What’s that commonly used phrase? One step forwards, two steps back.
Well, that seems to be my life motto! I have had quite a few setbacks health wise since Christmas, so the road to recovery is becoming even more narrow and twisted, but, I’m trying to pull my socks up and get on with it, so to speak, but it is incredibly hard.
Recently, I found out that I have to have another major surgery within the next few months and I was in hospital with DVT. So, I’ve been doubling up on my HC a little bit, which means my weight loss is at a halt.
Physically, my limbs are still incredibly weak and painful due to the damage that cushings did to my bones and muscles, my hair is still very thin and brittle, my skin is dry due to my body’s withdrawal from steroids and my fingers and hands keep swelling up.
I know throughout my posts, I have been very open and honest about my health, in order to raise awareness and today, I am going to dig a little deeper and touch upon a few more sensitive subject matters, matters that many people struggle with, but never talk about. Mental health.
I have been in remission for 10 months now and I am still far from ‘normal’. I thought I would be one of those lucky people that would be up and about, back to normal in no time because I have always tried to be so positive. I was SO wrong. If anything, my remission has been so up and down, I don’t know from one day to the next how I will feel. And a really difficult part of my remission, has been the mental part of it all. I never admitted it, until it all bubbled over last week and I had what some people might call a ‘mental breakdown’.
You see, when people look at me, I look fine, I look like I don’t suffer, but it’s invisible. Also, a lot of people, even those that know me, don’t understand the fact that I am still unwell, 10 months after my tumour was removed. I’ve been told, it could be as much as another 4,5 or 6 years before I even start to feel better and it’s highly likely that I will have to take hydrocortisone for the rest of my life and frankly, that terrifies me. A cold or a sickness bug could literally kill me. I have compromised my recovery more often than not, by overdoing things and not listening to my body.
Figuring out what my new ‘normal’ is and fighting anxiety became too much for me last week. Most days, in fact, almost every day, I rise above how I feel deep down, paint on a smile and tell everyone I am fine. But, I couldn’t hide it anymore, I spent 90% of the day in tears and I finally admitted that I wasn’t OK. And this is mainly the reason why..
The majority of people have parts of themselves they’re not fond of. Whether it be their hair, stomach, skin, legs etc. But, that is completely normal, it’s called being human!
However, there’s something else, something more than not liking a particular part of your body, it’s more than feeling anxious about the dress you’re wearing, it’s more than having low confidence, or low self esteem. It’s being trapped in a body you STILL don’t recognise, it’s hiding in oversized clothes, avoiding mirrors, obsessing about the way you look. It’s body dysmorphia. I’ve always been shy and never been one to flash my body around but I have become obsessive about my appearance and what other people think. Most of the time, I don’t want to socialise because I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin.
I have lost weight, people tell me I am beginning to look ‘normal’ again. But, that’s it, what this whole post is all about, I will never be ‘normal’, so how can I ever be happy in my own skin?
As well as all of this bubbling away in my brain, I have also been struggling to sleep for months. I honestly can’t even remember the last time I had a proper nights sleep. When I wasn’t sleeping, my brain was constantly baffling me by bringing up horrible memories I have from my past. Things I haven’t thought about in a long time and I honestly thought I was going crazy. I was getting upset over things that are done with, things that I shouldn’t even worry about. I also couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I almost died. Literally.
Anyway, cut a long story short, the body dysmorphia, the weird daydreams and the fact that I seemed to be taking steps backwards and I felt I was going crazy all came to a head on Monday. After spending the best part of 2 days to get to the bottom of all of the pain in my leg, I was told I had a blood clot in my right leg. On the way home from the hospital I started to cry and I didn’t stop for hours, my Mum came over and nothing anyone could say could make me feel better. I ended up going to the Doctors, who of course, threw anti depressants at me, that’s what GPs do, right?
I have zero problem with antidepressants and I know they tend to have a bad reputation, some people’s brain chemicals don’t sync with their bodies and it is OK to admit you need some help. If you’re battling a mental illness that requires antidepressants, don’t let anyone shame you for it – if it is a method that works for you and your neurotransmitters, then get some help so you can live your life. I also encourage anyone that’s feeling low to talk, it’s the best type of therapy in my opinion. Don’t bottle up your emotions and let them consume you.
Over the course of the week, I spoke to my consultant and thought about things rationally. My consultant informed me that due to my brain changing shape, it is likely that I have PTSD, which does make a lot of sense. I also realised that I can’t bottle things up anymore. I did initially as I didn’t want to be even more of a burden to Daniel and my family.
I’ve decided that I’m not going to take the tablets, as I’m not unhappy, the chemicals in my brain related to my happiness are perfectly fine, which I don’t think many GP’s seem to understand and as soon as they see someone that seems a bit down, they put them on a course of tablets that’re so unnecessary. I’m literally the happiest I’ve ever been, I have a loving husband, my own home, a beautiful dog and an amazing family support network. It’s simply part of my recovery , the fine balance of getting my hormone tablets right and the fact that when I am poorly, my body doesn’t have a stress response of fight or flight.
Once I let all of my emotions out, I felt better. We have a holiday to look forward to and an amazing future together – my career plans may be on hold for now, but I have a lot of determination and I will get there.
For now, I am focussing on myself. I will tear down these walls around me eventually and prove to myself that even if I will never be ‘normal’ again, I can still achieve my dreams.
It all starts with you. If you don’t love you, nobody else is going to be able to.
– Ashley Graham