I’m a High-Strung Mess

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I am currently a high-strung mess. As my SSDI hearing looms nearer and nearer, I find myself obsessing way too much over it and almost panicking about the fact that I feel powerless over what will happen in the end. I am trying to do absolutely everything I can think of to prepare for it and make sure we have good medical documentation especially, but that in itself is stressing me out because it means having to be assertive and ask for things from my physicians which I despise having to do. I HATE having to ask ANYONE for ANYTHING. It is just the way I am, but sometimes you have to do the things you hate…

I do not do well when I feel like I am not in control of a situation. My anxiety can’t handle the uncertainty and the endless waiting. I would almost rather deal with the worst case scenario immediately rather than be in limbo for months waiting for someone else to decide my fate. On top of that, I feel like I am annoying those around me (lawyer office employees, doctors, my poor husband) because of my intense anxiety state. I talked to a paralegal today and she told me to take a deep breath and relax lol. If only I could! I can do the deep breath, but the relaxing part just ain’t kicking in.

The heightened stress is taking a physical toll too, as it always does. My upper back/shoulder/neck area is flaring again to the point that I am regularly rolling on Lidocaine and had to take some Tramadol. The pain is so bad I can’t do any household tasks, which makes me feel bad too. Even typing this is painful and requires frequent breaks.

Now I feel like my whining is probably annoying all of you too lol. Sorry if that is the case, but I just needed to vent!

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Another Fun Visit to the ER

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I spent yesterday in the ER. Always lots of fun. I was rather freaked out because I literally couldn’t swallow at times and felt like I was going to choke to death or something. I also was having chest pains, trouble breathing, and feeling like I was going to pass out. Now I get to go back to the GI doctor because they think there are probably issues with damage to my esophagus.

Still not feeling much better today. They put me on some meds that are supposed to protect and hopefully help repair damage done to the esophagus, but no relief yet. I still struggle to swallow, keep coughing, and feel like there is something permanently stuck in my throat. Eating and drinking is no fun, even the smoothie I tried to drink earlier struggled to go down. My chest, especially around my breastbone feels like there is an elephant sitting on it. Man, this sucks.

Spiral of Anxiety and Fear

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I am feeling so incredibly stressed about my upcoming SSDI hearing and everything related to it. It has become an obsessive thought pattern that I can’t get out of. This always happens when something I am super nervous or scared about is looming on the horizon. My mind is a circular track of “what ifs”, incessant thoughts about things I need to do, fears that I will make a mistake and blow my last chance for SSDI benefits, and fear that if I fail and am denied again, it will once again send me into a suicidal spiral of feeling worthless, disbelieved, and like I will forever be a burden to society and those I love.

Tomorrow I have to ask my psychologist to fill out a RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) form for the hearing. I think she will be open to it and want to help, but I am still anxious about asking and scared of rejection. I have to ask my primary care physician to fill out a similar form when I see her next week, and am even more nervous about that because I know she is often rushed and I don’t want to be an inconvenience or annoy anyone by making demands.

As you can see, I struggle greatly with asking anyone to do anything for me. I’m not sure if it is just my lousy self-esteem or what, but I always feel like anything I need is an imposition on someone else. Maybe the result of being raised by a narcissistic parent? Growing up, I often was made to feel like anything I needed (emotionally or physically) was selfish and inconvenient to those around me. To this day, I struggle with feeling like I am actually entitled to anything – even basic human respect.

I think my fear of being disbelieved about my disabilities also stems from the fact that when I first started getting really sick, even my own husband and family didn’t believe me. My husband came around first, when he saw how much I truly was suffering every day and how even the things I loved most were being ripped away from me. He has even apologized for his initial doubts. Some of my family (including in-laws) still make me feel invalidated, but I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t do much about that.

Feeling Low After Lawyer Visit

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Today has been a rough day 😦 I had to get up early to go to an appointment with my lawyer to talk about my upcoming SSDI hearing in February. I woke up feeling exhausted, achy, and sick to begin with, my stomach and digestive system freaking out from the anxiety of the change in routine as they always do.

The meeting went ok, I suppose. The lawyer seems really nice and genuine, but the whole thing depressed me. For one thing, it isn’t easy to have everything that is wrong with you physically and mentally just laid out on the table for everyone to see. It isn’t fun facing the reality of my own limitations and self-perceived flaws. I know I can’t help having mental and physical issues, but it SUCKS to have to dwell on them and think about them more than I already do normally.

The lawyer wants me to try to get my doctors to fill out some forms to take to the hearing and that gives me high anxiety. I hate having to ask anyone to do anything, it is just the way I am. I have a deep fear of rejection. What if they say “no” when I ask them to fill out the forms? Then I will feel even lower than I already do. I know my doctors are caring people who try to help me and they will probably be more than willing to help, but my brain just can’t shut off the “what ifs”.

I came home from the lawyer visit, cried for a little bit, then crashed for a few hours in bed. I still feel like absolute crud, but am trying to get back into my normal routine. I am desperately in need of some self-love and comfort right now, but that isn’t easy for me to do.

What is Your Great Work?

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Recently I was reading a book about glamour magic. I read a lot of books about paganism and mystical spiritual paths, because even though I consider myself an agnostic, I also believe there are many, many things we don’t understand and I enjoy delving into the mysteries and deeper meanings found in spirituality and mythology.

Overall, the book was a bit of a letdown, it seemed fairly shallow in some ways, but I guess I should have guessed that since glamour magic itself is generally about surface level changes. However, there was one meditative exercise in the book that I did find meaningful. This part of the book emphasized the importance of figuring out what your great work will be.

As the book went on to explain, in order to get anywhere in life, you have to know what you are aiming for. You have to know what is most important to you in terms of achievement and meaning. You have to figure out where your energy, passion, and hard work should be directed. So, I meditated on this subject for a while and here are the three things I came up with that I currently would consider my own “great work” in this life:

  1. My writing/blog. Guess what? You guys are all a BIG part of my great work! I write because my soul cries out to share my experiences, feelings, hopes, and dreams. Having people who actually want to read about those things is truly a magical gift in itself!
  2. My art. I often feel insecure in my artistic abilities. I feel like there are so many artists out there that are far more talented and definitely better trained than myself, but I LOVE art and sometimes I genuinely love the stuff I make. My art may not be top of the line, but I do think many of my creations are unique artworks that only I could make.
  3. Advocating for others like me. This kind of ties into #1 and #2, since I often use my art and my writing to advocate for others who have autism, mental illness, or chronic pain/illness. People like me are often marginalized, ignored, looked down upon, and mistreated. I want to help stop that. I want to help the world to become a kinder, more empathetic place for those who struggle.

Now that I have shared my own great works in life, why don’t you spend a little time figuring out your own? You can pick just one, or you can have several like I did. Think deeply about it and question your purpose in life. If you would like to share what you come up with in the comments on this post, I would love to hear it!

Depressing Health Update

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I went to the doctor today because my ear is still killing me and I’ve been running a fever for several days. Turns out I have another middle ear infection…this has to be about the sixth one in six months. Boy, am I getting tired of this. Not much I can do either, since I have tried many “alternative medicine” cures for ear and sinus infections and have went the whole ENT and allergy specialist route, only to find that nothing really works. In the end, I feel like it is just my own immune system working against me.

The doctor also said that she suspects the mouth sores I was dealing with might have been related to Coxsackie Virus (or Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease). Adults don’t catch that illness nearly as often as kids do, but it can happen, and with my autoimmune issues, I guess it wouldn’t surprise me to find out I did get it.

So, I am on ANOTHER course of antibiotics. Something that depresses me to no end because I fear with all the antibiotics I have had to take lately that I may end up developing C Diff again, which caused me to be hospitalized for almost a week a few years ago. Needless to say, I am not in a good place physically or mentally and am just tired of it all. This chronic illness shit sucks.

Vacations: A Harsh Reality of Chronic Illness

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Over the weekend my husband and I took a short vacation to Louisville, KY to celebrate our 15th anniversary and spend some quality time together. I did have a good time, but I must admit that I dread and sometimes even regret vacations just as much as I look forward to them.

Why? Simple. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Vacationing when you have CFS sucks. Big time. Planning the vacation wears you out. Packing wears you out. The travel wears you out. Even though I don’t do the driving, I am still exhausted by the time we even get to our destination. Often, as soon as we get to our hotel I immediately have to lay down for at least a couple hours to recuperate, even if it is only a 2 or 3 hour drive as this one was.

The main excursion we planned was to the Louisville zoo. We had never been there before and both my husband and I love animals. Luckily, it wasn’t a huge zoo, but by the time we had toured about half of it, I was in really poor shape. I had to sit on each bench we came by and rest. I even had to make do with the floor a few times and just collapsed. I was nauseated, felt like passing out, developed a migraine-like headache, and felt extremely overheated, even though it wasn’t that hot out and I stayed hydrated. Heck, most of the buildings were even air conditioned. THIS is what living with CFS is like.

I didn’t get to see much of the rest of the zoo. I was too busy looking for places to rest and recuperate for the trek back to the car. My legs ached so badly and felt so weak that I feared they would give out on me multiple times. My entire body felt like I had been run over or slammed into by something big and heavy. Somehow I did make it back to the car (after resting many, many times on the way there), and then we went directly to our hotel so I could recuperate for the rest of the day. I didn’t even have the stamina to go out for dinner a few hours later, so we ate at the hotel.

I went to bed early, hoping I would feel better in the morning, which didn’t really happen. The next day we visited a cool indie bookstore I had wanted to go to, but I was almost too tired to even enjoy that. We went and found a place by the Ohio River to sit and watch barges pass by, which was peaceful and relaxing. During the drive times to our locations, I curled up with a pillow and laid my seat back to doze.

By the time we headed back for home, I was too exhausted to care about much of anything. When we arrived home, I went almost straight to bed, even though it was only 5pm. The next day (Labor Day), my hip and back were so sore (with a pinched nerve thrown in), that I spent most of the day laying in bed watching a Lake Placid marathon on the Syfy Channel. Any form of movement was excruciating.

All of this makes me wonder if vacations are really worth the trouble. It also makes me wonder if maybe sometime soon I will need to get a motorized chair to even survive simple outings like this. I hate to give in and do that, but my worsening symptoms make it an almost certain possibility eventually.

Psychiatrist Visit Anxiety

Today I see my psychiatrist again. These appointments make me nervous because there is always worry that my meds might get changed and I might have a bad reaction to another one, like I did the Cymbalta. I also often wonder what to share with him. I want to be as honest and open as possible, so I get the best treatment, but I also sometimes have a tendency to overshare or over-explain things that might not be pertinent.

I figure the things that I should share with him most this visit are my “episodes” of rage and paranoia the past couple months, even though they only lasted a few days to a week each. I have actually had a couple “episodes” of feeling almost hopeful and optimistic recently, so that is good I think. It was really odd that during one of these times of having at least a few days in a row of feeling pretty good, I had one of the worst days I have had in a while, where I was so horribly depressed and so full of despair that I sat on the couch holding a bottle of pills and wishing I could take them all and maybe not have to wake up again, but of course, I know that wouldn’t be the right thing to do. Especially to my husband. Oddly enough, the very next day I was back to feeling fairly decent overall.

I also always wonder how much to address my physical problems with the psychiatrist. After all, he isn’t a doctor who treats those conditions, but those conditions greatly affect my depression and anxiety levels. When the physical pain is extremely bad for a few days in a row, that tends to bring on a kind of despair that is hard to cope with. It blackens my view of my entire future and makes me honestly feel sometimes that life isn’t worth living if you have to be in this kind of pain. I probably should take my Tramadol (opioid pain killers) more during those times, but I am afraid of becoming dependent on it if I take it too often.

Well, thank you for listening to me overthink things as I always do lol.

My Future Fund (supported by art and book sales!)

Recently I have been having quite a bit of success selling my artwork and I am so thankful! It means the world to me to know that people love my art and want to support my creative efforts! I do have something special I am doing with the proceeds I get from my art and I wanted to share that, so that if you are purchasing my art, you will know how you are helping me in multiple ways.

As many of you know if you follow my blog regularly, due to worsening chronic mental and physical health conditions, it has been hard for me to work outside the home for a while. I am hoping to get my SSDI benefits at some point in the future, but it can take years for that to happen due to backlog. I in no way feel bad for going after these benefits since they are not charity or welfare, but instead are the very benefits I paid into for years. I think it is ridiculous how long many of us have to wait to get a real person to make a decision for benefits we worked hard for over many years.

Due to my trouble working, I constantly fear that were something to happen to my husband, I would eventually end up homeless once the little bit of life insurance ran out. It is a terrifying thought that haunts me every single day. I am not guaranteed eventual approval of my SSDI claim, nor do I have any way to know for sure when I will find out since I am still waiting for a hearing date to even be scheduled.

So, I figured that instead of simply living in fear every single day without taking any real action to plan for the future, that I could take small steps to try to do what I can to provide any measure of security for myself. I have decided to start saving every bit of money I get from my art sales and book sales, to hopefully help build a nest egg to provide a little extra help if someday I need it. I have also been adding extra cash here and there that I manage to save to the “future fund”.