I’ve had a particularly rough six months or so with my back and neck pain and it has really ground me down. I’ve had migraine-pattern headaches every few weeks (at least) and neck pain, numbness, aches and difficulty living as actively as I’d like to. I’m starting to think of my twenties with fondness, when I was out walking and running and going to the gym without any of these problems and it does make me sad. The pain also makes me grumpy, isolated at times and snappy, I’m pretty sure my work colleagues have born the brunt of it if not my poor friends. I’ve also been struggling with tiredness and fatigue and I’ve picked up a lot of bugs that have gone around so I’ve been sick a lot. It has not been fun.
I’m having to go easy on myself a lot, which, for me is not really easy. I’m not someone who copes with cutting myself slack very well. After my accident when I was in the full on rehab phase I had some really helpful sessions with a psychologist who specialised in brain injury (which at the time I really needed as no one really understood what was going on and that was actually quite damaging for me). So that wonderful lady did some CBT sessions with me and one of the things she’d get me to repeat to myself is ‘I’m doing my best and my best is good enough’. As I sat on my sofa sharing this with another disabled friend last night I did feel a prodding inside of me that I need to repeating that message to myself more often these days. For any of us, our best is all we can do and it is our best, it is not someone else’s.
As I headed into 2015 and the little bit of uncertainty I have as a contractor, I had a few conversations with people that made me feel actually quite condemning of myself when we discussed our plans and goals for 2015. Now, you all know that I have had a bit of a think about things and definitely have some focus going on, so I’m not completely directionless. But I think I was feeling bad that really my main goal is to find a job that (hopefully) I enjoy and that I can support myself in and cope with. For a lot of people that is probably aiming way too low. But I’ve had a revelation that as someone who was almost unemployable not so long ago (I was actually told this in an interview in 2012) and not so long before that could not cope with working fulltime at all, these goals are actually ok. They are more than ok really if you think that I’m doing my job in one of the busiest, most stressful cities in the world too where I fight the cesspit of humanity every day on the Tube to work.
My best is enough. My best is enough.
I do have other ideas in my head and I need more in my life than just work, this blog, my crafting, friends, travel. But really, all of that hinges on the need for me to support myself and I have a few more years that I need to be earning decent money.
So back to the pain, I’ve had a few intimate conversations with close, dear friends who are also battling their own stuff. Stuff that isn’t easy and isn’t easily understood by others either. They echoed my frustration of being stuck with it for the rest of our lives. In truth, I’m not really even close to processing or accepting some of the things I battle with and I wish I could be more gracious, but it is flippin’ hard at times and it is hard to feel like the only one having to go through it. There is a cost to me at times, I call it ‘brain injury tax’ when I am tired and do dumb stuff like lose my phone or go into over draft or lose my debit card for the umpteenth time. I get tired, I miss out on things, I let people down. I would rather not be that person.
But, I also know it gives me a deeper insight into disability, health issues and other invisible conditions. I don’t immediately jump to dismiss or diminish someone’s pain because they “look fine”. I also know if someone is feeling bad that it could just be from normal, every day activity that everyone else copes with and not to grill them about what they’ve been doing to themselves. Sometimes just living life can knock you out when you have health conditions.
And God has reminded me this week that this earth is temporal and I’m trying to remember that all of this will be over in the blink of an eye in light of eternity. So in the meantime I’ll continue to do my best and hope and pray that I don’t have to wait to heaven to be feeling a bit better.