Wow! I’m writing! Yes, I’ve shocked myself too. It’s been awhile since I have been able to write, well, write consistently that is. Don’t be fooled though. This isn’t a guarantee that I’m on a writing streak. But, as they say, something is better than nothing.
So here I am.
But where is “here” exactly? I mean, I’m still on disability. Since that day that I walked into my office manager’s office, note in hand from my Pdoc, eyes all puffy from that same afternoon’s session of crying and now memorialized with dried tears and mascara running down my face, a lot has happened. However, here is the Cliff’s Notes version.
It was January, 2012 when I walked into that office carrying that note. My (now ex) husband was working in St. Thomas. Yes, I was in Chicago and he was in the Virgin Islands. The day he came back to Chicago in March, I moved home to my parents and filed for divorce. A few weeks later, at the beginning of summer, I walked into the pharmacy to get my prescriptions and was told my insurance coverage had been terminated. While weeping in the pharmacy and a few phone calls later, I was back on the phone with the office manager who very bluntly told me I had been terminated. Apparently when I transitioned from short term disability to long term disability, they sent me a packet informing me of this along with my COBRA options. Well, that package went to my former residence, and my exhusband’s mailbox (not mine) so I did not know. It was that day that I sat down on the chairs by the pharmacy pick up window and sobbed because my legal career was officially over. Why over? Well, a few years prior to that, there was an incident involving my exhusband and breaking the law. I was swept in the mix and in a plea bargain, I pled guilty to felony obstruction of justice charges. That type of conviction, because of the nature of the charge, is a definite career ender for someone in the legal field. At that moment, I had lost not just my job, but my career, I had lost my marriage, and I had no idea what to do at that point. I somehow had to figure out what my Plan B was going to be and then run with it.
Well, here I am, it’s almost April of 2015, and the road here was quite eventful. My divorce was finalized, I had a few relationships and heartbreaks, I was finally approved for social security disability, I hurt my back and had a disc bulge, had a biopsy for possible cervical cancer (all clear though!), the disc bulge turned into a herniated disc, and off I went for a routine outpatient microdiscectomy in August 2014. Well, nothing about that surgery was routine. Turned out the herniated disc did not just herniated, but it decided to wrap itself around my nerve, basically suffocating it. (Imagine a charliehorse, or a leg cramp. Now, imagine that through your whole left leg, 24/7. It was continually cramped because that was the effect of the herniation squeezing my nerve.) Well, thankfully I had one of the best back surgeons at Northwestern and he was able to cut the herniation to free my nerve, but instead of walking out of the hospital that same day as planned, I ended up in the hospital for 4 days because I could not walk. (Side note- have you ever seen one of those commercials for Laser Spine Institutes and they show people playing volleyball or pushing wheelbarrows supposedly right after surgery…. That is what was supposed to happen for me. Every time I see one of those commercials I want to throw something at the tv and scream LIARS! Ok, I do scream “Liars!” Hot Mess Mom and Dad and Sister Hot Mess can back that up! Lol.) The nice little 6 week recovery turned into 12 weeks. But, finally, the week of Thanksgiving, I was able to start physical therapy.
Now, part of my restrictions post-surgery were that I couldn’t lift more than about 5lbs to start, and could not twist my back, and I could not sleep on my stomach (that was the hardest because I always slept on my stomach). Those of you that know me know that I spent my years growing up taking dance lessons, cheerleading, always wearing heels, dancing at the clubs, doing yoga. I am hyper flexible. Those restrictions killed me! My first physical therapy session had me in tears because when asked to do a bridge, I could not lift my hips off the ground. I don’t ever remember a time that I couldn’t do a full backbend! The road ahead scared the crap out of me because I had lost an incredibly significant amount of flexibility, and strength in my left leg (due to the nerve being suffocated).
Thanks to a lot of Gabapentin (Neurontin, a nerve medication) and physical therapy 3 times a week, and ice packs for a good portion of the day, I began to heal. However, as anyone with chronic pain issues can attest to, while your body may be getting stronger, there is still a lot of pain and with chronic pain comes depression. So in addition to my 3 year raging depressive cycle of my bipolar, we added on another helping of depression. As if I wasn’t depressed enough because I still hadn’t figured out what my Plan B career was, I had always worked hard, some may say workaholic, or if not work, I was in school working toward something, so not having a job, a career, or school for the last few years had really made me feel shitty about myself and my days were filled with constant self loathing and self destructing mentally, depression from chronic pain and not being able to do what I used to be able to do physically made me hate myself more.
Many would take that self loathing and turn that into motivation to fight back and try to get back to a happy place. Well, I tried, and tried, but I would keep pushing my body to the max and always over did things. I am extremely stubborn and refused to ask for help. I was still going to physical therapy, but instead of getting stronger and on the road to less pain, it seemed that it was only aggravating it. The remedy? My pain doc did a few steroid injections on a few of the joints in my back in January. I was getting excited because they were supposed to help relieve the residual aches from surgery and I should be on my way to good physical health again. And it worked! For a few weeks. Then I was back where I started before those injections.
One step forward and two steps back. That seems to be a recurring theme in my life. Just when I finally allow myself to be excited about something, WHAM! Something comes along and tears me apart and the progress I had made just vanishes. I’m told that I need to stop focusing on the negative and think about the positive. How do I do that when every time I let my guard down and allow myself to be excited, something comes in like a wrecking ball and brings me back to not just ground zero, but levels below that.
It’s not just physically that has been a roller coaster either. Between this site and Ask A Bipolar, I have basically singlehandedly run them into the ground. Everyday I feel terrible because I feel like I’m letting all of you guys down too. I had spent years building these things up to a pretty awesome level, and when I crashed and burned, I brought those down with me.
Where am I? Well, I’m not where I started 3 years ago. But, has that 3 year journey progressed? Or has it been one huge “one step forward, two steps back?” I mean, if I really think about it, being divorced sucks, but both of us are better off this way. My career, well, maybe it was a blessing because I was meant to do something else, but what?! I try to figure out what’s in store but I feel like every time I attempt something, it backfires. I get excited about things and then they get destroyed.
I feel like I have just been one big letdown. That everyone around is beginning to give up on me, and I’m getting to the point where I’m exhausted trying. I keep trying and trying, but it never works out. I’ve been told that I live in a fantasyland and need to snap back to reality. Well here I am, I’ve laid out the reality. I don’t think the reality is much different than my so called “fantasyland.” In my fantasyland, I’m just a girl who let a lot of people down, failed at a lot of things and doesn’t know where she is anymore. That seems pretty much like the reality.
Ive been going down the road, waking up everyday, each one feeling like it blurs into the day before. They say if you keep trying and it isn’t working, then try something different. I’ve done that too.
I’m sorry if I have let everyone down. I really am trying, but, right now, I’m looking at the path I’ve come down and trying to see the road ahead and I really don’t know where I am anymore.
Maybe this is just temporary and this feeling will pass, but for now, I’m just waking up each day, trying to put one foot in front of the other, but at the same time, feeling like each foot I put forward makes everyone around me take 2 steps away from me.