Friday, September 28, 2012

accepting

A recent question was posed to me by a reader of this blog who happens to also be a mom.  I thought I'd share it and my answer.  Being chronically ill with kids is something that needs a lot of encouragement because, well, it can be darn hard and DIScouraging.

Q: Life is looking grim.  Life goes on around me and I think my kids are just used to this as my "normal".  I feel like they don't view me as just sick anymore - they view me as "this is how mom is now".  It's not what I thought my job would be. I beg God to help me but I feel like it just ends at begging.  Is that the lesson?  To stay in a begging state?  What do you do when it's like that?

A: I am SO sorry.  I think it's a grieving process.  You know, denial-anger-bargaining-depression-acceptance.  You sound like you are in the begging/bargaining phase and a little depressed.  Losing your health IS something to grieve about.  But you have to come to acceptance, and that sounds like it's next on your list.  I remember coming to acceptance and it made it a lot easier to cope and to actually get some things done instead of just lay there sick.  Even if it was one little thing a day, it made me feel accomplished because I knew what my limitations were and I had given up trying to impose impossible duties on my body.

Instead of looking at all the things you CAN'T physically do and that your kids think you are just like that as a mom (which I'm sure they don't and you won't be ill forever), look at yourself as being ill in this time of life and learn to lay aside expectations.  Do the minimum until you feel your body can do more and don't be ashamed of it.  The only way you'll get better is by saving your body and by asking for help.  It can be from your kids even.  You can ask them to do chores and if any friend offers help, ACCEPT IT no matter how they will "see" you (dirty house, etc.).  And if you have a friend who you can ASK for help, I'd do it.  Even if it's just something small like, "Will you bring us dinner one night this week?"  or "Can you take the kids today?".

God hears your begs but His timing might not be to let you feel relief right NOW so you are welcome to beg, but part of the acceptance of being ill (for however long or short) is saying, "Please help me feel well NOW, Lord, but help me accept it with a happy heart if your answer is 'wait'."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

not depressed

Years ago when I was so ill but didn't know what was wrong, I was finally (or so I thought to be the final diagnosis) diagnosed with "Fibromyalgia".  I saw one of the best rheumatologists in CA and was referred to a "Fibro Rehab" clinic where they helped you in physical, social, and psychological aspect of your lifestyle/syndrome and I was told, "We can get you to have ONE good day a week!"  Being young and still confused as to why I was so so sick, that wasn't encouraging news.  I remember going home and crying that day.

But I figured since that was THE final diagnosis, I needed to make the best of it.   My husband was deployed in Iraq for 15 months and I was doing worse than ever physically.  My biggest complaints were pain and lead-weight fatigue that prevented me from doing even the simplest of tasks and even taking care of my toddler without help.  I would literally crawl to the bathroom, use the bathroom, then have to sit in there for 15 minutes or so before I could muster the energy to return to my bed or the couch.

Something that stuck out to me, though, and still bothers me to this day because of how I know others are faced with this same question and worse, were the multitude of inquisitions as to whether I was "depressed".  I got asked it so much I truly searched and searched my mind to see if I was.  I had a test I finally implemented when someone would ask.  I'd think, "Do I find joy in my daughter?  Yes.  Do I find joy in God?  Yes.  I am not depressed."

I wasn't unable to get up and move around because of lack of motivation or depression, I truly had a physical ailment that prevented me from mustering any extra energy to move.  But it's sad how many times doctors and people ask you if that is the cause of your problems because they truly just don't understand your disease or how to diagnose you since all tests come back "normal".

When my husband was deployed it seemed that the various doctors I saw would ask the depression question even MORE often.  At the "Fibro Rehab" place, I had a long initial session with the psychologist where I took a 100 question fill-in-the-bubble "test" (how awful is that when your brain is fuzzy?) and then after he interviewed me.  He asked me SO many times if I was depressed; he asked it 20 different ways.  He acted suspicious and acted like he was trying to trap me into admitting I was depressed.  Finally, after the 20th question, I lost it.  I raised my voice a bit and said, "I'm not depressed! I WANT to be able to do more; I WANT to clean my house.  I WANT to hold my baby girl and read to her!  I'm not depressed!  Any sadness I may harbor comes from BEING SO FRUSTRATED BY MY SICKNESS AND NOT GETTING AN ANSWER THAT PUTS ME ON THE PATH TO HEALING!  But it doesn't mean I'm depressed."

He stopped asking me about depression and scribbled something on his notepad.  Shortly after I began sessions at the clinic I was put on another path by a separate doctor that would eventually get me diagnosed with Lyme disease so I never did have to see that psychologist again.

Now, I should make a side-note here that a real symptom of Lyme can be depression and I do know some who suffer from this, so if you are depressed, take heart that there is hope to help with that aspect of your illness.  But for others of us, we haven't been depressed - we've just simply been so incredibly discouraged that no one could tell us what was wrong and help us get better.

I am SO thankful that I am doing so much better after 2 years of treatment.  I continue treatment and continue to heal.  Someday I hope to be fully well.  But the memories of those darker days when my illness was a mystery and it seemed that no doctor appreciated or tried to help and wished to label me as "depressed" is still fresh in my mind and it causes me to pray for some of you who are on this same journey of trying to find answers and being met with skepticism or just plain bafflement.