Since I started dealing with doctors visits, symptoms, medical tests, diagnosis, medications and lifestyle changes I’ve never really had a difficult time keeping my self identity in tact. I didn’t call myself the girl with asthma, the girl with the panic disorder, the girl with depression, the girl with migraines etc.
I was the girl who loved camping, piano, swimming, star wars, runescape, make up, nail design, guitar, cooking, baking, being a mom, being a home maker, gardening, kettle bells, HIIT, lazing on the beach, having wild adventures….. who sometimes was ill.
Even during what I would consider my most difficult time with my mental illnesses that plagued me day in day out in one way or another, the distraction of being someone else was at the very least enough to fool those around me. When you’re able to fool everyone else around, honestly, it becomes a ‘fake it till you make it’ kind of deal. It made me strong enough to say I can beat it, I can still do what I love, and for the most part I ended up being right. In regards to anxiety especially, a lot of my favorite activities acted as self therapy.
If my anxiety was bad I would head outside for a walk, or take an extra swimming lesson (this one before the social anxiety became more of a problem) or beg my Dad for a weekend camping trip. When my asthma was bad I would head to my Omi’s (Grandmother) and we’d bake zwiebach and have honey lemon tea. When my depression was at its worst I turned to music and spent hours upon hours learning, writing and repeating songs, poems and chord progressions. When a migraine would hit I would hide away under my covers listening to John William’s score of ‘A New Hope’ and I would play the movie in my head. Of course when I wasn’t feeling ill, life was normal, I didn’t even really have to modify much. Either way, I still felt like myself. I had hobbies, passions, and even though my body image wasn’t very positive, I was actually a pretty confident, self aware person. I was a pretty awesome gal, with a pretty great life.
Now however, I’m having a harder and harder time finding myself amidst the illness. There’s only so many Star Wars sick days I can go through before even I need a break from the Holy trilogy. Zweibach are a thing of the past, there is no gluten free way to make those fuckers. My hands can’t handle hours with the guitar or piano like they used to. Even the great outdoors now is off limits compared to before.
I now do my make up for the purpose of not looking like a corpse when I go out. I cook to feed the family and experiment very little anymore, new flavors and ingredients are too risky. The closest thing I get to a wild adventure is going into the city for groceries or a doctors appointment. My goal of one day competing in the Iron Maiden seem’s like someone else’s dream, about the only exercise I can stay committed to is my physio, and even then sometimes it’s a no go. My little babies (seedlings) are now growing so big and strong, but looking at them makes me sad because I know I most likely won’t be the one putting them down in the earth (unless we have a midnight planting…. we could start a ‘thing’).
Most days, even the good ones, I feel like I am my illnesses. I feel like I have lost myself in the restrictions they give me.
I know having the blog has helped. It is a place where I can get it all out, I can openly express how much the lupus, IBS, anxiety, migraines etc effect my life. It is a much needed vice after having to give up some of the others over the years. It’s still not a replacement for all the things I’ve lost the ability to do, or the zest to do them.
I don’t feel ready to identify as the sickly lady that has to spend all her time at home crocheting when her hands are able while watching ‘Empire Strikes Back’ on a loop. Maybe I’m scared to turn into my mother, whom at an early age literally gave up on life and became a whole different non-person that I didn’t and don’t recognize. I know what it looks like when someone loses themselves in their illness, and it’s not pretty. I’m not ready for that to be me.