Monday, February 13, 2012

Giving Up Is Not an Option

There are times in everyone's life that feel hopeless. Life is not easy; I don't know that is is supposed to be. What I do know is that life is what YOU make it.

I have lived with a chronic illness (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) for over 7 years. The loss cannot be measured. My career, my life savings, friends and my identity. I was no longer a successful consultant,  juggling career and family. I was what????

Somehow, I became a "disabled: person. That was now my identity. I could no longer care for myself; dependent on others for the simplest things like eating. It was humiliating and depressing. For many years I accepted that title. Living without hope; wondering how much worse things would get. My disease is incurable and progressive. The doctors make that perfectly clear. Wheelchair-bound, medicated to the hilt, I wanted to give up. If the doctors said there was no hope of getting better, then I should believe them, right?

For some reason, I decided to see what I could accomplish in one years time. If, at the end of that year, I was still a vegetable in a wheelchair, I was planning an escape. It was not an easy decision but I had nothing to lose.

The first thing I did was decide what "level" of quality of life I could accept. Knowing I would never be able to work again was the hardest. Because my right hand is atrophied, getting any function back in that was not possible  and my left hand is also severely limited.

Walking again became my first goal. In order to do that, I needed to get off some of the medication that cause dizziness, blurred vision and depression. Yep, depression from the 3 antidepressants I was taking. Ironic, isn't it. That the medications they gave me actually INCREASED my depression. When you read all the side effects of medications, you never think you will be effected. It's always someone else...right.......

That was in 2009. It has not been easy but I did it. Am I still physically limited, yes. But I can walk with a little help sometimes. Mentally, once I got off the medications, I started to think clearly again. I knew that even if my physical condition didn't improve much I could still get mentally to a place of happiness and contentment.

Mental Remission is what I call it. I made a list; one side things I can do and one that just was not ever going to happen. I tried to be realistic. At first, the list was very short. Then, I began looking around to find something that would make me smile again; laugh again (sometimes at myself), and finding joy in the smaller things in life. There were all there, hiding in the fog of depression.

If you see even a small bit of yourself in this post, I hope you will make that list. Get involved with others. Reach out! Help is available! Figure out just what you can still do; and go for it!  Everyone has a talent. Guess mine is talking. That's why I started my radio show, Living With Hope.,Just because you may be ill, home-bound or physically challenged does not mean it is an end; it is a new beginning and can be challenging and exiting.

4 comments:

stiletto girl said...

Wow. This is truly a poignant post. I really like your term, "Mental Remission." That concept can definitely be applied to so many things in life. Thank you for sharing.

CRPS News said...

Living with CRPS is indeed a constant battle. Whatever happens, don't let it defeat you. Accept things for what they are and be happy with what you can do.
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USAFmedicVet said...

I'm not close to my family, but occasionally we try to fake it. I can't get them to understand that I can't just get up & go. I've tried to explain the pain by saying it's like having a migraine all day, every day. Their most frequent comment is that I "just need to get out more". I WOULD IF I COULD! Any advice?

USAFmedicVet said...

I'm not close to my family, but occasionally we try to fake it. I can't get them to understand that I can't just get up & go. I've tried to explain the pain by saying it's like having a migraine all day, every day. Their most frequent comment is that I "just need to get out more". I WOULD IF I COULD! Any advice?