After a lot of soul-searching, I found a blog title that said something of what I wanted to say about a life with invisible illnesses – autoimmune disease, pain, depression and dissociation. For the first time in weeks I’ve found a moment of strength to say something.
While I want to be hopeful, I find myself drowning at the moment. After another doctor appointment where I am told that I need endorphins, which is difficult when one is sad and sore. Sore… the pain is dismissed as some muscular thing yet again and yet I know it’s not normal to live in this kind of pain for over a year. At least the doctor had the grace to acknowledge the damage that western medicine has done to his patients, and that alternative therapies were better.
I know this much, and tomorrow I hope to start a Qigong practice to work on this aspect of myself.
Nonetheless, the chronic pain is grinding me down. I awoke from a terrible nightmare last night where I defended my loved ones and in return was captured and tortured until I attempted to end my life. The agony was excrutiating. It was not lost on me that the aim of this self-harm was to make the pain visible. For now, it is very much invisible, like the blackbird at night.
When I woke, I was still in the realm of the dream, and it’s been hard to set my foot outside of it today. I do long for the pain to be gone. I don’t know how long I can withstand it. I am like a wounded bird – I do hide my pain, so the predators can’t catch their prey. I have rejected self-harm, even the security of a walking stick, to hide my frailty. I do my job too well I suppose. So much so that a thoughtless doctor can dash off the words, “Doesn’t appear to be in pain.”
I know I have no alternative but to keep living. I know this will somehow pass, that the illness will wax and wane and that this is just a rough patch. I know that I could never put the burden of my choices on those I love most dearly. I know what living is with the scars of those who had to give up. I will not do that.
As difficult as the days are right now, when I seem to lose the ability to do anything but rest and sleep as my immune system crashes, at least I can take solace in the strength I must yet have to choose life.
I must celebrate that strength, even if it too, is like a blackbird at night – difficult for me to see. I must also honour the compassion that I require to take care of myself in a world where so many are in pain and suffering.
Now, I must rest.