school, and most people don’t realize I have any mental issues unless I intentionally share them. I’m trying to share them more now, to try to lessen the stigma of what it’s like to have mental illness. Most people think that the mentally ill are those homeless people who stagger around mumbling to themselves and panhandling. A great many of them are, but only because they haven’t had the opportunities I’ve had to seek help. I have had two excellent doctors who have helped me tremendously with finding the right course of medication that helps control my depression and allows me to live like a “normal” person most days.

I go through cycles where everything will be going great, and then some little thing will go wrong and I spiral down into depression. Lately, it’s been my knee issue. I feel like I’m taking two steps forward and one step back on a regular basis, except for those times when I’m only taking one step forward and two steps back. I deal with a lot of pain in my day to day life because of the bone spur in my C5 vertebra that is pressing against the nerves and causing a “migraine” that has been with me every single day since about April of 2006. Thankfully, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, as I’m opiate resistant, so narcotics don’t help me at all.

At one point, I thought that I might be bi-polar, because I’d go through such intense mood swings, but I never truly hit mania and I never fit the other symptoms, according to my doctor. It’s just the regular cycle of depression. You start out okay, and then something triggers it and down the drain you go. Eventually, you fight your way back out of it and live normally for a while, and then you start the process all over again.

I don’t claim to be an expert on depression of any kind. I only know my own. I worry that my son will follow in my footsteps, so to speak, so I’m happy that he lives with his dad, who is a more stable individual. A person whom I consider to be a very good friend of mine wrote online today that she can’t take it anymore and felt completely unloved. I know it is the depression talking, and I sincerely hope that those who are (physically and mentally) closer to her can help her get through this. I know she is deserving of love, and I love her dearly, as do many of our friends. It’s so hard though, when the depression is lying to you and telling you you’re not good enough, or not pretty enough, or thin enough, or not deserving of love, because you are. Depression lies. It lies to you constantly and makes you doubt your own feelings until you don’t know if what you feel is true or if it’s just your illness making you feel that way.

Earlier this week I had a severe mental breakdown because I felt that my knee wasn’t getting any better and that I was going to have to live with yet another permanent pain in my life. I allowed myself to cry for a day and feel sorry for myself, and then I talked myself into believing that everything happens within its own time, and that I just have to be patient and let myself heal at whatever speed that is. I know I push myself too hard, and that’s one of my weaknesses. Unfortunately, pushing myself too hard on a newly operated knee can result in causing more damage than good, so I’ve had to go back to being a lazy lump with an ice pack  and elevation to try to get the swelling down, and to not walk any more than possible. I hate it though, because I’m not the type of person who can just sit around and do nothing all day. There’s only so much reading or crocheting I can do before I go batty.

 

Waking up to sad news is never a good thing

Maya Angelou passed away this morning. I didn’t know her, except through her writing, but she always felt like a friend to me. I can’t say that I know what it’s like to grow up dirt poor as a black girl in the south during the heart of the civil rights movement, but she made it come alive for me in a way that other writers never could. Maybe because there were so many incidences that we both shared in our lives; it made me feel less lonely. I will miss her voice.

This entire past week has been a rough one for me. I’ve slipped back into my depression, but I’m fighting hard. One of my Pandora stations is a country station that I’ve put together, which is limited to songs that were released prior to 2006 (with a few exceptions), because that’s when I stopped listening to country for the most part. It started to get too personal. I like relating to my music, but I don’t want it telling my life story. A few days ago, I made the mistake of tuning in to that particular station, and a string of songs came on that reminded me of happier times, when I had fewer worries, I still enjoyed life and spending time with my best friend, and my life hadn’t yet unraveled.

I don’t know how other people react, but when a song reminds me of a happier time, and I know I’ll never have that moment again, it puts me in a sad mood. So basically, the entire theme of my week is one of sadness. I’m trying to break out of it and trying to find my inner peace and happiness again, but it’s been rough.

On Friday afternoon, just before my surgeon’s office closed, one of my incisions reopened after having the stitch removed the previous morning. I did what any sensible gear-head/field doctor would do and re-sealed it with super glue until I was able to get in to see my doctor yesterday. He’s not concerned about it, except that it’s going to leave a scar. Honestly, what’s one more scar to add to the hundreds I already have?

I’m trying to decide on a tattoo for my right arm to camouflage many of the scars on that arm. I’m thinking of a climbing rose, to honor my paternal grandmother, as my orchid honors my maternal grandparents. I’m not sure yet, so it won’t be happening any time soon. It will definitely be flowers of some kind. I’d like it to be bright and colorful, so maybe just wildflowers. I’m in no hurry, and it’s best to not get something permanent done while depressed anyway.

Time is fluid, kind of like cats

Anyone who knows anything about cats know that they are made of liquid. They melt to fit inside any size or shape of vessel, just like water.

Time is also fluid. I know it it’s an artificial construct to provide more stability & accountability so things get done when they need to.

For the past three weeks, people have been commenting on how quickly my surgery is coming up. It’s just over a week away now. That does make it seem like it’s gone really quickly, but I first injured it on September 7th. That means it’s actually 8 months & 7 days to get to the point of surgery.

The closer it gets, the more I stress over it. I tell myself that it’s minor surgery and nothing to worry about and myself laughs at me. To me, it’s major surgery because it’s my body he’s cutting into. Fortunately, I trust my surgeon. I know this next week is going to just fly by as I make preparations for post-surgical care. I also have to make sure Morgan gets a good bath and waxing, because it may be a while before I can do that again.

My birthday has come and gone

Considering that I “did nothing” special this year, it was still one of the best birthdays because my family & friends all chipped in & made sure that I felt special.

I’ve reached the point in my life that dependable friends & family are way more important than presents (although the surprise gift card capped a great day).

I’m still trying to figure out my direction in life, and a lot of that has to do with waiting endlessly for updates on my knee. At this rate, it will be September again before it all gets sorted. I’m not in a hurry anymore. I’m not anxious to escape San Diego at first opportunity as I had been. Instead, I’ve applied my adoption cat philosophy, with a twist. Instead of “the right cat will find you at the right time” I’m thinking that “the right opportunity will present itself at the right time” and until it does, I’ll just keep on being the best me I can be in a city I’m not fond of, but where I happen to be.

Happiness is what you make of it, and I’m determined to be happy, despite all my recent problems & setbacks. Shikata ga nai. If you can’t change it, don’t worry over it.

39 will be a good year for me.

The choice is no longer mine

In my last post, I stated that I was concerned about what Monday would bring, in regards to the pain in my knee. As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait that long after all. My physical therapist was manipulating my patella on Wednesday, and I have over a 1/2″ of lateral movement in the kneecap. That means that it’s not tracking at all. It’s worse now than it was when I first injured it three and a half months ago. I’m in more pain, and all the strengthening exercises in the world aren’t going to help me now, because it would seem that I’ve torn or broken something inside. I’ll get a real answer on Monday, but it’s been a very emotionally draining week for me.

Of course, all the stress over the knee is aggravating my headache, so that has gotten worse over the past week as well. Some days, most days, I just don’t even want to get out of bed. Even with upping my antidepressants, I find myself crying regularly when I’m alone. I try to hide my emotions around other people, and maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t. Shikata ga nai. I have no option at this point. My fate will be decided without my input. Whatever you’re doing, whether you know me or not, think of me on Monday afternoon and if you are so inclined, pray that it is not so damaged that I need to have the entire knee replaced before I even turn 40.

Thank you.

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