Some days, I wake up and I just know. Today is going to be a rough day.
Other days, I wake up and I’m fine. I’m great. But at some point in the day, inevitably: I eat. And the pain ensues.
“Sorry I didn’t get more done around the house, I was just in too much pain.”
“I was going to go workout, but I was so nauseous, I had to take a nap instead.”
“I need to write a post for the blog, but I can’t think, I have no motivation, I just can’t…”
All of these are things I say. On a regular basis. To my boyfriend, to my parents, to myself. And every time I say it, it feels like a cop out. I’ve been in pain basically every single day for the last three years. It interferes with every sense of my life: work, my relationship with J, my ability to have friends, the way I eat, my fitness, the way I think of my body. And yet, If I say I have chronic pain, I feel like a liar. I don’t have chronic pain. That’s reserved for people who are really suffering: my friend’s mom, who has MS. Or my Aunt who has Rheumatoid Arthritis. Or my other Aunt, who is getting a very serious neck surgery next month to help with her chronic pain and headaches. When I compare, I feel like my problems are small apples.
Not to mention: the guilt. Because here’s the thing: the pain I’m in every day is (at least in part) my own fault. I don’t stop beating myself up about that. If I had taken better care of my body, if had realized I wasn’t invincible, if I had cared. There were several years I spent abusing my body because I literally didn’t care if I died, so why did it matter how I treated myself? Between alcohol and food problems and excessively exercising I have done a lot of damage to myself. So when I know that I am to blame, how can I ask for sympathy? How can I complain and not feel like a huge asshole when I know at any moment, anyone who knows me well enough to have known what I went through could just throw it back in my face?
I know the people I love won’t do that. I know that they probably don’t think about it the same way I do.
But even so, I can’t stop kicking myself.
I know that someday I’ll need to forgive myself, but I haven’t yet. I’ve been told my problems are just in my head, due to anxiety, due to not being over thing’s I’ve been through. I know that’s not all it is, though. I know that something inside of me is fucked up, and I know it’s my own fault. And that feeling? It hurts. I hate that I probably could have prevented this. I hate how selfish I’ve been.
I don’t like feeling weak. I don’t like that something out of my own control gets to control how my day goes. I can wake up in a great mood, my feet hit the carpet easily, I drink my coffee, my morning is great. The pain can knock me down before I even know what hit me. Depending on how things have been going lately, sometimes I’m terrified to eat. I don’t want to eat and be in pain. When I’m in pain, I snap easily. I’m irritable. I’m irritated at myself. My god, I feel so self-indulgent even writing this post. I guess that’s the guilt talking, again.
Three years, a lot of doctors, an endoscopy, multiple ultrasounds, a year of therapy, and more bottles of medications than I can count, I think I have a diagnosis: gastritis. How anti-climactic. Of course I don’t want anything more to be wrong with me. I want to get better. But for how I’ve felt, the diagnosis makes me feel like I am just the world’s biggest baby and it’s just a little gastritis, it happens all the time, most people don’t even experience symptoms. I tell myself to stop complaining, you’re fine, just keep going.
But really, I do know. I know it’s not normal to wake up on the verge of tears because your insides feel like they’re being ripped out. Not everyone has to leave the gym halfway through a workout because they’re in so much pain they’re worried they might pass out. I couldn’t even count how many times I’ve cried in the bathroom at work only to splash my face with some cold water and go back out like nothing happened, because with everything that’s going on inside of me it feels impossible to handle my job. How many family events I’ve missed or invitations I’ve turned down because of it. The nights my boyfriend just has to hold me while I cry because I just want this to be over.
I don’t really have an end for this piece, because the end, for me, still isn’t here. Things are improving since I’ve been seeing a naturopath, but the pain is still there. It’s a slow process. But I do finally feel hopeful that the end is in sight, and that I’m making progress. And I guess that’s what counts, right?