I haven’t updated for a while, not because I’ve given up being open about what’s happening, but for more physical reasons, which I’ll explain in a moment. However, momentous and terrifying and exciting changes are happening and I couldn’t not post, so however long this takes to type (3 days), I’ll get it out there eventually. (It should have been published last week but I forgot I wrote it.)
To recap, I’m in my third month off work. I’ve never had such a prolonged period of rest in my life and it has been a weird experience. The meds finally started kicking in a couple of weeks ago after they doubled the dosage, but not before I’d experienced another major bout of depression that got a little ugly in places. Thankfully the shaking has now almost entirely stopped. I rarely get dizzy spells. My stomach is up and down; I’m not losing weight as quickly as I was and the symptoms haven’t been as extreme, but I’ve started having a lot more allergic reactions to foods that were previously safe. I have a colonoscopy scheduled for the 21st and hopefully that will provide some answers. I’m still struggling with the insomnia and the occasional palpitations, as well as the odd panic attack, but on the whole, I’m well on my way towards being fit and healthy and happy. Unfortunately I have developed problems with my vision, which is why I haven’t been updating. The issue is twofold. First, I’m having occasional bouts of anisocoria, which is where one pupil is bigger than the other. Usually the eye with the bigger pupil goes blurry and it can last anywhere from half an hour to a few hours. It’s possibly a side effect of the medication or it might be tied in to the other issue I’m having. We’re just not sure. The second problem with my vision is that because my nervous system is still functioning in a state of hyperdrive, my pupils are hyperreactive to changes in light and are rapidly and constantly adjusting. It’s worst when I’m looking at a screen of text, for obvious reasons, but I’m also having trouble with focusing on anything shiny or metallic, and sometimes even things printed on glossy paper. The hope is that as my anxiety and stress subside, my nervous system will settle down and my eyes will slow their roll a bit, but there’s nothing I can do except wait.
So why am I posting now when it still gives me a headache to look at a screen? Well…on the advice of my doctor and counsellor (and closest friends) I resigned from my job.
As life lessons go, this has been the hardest one I’ve ever had to learn. I was unhappy before but I was sticking with it because that’s what’s expected, because normal people do 9 to 5 jobs, because I’m supposed to care about having a career, because I cared what people thought…and the long and short of it is that it was incredibly damaging. Several medical professionals told me I needed to cut down my hours. When my counsellor told me I needed to quit and I said I couldn’t take the risk financially, he looked me in the eye and told me I couldn’t afford to take the risk of staying because the job would eventually kill me, one way or another. It was literally a “your money or your life” scenario.
At first I didn’t know what to do. It took an awful lot longer than it should have for me to realise that there was no way I could go back. That this has been catastrophic and I have a duty of care to myself to make the necessary changes for self-preservation. That nothing should ever be the same again. That caring about trying to be normal and fit in was overriding my common sense and damaging my health to the extreme.
And then, slowly, I came to see this time for what it really is – a blessing in disguise.
When I was first signed off, the doc told me to find something I enjoy doing and try and do it for at least half an hour a day. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I chose to spend that time in my craft room. Creating is and always has been my first love but it’s only ever been a hobby. At first it was difficult. My hands were shaking so badly that I literally couldn’t do anything requiring even minimal finesse, but I persisted and as the weeks passed and the shaking slowed down and became intermittent, I really began to find myself. I made things for the house. I made things for me. I tried my hand at making clothes. I taught myself couture beading and embroidery. I learned new polymer clay techniques. I finally got my overlocker out of the box and learned how to use it. And somehow, somewhere in all of that creation, I discovered a deep sense of satisfaction. I was using up supplies that I’d stored away for a rainy day for the last 10 years. I had a purpose. These materials finally had a purpose.
I didn’t really have an epiphany moment, but somehow the concept crept up on my consciousness that if this is my big joy in life, I owe it to myself to figure out a way to make it support me. I don’t have the answers yet and frankly I’m terrified at the thought of unemployment and starting a business, but it’s also incredibly liberating. For now, I’m applying to part time jobs. The main thing is to reduce my hours to a point where my fatigue is manageable. Once that’s sorted, I’ll use the rest of my time to build some kind of crafting business from home. I’ll be comfortable and can rest when I need to and I’ll be spending a lot more time doing the things that I love.
There’s a deep sense of peace lurking under the fear. As frightening as the unknown is, I’m certain it’s the right choice. Time will tell what happens; but for now I’m just opening my heart to change.
Update from 26/02/2018:
I had the colonoscopy on the 21st and was diagnosed with diverticular disease, which is where pockets have formed in weaknesses in the lining of my sigmoid colon. It’s a pretty devastating diagnosis because it’s incurable and yet again necessitates a change to the diet, but in many ways it’s good to have a known enemy to deal with now. So that’s where I’m at physically.
My last official day at work is the 28th, Wednesday. I’m scared but excited about the future and hoping this is the first step towards a healthier life.