So, for a warning - I get a bit "personal" in this blog. Usually I've tried to make it a policy now not to get to open on the internet but I thought this has been an interesting enough journey that it warranted some candor. With that said - this was my 2021 -
2021 was the first year since I was fifteen that I did not start a journal. I did not start writing in the journal that sat on my bedside table until the eighth month of 2021. Nine months after my last entry in 2020 which ended with this line:
"I guess - I am living in an interesting time and it's - as always - going to be a ride to watch it all unfold."
If you go back to my "So It Begins" blog for 2021 - it is obvious that I was in a mindset. I was - looking back now - halfway through a journey that has been several years long. What that blog post from 2021's beginning doesn't share was how I was emotionally feeling at the time.
I started 2021 filled with immense fear (and no, it had nothing to do with COVID) Crippling, unbearable fear. Fear of the future. Fear of failure.
Fear of worthlessness.
Fear of losing what small, fragile foundations I had.
It was so overwhelming that I could not even journal about it. I made a conscious decision not to, because all my entries had become a repetitive cycle of fear. So I broke that repetition by simply not writing.
In 2019 I had been given the wonderful opportunity to partake in a trial medication for my migraines and it had given me such a new lease of life that I went into 2020 thinking I was capable of finally "doing something." (This was Before Covid) - and just before Covid hit I explored becoming a foster carer, but gradually realised I was not in a good position to undertake the sort of dedication such a responsibility required.
Looking back - this broke me more than I realised. I'd thought I'd found something to do and my health stopped me again.
Because the migraine medication was taken away.
My migraines returned - and I think it was worse, you know, knowing there had been a solution and now I was back with a constant headache, unable to push myself because I would always trigger a migraine.
Then COVID absolutely altered the fabric of reality.
And the world just...collapsed.
By the start of 2021 my pain was so bad I was struggling to walk. I would wake up in the mornings and just lie in bed and cry at the agony. My legs were in so much pain, and I had to walk on them - even if I didn't walk - they hurt. Everything hurt. I didn't know what to do with myself because the pain was so bad. I was living in a weird "survival" state.
I'd never say what I experienced was depression - depression is a very different, unique thing - chronic pain is a whole different ball game that probably would require a book for me to explain.
I remember this one, defining moment for me in early 2021 when I realised I was in serious trouble -
My parents and I had gone out to a small cafe for lunch - yes, we could still do that, the world hadn't ended - and after they both got up to leave I made a move to follow. Both my knees buckled, cracking, and the shearing painful heat forced me to land back in my seat. I sat there, shaking, gripping the table.
Mum parents were completely oblivious and walked out of the cafe, then continued right out of the shopping centre. I recall gritting my teeth, squaring my shoulders and forcing myself onto my feet to follow them. When I caught up with them my Dad asked me what was wrong. I smiled, "Nothing, Dad. Nothing."
I had no idea how to explain it, so I didn't.
I was filled with immense fear and despair - and I felt so overwhelmingly alone. (And don't think ill of my parents, they are and always have been extremely supportive - it's just I have been like this for so long, there comes a point where I no longer want to bother them.)
Another incident happened while I was going shopping. Just food shopping. You know, that thing everyone does. It's a simple, everyday task. I'd piled everything I needed into the trolley and rolled myself up to the check out. Usually I have to wait quite a while for several people to go through the check outs' at my shopping centre. It's a busy place. As I stood in line my pain gradually grew crushing, to the point that I struggled to hold myself upright, and to my horror...I started crying uncontrollably in public. It wouldn't stop. I'd never experienced anything like it.
By the time I reached my car I realised I couldn't drive home (despite it being, like two minutes away) until the "pain flare-up" settled down. So I sat in my car and just cried. Deep self-loathing began to slowly creep into me, like a poison, it started its infestation.
It was during this time period that my sister started visiting me for "Anime Night" - she probably doesn't know how much those nights meant to me, but they gave me something to look forward to every week. So - thanks Mel - you are appositely incredible.
So, yeah, I didn't write any journal entries. I was in such a bad place - that - I did something I'd never done before. I just didn't write. I didn't pray. I didn't talk to God. No. I screamed, I yelled. I sat on my kitchen floor unable to make dinners - unable to clean my house - and I cried night - after night. I was so angry and in so much pain.
And what did God tell me in this time of such crippling despair?
Well, one night I happened to flippantly open my Bible and it landed on the Book of Daniel, so, I read Daniel and sure - I know the story of Daniel. What Christian kid growing up in Sunday school wouldn't know Daniel.
But it was as if I hadn't known Daniel until that night.
It was like I'd never read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego until I read it that night. Right then - I knew those stories.
Just like Daniel and his people had been taken to a foreign land, I am in a foreign land and just like Daniel was not alone, neither was I. The same God that was with him, was right next to me, in my kitchen.
The revelation was overwhelming. How had I never seen that before, in all my years of being so very - very alone - having heard countless sermons, read so many books on the topic and it had never clicked.
Like a switch.
I was not alone anymore.
My house has not felt lonely ever since.
I haven't felt alone.
One of my greatest adversities has been loneliness and this year, I learnt that I am not alone. I have been able to go to family gatherings and accept that it's okay if I'm the single one, and that I'm a bit awkward and weird, it's okay that I return home to an empty house - because it's not empty.
No matter where I go, I am never alone.
Did this cure the issue of my legs. Nope.
Something I greatly enjoy is walking along the foreshore - actually, basically I enjoy walking in general - walking, hiking, anything that involves moving myself under my own physical strength I enjoy. So being in so much pain that I couldn't do this - it was --- it was really --- it was hard. Like I said, a lot of self-loathing had to be worked on and overcome this year. ^_^;
My big goal was to be able to walk along the foreshore again with my Dad. This is something I really value, and treasure, being able to go for walks on Sunday morning and spend time with him. The accomplishment of this goal I owe to my cousin, uncle and neurologist. My cousin, Rachael, for listening to me, for her advice, friendship and encouragement to get back on my feet. My Uncle, David, for offering his incredible talent and time to help get my muscles back into shape and continuing that treatment. My neurologist - for never giving up, and putting me on the waiting list for a medication that would allow me to live without fear of migraines.
Did I accomplish this goal?
I did. I am telling you - the beginning of this year - I never thought I would be walking along the foreshore again. Actually, just a few months ago, I didn't think it'd be possible either but with hardwork, dedication and help...
I'm up to 7km.
Aiming for 10km by the end of January. It's an incredible start for 2022. My goal is another half-marathon. I am super excited!
Haha. Still hurts so bad, but, I don't care - every step is worth the pain. Never stop walking.
Simple tasks that were once difficult, exhausting and forced me into bed have gradually become easier. How incredible it is to just do housework - that's something I have just wished to do for ages. To vacuum my house in one go without feeling like I'm killing myself. Not only vacuum -
I can vacuum AND mop - the same day. Okay. Guys. That's like the best thing ever.
I can wash the dishes without crying for the pain in my legs.
I can cook "healthy" dinners because I'm not so exhausted by the end of the day.
I can finally potter around my garden and clean the paths and think about doing more renovations.
None of these things trigger migraines anymore.
Most wonderful of all.
I can run around with my nephew. I can actually RUN around on the reserve with my nephew.
A year ago I would never have imagined I would be able to do that. I was so scared I would be losing all ability to walk, let alone run.
Am I still in pain?
Yeah. Despite my doctor trying his best with some new medications - I'm heading into 2022 still in pain. Actually, I'm sitting here and everything is burning. However, no migraines. Well, the occasional one slips in here and there with a headache splattered in sometimes but it is NOTHING compared to the hell of before.
But you know what is burning more than the pain:
The need in me to move forward. I am so DONE with letting this illness rule my life. Something that happened this year was a glimpse of what it means to sit back and let illness and others dictate things - and no - no - no more.
I promised myself back in 2019 that if could gain control of my migraines then I'd move forward. I'd do something.
The question was?
What? What would I do?
And that question stuck with me for months this year. In August I started journaling again - and then September happened.
The month that changed my life. In my journal I have written: "I survived September, I can survive anything." And so, I picked myself up off the kitchen floor - again - and asked God what to do. Many doors, many directions, and I pondered - knowing that I would be fine no matter what I decided because I was not going at it alone.
And I decided on a door, and I opened it.
So, what is changing?
*breathes in deeply*
I'm going to University.
This thirty-two year old is going to University with all the younglings.
2022 is the start of something completely new. It's going to be hard. I know it won't be easy, it will come with a lot of mountains I'll have to climb, but I am not alone.
And I do love climbing mountains.
In "So It Begins" I wrote something:
"I am going to get better."
You know what, by golly, it was hard slog - but I can say, "I got better."
Now. If only COVID would go away.