When I arrived in Chicago 35 days ago, I was a frazzled, sleep-deprived, anxiety-ridden mess. I’d been experiencing life-draining insomnia, unmanageable fatigue, heart palpitations, muscles spasms, chronic pain, 3-day long migraines and my gut had shut down to the point that eating anything caused me terrible pain. I had gone to as many doctors as I could find and the only things they’d offered me were handfuls of anti-depressants and consistent invalidation. At the end of my rope, making a radical change was the only option I felt I had left and that’s why I came home… to take a step away from the grind and try to find my way through this thing to a better place.
Four weeks later, I can’t say my health has improved as much as I’d hoped, but what I have gained is plenty of new perspective about the things that need to change for me to get well again. This respite from a life where I pour all my energy into everyone and everything besides myself, has allowed me to reconnect with my own body and its need for care and love too. This time has allowed me to clear some of the cobwebs collected in my mind and to take back some of the power that I’d given away over the last couple years as I have searched externally for a solution to end my suffering.
Now, I can see the way forward. It isn’t through the doctors who don’t care about or even believe me. It isn’t through the pills they try to shove down my throat to silence my cries and cover up a life in need of a major overhaul. And it isn’t through trying harder to be everything for everyone. My way back to wellbeing is through reprioritizing the wholistic care of my body, mind, and soul.
Trauma can fracture these parts from one another, and we can spend years on autopilot, numbing our pain in order to continue our fight for survival. And while survival mode can be useful at first, over time it degrades the body, shatters the mind, and leaves a person battered and broken. That’s where I have been. But I am ready to move on. From surviving to thriving, it’s time to make the change.
There will be no magic bullet for my recovery, no single thing that is going to “fix me.” I can see that now. Things will improve for me only through small, intentional, consistent actions over time. And while that idea is crystal clear in this moment, I know that the real work begins when I return to the environment, stressors and patterns that made me sick, and must find creative ways to maintain the self-care and habits I’ve started to develop during my month away.
Truth be told, I could probably use another few months apart from the chaos, but who couldn’t use that, right?! I am profoundly grateful for the time I’ve had and for Oliver’s tiny team who’ve done an incredible job of caring for him in my absence. But, it’s time to get back. Thursday of this week brings the next step in our HIE journey – a full day of pre-surgery appointments to evaluate him for a Baclofen pump- a serious and (honestly terrifying) possible intervention in the management of his Spasticity and Dystonia. It’s a big decision and certainly one for which I need to be physically present.
Trying to set those worries aside, I’m returning to Washington today with the remembrance and faith that my body has the power to heal if given the support and space that it needs. Will that be easy within the context of our rather complex life? No. It will be a challenge. But it is one that I am ready and willing to accept. So homeward bound, to create new patterns and take back the life that got away from me.
Thank you, Chicago family and friends, for holding me close in your arms. I am grateful for you and the support you’ve so generously given. ❤