Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thought Driven Illness: July

My eyes flutter open.
I'm facing the window, gazing at the parking lot and witnessing the burning hues of sundown. Trees cast their shadows, showing that their presence serve as comfort to us: they were here long before us and keep all the secrets of this land.

I blink once, twice...a gentle stream of tears tracing down my face. My window is closed from whatever wind could gently rustle through my hair; depriving myself of the symphonic masterpiece coming from grasshoppers and shouts of excited children alike.

I'm being pulled underground by the hand of Madness.

And I'm not even sure if I care.


The above experience occurred last week.

This was not a memory of old, not a feeling I battled so long ago that I can say with confidence that this corner of the mind hasn't been inhabited by me so very long ago.

Stressful events from the last year had finally caught up with me. Many a friend or acquaintance has wondered aloud as to how I appear "so strong" in the face of life altering changes that have seen to pummel me over and over again.

How I seem to handle traumatic events with such grace.

Many a time I have corrected ones who seem amazed at the "endless" supply of "strength" I possess. In all honesty I cling to the wisdom and direction of the God that I worship. He's never, ever been one to disappoint and has always seen me through to the other side of these raging storms.

Recently I was hit with a barrage of misfortune, and in its wake had left me with crippling feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and a false conviction that not only would things never be the same, but that the state of my own broken heart would be what took me from this life in the very end.

I cannot even begin to explain the state that I was in...not but two weeks ago. An intruder on my life had found his way into my mind, and his presence created an unbearable weight on my back. This Shadow Man wasted no time in making sure that I be separated from any form of communication from others so as to seek help for this season. He stole my words, my dreams, my own sense of hope.

And I lost my mind.

One of the most startling manifestations of this violation were the physical changes that started to take place. I began to have very strange symptoms that seemed to have no end. I just got out of the hospital yesterday after an eight day stay to re-stabilize me and get curtail some of the ravaging symptoms to calm and now are in process of slowly stopping.

Here are some of the following that I am dealing with and am getting help to keep under control:

  • Severe panic attacks (up to 4/day) with heart rate up in the 140-160bpm range
  • Fever
  • Spasm of the diaphragm
  • Black outs/brown outs
  • Tics (involuntary jerking of the torso, face, and legs)
  • Inability to form coherent sentences
  • Eczema breakouts of three different varieties
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Suicidal ideation

(lichen simplex chronicus)

(seborrhoeic dermatitis)

(lichen simplex post clobetasol and a few episodes of Charlie The Unicorn)

(It's funny, I promise)

From the end of June until last week I had not left my apartment at all. I had also not spoken to most of my friends, whether away from screen or on screen. I began to believe that no one wanted anything to do with me (yes, I honestly believed this). My feelings of worthlessness intensified because for awhile I was unable to write (hence why this blog hasn't seen a lot of updates recently).

There was no external event that caused all of this to happen. The root of all of this was choosing not to face my circumstances for what they really are. As a result, I became consumed with what looked like a severe bacterial infection, and even my own doctor thought that I was suffering from MRSA (a permanent hospital acquired infection) and was very concerned about the safety of my central line (don't worry, I'm not and my line is absolutely fine).

The driving force behind all of this though? A choice to neglect self care and pushing my loved ones away.

In other words, I suffered needlessly based upon my own actions. By definition, this would be categorized as self harm. This brings me back to another point: at what point do elements of grief and depression stop being pathology and become a willful choice to become content with misery?

As you can imagine, as these problems intensified I became convinced that the end of my life was very near indeed. Many that know me had even remarked that my voice had become flat; monotone. Devoid of thought and purpose, just waiting to cease to exist.

Due to the severity of depressive symptoms, I became covered in lesions from head to foot. My immune system also began to suffer and I started to have multiple nose bleeds per day, my bones ached in a way that I had never experienced before, even at my lowest weights. I slept all of the time and many times was not even roused by someone shouting my name multiple times at high volume.

I had ceased to care.

To own up to my responsibility, the conclusion that I personally have drawn is that this last bout of illness was entirely self inflicted. It didn't look that way to the outside and still doesn't, but in order to make sense of what recovery from this has been looking like (i.e.: differing behavior modification changes) one would have to also conclude that if the mending of these wounds has come from within, then the etiology of this flare also must have had to come from within.

However, I do not blame no chastise myself. If I chose to do so, then there would be no chance for bouncing back from this particular hiccup in my path to Wellness. Instead, I have chosen to make several small changes in order to get back on track:

  • Talk to at least two people per day
  • Spend more time doing things I enjoy, not just what is "productive"
  • Make room for spontaneity
  • Laugh. Daily.
  • Hug somebody.
  • Appreciate where I have been.
  • Look forward with hope as to what's up ahead.
  • Indulge in Hope

(a drawing for me by a small child: this is what is meaningful to me. What's meaningful to you?)

I'm not alone in this phenomena of one's own thoughts driving their bodies into a state of profound -- albeit abbreviated -- aggressive flare.

And neither are you.

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