My last personal update was tentatively optimistic. I don’t like posting when I feel like shit, but frankly, I feel like shit most of the time. I am chronically ill. That’s it. I said it. I have a chronic physical illness. It’s no joke. It’s seems undiagnosable and all I can attribute it to is withdrawal.
In the last few days I put out some emails to my benzo withdrawal groups. They are the biggest withdrawal groups out there. As far as I can tell any psychiatric drug withdrawal can be very similar. Many many people in this benzo group suffer from similar ailments to mine. Most notably fatigue so great you have to sit down every ten minutes. Sometimes I don’t make it ten minutes. For me the symptoms include the enervating fatigue, nausea, headaches which sometimes turn to migraines, (I’d never had a migraine before withdrawing) light and sound sensitivity which is sometimes quite severe and can lead to the headaches. Going to a movie in the theatre is almost impossible because of the noise at the beginning of movies. I have to bring earplugs and stand outside the theatre until the movie starts. And that feels like too much sometimes. Of course many times I can’t even watch TV. Especially shit like CNN with all the sensational bullcrap dramatic loud obnoxious music.
I don’t make commitments anymore except with my therapist. If I didn’t have my cottage/shack in town I wouldn’t make my appointments with her either. I tell anyone who wants to make plans with me that I will call them the morning of the day of the tentative plan. Most times I have to back out because I’m too sick.
One day I really wanted to get out. I wanted to go to this fun eclectic church in my area. My friend came to pick me up and I told her as I walked to the car hunched over with weakness that I was sick but determined to get out of the house. We got to the church. My friend parked a five minute walk away. I knew I couldn’t make it. I told my friend I’d wait in the car. I put the seat back and curled up in the car and lay there for an hour and a half while she went to the service. That was an all time low and my basic energy state fluctuates between that and good days when I can actually make it to the grocery store and stay out for about half an hour—those days feel like victories—of course it’s such a pathetic victory I hardly feel victorious.
I am not practicing radical acceptance. I guess I wasn’t particularly practicing it when I wrote that piece, but I am in desperate need of acceptance. But there is so much that is unacceptable. Not just the state of my health, but the state of the world. In my weakened state I suffer each time I hear about the state of all psychiatric patients and the psychiatric system, the state of health care, the crimes that big pharma commits—hell the crime that most major corporations commit—we are now entering a food shortage because ethanol, a fuel that does not help with global warming, is being pushed and valuable food crops are being forgone to grow corn which is turned into fuel—bad fuel that got hyped up for no particular good reason other than profit— the serious problem with global warming, our insane criminal foreign policy that kills people all over the world daily and has since the beginning of our history, racism, sexism, homophobia. We are one fucking hell of a mess and how can I help any cause in the world when I’m one fucking hell of a mess.
Why do I care about all this stuff. Why can’t I stick my head in the sand and worry about just myself like most of the people in America. Why do I read political blogs and feminist blogs and why am I on environmental and political email lists ad nauseum not to mention the endless lists on mental health? It all serves to disturb me. But I’ve always wanted to be a responsible citizen….I have to know. I have to know so I can DO something and damn right now I don’t know what I can do!!
My career was always a vocation. I chose my work with my heart. I worked with the dying, the homeless, the drug addicted and the mentally ill. I was engaged with work that made me feel I made a difference. Now I languish at home and do nothing for no one. I suppose if the world is going to implode it will do so with or with out me. This pathetic self absorption about my impotence is useless, not helpful, won’t change things.
I’m angry now, but not as angry as I’ve been. Things are changing. I targeted loved ones with my anger and I no longer do that. I am gaining perspective even if it’s hard to tell with this post. The burning embers of my anger will burn out and my soul will be left in ashes and then, perhaps then, I can begin to accept my purgatory. Perhaps then it will open up into some sort of freedom.
When I asked the benzo withdrawal sufferers about my ailments most people said the recovery takes years once it gets this bad. (granted, not everyone suffers this way with withdrawal—we are just some large minority) Since I still have a couple of years of withdrawing to do it’s entirely possible my chronic illness will last another 5 years if I’m lucky. I do know people with chronic fatigue triggered by things other than withdrawals that have been ill for 10 – 14 years with no end in sight. What needs to change then, obviously, is my attitude. If I’m going to be chronically ill I need to start accepting it and quit despairing. People do have it much worse than me. Lots and lots of people have it worse than me. Some of my readers have it worse than me. People starving and being raped in Africa have it worse than me. The Iraqis and Palistinians have it worse than me. I need to stop feeling sorry for myself—I still lead a disgustingly privileged life.
The feeling sorry for myself I assume is the habit of depression. Yes, I say habit. It’s not anything other than habit. Ingrained thinking processes and ghosts from my past and feeling hopeless and stuck in my unpleasant circumstances. People in much more dire straights have found pleasure in living. I’ve seen people in third world countries living in abject poverty that have joy on their faces. They are not a spoiled rotten American who expects all to be good—everything to fall into our laps—life to be easy. Life is not easy, most people suffer much of the time and accept it graciously but we Americans have been raised to think that it should all be a bowl of cherries. We feel entitled to a good life. Tough luck. Life is hard. For everyone and we’ve got it easy. I need to grow up and suck it up. I’ve got more than most people in the world have. I have people who love me. I have all the food I need. I have shelter. I have transportation.
I don’t have my health. Hmmm. So what? There are much worse tragedies. Okay enough ranting. Just thought I should show my face around here. I’ve been hiding.
Sorry for the bitterness and sorry for the unanswered emails and phone calls. I’m out of commission indefinitely.