Stress and worry, fear and anxiety, these feelings are the new norm for nearly everyone nowadays. I cant name anyone who isn't terrified for the world as a whole, for the people they love, for our country and our leaders. It seems we've all got something to worry about. What I’d like to draw attention to are those of us battling invisible illnesses and how we can make it through everyday, especially during these difficult times by reaching out to others and admitting when we’re not okay. After all, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, so we aren’t exactly expected to be at our best.
It can feel impossible trying to hold it together when it feels like your world is falling apart. With all of the fear, grief and loss unfolding around us, whether in the media, on the streets, or in our homes, its easy to fall victim to feelings of despair and hopelessness.
Grief comes in all forms, whether it be the loss of a loved one, a loss of hope, or a loss of who you once were. Grief can look different to each and everyone one of us and yet its effects on our mental health and overall well-being are quite the same. It is important now more than ever for us to remember that its okay to admit when we are not okay.
I myself am no stranger to grief and loss and have experienced the ups and downs that heartache can bring more times than I can recall. From losing loved ones, to failed relationships, crushed dreams and lost friendships. I have mourned parts of myself physically and emotionally especially since my diagnosis of Chiari malformation four years ago, Over these past several years I have had to say farewell to favorite pass times and being able to live life carefree and fearlessly. I used to be the first one in line for a scary roller coaster and now I'm lucky to ride an elevator without feeling dizzy.
When I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, I began the slow process of mourning my former self. My fierce and independent nature became more cautious, fearful, anxious and to be quite honest, less fun. Pain became a part of my everyday routine. I miss not having the headaches and neck pain that come with Chiari. I miss not having anxiety attacks when I feel something strange happening to my body that I have not experienced before. As of recently I have been struggling with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) or as my grandma would call it, "Too much jaw" disorder. It feels like every day some other part of me is literally falling apart and each day I am deeply mourning the person I was before Chiari. The person who didn't take no for an answer, who didn't need to wait for help to move a shelf, or fix a washing machine. Okay, I still have to move the shelves and fix the washing machines, but it sure was a lot easier pre-Chiari. That person, the pre-Chiari version, she was fearless, she was strong and she knew how to get things done. This new me, sure, she's starting to come into her own, but its taking every bit of my energy to get there.