Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back To A New Me

"It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me, and I'm feeling good..."

For the past months, I have felt like partially me, kind-of me, not really me and every other way I could feel, except really and completely me. I know in some ways I was me, but it was not a me I recognized and many times, not a me that I wanted to be at all.

But now there seems to be a shift, a change in the wind or weather that has been blowing around my emotions and moods. For the first time in a very long time, I am feeling almost like myself and each day seems to be getting just a little better. Sure, there are low moments and even low days, but I don't feel so lost, so out there, so foreign to myself.

Most of it has to do with just accepting what is and being willing to accept what will come, instead of mourning what was or perhaps what I only thought actually was. It is commonly accepted that there are five stages of grief and loss; Denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I don't think anyone moves directly from to the other, I think like many things it is a few steps forward and a few step back. Moving from denial to anger to bargaining and then perhaps back to denial or anger for a bit. It would be nice if there was a direct road that went from A to Z, but perhaps there is more to see and learn from the winding road instead of the straight highway. I think I am finally getting into the first parts of the acceptance stage and looking at what it might mean if i just embrace it. Right now, I don't know what that will mean, but I see shades of what that might look like.

And just as I am getting stepping into this better space, things have started to unfold to propel that even further. I won't go into details yet as things are still getting worked out, but sufice to say that things are poised to head in a fantastic and exciting direction. And if for some reason they don't, they have me making additional and fall-back plans, and for the first time in a very long time, I really feel like everything is going to be just fine. Better than fine, even.

And even more important, I am feeling more like me. Maybe more like me than ever before.

Monday, August 13, 2012

About Me And My Blog...

I think I need to explain something about my blog and the things I write about. As anyone who reads my blog knows, the past eight months have been among the most emotionally and at times physically challenging of my entire life. During this time, I have learned a few things about myself, one of the most important being that I can't go through all of this alone. I wish I could. I really wish I could paint a pretty picture and deal with everything alone, in my room and in private. That is my usual way of dealing with personal things. That behavior has cost me relationships and created more problems than it has solved. But since the stroke, my emotions have intensified to levels I don't understand and I often find them so overwhelming and intimidating that I just can't keep them to myself without feeling like I am going crazy.

Last Tuesday, when I started my last blog post, was one of the lowest and most emotionally intense days I have had since all of this began. for the first time, I was face to face with some of my worst fears about what might be waiting for me in the future. For the first time, I had to admit, really and truly admit that I had had a stroke and I needed help. I don't like to ask for help. I love to give help, I hate getting it and I hate asking for it even more. Going to that group meant laying it all bare, emotions and all, without the luxury of hiding out behind a keyboard, away from inquiaitive eyes. So I started writing as I usually do, not with the thought that I will post it and what people will think when they read, but with the intent of being brutally honest with what is going on at that moment in time. I wrote Tuesday as I was waiting. I decided that I would keep it to myself and not post it. I would like to say that for a lot of what I write, there is a part of me that thinks it is nobody else's business. Anyone who knows me well, knows that while I am happy to talk a lot and put out certain trivial information, I like my really personal thoughts and feelings to remain personal and private.

For the past eight months, I have discovered that keeping things private can be a very dangerous thing for me right now. When I keep them in, they fester and grow and I quickly go to some dark places that I find really scary. So, I write. And I put it out there as a way of throwing light on it and protecting myself. I know that some of the things I have written have worried, confused or even hurt the feelings of some people. That is not my intention. What I write, is what is true and happening in that moment. I don't write to or at people, I write out of myself. I don't filter. I don't go back a day or two later and read what is there. I don't edit. I don't worry about what people will think. I can't. Not right now. I need to be honest. It is hard enough to look at a lot of these things and admit them to myself, I can't let myself worry what other people will think or feel. For me, at this time, it is all about self preservation and my sanity. So I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings or if you took any offense to anything I have written. That was not and is not my intention.

I can't go through this on my own. I wish I could. I also find it difficult to talk about. I feel I am putting people in an uncomfortable place. I get self-concious and nervous and I can't always get things out. Writing is comfortable for me and I usually feel better, if not immediately, soon after I write things out. It helps me think, to look at my feelings and not let them boil and build into something more than they need to be. Thanks for reading my ramblings (and tolerating my numerous typos). I know they aren't very fun at the moment. I also truly am thankful for all the support from everyone in the many different forms it has come.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

My Week So Far

Tuesday, August 7, 09:30

Worthless. That is the word that keeps echoing through my head. It started when I woke up. I stayed in bed, hitting the snooze over and over, trying to find that place in myself that had a reason to get out of bed. I never found it. I got up only because I told Charise I was going to go to a stroke survivor group and she offered to drive me. I got myself into the downstairs bathroom and cried. There was no particular reason, it was just because of the feeling I have. The feeling of being worthless, having nothing to contribute, nothing to wake up for, nothing that motivates me. I feel empty, tired and so completely alone. I am tired of feeling alone.

I am waiting at the Senior Citizen's Center in Corona. Except for the two young volunteers at the front desk, I am the youngest by at least twenty years. I see future versions of myself and I have mixed feelings. I wonder what my life will be like when I am that age. Will I still have these feelings? Will I still feel this way? Will there be anyone around who cares or will even notice that I am here? And then I wonder if I will make it that far. I wonder if I even want to.

I am finding it impossible to connect the logic with the emotion. I tell myself I am lucky, it wasn't that bad and that things will get better. I put on a show for people so they feel comfortable around me. I try to make myself feel on the inside the way I pretend to be on the outside, but I don't know how.

Sometimes I wonder why I survived last December. I am not saying I want to die, I just want to know why I am alive. I have nothing to give. Surely there must be a bigger reason to stay alive than feeling empty and worthless.

Sunday is my birthday and I am dreading it. I don't want to do anything. I don't want any birthday greetings. I don't want gifts, texts or calls. I want to go someplace, disappear and shut everything and everyone out. But I can't. So I will pretend to be happy, pretend to be excited and everyone can feel great and I will watch them enjoying something and as usual, I won't feel it, but I will do my best to hide it.


I just had my first Stroke Survivor Support Group meeting. I wasn't keen on going. It knew it would mean admitting I had a stroke and I am not doing ok. I know I had one, I am reminded of it constantly throughout the day, but this meant admitting it on a whole different level. For the first time, I met people that had strokes. There were walkers and canes and wheelchairs, and most of them had their strokes years ago. The other youngest person was fifty. He is a former police officer who had a stroke from Ephedra, and it was his case that got the drug off the market. Years ago, he had to make the choice between being able to swallow and speaking. He, of course, chose to be able to swallow. He can speak, but it is harsh and raspy and hard to understand. His stoke was over ten years ago.

I looked around before the meeting started. Once it started, I listened to people. There was a man unable to talk. He had his first stroke twenty-three years ago. Another man has no short-term memory and kept repeating himself after a few minutes. People commented on how good I look, how they can't tell I have had a stroke, and that is part of my problem. Because I look like I am ok, people assume I am. On the outside, everything is great. Inside, I am totally fucked up and confused.

And every person has accepted what happened. I don't want to accept it, I want to get over it and get back to normal. I want to be the person I was. I want to feel intelligent, sexy, cute, funny. Instead, I am struggling to find out who I am and how to make all this just go away. I just want it to go away. I want my balance back I want to be able to ride a bike, to walk down the street and not sway as though I am drunk...

I looked at the other people in the meeting, knowing I should be thankful, but I just kept wondering if that was the fate waiting for me. I know that nobody knows what will happen in the future, but I feel I am part of the way there. Only a few months ago I was using walker and having help in the shower. I really thought that when I learned to walk and my vision was back to normal that things would be fine, but they aren't. The depression is eating away at me. I don't want to get out of bed. I don't want to take my aspirin or even eat. I do these things because people are around.

The other thing I have noticed, is since I have had the stoke, my emotions are much more intense. Maybe they were always this intense and I am just not able to cope with them, but instead of just feeling sad, I feel like I am plugged directly into the source of all sadness. I don't get little emotions, I get super intense ones and they overwhelm me. I constantly feel on the verge of crying. I want to make it stop and I don't know how. I want to make this all go away and I just don't know how to do it. Am I supposed to accept this as my fate? My destiny? Will I always feel like this?

Thursday, August 9, 15:00

After the meeting, I walked around. I simultaneously wanted to make some sense of it all and put the whole thing out of my mind. I felt numb and my mind was going in different directions. I kept walking, but didn't want to go anywhere, I such wanted to be somewhere else, somewhere away from my self and the thoughts and feelings. I ended up at Lamppost Pizza and soon Charise and the kids showed up. I was happy to see them, but also not as it meant putting on the happy face and pretending that everything was cool and I was cool and that all was right in the world. We came home and I went to bed. I needed to sleep, to escape for a bit and hopefully wake up with a new mindset, a different view and something resembling hope. I had dreams about possible futures and again, as I woke up thinking about my life, "worthless" kept playing in my head. The harder I tried to ignore it, the louder it seemed to echo.

Later that evening, I was just overwhelmed with sadness and at one point, Charise looked at m an asked if I was ok and I just started to cry. I hate crying in front of people and the embarrassment made me cry even more. Charise, as always, was amazing and just came over and put her arms around me. I am surprised that after all the times she has heard me talk about things and seen me around the house, she hasn't lost her mind or her temper on me.

I went back to bed for the night and was up ill a few times with my stomach, which still hasn't fully recovered. I had a headache and felt like throwing up, but I was too lazy to get up and go to the bathroom and concentrating on not being sick gave my mind a bit of a break.

I woke up yesterday feeling a bit better. I have been dealing with this long enough to understand it all cycles around, but the extremes seem to be getting more so. I don't remember the emotions being this intense. It frightens me a little, as my first instinct is to keep it to myself, not tell anyone what is really going on. I like my emotional privacy, but I also know that right now, keeping things to myself could be disastrous.

Now it is Thursday, and I am feeling even better, feeling like a person again. My confidence is not totally back, but it is increasing. Next Thursday, I will go to a doctor and see if I can get referred to a neurologist and also probably start one-on-one therapy to see if I can do something about these episodes. One doctor mentioned anti-depressants, but I really don't want to go down that path unless I absolutely have to. I know they take weeks to start working and can take a long time to get off of them. I am not really one for taking medication unless I have to, so I will see if I can take care of it without any medicinal help.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Every Time I Say Goodbye

I have spent a lot of my life moving, which means I have spent a lot of it saying "goodbye". Something about that has bothered me for a long time, but I was never sure what exactly it was that bothered me, or why. But these past weeks, I have found myself examining my life more than usual. Perhaps it is being in familiar places that now seem foreign, or just merely the fact that I have way too much time on my hands to think about things I would normally put off until later. When it comes to certain things, I often tend to take the Scarlett O'Hara approach and commit to thinking about it tomorrow. Over the past few months, things tend to get in my head and stay there, waving banners and flashing lights, demanding my time and attention.

I always thought the saying goodbye part of my life bothered me because I knew I would not see certain people again or for at least a long time, but I have realized that that is just not the case. I am used to not seeing people. I grew up with people who are important to me being scattered all over the place. In fact, I have never been in the same room with my three sisters at the same time. Not once. It doesn't bother me, it is just the way it is and has always been and I don't know any different way.

What bothers me, I recently realized, is that not once, in any situation of saying goodbye, have I been asked not to leave. Most of the time, I wouldn't have stayed, but there are a couple of times when I would have, or I would have really thought about it. There were a couple of times I was waiting, wanting to hear someone ask me to stay, and I was ready to say yes, but it never happened. Maybe I wasn't asked for the same reason I never said that I would like to stay in case they would be open to that situation. It means putting it all out there. Even if it isn't the grand gesture of showing up at the train station or airport or knocking on the person's door after a change of heart, it means being vulnerable and risking the rejection or disappointment that might come.

Still, I wish someone would have asked me to stay. Maybe someday, someone will.