Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Reflections on healing

When you have a physical ailment, a cold, the flu, a broken bone, advice for healing is often the same: rest, lots of liquids, and of course, more rest. And those are indeed the basics. The body has a great capacity for healing itself if you give it a chance. Sure sometimes you need more: surgery, medications, but the basics always remain. Sleep. Hydrate.

When the problem is emotional things become slightly trickier. Rest, hydration: these are still the mainstays to healing - but when your illness is emotional you also have to work.

Sucks, don't it?

Throughout a lifetime of emotional issues I have often wished that simply sleeping (well. Sleeping is simple for some) and drinking lots of water would just magically make all the bad go away. Unfortunately it doesn't. In fact too much sleep can just accentuate Depression. Oh the wackiness of brain chemistry. Balance, balance and a little more balance - that's what the ol' computer in our skull requires. Sadly, that balance is not so easily attained as, say, balancing on a bicycle. But like riding a bicycle it requires a constant series of tweaking to maintain the balance. For some that means readjusting medications every few months, which is a bitch and I'm grateful not to have had to deal with that. I got very, very lucky in that I responded beautifully to Zoloft. But not everyone does and so the tweaking of dosages and of various chemicals is necessary.

For me the balance is about me doing my own work. While it's less fraught with side-effects than medications, it's still tough. Mainly because it requires me to actually focus and be aware of myself and what patterns I might slip into and what habits I need to avoid and force myself to change.

This, my dears, sucks hard.

It sucks because it is hard, and because it's scary as hell.

For the past (nearly) three years I have been working on the most general levels of survival. That sounds like I've been hanging on by a thread - that's not what I mean. I mean learning to be happy in the broadest sense. Learning to accept the world as it is, learning to accept myself as I am, and learning to appreciate it all. Every wonderful and awful thing. It also means learning to relax and not stress over the future or the past and be here now (as my favorite Beatle would say).

I can say with total confidence that the past (nearly) three years have been the best of my life: purely because of finding that appreciation of the now and the acceptance of all the good and bad that is being alive. I have done things I would never have imagined I could or would do in this time of healing. I have found that I can actually LIKE myself - even while I'm pissed at myself for something stupid. I have found that just stopping and breathing is totally okay - and sometimes it's the only thing to do. I'm still working on not beating myself up for every little thing, and honestly I'm much better about letting go of my missteps and mistakes - being more appropriate in my responses to my own internal screw-ups. More forgiving of myself.

The thing about balance is that there is always something that will come along that will force you to make those adjustments. Some monkey in the wrench if you will. It can be a little thing that reminds you of something that hurt you in the past, something you didn't even realize you were holding onto until it smacks you in the head. Or it can be something bigger and a lot weightier that scares the ever-lovin' crap out of you to a degree you did not anticipate at all.

That's when you realize you've been coasting. Okay, enough of the third person. That's when I realize I have been coasting. Yes, I did a lot of balance-adjusting over the past (nearly) three years and not all of it was particularly easy, and I managed - but I find now that there has been a big ol' elephant sitting in my living room just waiting for me to notice him. Hello, Elephant, yes, I see you now - you can stop dancing around and waving. Damn. Put down the flag already, Pal, I said I see you!

It may be that this is the biggest balancing act I'll have to face. It may not be. Right now it is, and I have to admit there is a very large part of me that wishes I could just bury my head in a book and pretend it's not there. But it's hard to ignore a cheerfully adorable pachyderm that wants to snuggle with you. At least it's hard for me. I've always been very partial to elephants.

So here I am approaching the end of my self-assessed three-years and I'll be healthy and 'normal' mark thinking I've got it all together and I find I've been slacking. And the biggest, most important part of my "get your shit together, Sybil" has finally decided to pop up and (metaphorically) bite me on the ass.

I didn't learn to ride a bicycle until I was 13. I taught myself in secret (long story) and loved it. Thirty years later I find I have to learn to ride a different kind of bicycle, and unlearn the less than graceful way I used to ride. I have to remember how exhilarating it was to learn how to ride when I was 13, and how liberating it was when I could finally do it and maintain my balance. Maybe remembering that will make re-learning easier. . . of course, I never rode a bicycle with an elephant's help before so this should be interesting. Scary. But interesting.


Junk Thief said...

At the risk of using the self help cliche of "I will not beat myself up!" this was a nice, affirmative post on a morning I have been beating myself up on stuff that doesn't matter all that much. Good, bad, it's all a part of life. Now get to the important stuff like sticking our pets' heads in junk food bags!

Joy said...

Making fun of the pets who absolutely DELIGHT in making fun of me is one of life's little pleasures. :)

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Oh sweetie, as someone who has spent almost thirteen years trying to get better I have learned (and re-learned) not to beat myself up over not being all better by now. There is no timetable for that kind of thing.

And you are right, emotional work is the hardest work there is. I would almost rather have 30 surgeries again than have to wade through the mire that is my brain sometimes. I know that you'll do great though. You have come so far. Be proud! (((HUGS)))

Joy said...

Whimmmmala!!! So good to see you back - I take it that signal is holding? Yessssssss!

I'm not the only one who has come a long way, Missy. Next time we're beating ourselves up, let's remember how utterly fabulous we are!

marxsny said...

There are far too many things in our world that are just waiting for the opportunity to beat us up. It is a wise move to not let yourself be one of them.

Gary said...

Oh, I feel a little children's playground song would be appropriate about now but I'll save the singing for when I see you.

Jay said...

Your writing is powerful here, and my heart goes out to you, because you deserve lots of goodness.

Florecita said...

Morning Joy!!!!!!! Digging into ourselves is a wonderful journey... with everything on it... its about balance and how to BE in all our steps in this wonderful journey... you are an inspiration...

Blessings and love...

Gary said...

OMG - A new post please!

Happily Anonymous said...

Here's to hoping your in the midst of an awesome weekend!