Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reality Bites: TPN Grief Stage no.2 -- Pain/Guilt

Guilt is a useless emotion.

Hold the phone...I'm sure you're rubbing your eyes, unsure if you read this correctly. Before you hop aboard to ask if this was a typo on my post, let me say this again:

Guilt is a useless emotion.

But you cannot understand why unless you battle through it to find your own. Nothing I say will convince you in a case like this. Phony emotions? What's the point

Stage no.2: Pain/guilt

in this stage, it doesn't matter whether you're in a space where you dislike yourself or not. If you have ended up on TPN after trying to avoid it with everything you have, and now cannot find any online help about how you're going to deal with this, you're going to feel guilty for seemingly letting yourself down. Yes, you will also have pangs of conviction because you feel you have let everyone down, but at the end of the day -- if your brains aren't scrambled and if so, once you recover from scrambled egg brain -- you are going to feel a white hot type of shame. 

And it's going to feel like someone is punching you in the gut, to add injury to another injury.

I was in hospital, alone, dizzy with septic induced delirium, examining just how I screwed up. Where on earth did I go wrong?! Was it the J tube surgery? That didn't make sense...the surgery wasn't invasive enough to shut down my GI system. Was it something I ate? Something I didn't eat? A medication I took? A poor outlook? 


This is the worst of it. I was freaking out, trying to explain what was happening internally trying to process what was going on. Many heads shook and the faces of my loved ones fell blank. 

"I don't know what to say..."

Now only are you confused and heart broken, but now you are also a jerk. How dare you expect these poor people to understand what's going on? Your doctors don't even know what to do beyond keeping you comfortable while trying to save your life. You still haven't gotten it: you're bloody ill. You look like a talking skeleton, a memory of who you were. And now you're rambling on and on, fretting so about how you're going to cover us your line at the beach? You live in a land locked state! Plus, you haven't been outside in six months. What beach are you going to?

These are things that my brain scream at me. This is only a snippet...after the repetition there is an internal fist fight, and guess who doesn't win 70% of the time.

This is why guilt is a useless emotion: guilt makes you crazy for no reason. Guilt takes your judgment hostage, so that you do things like have knock down verbal brawls with yourself for hours a you manage to lose every single one.

 I maintain that guilt is a form of abuse/self harm, depending on who is the perpetrator. Either way, it imprisons you to lay around, suffering at your own hand. Guilt convinces you that you aren't loved and don't deserve to be, that you are weak a fundamentally damaged. A waste of space...

...and this loop could go on for hours. It could go on forever. There is no beginning and no end, there is no head to distinguish from the tail.

When you are caught in that perverse embrace in the dance with Guilt, you are willingly devoting that time to not learning ways to cope; to understand what you need to prepare for. The months of March and April I was so busy in this weird relationship with my own emotions that I didn't even bother to ask for support from others who I know are more than willing to help give useful tips and buckets of support and compassion.

This second stage is one of the worst to pass. This is where you are now awake to your surroundings, much like after sedation wears off after  a surgical procedure. They are casually speaking about what they did to you while you were taking a nap. For me, my roux-en-Y took a back seat because that psychic howling took me out of the real world and landed me in the nonsensical world of pure and raw emotion. I didn't care that they had done a truly fine job of skilled maneuvers and keeping me comfortable after the fact.

But the only thing that mattered was how disfigured I felt, and how much I hated myself for being so shallow for even admitting this.

Because guilt halts the growing process, emotional pain levels multiply. In chronic illnesses, it's easy to mistake emotional pain from physical, so very often powerful drugs are given for the wrong reasons.

Here's what I learned about guilt, and I am hoping that the mistakes I came to terms with will guide you away from territory you are dangerously close to, or are desperately looking a way out from:

  I totally forgave myself for what I thought I did: I felt that this illness and its intervention was too difficult for me to handle with grace. I had to humor that mind state for awhile in order to come from a place of complete forgiveness, so that I knew exactly how to help myself  begin to move past this.

I told others what was happening in my head: This alone is a risky task. First I had to fight the guilt of "going completely nuts". Then, I had to admit that I could actually be a nutcase and I had to convince myself that this also was a good risk to take. As it turned out, I'm only eccentric...that and very hard on myself. But that's another topic.

I admitted I had no idea what I was doing I woke up horrified and went to sleep miserable. I was haunted by the thought of not being totally in control. There was even guilt in not being able to control how this illness strikes, kicks ass and takes names. Admitting that I was clueless and powerless was a major blow to not just self seteem, but I found later was one of the most liberating experiences I've ever had.

I started asking myself what I was looking for I so needed to find a person who's done this before me. I learn best from another's lessons and draw courage from it. I found no such person, so the best I could do was one day become so sick of the lack of information that I decided to author a mini series about what I would have liked to know.

This list isn't exhaustive, but it outlined my start. Other issues popped up, regressed, and others stopped altogether.

Don't suffer alone. There are still five more steps. None will be this brutal when you're in a  position of really believing you were solely. responsible for all of the pain you're experiencing. Sometimes no one is at fault, and learning how to cope with this will be one of the hardest concepts to grasp.

And once you are done with guilt, leave it behind. You won't be needing it any longer.                                            

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