Stressy stormy seas
Stress and Crohn's don't mix, together they cause nasty flare ups and make me sick. When I got sick two years ago I was stressed, panicked about not being able to perform and keep up. Before that my other large flare was also work related. Again I was worried about letting other people down with not being able to achieve what was expected of me, which to be fair to myself was actually a great amount, more than it should have been. So of course I got sick.
Here's the thing, when I was with my abusive partner for 5 years I was anxious, stressed and depressed. No doubt about it. I wasn't sick, I might have had a few small flares but nothing worse than an upset tummy.
When I was with a nice boyfriend before him, I was happy - maybe a tad over worked with school and a part-time job with long hours but I was happy. I'd get a bloated tummy and I'd be really really tired but I would again just put that down to staying up late and working too much at the weekends.
Recently I had an interview with Occupational Health recently, in 45 minutes the guy diagnosed me as depressed and anxious. Now anyone of my Drupal friends will be able to say that I suffer from Imposter Syndrome, constantly feeling like I don't fit in or have nothing to offer the community. "I can't code so I'll host an event instead" is what caused me to (co-)organise three Frontend United's.
The reason he diagnosed me as depressed is two-fold, he didn't believe fatigue is a factor of crohn's and he asked me questions about my home life. This time of year isn't ever really going to be a good time to ask me those questions. I left that abusive knob in April and even though I don't consciously think about it a lot there are times when it creeps into my subconscious, like when someone asks what home is like... So I had a bit of a meltdown on the phone...
oh yeah, did I tell you? When I was at university and even afterwards I was so anxious that I couldn't answer a phone or walk into a room if the door was shut and I couldn't scope who was in there out beforehand. So being told I was to talk to a stranger about my life on the phone with little notice also caused a lot of anxiety to bubble up!
And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. ― Haruki Murakami
It got me thinking what was I doing right when I was with my abusive partner? How did my body cope when my life was a mess? I must have been doing something differently. It's been really bugging me, because I am happier than I was back then. One thousand times happier. I used to do the cooking, it was fresh meals cooked by me most days, now the cooking is done by Sy, but it's still fresh food. I don't think he's slipping me any drugs to make me sick, so we'll rule that out. I've got more friends than then, I'm busier, I do less exercise but only slightly, my house is messier but no one could viably keep their house as clean as the ex used to make me keep it. No germ could survive... even the good ones. I can't put my finger on what was different, what kept me healthy... I actually began stressing out trying to figure it out, maybe there was an answer in my past to ensure my future will be healthy.
Then today I saw this quote and it made think. There's been things that friends have had to remind me of because I had blocked them out, there's scrawlings on paper saying that I was sick or that I felt so unbelievably tired, yet I don't remember writing them. I've blocked them out. I've blocked out how sick I was.
I actually do not remember how I made it through. The answer isn't in the past, it's in the future, keeping myself away from the stress that bad projects bring me, taking on more than I can chew, not being about to say no. These things I learned without the help of a counsellor but by figuring them out myself. It's a slow road but I'm doing good and I won't let anyone who has met me over the phone for 45 minutes make me feel like he did. I've got up and gone to work, I've paid (his) bills because they need to be paid, I've kept myself above the water.
One big storm is over, several smaller ones keep flying through my life to keep me on my toes and as much as I'd like to catch a break, every time I come out of these storms I'm a better person than before. My illness is just another of those storms, it DOES NOT define me and I CAN handle it.