If you're seeing this post, you may notice it looks a little different than my last few, lacking a video entry as I desperately try to put together a typed post. Writing and words are two of my most treasured commodities (there's a reason I majored in English in college), as far as things I have always inherently loved, and, I don't mean this narcissistically, but I've been a fairly good writer throughout my life, as well as an insatiable reader. While the latter was taken away from me when life got completely put on hold over four years ago, at least as far as novels, etc. go, I was still usually able to write decently enough to put together at least a few posts a month. But over the past year, almost two, my ability to write and think through what I'm typing has suffered mentally and physically.
But today, I wanted to try to share something with you all via the written word, so please bear with me if you're able...I'll try to make it as coherent and make-sensical (yes, I do know that's a word I just made up, but we're going with it). Onto today's topic, though...
YOU HAVE PERMISSION.
If I were reading this heading aloud, it would be spoken as such, "You have permission, period."
You may be wondering why you'd need my permission, how I can give you permission, or you may even be in the dark about the very thing for which I've giving you permission. And that is A.O.K. Because I'm getting ready to elaborate. :-)
When dealing with these illnesses, I'd venture to say we can all identify with the roller coaster nature of diagnosis, treatment, herxing, recovery, relapses, and more. It's an all too common shared experience. But one thing I'm trying to keep in mind for myself right now, is that I have permission to get better.
In saying that, I don't mean I've been holding a belief that says I'm not allowed to get better, but rather than try to explain it away, I'll use a personal illustration from just this morning, so you can get a glimpse of how this concept (which I'll expand on in a minute, I promise) is playing out in my life right now.
Now, I'm no stranger to depression, OCD, anxiety, panic attacks, disordered thoughts about food and myself, even the unpredictable bouts of rage that are horrifying for me and anyone within a several mile radius, probably, including our pets. But this bartonella treatment, which we began in January before taking a month long break (due to attempting the Cowden protocol to get myself wedding-ready for my sister) and restarted at the end of March, has been particularly troubling. Especially on the depression side of things, leaving me, many days and nights, feeling absolutely hopeless.
Now, before I say the following, I'm adding this disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been, suicidal, and that is a blessing, I know.
That said, there have been more days than I can count, especially as this wedding date draws nearer and I panic about my capabilities, not only on that day, but for the events leading up to it, on which I have been lying here in the dark, tears staining my face and soaking my pillow, begging God to just take me home. To just go ahead and let me go to heaven, because this earth is not my home and I find myself increasingly more at what feels like my breaking point, as far as being able (or unable, as the case may be) to hold on to the hope I so want to be able to have.
As I was bombarding my mom with texts and voice messages this morning, about this very topic, but through many more tears and with much more emotion than I could ever convey on this page, she reminded me of a truth I know, but one I lose sight of fairly quickly when my mind isn't operating in the sphere conducive to hope/joy, overall (yesterday's post was an exception, I had a few hours of joy on Easter Sunday, and I wouldn't trade that for the world! But most of the time, things aren't all that good around here, mental or physical health-wise, at least not for the past several months, despite my attempts to choose joy and imploring others to do the same.).
I have permission to take one moment and one day at a time, and I have permission to focus on getting better, even if I do literally nothing else. I have permission to use all this energy worrying about what I feel I "should" be able to do, and instead use it for only doing things daily that move me toward health and further along in treatment and recovery of all kinds.
And not only that, IT IS MY JOB.
I may not be able to work a typical job right now. Heck, I can't even leave the bed/bedroom much of the time, much less do housework, and even much more less hold an actual paying job. That's my reality, and has been for years now. But it's okay. It's not okay in the "suck it up, deal with it, you should be fine with it because everyone has struggles" way, nor in the "I'm wearing a mask to tell you I'm okay but I'm really not, but I'll never tell you that because I'm not exposing my emotions, no siree" way.
I'm saying it's okay that I can't work, because thankfully I'm fortunate enough to have a husband who has a job that supports us, and we have family members who are able to help with unexpected sudden costs that arise, as they do often in these illnesses, if need be. I know now everyone is in such a position, so please don't think me insensitive, that's not my intention. But even if you aren't in a position where you have support, on the most basic level, you still have permission to focus solely on doing whatever you can to heal, because unless we put our all into our healing efforts, body, mind, and spirit, our healing will be delayed, or possibly never truly come.
We have to be committed. Healing, getting better, THIS IS MY JOB. This is your job. This is the job of anyone fighting these illnesses, fighting in every way we can to reclaim our lives, whatever trails that means we may endure between the onset and the finish line.
I understand many warriors have children and need to be available for them, and since I'm not a mother yet, I can't speak to that directly, but I would dare to suggest this possibility for the parents out there: in any given situation where you feel you need to put aside your own healing process to tend to a child's need, however big or small it is, is it possible you put more stress on yourself worrying about getting it done, than actually doing the action itself? I'm genuinely asking, because again, we haven't been fortunate enough to have children yet, which is a blessing given my current state of health, but is also something we long for in the future once healing has been delivered.
What I'm saying is this: it's extremely easy for anyone going through the process of treating and healing from these illnesses, parent or not, child or not, caregiver or not, to worry about everything coming up on the calendar (i.e. for me, right now, it's wedding shower in April, wedding rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding, and reception in June, and more) so far in advance we literally make ourselves feel worse physically because we allow our minds to go there mentally–to the place of stress, anxiety, and worrying about "tomorrow," in the next-day sense as well as the general-future sense, and stress plays a direct role on how we're able to handle our day to day situations and on our physical health and ability to achieve healing.
Everything is connected, friends. That's why it's vitally important to work on whole-being healing, not just the physical treatments, not just mental work or therapy, not just prayer and meditation and attending church and devotionals and worship music...no, we must address every aspect of our core being, and that can start with doing whatever you need to do to remove some of the stress or worry you have over your situation, you health, finances, job, family, or anything else, so you can focus on healing with every second you don't absolutely HAVE to be committed to doing something, or to someone, else (as in cases of parents who do need to be there for their children WHEN they are able; but if you're unable as much as you'd like, I pray your spouse, partner, or family is able to step in and help meet the needs you may be unable to meet yourself, because guess what? If that's the case, that's okay, too, because you are doing whatever is in your power, in order to get back to a life where you can be fully immersed in you family life, activities, workplace, hobbies, worship services, and all of the other daily life activities many, including myself, take/took for granted until they become/became "temporary not-possibles.")
NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE NOT DOING ENOUGH.
NOT EVEN YOUR OWN MIND.
ESPECIALLY NOT YOUR OWN MIND.
Because chances are, if you're reading this post, you're like me, and so many thousands upon thousands of others, you have bugs literally in your brain tissue, affecting your ability to function, and the buggers definitely don't like to play nice when it comes to cooperating with our wants. So instead, we MUST focus on what we need and have to do.
It's easier said than done, I know. If worrying about tomorrow were an Olympic sport, I think I'd hold a lifetime gold medal, despite knowing the Word of God tells us not to worry about tomorrow multiple times. There's a big difference in knowing and in being able to channel that knowledge into feeling the truth you know deep in your core, when you're in the middle of trials. That doesn't mean we stop trying to connect to what we know so we can again feel it on the most profound level, but if all you feel on any given day, or at any given point of time, seems to be hopelessness, I want you to know these truths:
THAT IS ALLOWED.
YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO MAKE HEALING YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.
NO ONE HAS THE POWER TO TAKE THAT PERMISSION AWAY FROM YOU.
ANYONE THAT TRIES TO INFLICT SHAME OR GUILT ON YOU FOR [X] DOES NOT GET TO TAKE UP PRECIOUS SPACE IN YOUR MIND WHERE HEALING NEEDS TO BE.
AND, BECAUSE IT BEARS REPEATING, THAT INCLUDES YOU.
So often we are our own worst critics when we feel like we should be able to do this, or should have enough energy to go there, or enough pain relief to do that...
STOP KEEPING YOURSELF FROM HEALING AT THE EXPENSE OF PLEASING OTHERS OR AT THE EXPENSE OF PUSHING YOURSELF TO DO THINGS YOU KNOW YOU PROBABLY DON'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO AND RECOVER FROM WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT BACKLASH.
I say that just as much, if not more, for myself as I do for anyone who comes across this post. I'm horrible about berating myself when I feel like I should be here or there, doing this or that (see previous bullet points for examples), but am instead once again unable to lift my head off the pillow because of the crushing fatigue and accompanying trigeminal pain and migraine. I'm absolutely horrible to myself. And I'm admitting that, because I think it goes too often unsaid, and is likely much more common that we think.
I'm absolutely horrible to myself mentally, every time I start thinking about things I should have done or even should be doing or even more, things I should be able to do in the future. The bottom line is this: healing will happen when given the right conditions. Now, the conditions are different for each and every one of us. Some treatments are miracle workers for some and brutal torture for others, and vice versa. The life situations in which we live are drastically different across the board of humanity, and while it's awesome to have that uniqueness conceptually, it makes healing a bit harder to tackle...until you find your "right."
And your "right," meaning the path that will bring you healing, may, and likely will, change and adapt along the way, as will you, as will your body. It's not only the nature of life, it's the nature of these illnesses and treatment/recovery. But if we can all just make a commitment to try to find our "right" in any given moment, and do our best not to worry about dates in the future, instead focusing on what we can do IN THIS MOMENT to further our healing, I dare say we'll reach healing in a better state of mind, if not a faster pace altogether.
No, I'm not telling you to fake it till you make it; I hate that phrase, even though there is something to be said for neuroplasticity and visualization (a whole different post topic, I just dislike that particular colloquialism). I'm telling you YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO TAKE CARE OF YOU. PERIOD.
Whatever form that takes, on any given day, at any point in your life, if you want to reach the healed mark, you have permission to dedicate your life to getting better. To researching. To healing. To loving, laughing, and recovering. I'm not suggesting you spend every free moment dogged down with medical research or lamenting your situation (though laments are great, too, when used for their intended purpose. I highly recommend No More Faking Fine, a book by Esther Fleece, about the need for, and importance of, letting God hear our laments, and how He wants us to bring them to Him, even when it hurts), but I am saying your actions should be geared towards healing every chance you get.
Saturday night, I was able to watch the Doctor Who premiere with Rog in our living room instead of the bedroom, without having a panic attack, which was amazing! Yesterday morning, well, I was able to rejoice with one of my very best friends in the world as we both tuned into the live streamed Easter service from the church Rog and I attend (he was there playing in the praise band as he does every week), and we were both rejuvenated. And guess what? Afterwards, the enemy (Satan) decided to go on the attack...because one thing he cannot stand is seeing people worship God and feel hope. So the enemy's trying today, and I'd be lying if I told you he's not winning a few battles...
But he cannot, and will not, ever win the war. God's on my team, and even when I don't directly feel the inherent hope and joy that comes with having a relationship with Christ, I still know it's there.
So today, I have permission to lie in the dark, I have permission to write this out, even though it's making my head, eyes, and hands ache much worse than they already were, because even with that, this is therapeutic for me, being able to not only sort through it all, but also to share it with others, as I try to keep myself from screaming at the top of my lungs to get out my pain caused by the sound and vibration of lawnmowers outside (sound, smell, light, and touch sensitivities are all on hyper-alert right now).
And you have permission to take whatever steps you need to today, and tomorrow, and every day from here till healing comes, to keep moving forward towards that goal. Even if it means missing out on a few things, even if it's uncomfortable, learning to give yourself permission to focus solely on your own healing for any amount of time, and even if you don't feel like trying anymore and want to give up–it is your job to heal, which means it's your job to stop berating yourself with "shoulds" and instead focus on what you CAN do, in THIS moment, right NOW, to take a further step toward healing, literally or metaphorically.
I know that was a lot, guys, and I hope it made sense. Just remember you're allowed to do whatever you need to do to live and function and heal, and no one can take that permission away from you, INCLUDING you, unless you let it be taken. Embrace the permission, that's my goal right now. Embrace the permission to heal at the rate I'm healing, and tackle issues that may arise as they arise. Of course some things take planning ahead (like going to a doctor's appointment, for me, means gathering about 20 different items we know we may need while out in the "real world"), but nothing deserves to have you worry-ahead, because worrying unnecessarily, as human an emotion as it is, especially in chronic illness, only serves to defeat us and further drive home the message and feelings that we're not doing enough, not good enough, hopeless, or will never feel or get better.
And those simply aren't true. I don't accept "never better" for any of us. I can't tell you exactly what your healing looks like or will look like from here forward, but I do refuse to accept the idea that "never better" even exists. I'm not asserting that everyone gets 100% total healing in each and every hard circumstance they face, but rather that I'm just not accepting it as an option for myself, and therefore I'm claiming it as a non-option for any of you reading this.
Better is coming. Until then, you have permission to heal.