I have been open about being a person with mental illness for twenty years--even when that admission certainly did not serve my best interests. For fourteen years I was diagnosed and treated for bipolar II disorder, and I did not have bipolar II disorder. I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but it took me until 2008 to find a psychiatrist who believed me and who treats me for the right condition. It fills me with such pride to be able now to say, "I am in recovery from PTSD." I'm a veteran of in-country in Depression and Anxiety. Being a headstrong, resilient, and determined person has helped me be "in recovery."
I must dissent with Dr. Schweitzer, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner (1952). For me, happiness must consist of bad health and a good memory. I have had a constellation of mainly endocrinological, gastroenterological, and biliary problems all related to psychiatric medications. I've dealt with them with a great attitude, and a strong will. I have a lot of backbone. Actually, I have a lot of damaged backbone. In November 2011 my personal trainer at my gym accidentally (negligently) added one hundred extra pounds to a leg press machine I was using. It broke two of my vertebrae at L5, S1. I had four spinal fusion surgeries between July 2002 and July 2005. As a result of the physical injury and trauma I suffered, I developed peripheral neuropathy. I have numbness in both feet, and I also get sharp shooting pains in them, as if I stuck my finger into an electrical outlet. After being given a good bill of health by a top neurologist, I returned to my orthopedic surgeon. He decided to perform a fifth surgery which would reduce the scar tissue and the compression on my spine. That surgery was in September 2012, three years ago. I wish I could say that I could feel my feet, and I am "in the pink." However, more often I am blue because that last surgery did not improve my neuropathy, and I still have a lot of difficulty walking. I am physically unable to do what my willing spirit wants to do. While I have been a mental health advocate warrior, I have been in severe denial about being a person with physical disabilities.
Why denial? The main reason is I want to be seen as me, Maura, first, and not as a person with disabilities. I grew up with close family members and friends with physical disabilities, so, conversely, I saw them as people I loved, and not as someone unable to walk, or see, or breathe. My nerves cannot regenerate, so I accepted the best possible outcome of the spinal surgeries. So I have moved to a place of admission.
People with mental illness often, and incorrectly, are spoken of as people who lack character and integrity. I have a great deal of pride in being reliable and dependable. Yet, my health, at this moment has already caused me to miss deadlines. I'm afraid that promises I have made to people whom I respect, admire, and like may not be kept on time. My physical disabilities have been interfering with what I love to do and what I am good at doing: reading and reviewing books.
Please bear with me. I shall get caught up as soon as I am able. For as that wise Frenchman said:
I think we can surprise ourselves with the healing our bodies accomplish. At the same time there are amounts of physical and mental scar tissue that may never heal. At the same time, if we're also dealing with compounding conditions, then our uphill battle really becomes a slog. Yet, you and I are slogmeisters. We may get down, but we fight back into the slog and push through. Have you seen The Railway Man? There's a type of PTSD in that film that is hauntingly beautiful. Filled with physical and mental pain. And in the end a sort of forgiveness that envelops it all. Sometimes I think we need to forgive ourselves for the torture we add to the torture... xoxoReplyDelete