Dealing with physical and mental health issues does have it’s trials. I try to look for the triumphs, often small but still rewarding. This is a long post (773 words) so if you read this, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, find a comfy chair – you’re in it for the long haul!
1. Invisible Illnesses: I don’t carry a sign that declares: “I’m in chronic physical and mental pain.” If I did, perhaps things might be easier. People assume that such pains would be manifested in physical and mental “deformities” such as using a cane or walking down the street talking to yourself. (Which I do, but not because of mental health issues). Even my niece, the doctor, doesn’t believe in chronic pain. To her, I’m a faker, a drug seeker, and an addict. She, of all people should know the difference between dependence and addiction!
2. Inconsistency: For some sources of chronic pain, there is no pattern, no consistency. I can do an activity one day, and not increase my pain. I can do the same activity another day, and end up in bed with my heating pad. Pain, food, and mood diaries reveal the lack of pattern, no obvious cause and effect.
3. Medication: Time/delayed release medication is an issue. The delayed release aspects of the medication often are not absorbed. This makes it impossible to know just how much of the medication I actually received. In addition, I get medication “hang-overs.” The day I take the medication, it may or may not do it’s “job.” However, the next day, I get the side effects such as sleepiness, dizziness, etc.. Antidepressants for the most part, don’t have any effect – which is bothersome when you have chronic depression.
4. Atypicalness: Being “atypical” means there is no discernable underlying cause. In other words, there is no diagnosis, no name that can be put to your condition/disorder. This makes you feel unique and at a loss as to which health issue community you might belong. It also makes you open to questioning of the existence of your health issue at all. After all, who has heard of atypical odontalgia?
5. Accessing Resources: As I discovered after a complete mental breakdown, while mental health services for those who are a danger to themselves and/or others are admirable and available, access to services for those who are not is another story. It took me from the fall of 2011 to the winter of 2013 to obtain professional medical health assistance, and until February 2014 to receive therapy. The reaction of mental health providers was at times shocking. Is it wise or professional to be annoyed with, or verbally abusive over the phone to someone with mental health issues? Which leads me into a number 6 I would like to add.
6. Health insurance providers. I have been denied medication, tests, visits to specialists, freedom in choosing a health care provider, and treatments by health insurance providers. Might as well skip the doctor since it’s the health insurance providers who make the medical decisions. Paying 100% of the cost of insurance with large deductibles, plus co-pays means we don’t own a house, go on vacations, eat out at restaurants. No tablets, no smart phones, no new car, very little furniture, and other things that most folks take for granted.
I realize this post is getting rather long: 443 words so far, but I would like to add my triumphs; I am proud of them!
1. Tasks: For the most part, I keep to the regular, daily tasks I have assigned myself. Starting with one and continuing to expand the list, I am trying to add order back into a life of mental chaos.
2. Reduced the number/level of medications Although 2 have been added (one added back) recently, by January 2014, I had tapered off 2 antidepressants (one an add on), a mood stabilizer, and opiate pain relievers, and reduced the level of other medications. Of course, there was a price to pay: more tears, more pain. But, I also gained back some of my lost physical and mental balance.
3. Kept blogging: Although using my computer can cause considerable pain (neck, face, jaw – sites of chronic pain), I have tried to plug along. The focus of my blog is fuzzy, I admit, and of late I’ve blogged less about health issues (why I’m trying to complete this #HAWMC) and participated in flash fiction, poetry, photo and other prompts. But, I think that my chronic mental and physical illnesses influence how I write fiction and non-fiction. I wish I could visit other folks blogs more than I do. My cognitive skills (despite going back on 2 meds) are improving, so hopefully I can do that soon.
4. Photography: Until my camera became a battery vampire, I liked taking pictures. Crazy ones like my shoey series; small gratitudes ones like snow drops or the colors of fall. Mirror images reflecting reflections. The world around me. For me, the triumph was not only taking the picture, but using an editing program to play with it.
5. Persistence: I persevered until I found the kind of mental health assistance I needed. I persevered as my chronic pain issues worsened. I persevered as a caregiver. I persevered as a person with chronic physical and mental issues. I persevered as me.