I have been meaning to post for a while, it has been quite a year. Due to diet changes and supplements, I have truly experienced some "good" days this year. And by good, I mean truly amazing, pain free days..days where I would look around me and think "This is it, this is what life can be. What a miraculous place this world can be." Tears would immediately form in my eyes. Yes, even on healthy days, I am still the girl who cries in public places.
This year brought many surprises. I met my best chronically ill friend (Shannon) in person, and worked for 7 months as a counselor at my clinical internship site. I am becoming a therapist, it is actually happening. It is very real. During that time, I had extreme ups and downs. Days where I felt so well I danced around my living room, and days where I felt so ill, I shook as I cried myself to sleep.
I still live in two worlds, but they look a bit different to me now. The ever-so-far away "normal" world was with me at times, but sick world would linger in the distance..like a dark, far away cloud. You can see it there, and you wonder if it will get close enough to touch you. You wonder if it will pass over without a storm, or if it will catch up to you and pour its rain and roaring thunder over you. Normal world, as beautiful as it is, doesn't quite look like how I remembered it. And, I don't think it will. I'm too aware of the sadness in the world now. I'm too aware of pain. But, I appreciate this knowledge. In fact, this knowledge may be what I was meant to see.
Right now, I'm in a sick period. And..I'm feeling a little hopeless. No matter how many little post it notes I leave to myself to remind me what it's like to feel well, to remind myself it's possible and that flares pass, I cannot believe it, even when I stare at the note and picture myself when I wrote it.
So today, since I cannot remember what it's like to feel well, I will choose to remember what changes this illness brought to my life and ways it has worked for me. Over the course of 7 months, I had several clients. Many with depression and anxiety, and some even with illness. I did not tell any of them of my illness, of course-therapy is about them. But, something interesting happened..something that took my breath away:
I have a client, let's call her Kate*. **Kate is a college nursing student who has suffered from a back injury for a few years now. The pain can be so debilitating she at times has questioned if she can finish school. We spent many hours in my office discussing the difficulty this brings her, emotionally and physically. I wrote notes to her professors if she missed class, explaining she is trying her best-I asked for extensions on papers, I advocated for her needs. At the end of the semester, in December, Kate showed up to my office. She looked bright and was smiling. "I did it, I did it!", she exclaimed, with sheer excitement. She reached out to hug me, pulled me in and whispered, "You get me. You really get me." When she pulled away, she held my arms and said, "You know what it's like, don't you? I know you must. The way you looked at me, I could tell you heard what I was saying. What do you have?"
A few weeks ago I received an email from Kate. She had gotten her grades for the semester, and passed with flying colors. Kate stated that she could not have gotten through the semester without someone understanding her and advocating for her, and that what got her through her most painful days, was wanting to one day do what I was doing for her-understand and advocate for a patient in pain.
Your disease is not your destiny, friends. Make your pain your purpose.
Wishing you all a happy, HEALTHY 2012.
*Names will always be changed if speaking about a client
**I will only speak of clients who have granted me permission to mention them and their story, out of respect for confidentiality