On Saturday I ended up sitting in the car in our driveway, sobbing. Both the dog and the cat stared at me out the front window wondering what the hell I was doing. See, I was driving home from the gym and listening to “The Moth Hour” on NPR. (Leave it to NPR to make me cry!) Mark Lukach was talking about his wife and and her depression. It was so clear that this guy loves his wife. And it was so clear that it ripped Mark’s heart out to see his wife in such an extreme, deep depression. For some reason, while listening to Mark talk about his love for his wife, it occurred to me that I may never get better. I may never not have fibromyalgia. I may never not struggle with my depression. And because of that I couldn’t get out of the car. I couldn’t quite come home.
Lately I’ve been fighting so hard. My illnesses and me — we’ve been locked in an epic battle, each trying to pummel the other into submission. I’m bruised and bloody, but not quite broken. I’m still going through the motions. I’m doing everything I know how to do. I’m resting. I’m exercising. I’m practicing mindfulness every day. I’m eating what I’m supposed to eat. I’m taking the medicine how I’m supposed to take it. I’m stretching. I’m drinking enough water. I’m in contact with all my doctors. I even picked a new theme song (“Proud Mary” by Tina Turner – live version from “All the Best – The Hits” 2005).
And I’m not getting better.
I’m tired of the fighting. So, so tired. But I’m also not about to give up. (KIIIIYYYAAAAAAAA!)
My only other option is to learn how to be sick. Truth be told, I’ve been fighting against this option for quite some time. I’ve shoved it aside with scorn and anger declaring, “What the ^&*(#%$#&**!!! I don’t want to learn to be sick! I want to learn to be well!”
Now I think I have to do both. I need to learn to catch the wave of wellness when I can. And I need to learn how to batten down the hatches and be . . . unwell. I need to learn to be unwell the best that I can, because all this fighting against my illnesses, all this fighting against myself, is killing me. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that being unwell is a skill. I suspect that being unwell and still participating in my life with love, patience, and meaning can be learned. I also suspect it takes a lot of practice.
As it turns out, there’s a book (FTW!) on how to be sick: “How To Be Sick: A Buddhist Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers”. I’ve ordered it from the library — for the second time. The first time it sat on the mantle and I glared at it for a whole week before returning it. I didn’t open it once. This time I’m ready to at least skim the contents. Maybe even cozy up with a mug of tea, a blanket, and read a few paragraphs.
On Saturday, after crying in the car and after talking to my best friend, I did go inside. I walked in the door to people and animals who love me and who always want me to come home. Even with my illnesses.
What about you? Do you have any advice about learning to be unwell? If not, please share an inspiring quote (I’ll share one too) that helps get you through the hard times. I’m looking for all the help and hope I can get!