I feel bad. I always feel bad. Not the kind of bad that can easily be described to a doctor. Not the kind of bad that a few Tylenol and other medications can automatically make one feel better. It’s the kind of bad that lives deep inside the linings of your limbs and muscles so that all you can do is try and figure out either a comfortable spot to relax or push through in some superhuman way that can not be described.
I have been sick since, by my estimates, my oldest was formed inside of me. This would equate to twelve years. Is this part and parcel of being mentally sick? Possible. Is this part of the sheer amount of medications I am required to take in order to seemingly function for those who define my success of living? Probably. Is there anything I can do, anything I can say to a doctor, anyway to convince those in my life that I am seriously considering my options just to have a small and significant break?
It should be made clear that I am not talking about being mentally sick. I have been mentally sick in various degrees for the majority of my life. I know that feeling because it is one of the normal, insidious realities of my life. I know how depression feels. I know how mania feels. I know how the combination, the separation, the layering of mental illness feels like. What I am speaking to today is simpler: it’s physical. Drugs are necessary for the control and health of a mentally ill patient; but in order to be successfully healthy physically takes much more. Much, much, more.
There are a couple of ideas I have come up with and rejected. One, I tried exercising. I didn’t build muscle or run miles, but I walked. I walked up and down hills. I stretched using yoga. I tried to find simple ways to bring the adrenaline into my equation in this hope that this natural drug would counter the very physical ailments I am tired of complaining about. Two, I stopped taking any medication that wasn’t absolutely necessary. I thought that by taking away that which I could control maybe I would find not only a specific spot that is physically sick but that I could uncover a new avenue to make me feel better. Three, beyond exercising, I got out of my house and tried to do things that I thought I would enjoy: book sale, crafts store and even a couple of festivals (although this was with my family). I still felt sick.
To describe to you, my dear reader, the overall yucky that I feel only when I am physically ill is not an easy or even fair assessment of the whole. I can’t ignore the fact that I am mentally ill and there are three times as many side effects from the medications I take as actual pills I take. I can’t ignore the truth that it is possible that my mind is controlling some of the ill effects that I am feeling; no matter how I wish I could solve the physical illnesses separately from the mental.
On any given day I am: constipated, snotty (snot running down the back of my throat, although the other applies), horrible back pains, heartburn, headaches, I am never warm – there is a running joke in my family, my stomach cramps, and above all else, if that wasn’t bad enough, I get dizziness, motion sick, forgetfulness, confusion and just all around tiredness. And this is what I can think about as I sit here and try to distract myself with Hallmark channel movies. I am sure there are other layers. I am sure there are spots that I can’t describe. And since it is so all-in-compassing sometimes there feels like there are simply too much for me to describe.
But I watch my girlfriends. Some of my friends have jobs and children. Some of my friends stay at home and raise their children. I watch my mother walking about even with her recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s. I watch my husband make a plan and execute that plan without out one simple thought to his health. I watch people decide that they want to go to a fair and not worry about the bathroom situations and the length of time to be walking about with torture running through their veins. People leave their homes, get in their cars, move on with their lives and never once have to considered what I think of as a check-list from hell.
And what is it that I can truly do about it? See that’s the rub, the options.
If the overall feeling that my body is literally working backwards is caused by my medication there’s a rub. Can I take the risk of changing my medications, or even stopping the continual use of those medications, for my own personal gain? Changing medications is a dangerous proposition. It can cause moods that are not only unpredictable but also hurtful to those around me. Changing medications can exchange one side effect for another; and sometimes the new side effects can be worse than the simple misery I am living in. Changing medications is a risk that might not be worth the potential for the small chance that I would feel better.
Then there is the desperate attempts to have people actually believe what it is I am trying to sell. The hardest part of any disease is making those who can’t see the disease, although they might be able to feel the repercussions of the diseases, actually understand what it is that the patient is going through. I would state easily that it requires a dictionary, thesaurus, web searches, and soul searching of the deep kind to try and even find the words for what you may be going through. It isn’t easy. There isn’t any secret to how to do it. It is the Faulkner of therapy. It is the New York Times Crossword of the disease words. It doesn’t roll off the tongue, instead the words to describe what is going through your body requires a talent that very, very few people will ever have the skill to brag about.
I am tired of feeling badly. I am tired of questioning when I can leave my home and make the necessary lists in order to actually do so. I am tired of feeling mentally positive and physically negative. I am tired of having no idea how to speak to a doctor so that I can finally figure this out. And I am exhausted from balancing my own needs with the financial expectations that are required to be observed as I don’t want to go into debt just to selfishly make myself feel better.
I am tired of feeling badly but the roads to any sort of relief may not actually be paved yet alone exist.