Worldview

I’m trying to find and collect things that remind me how amazing the world is. I’m finally coming out of a particularly nasty round of depression fog, and I need to surround myself with things that emphasize the beauty of existence.

Depression is insidious because it creeps under my skin and poisons everything. It latches on to world events and whispers that this planet is full of suffering, that there is no point in working for a better life, because look, look how awful things are. Look how powerful evil and pain and greed and corruption are. Nothing will change. Nothing will improve. Then it turns inward, paging through everything I could have accomplished that I failed to. Every unfinished project, every passed opportunity. There is nothing that can’t be brought down and tarnished through the lens of depression. It’s a filter over all my senses that makes everything murky and painful, it sucks all the hope and joy out of the good things in life.

Depression makes the world very small.

I’m dedicating some time to re-discovering the beauty of human kindness, the wonder of discovery, the incredible strides that have been made toward freedom and equality. I’m building a safe haven out of stories and quotes and love and art. I’m giving myself permission to write and draw, and accepting mistakes as part of a long process. I’m stubbornly looking forward to the future, even pushing myself to believe that I can do more for myself. I can find a path that I enjoy. I can make a life doing things that I love.

Every time the fog lifts, I have to re-educate myself in optimism.

Depression makes the world very small, but depression lies.

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Illness

I have a few posts on the cutting room floor. I’m excited to be writing, but I need to edit and review, which takes time. This is a lesson I am teaching myself. It’s difficult to be patient when I’m writing about things that I care deeply about, but it’s very important to me that I phrase things exactly the way I want them. I can’t control what people take from my writing, but I can control the way it’s presented.

So, while I’m stitching together my more difficult posts, I thought I’d take some time to talk about a rather important thing going on in my life. See, I’m sick. I’ve spent a large percentage of my life being sick in some way or another, but I’ve never really been bothered by an illness the way I’m bothered by this one. I just have a fever. I’ve had a fever since February. Tomorrow will mark the third complete month I’ve had this fever. This is the worst because it’s not enough. The fever itself doesn’t really count in my daily calculations of  “how productive should I be able to be today” even though it obviously should. Instead of focusing of the cause, I weigh the symptoms. How badly does my head hurt? How far can I walk before I get so fatigued that my options are ‘sit’ or ‘fall over’?

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life ill, so I have a thousand other experiences to compare it to, and it comes up lacking. I’m not comparing “I’m too tired to get out of bed and I can barely stand” to being perfectly well and in zero pain, I’m comparing it to vomiting for nine straight hours. Being sleepy isn’t as bad as that, so why am I giving them the same amount of consideration? Why do I get to sit at home, missing work, bundled up watching Star Wars when I’m not even in pain? Inevitably, I end up trying to multi-task or do something productive and suddenly I have a migraine so bad I can’t see straight. And then I sit there wondering what happened.

I am stupidly dense when it comes to listening to my body, but I feel like I have to be. I’ve spent so much time sick that I’ve had to learn to push myself past my own barriers and disregard comfort as something I can regularly experience. This is at its worst when I have classes to attend. My job is part-time, flexible, and I am capable of working from home, so it generally bends to accommodate my schedule. Classes do not. Attendance counts. Participation counts. Sitting in class with my hands shaking, staring at the trash can and trying to estimate exactly how many seconds away it is –just in case- is still sitting in class. This is one of the reasons why I’ve been tempted to drop out. When a good day is  measured, not by the quality of my interactions and the information I absorb, but by how successfully I’ve managed to pretend I wasn’t in pain… it’s hard to get enthusiastic about that. Days when I am actually not in pain (or nauseated or so tired I could cry) are wonderful, special gifts where everything is beautiful and everyone is important. Sometimes I get several of these in a row and it’s the greatest thing ever.

I honestly used to think it was like this for everyone. I was sick a lot, so what? Everybody gets sick, and come on, I’m not sick that often and it’s not that bad. I always did my best to act normal when I felt awful, and I figured everyone else did the same. I never understood why authority figures kept insisting we should have perfect attendance. I laughed them off for setting unreasonable goals and impossible standards. Adults, right? And then I really started listening to my classmates and friends, and I realized that a lot of people DID have perfect attendance, and many only missed days because they skipped, or they only felt sick because they’d been out partying. These people went entire years without illness. All those rumors I’d heard about teenagers being healthy were TRUE.

When I became an adult, it still took me a long time to actually believe that being sick is uncommon for most of the population. It seemed so weird. That was also fun because I suddenly realized that I’d been being undeservedly judgmental of others. People freak out when they get strep throat or the flu, and it’s not because they’re whiny, it’s because it’s actually unusual and upsetting for them. Holy shit. I still accidentally freak people out sometimes through casually mentioning things  and not realizing until afterwards that I’ve said something bizarre. “Oh yeah, I would have loved to go to that, but unfortunately it coincided with my bi-annual sinus infection.” “Oh, my phlebotomist loves that book, are you enjoying it?

My favorite part of this current situation is that no one can tell me what’s happening. Looking back, I’ve had this same weird fatigue/illness thing happen almost annually. The only difference is that this one hasn’t gone away in the standard time period. Normally, the process is 1. Get sick 2. Wait a week 3. Go to the doctor, where they tell me “It sounds like mono” and take blood samples 4. Wait for them to inevitably call back and say that not only is it not mono, they have no clue what’s wrong with me. Bonus points if I’m already well by the time they call. “Maybe it’s mono” is a big inside joke in my family. All evidence suggests that I’ve never had mononucleosis in my life, though I’ve been diagnosed with it over a dozen times

It seems important to note here that I’m not fishing for sympathy. I hate being pitied. I talk about my illnesses and my pain etc. because it’s a big part of my life, not because I want belly rubs and special treats. I do appreciate empathy and I need the people in my life to listen to me, but only as much as anyone else does. You need to vent about your job and your boss and your family, I need to vent about my medication and my headaches and my doctors. Besides, I’m very much in the middle of a spectrum. The majority deals with less of this shit than I do, but there is a substantial percentage who have it far worse. There are people I love who deal with chronic pain that I can’t even begin to imagine. I have less abled privilege than many, but I can see and hear and walk and work and attend class, all of which are privileges, and all of which I am so extremely grateful for, even when I’m complaining.

Two days from now I’m visiting a different doctor at a different office, where I will sit in a different chair and a different phlebotomist will draw my blood.  Wish me luck.