Emily Dickinson wrote, “Pain has an element of ____.” (from Part One: Life)
This is the most honest statement I have ever read.
Mental health problems do cause physical symptoms; including pain. Physical health problems do cause mental health issues to become worse. My back is killing me. I have had problems with my back for years, and it went out on me again.
I feel like there are electric shocks running through both of my legs and a spider web pattern of electricity throughout my entire torso. There must be some diabolical little elf randomly hit the switch to trigger these shocks at unpredictable intervals. People are giving me odd looks due to my random twitching. Currently, I am avoiding going out in public because of the looks I am getting. And the fact that if I am holding something when this happens, I usually drop it.
Just taking a deep breath, working with my breathing exercises for anxiety, triggers physical pain throughout. This is where the real nightmare begins for me. My daily activities are limited by physical pain and physical limitations. Guaranteed trigger for anger, depression and anxiety. These emotions lead to my muscles tensing up-causing more physical pain. These emotions drain all of my energy. They rob me of sleep. The pain keeps me awake at night and when I do finally sleep, pain will often wake me up with a severity that sends me running-or limping-from my bed. The lack of sleep means my body is not resting, not recovering in anyway. Sleep deprivation also is a trigger of my moods, my depression.
This situation is a tangled mess. Life experience has taught me to just ride it out and pray for the best. Eventually, the pain will calm down to a more tolerable level. Then I will be able to rest for a day or so. Mentally, it will take longer to recover. My inability to function at full capacity screws with my mind. My children need me, they want my attention and I just cannot meet their needs. J- feels like everything falls on his shoulders when I get like this. The daily demand of children, chores, work, schedules, and errands is more then he can handle. This means chores are left undone for days. And I have to deal with it when I am able to.
The doctors have said there is nothing they can do for me at this point in time. I just have to learn to live with the pain and the limitations. Living in pain is normal for me. The limitations are the major problem. I do NOT cope well with limitations! I just want to be able to function. I already live with the pain. Limitations make me feel useless. I feel less than. It brings to mind all of the years in my life that I was told I am useless and pathetic. Limitations being back all of the old fears of being a failure.
Often times I feel like my body is falling apart from the inside out. As if my own body is attacking me. No amount of mental health therapy has ever helped me deal with these feelings.
Growing up, I watched my Dad die slowly. Numerous back, knee and neck surgeries. I seen the pain he was in, the limitations he lived with, the depression that completely took over every aspect of his life. I swore I would never end up like him. I was desperate to avoid being that broken. With my youthful ignorance fueled by fear, I ran as fast as I could towards the future. And slammed head first into the brick wall of reality.
I went for days without sleep, did not eat well. Sometimes not eating for days and only surviving on nicotine and caffeine. I pushed my body beyond my physical limits with the belief that my body would do whatever I told it to. Dad taught me that belief. Now I have back problems, bad knee, facing surgery on my hands and wrists, nerve damage throughout my entire body. I lost track of the number of specialists I have been sent to over the last ten years. The cardiologist said my heart is fine, but be careful because I have all the classic symptoms. They have ruled out most auto-immune disorders, but a new one is starting to come into question. One that is in my family line.
Today is going to be a long day. I will survive it. Not sure how much I will actually accomplish, but I will make it through the day. My biggest fear right now is work. Working nights at a restaurant, on my feet, dealing with at least two hours of deep cleaning each night. I am scared I will not be able to do it tonight. I am scared my back will go out again. Yesterday, in my own kitchen, I bent over to set my dinner plate in the dishwasher. My back went out and I went down. J- and a family friend that had joined us for dinner had to pick me up and walk me to the couch. I could not get off the floor by myself. No one at work is strong enough to lift me if I fall. And they shouldn’t have to. I should not hit the floor at work-ever- for any reason.