As you can probably tell by yesterday evening’s entry, I have been going through a very difficult time lately. It has, in fact, been the most difficult time of my life, worse than the days when I was a 372-pound recluse living alone in a studio apartment.
People always said life is hard and I would nod and agree, but I did not understand. Weight loss is hard and college is hard and finding a job is hard. All those things are hard, indeed, and I’ve done all those things. I thought I understood when people said life was hard, but I didn’t, because you cannot understand suffering until you have suffered.
I have been suffering lately. I have been suffering since the evening of February 17th, 2008 when I got a headache that has never gone away. Some of you probably laugh a little and think, “Ha, that’s weird. But it’s just a headache. How bad can it be?”
It is bad. It is very, very bad.
It has made me cry so badly that my wailing has made the cats run into my bedroom. It has made me come home numerous evenings and binge eat as a temporary way to ease the pain. It has made me go out to the parking garage during work and cry in the back seat and idly think that I could jump off the roof of the building if it gets unbearable.
And through this all has been the knowledge that I may never get better. No one seems to know what is causing my headache. None of the pills work. None of the eastern or western medicine is doing any good. I read stories about people who have had headaches for 10 or 20 or 30 years and I know I may join their ranks.
So, I have alternately been seeking a cure and also trying to learn how to cope with this unknown disease that may be with me for as long as I live. (Hopefully a long time. I was not seriously considering suicide and since I started anti-depressants have not even idly considered it as an option.) Still, it is hard. It is very, very hard. I truly understand that word now.
I have also not been taking care of myself. I have not been eating well and I have not been exercising. I know these things are important and would benefit my overall health, but I feel so overwhelmingly miserable on a daily basis that food is one of my few comforts and exercise seems a chore as difficult as swimming around the globe. (Which, of course, would be great exercise.) I know I need to do better in these areas, but I am focusing most of my energy on just getting through the day, on keeping my job and my health insurance that I need so desperately right now. I would love to lose weight, but I just don’t have the energy for it right now and it is hard to make it a priority when so many other things need fixing first. I can’t move the furniture when the house is on fire.
I have been trying to keep my momentum and keep living the life I was living a year ago. I’d like to be that girl again. But I feel like I’m sleepwalking through my own life, that I’m just going through the motions, miscast as the lead in someone else’s play. I would like that sense of normalcy back. So I try. I do what I can. But I also have to remember I have the right to do less than humanly possible. Otherwise I go a little krazee, as was evidenced last night.
I haven’t been talking about my struggles too much on the blog for a couple reasons. First, I didn’t want a hundred different opinions on what I should be doing. I know they are just voices of the caring, but they pull me in a hundred different directions until only shredded remains are left. This place has gotten so big lately that I don’t always feel comfortable sharing everything anymore, knowing someone is bound to misunderstand me. It does not feel as safe here as it used to. There are hypodermic needles on the playground.
Secondly, I like to act as normal as I can, to live as much of my life that I can, although lately I have been living a half-life, unable to do the things I want to, to feel the ways I used to. This blog used to be called “Half of Me.” I am now (a little over) half my weight, but due to my illness I’m living half a life too. I fake it well. I greet people warmly in the elevator and I smile at my doctor’s appointments. I tell jokes and goof around. They would say, “Jennette seems perfectly ok! She’d never take a header off the roof!” It makes me look around at my coworkers, at the people in line at the grocery store, and wonder how many of them are faking it too. There is so much suffering that goes unnoticed.
It might get better. I’m seeking help. I’m still seeing doctors. I’m trying to get by. My family and friends have been awesome, cooking me dinner and doing my dishes and checking in on me and listening to my whining. But I don’t know what will happen. I might be sick forever and that will be that. I’ll have to figure out how to live with this chronic pain. I’ll have to learn to do the best I can with what is left of my life. But at least there was a year there, when I was working out and eating well and I was healthy, when I felt really good and the world was full of so many possibilities. I was happy then and it was nice. I’m glad I had that year.
And to anyone who thinks there is something noble about my suffering, about the way I carry on so bravely in the face of insurmountable odds, fuck you. There is nothing noble about this. There is just pain – meaningless, endless pain. There is no purpose to it, no greater meaning. It will change me and test me, no doubt, but I don’t want any congratulations for the fact that I still carry on. I do it because I have to and death is not an option.
So, on Friday I leave for vacation. I’m going to the Quaker Oatmeal Festival in Colorado because God knows I could use a fucking vacation. I will try to have a good time even if the high altitudes make my head explode. And by God, I promise to eat a shitload of oatmeal.