Category Archives: Uncategorized

Glimmers of Answer

Standard

Sometimes they come to us, those little answers, those tiny ideas that help us find ways to move forward. Today I had one, a small one, an answer to a question that’s plagued me for almost 2 decades.

Why do I hurt myself? Why do I self-harm?

In high school, I talked candidly about my harm with a friend. He asked why I did it. I told him it was because it was a way to feel, but that answer never really felt completely right.

In the work and counselling I’ve done since, I’ve been asked again and again why I harm, why I used to harm, why I stopped. I’ve never had an answer. Everything that I’ve read talks about it being a mental thing, that you’re in so much pain mentally that you want to feel it physically, or that you’re so dissociated mentally that causing pain brings you back. None of those answers made sense to me.

Last night I mentioned a numbness. I said that when I get urges to harm, I’m working through a numbness.

Today, I connected, I got an answer.

I don’t know if the root is mental or physical, but I get into a state of physical numbness. It’s like there’s an extra layer between me and the rest of the world. The ground feels farther from my feet. The keyboard feels further from my fingertips. The cat feels farther from my face. The longer I sit, doing nothing, in this state, the more I feel the need to feel. Challenging hikes help, with lots of scrambling over rocks, bumping knees, scraping fingers. Meditating in the ocean, or really, just putting my body in the freezing water for as long as I can stand it helps. Getting a new tattoo is always good when I feel like this. Sex is 50/50, but acts of BDSM with a partner (with or without the sex component) definitely help. And so does self harm.

I messaged a friend today, the friend I spoke to the night I cut myself, and I told him my revelation. I told him that it’s a physical need to feel through the numbness (whatever the source of the numbness is). I said I just needed to find a healthier way to fill the need when I couldn’t do something like climb rocks for 3 hours or soak myself in near freezing water for an hour. He came over this evening with an answer. He gave me his micro needle therapy roller thing (it looks like a little roller brush, except instead of bristles, there’s needles). It works. It has that same needed sensation that I seek without the causing physical damage component.

I’ll be okay, really, I will. Things will get better and I’ll slowly piece together the answers of my brain.

Advertisements

Change

Standard

It’s odd sometimes when the world comes crashing down around you. Everything moves on, moves forward. It feels like everyone else, everything else is fine. Nothing’s changed. And yet, for you, everything’s changed.

My partner and I stayed together for a whole two months before we broke up. We decided to stay friends, and quickly added back sexual and D/s activities, though we’ve done way more of the sex than the D/s stuff. We have continued to spend an inordinate amount of time together and he’s continued to help me with my plans to get better at schoolwork.

I submitted an application to a general studies program at the local college, since I missed the deadline for applications for the undergrad program that I want to take at the university. It’s probably better this way as it’ll give me a chance to bump up my GPA in a smaller class-size setting.

I was asked to join the facilitators for a trans youth support group (kids under 12 mostly). That’s gone mostly nowhere so far, but I’ll be going to a group soon to see what it’s like and where my role might be in it.

The support group that I facilitate ended up petering out, and I cancelled it going forward. Hardly anyone was attending and I couldn’t justify holding the space.

I was asked to speak on a panel at a conference. The ask came several months ago and the conference was 2 days ago. I took the day off work and went. It was my first time being asked to speak, first time speaking. I was stressed and anxious in the lead up, but the day itself went fantastically. I felt very much in my element at the conference which was very odd to consider. We discussed a lot of really heavy topics though, which have been hard to digest.

I got told by my building manager two weeks ago that my cat was causing noise complaints. I’m not supposed to have a cat here, but he told me that it would be fine as long as there were no more noise complaints. She cries out when I’m gone too long, too much, because she desires human connection too much. I ended up getting internet at home, something I have spent the last 4 months since moving here avoiding, so that a friend could come over and catsit while he does his work online.

At the same time as all of this, I’m slowly coming to the crushing realization that I’m at a point of “now or never” with respect to having children. I turn 28 very soon and I don’t want to be an old parent. I don’t have anyone to co-parent with me right now and I have a 10-year plan for school. But, I’m feeling this desperate need to have kids and have them as soon as possible. I don’t want to wait, I don’t want to put it off. I don’t want to find out that it’s not possible anymore. The idea that it might not be possible now is painful.

There’s a certain numbness that I feel sometimes, when so much is going on. There’s too much to process, to work through, too much to try to sort out. My life right now is in a massive state of turmoil, chaos. I’ve been saying it’s good chaos, but any chaos is difficult to handle and deal with.

I want things to settle and I want there to be a certain clarity of where I’m going, but I haven’t even heard if I got into the college yet.

I just want to curl up and hide, tuck myself away and vanish. Not into bedsheets or a chair or couch, but into the forest, the world, nature. I just want to disappear for a time until all things are sorted.

Last night, I went to dinner with my friend. I was slow to get up in the morning, hadn’t eaten well during the day, was feeling generally good about things having just completed the conference, but didn’t manage to pick up groceries or make dinner. After dinner at the pub, my friend and I picked up some drinks and headed to my place. We talked a bit. My muscles have been twitchy and spasmy lately and he’s noticed. I showed him a video I took of what it looked like in 2011 and he suggested that tourettes might be the answer, so we talked about that some. We walked to his place and back to mine, had some more drinks, and watched a movie. It was, amazingly, the first movie that I’ve managed to sit through beginning to end in one sitting with nothing to occupy my hands in ages, years maybe (theatre experiences aside). We talked and drank a bit after the movie ended and he headed home. I got up and went to the bathroom and on leaving the bathroom had the urge to grab a knife and cut myself. It was so strong that I actually grabbed the knife on my way back to my living space. I sat in front of the computer for half an hour, posting here, talking to that same friend on facebook. I reached out to him, and several other people, he was the one who responded. I couldn’t get the urge out of my head so I told him I’d call the crisis line, which I did, knife still in hand. I talked to the counselor on the phone and talked out a bit of what all I’ve put in this post. He asked about motives, asked about where the urge comes from. He asked if I ever contemplated suicide (I haven’t, ever). He eventually asked if I’d be okay to go to bed, to which I said yes. What he didn’t know, couldn’t tell, was that while I was talking to him, I gave myself 3 small “scratches” on my leg with the knife. There’s a numbness I get when I have the urge to cut, a numbness that kills whatever pain I would feel from my already high pain tolerance. I hung up the phone from the crisis line and sent a message to my friend saying I was going to bed and not to worry. I messaged him as soon as I was up in the morning as well.

I honestly don’t know why I get the urges to self harm, cut or otherwise. I don’t know what makes me want to act on them. I don’t know how I’ve been able to say no to doing it for the last 7+ years. I don’t know why it’s so bad right now.

When I’m out with people, doing things, going places, talking, connecting, they all seem to think I’m well put together, that I’ve got life sorted out, that I can make things work and go well. The truth is, I can’t, I’m not okay, and I haven’t been for a very long time. I try so very hard to make everything okay. I do all the self care things, do everything I can to help myself work through the big feelings that are so hard to deal with and handle. I do everything that it seems like I should be doing, but nothing ever seems to go the way it should.

I’ve had a tagline somewhere for the last decade or so “wishing for a time when money didn’t matter and hurts were cured with a kiss from mom.” I’ve never changed it because the wish has never gone away. I’ve never stopped wishing that things got better. I’ve never stopped hoping that I would find answers and connections.

I’ve never stopped feeling so lost and alone.

Life is chaos, and no matter how good that chaos is, the chaos itself is what drives me to madness.

Hurt

Standard

I want to hurt. I want to feel physical pain. I have ideas popping into my head one after another after another about what I could do to cause myself pain in a way that I could re-build the pain for days and weeks to come.

I haven’t felt this way in a long time.

I’m stressed, I’m anxious, I want life to settle down, I know that life will start settling down after the last couple weeks of chaos (I owe another post about how life’s shifted again). I have had a few drinks tonight, but the drinks don’t really change how I feel, they just make me less likely to have inhibitions towards doing it.

I want to take my knife, any knife. I want to cut myself in an area that is easily hidden, easily explained. Three short cuts would do it, I can blame them on the cat as I’ve one so many times before.

I haven’t cut myself in over 6 years… tonight that might change…

The Chaos of Life

Standard

At the end of December, I asked someone out. I’d met him a few months earlier and we had hung out with friends on a regular basis, but hadn’t ever managed to get time to hang out just the two of us. I asked him out and our first date was 4 days before New Year’s. New Year’s Eve was our second date (at a friend’s house that we’d both been planning on attending anyway) and our first kiss. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of amazing things.

He studies mental health and psychology and is totally aware of the delicateness of certain situations. We started out by sitting down and defining what “going slow” meant and setting boundaries of what we’re willing to do, when, how far, and even how often we’re allowed to see each other in a week. It’s a constant conversation of boundaries and if things are going okay.

A couple weeks in, we were laying on my floor and I looked up at him and my mind went blank. You can probably tell from reading all this that my mind is never blank, there’s always a constant turmoil running through it. It went blank and I stared up at him and one thought crossed my mind, just one, so loud that it echoed between my ears. “I love you.” I have never felt that way about anyone (though I have said it) and that feeling hasn’t wavered.

About a week or so ago, we were laying on his bed, kissing, with our shirts off. It was as innocent as affection can get, but as we lay there, he was suddenly replaced by someone I wish I could erase from my memory, someone who tricked me, lied to me, manipulated me, didn’t listen to the words “no” and “stop” and who forever changed the way I treat friends who may see me as a potential partner. My boyfriend saw the flashback on my face and heard it in my breath and stopped. He asked me if I was okay, asked if we needed to stop. He helped me get grounded, he helped me get my shirt back on and led me out of the bedroom to lay on the floor instead. He helped me come down. There was never a moment of pressure to continue, never a moment to do anything more or anything I wasn’t okay with or even anything else that night. I don’t want flashbacks to happen again, but I know they probably will. However, I am so grateful to have a partner who knows when to stop.

(A note on the flashback and negative past experiences: Near the end of summer, I took the first steps towards the path of healing past traumatic experiences and signed up for a course to get into a counselling program at a local sexual assault clinic. They require that their patients do a course on healing skills and foundations before they receive any counselling so that they can cope with the negative things that come up in therapy. The course I took ran from October to December and was incredible. It was a small group, and I made some friends, but it gave me a toolkit of skills that I’ve been working to access on a regular basis. I’ve built myself a collection of containment boxes that each have a different purpose: affirmation, worry/stress/anxiety, comfort, and relationship. I’ve been building grounding skills, and finding better ways to deal with the daily stresses of my life, as well as the big ones that pop up. It was skills I learned in the course that helped me come down from the flashback.)

Near the end of December (before getting the boyfriend), I found a new apartment. The new apartment is much closer into town, closer to both work and friends, as well as to everything that I like doing with friends and on my own. I ended up having a one month overlap on both apartments. I ordered new furnature from Ikea and slowly packed up the old place and moved it into the new one. Today, the junk removal people removed the last of the stuff from the old apartment. Tomorrow morning, first thing, the carpet cleaners come and do the carpets, then I’ll hand over my keys and be done with the old place, which is so absolutely amazing to be able to say and I’m hoping it will be a huge relief on my mind.

However, between the costs of paying for two apartments at once, paying for new furniture, and paying for the move out expenses, I’ve managed to max out my credit cards and clear my bank account. I have nothing left for anything else that I want or need to do. Somehow, I have to track down 1.5k by the end of February to pay for my educational assessment. (Not sure if I’ve written about that, but I got an assessment to figure out if I can get any sort of diagnosis that will help me get accommodations for post secondary as I’m intending on going back.)

The sleep issue has been, well, managable. I didn’t get to the point of hallucinations (I think) and stayed on the sleeping pills until last night. I didn’t take any last night and managed to get decent sleep, so I’m going to trial not taking them for a bit to see if I can actually sleep without assistance or if it was just a fluke.

I’m now calling on a regular basis in hopes of getting a surgery date for my mastectomy. I really want to get a date for sometime between end of June or early August so that I will be well enough to attend classes in September. I need the date as soon as possible so that I can actually register for school without wasting any more money that I don’t have. So far, nadda.

A week and a half ago, I went to the doctor to have a mole removed. It took fully 3 walk-in appointments to actually get it removed, but they did it and sent it off to see what it looks like at a cellular level. There’s melanoma in my immediate family and I was instructed from a young age to keep an eye on eight of my moles as they may change and become cancerous. When I was 12, I had one removed which turned out to be benign. I’ve been keeping an eye on the other seven. A short while ago, I noticed that one of them had changed colour and become raised in the center. The doctor agreed that it should be excised given my family history and the recent change. So now I play the waiting game. The doctor who removed it told me that it would take about 2 weeks for the results to come in. If I haven’t had a phone call in 3 weeks, then it’s benign. Waiting, I hate it.

The most recent physical manifestation of my stress has returned and I’m now in aching pain from head to toe on a constant basis. I’m hoping that it will subside as things get slightly less stressful in the next couple weeks.

I’m sitting here and I’m doing everything I can to not give my notice at work. I absolutely love my job, it’s seriously the best for me in the industry I’m in and I’m one of a kind for the position for who I work for (they’ll never be able to find someone to do quite what I do). I couldn’t imagine having a better job doing what I do, however, I’m done with it. I’m done with sitting in the holding pattern I’ve been in. I’m done with playing the waiting game and putting my life on hold. I’m ready to move on with things, ready to take the next step. I’m kind of hoping that I get my surgery date for much earlier than I originally wanted, but I know that it will throw things out of wack long term. I don’t have the money saved that I need to cover the time off work for surgery. With school looming on the horizon, I’m ready to dive in headfirst, but even if I could quit my job tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to start classes until September, so I still have to wait. It sort of feels like I can see the end in sight of what I’m doing with my current job, and the feelings of being ready to move on are paired into that which is making me want to quit. I know I can’t, I know I’m needed, and I know I need the job. I also know that the job will help move my career forward as it is actually relevant to my desired career field. Maybe it’s just the chaos of the last month, the insomnia, cancer scare, new boyfriend, new apartment, and calling for a surgery date, that are all working together to make me feel less motivated with work. I need to dig deep and find some motivation to keep my energy and engagement up when I’m working because I can’t slack off or it will ruin a lot of the work I’ve already done and leave me in a bad place for future references and referrals.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time (before christmas) doing crafting in various fashions for christmas gifts, and have realized the calming nature of the activity. It has given me new techniques for calming down, unwinding, and refocusing. I’m hoping that as I have more time in the next few weeks, I’ll pick it back up. I’ve also put my studying (pre-study for the program I’m going to take at university, to give myself a stronger foundation and a head start on what’s needed) on hold, which I’m hoping will come back as I’ll have no internet at home anymore and more free time to pick up the books I need to read and study. I’ve also been attending my support groups regularly and the university’s ASL group, which have all been amazing. Combining all that with time spent with my boyfriend and with my other friends, and I feel like I’m in a solid place to both move forward and re-energize and re-focus.

Happy New Year… Here’s to a good future…

A Return to the Past

Standard

An interesting thing happens when you get to re-experience something you experienced in the past, especially when you revisit it with a shifted mindset and clarity.

On November 26th, my dose of testosterone was increased from .2ml/wk to .4ml/wk. There was a shift in my sleep patterns in the weeks that followed. I had been, for a couple weeks, not going to bed at 1030-11 as I had scheduled myself to. I was facing a certain level of self induced exhaustion and had been since I started that. However, in the weeks after my dose increased, my exhaustion shifted, imperceptibly, and only on reflection do I realize it.

On Saturday night, January 6th, I had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. I spent hours just laying in bed, reading, thinking, exhausted, but not sleeping. It was a familiar state, and one that I had been dreading, but I chalked it up to anxiety. (There is a lot of other things going on right now that are contributing to anxiety, however, that is for another post.) I slept 4 hours that night.

On Sunday night, I felt myself enter that same all too familiar state. I got 4 hours of sleep that night.

Monday night, last night, it repeated itself again, this time, with 3 hours of sleep.

I have a friend who is a nurse. We became friends some 8 months ago and shared our stories. He told me, when I was thinking about restarting testosterone, that he would help me track and make sure that I’m sleeping. When I didn’t sleep, I called on him. Today, he went to the walk in doctor with me, as backup support (that didn’t end up being needed) so that I could ask for sleeping pills. I got prescribed ammitriptyline, the same medication that worked so well 3 years ago when this whole journey started. Tonight is my first dose.

There’s an interesting thing that happens when you re-experience something with a new mindset and clarity. When I first experienced the insomnia due to testosterone, it came on suddenly. I had an erratic sleep schedule. I was regularly having nights of no sleep and didn’t initially attribute the insomnia to anything other than a cycle, thinking it would end soon. I self medicated with sugar, reading, and social time. It went on far too long before I sought help.

Over the last two years, I have put a lot of work into living healthy, including my sleep habits and hygiene. I have everything down to a schedule and rules I have to follow to ensure proper sleep. My body is now used to getting between 6 and 9 hours a night, often more on the weekends. My brain is used to it as well. If I have a poor night’s sleep, I can expect to feel physically exhausted the next day or two, with little energy for running around and chasing the kids I look after. (Though, I’m always up for reading and talking for hours, if I can convince them, no matter how physically exhausted I am.)

With the insomnia this week, I noticed a shift. My body was ready to play. I had energy to do everything I wanted to do physically. My brain, on the other hand, did not. I couldn’t focus on anything, still can’t. I feel mentally exhausted, like I’m dragging myself along and have to force myself to do every little task. Yes, let’s play a chasing game, ride our bikes for hours, run, climb, but please, don’t make me read out loud or ask me difficult questions!

I also felt a deep seated hunger that wasn’t sated by normal meals. The only thing that rectified it is sugar, in large doses. I remembered this hunger from descriptions I’d used in the past. I’ve always sugar loaded on insomnia days. When I wasn’t sleeping and going to school, I was constantly eating chocolate and candy or drinking pop. At work, I’d drink 2 or 3 pops in an 8hour shift. I’d keep myself in a steady stream of sugar.

With the shift to living healthier that I’ve done in the last year and a half, I’ve almost completely cut processed sugar from my diet. The last three days have been fraught with craving after craving and a gentle pain in the pit of my stomach. When I was at dinner tonight with my friend, I drank two glasses of pop and felt, for about an hour, a clarity that I’d missed all day. I had focus enough to hold an in depth conversation about our friendship and how things are moving. I was also better able to relate to him my symptoms. After it wore off, I was back to the way I’d been all day, bouncing from topic to topic to topic, sometimes in the same breath.

I do not feel this way when I don’t sleep because I haven’t gone to bed.

There’s a clarity there now that I didn’t have the first time around. I will be decreasing my dose of testosterone on the weekend. In the meantime, I really really hope that the sleeping pills work as effectively this time as they did last time.

A Letter Never to be Sent

Standard

I write for catharsis. Something about writing where I know it will eventually be seen by someone is healing for me and helps me process what I’m dealing with and going through. I recently took on a second job doing respite care with a family who has an autistic child (8) and a neurotypical child (11). The kids respond well to me, the parents seem to really like me, and working the job is really enjoyable. The downside is that they live just 3 blocks away from the building I lived in with an abusive ex boyfriend. I can feel my anxiety amping up as the bus gets closer to the stop. I literally cannot stop doing SOMEthing while I’m at their house, at the bus stop waiting to go home, walking between, etc. I worked at their house the last two nights and ended up scrubbing half their kitchen and catching up on their dishes, something completely and totally outside of my duties of respite care. On realizing that the cause of anxiety is tied to my ex, I decided I needed to write him a letter. What follows is everything I’ve wanted to tell him, but never will.

Dear KS,

When we first met, you were a charming sailor, five years older and five years wiser, or so it seemed to me. You charmed your way into my pants fairly quickly and seemed to not want to leave. You wavered between just wanting to be friends, nothing more, wanting the benefits, and wanting a partner. You convinced me to stay over at your apartment when you moved out of barracks, even though you knew I’d catch shit from my dad.

Once we were together, you resisted any inclusion in my family. You resisted any inclusion of my own friends. You would not allow my friends to come over and would not go see them, but when it came time to see your family or friends, I had to be there. You isolated me. You put a rift between me and my family. You put a rift between me and the few friends I’d managed to make.

When the going got tough, you convinced me to take the “easy out” of joining the military as an enlisted member, even though everyone else in my family was an officer. When they sent me home from Basic, you had nothing but scorn for me even though you knew how hard I worked to try to stay there.

At every turn, you shot down my ideas. Nothing I did or said or wanted was ever good enough. You took all of my dreams and you trampled them. You took my already low self esteem and flushed it down the toilet. You made me feel like I wasn’t worth anything, like no matter what I did, I wouldn’t amount to anything, like no matter how hard I tried, it would never be good enough.

You took advantage of my innocence. You made it seem like it was normal to get blackout drunk on a regular basis. You made it seem like it was okay to wake up having sex. You made it seem like it was okay to drag me back from the bed after I’d passed out and keep going. I thought you were laughing with me, but I know now you were laughing at me. You never cared, you just wanted a toy.

You tore down my dreams and made me feel like I would never accomplish any of them. You took from me the hope that I’d get to the places I wanted to go, that I’d be able to do the things I wanted to do. And you let your friends do the same. You never once came to my defense on anything.

From the very beginning, you took advantage of my anxieties and compulsions. You knew I couldn’t handle being left alone or going to things alone, so you used that to isolate me. Even when we were with your friends or your family, you never welcomed me to them, I was always an outsider. You knew that I couldn’t leave a mess to sit, so you never once lifted a finger. It didn’t seem to matter to you how hard I worked to cook and clean and make as much money as I could, there was always something you found undone, always something that needed attention, always something I’d done wrong. Even when I finally snapped and stopped doing the dishes, something I had done compulsively and meticulously for close to a decade, you didn’t lift a finger. It never seemed to dawn on you how infuriating it was to spend hours tidying and cleaning the apartment only for you to tear apart a gun in the first 15minutes of being home and leave bits and screws and tools all over the living room, which I knew you would chastise me for not cleaning the next day.

You betrayed my trust. When we met, you told me that you’d been cheated on. You told me that you didn’t want to make anyone else feel the way you felt. You told me that you could never cheat. I believed you. I trusted you. Near the end of our relationship, when I felt us drifting apart, you spent those weekends in the other city. I know you were hanging out with girls. I know that at least one of those girls was your ex. I know that one of those girls ended up being your partner after I left. When you announced the pregnancy and due date on facebook, I had to remove you as a friend. You’d insisted that you didn’t want kids, but really that was me, right? I did the math. Your son was conceived when we were still living together, a month before we broke up. You cheated on me, you got her pregnant, and you decided that living together and raising the kid would be best.

You broke me. It’s been 7 years since I last saw you. It’s been 7 whole years and I still hurt every time the thought of you bubbles up. The streets we lived on are still hard for me to go down, I try not to look when I need to. My anxiety bubbles up whenever I end up in the neighbourhood we used to live in. There’s good things, good people there, that I want to see and do, I can’t because you are still there in my mind. It’s been 7 years since we last lived together and I still get bubbles of anxiety over the dishes and the cleanliness of my home, when these things used to be completely manageable. You’re the reason why my anxiety over the dishes went from “dishes not being clean” to “needing to clean dishes.” It may not seem like a big difference to you, but it is huge. You’re the reason I have mould growing in the kitchen on a regular basis and have for the last 7 years.

Your son is in grade 2 this year. Congratulations on having an offspring. You took that dream from me. If I’d had a kid with you, at least I would have been able to have a kid of my own. It’s been so long and life’s winding path has taken me so far that it looks like I won’t ever be able to have a kid at all.

You took so much from me and you never once gave me anything.

I don’t hate you, I don’t want to see you burn or anything. I just don’t want to see you ever again. I don’t want to cross paths with you. I don’t want to find out if your life ended up happy. I don’t want to know if you changed, even though I know you probably did, everyone does.

I don’t regret dating you. You taught me many valuable lessons. Lessons about limits. Lessons about tolerance. Lessons about recognizing abuse and isolation. Lessons about who makes a good friend and who doesn’t. Lessons about seeing the signs of unfaithfulness. To regret would be not recognizing these lessons I learned.

I just wish I hadn’t learned them.

I wish I hadn’t needed to learn them. I wish that when we were together, you could have been kind. I wish you would have listened. I wish you would have taken my mental health into consideration and done something to help it instead of making things worse. I wish you could have supported me instead of bringing me down. I wish you could have been honest with me, even when the honesty was tough.

I hope you’re all those things and more for your family. I hope that you figured shit out. I hope that you didn’t screw things up for them. They deserve better than what you gave me.

I hope you learned what you needed to.

Sincerely,
N

Physical Decline

Standard

Today, I sat to chop my vegetables to make dinner. I’m an energetic person, always on the go, always moving, reluctant to sit for any length of time. My kids complain that I move too quickly, but they love it that I’m up and down with them, that I play dramatically with them. My friends are always after me to slow down when we’re walking somewhere. Friends and strangers have remarked on my sprinting when something comes up and I need to chase someone or something (returning dropped items, fetching kids from danger, grabbing paper or plastic floating on the wind…).

But today, I didn’t have the energy to stand and dance and sing while I cooked for an hour and a half.

I’ve been in pain continuously for at least the last 5 years, but much longer than that I know. You learn to ignore pain as much as possible, when it’s a part of your daily life. I learned to ignore it. I’ve had a high pain tolerance for a long time and when something bugs me, it’s always something big. I generally manage to just push aside and push through everything unless it’s sharp, strong, and long.

I didn’t notice it at first, but I know that about 4 or so months ago, my pain started getting worse. It’s migrating, which means that it’s never stays in one spot, the spots that hurt move. Usually it’s only about 2-5 spots that are noticeably sore. Historically, they’ve all been under 5 on the 1-10 pain scale. 5 is my threshold for paying attention. Below 5 and I ignore it, above 5 and I’m attentive. 7 is when I start getting concerned and doing something about it though. Starting in the last 4ish months, the spots of pain are up in the 6, 7, sometimes 8 range.

Paired with this, I have lower energy, I’m not as gung-ho ready to run as I normally am. I tire quicker. I’ve noticed in the last month that I am always on the lookout for something to sit on, and failing that, something to lean on. If I’m not moving, then I need support.

I thought I was fine. Really, I did. It was bad enough that it was raising alarms, but not so bad that I was willing to do something about it. I’m dealing with a lot of things medically already and I didn’t want to add one more to the docket.

Three weeks ago, I went camping with some friends of mine. Just outside of town, middle of a small bit of forest, tent camping. It was nice, fun, enjoyable. The second day we were out, the three of us went for a walk. My knee was hurting so bad at the beginning of the walk, that I was limping. I ignored it, as per normal, and did my best to enjoy the time with my friends. Eventually the pain shifted as it does, and I stopped limping. Then, it was like I’d walked into a wall. I was in physical pain from head to toe. It was like all of my joints and all of my muscles were crying out at once. Still, I kept going. There wasn’t really anything my friends could have done and there was no where to stop and sit until we got back. After a bit longer, 45 minutes into our walk, I hit another wall. I felt like I had no energy left. Nothing, nada, zip, zero. But, we were on our way back and I knew once we got back, I’d be able to stop. I also didn’t want to concern my friends (for fear of them deciding to pack up and head home right then), knowing it would eventually pass. We were on our way back anyway. But each and every step felt like it was taking every drop of my energy to make. We were only walking for an hour, but it took everything out of me. I was right though, eventually the pain did pass. I did a few things that usually work to get my energy back and some of them helped, though it took a few days of recouping at home to fully recover.

Since then, it’s been a fairly quick downhill. I’ve been doing everything I can to ignore the pain, knowing that if I focus on a thing, it always ends up getting worse. I said that I wouldn’t see a doctor until either I had more free time (after my current work contract ends in a year), or until it was impacting my work.

Earlier this week, I ended up calling in and booking with my GP for the end of the month (thankfully a day I already had off).

I’ve gotten to the point where, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t ignore the pain. I’m notorious for avoiding medication until I absolutely need it. (Trained myself out of needing my inhalers for asthma in high school that way. Also took way less pain medication than I should have after my surgery a year ago.) I’m choosing to sit over stand all the time. It often takes me close to a minute to get to standing from sitting on the floor or ground. I’m starting to seriously consider taking the odd dose of ibuprofen.

Yesterday, I went out for a walk with a friend of mine. For the first time in a very, very long time, I asked someone to slow down. She was walking too fast for me! Just a few months ago it was her asking me to slow down. We ended up wandering around town for almost 2 hours before finally stopping somewhere that I could sit. I realized then that it was the longest I’d been vertical continuously in weeks. After we kept going, she lit up a joint (weed, for the uninformed). She’s got a medical exemption for it and has been trying to get me to try it and see if it does anything helpful for me. I have tried weed several times in the past and have had zero effect from it even when everyone I’m with does. She had gotten me to try it once with her before and it didn’t work then. Yesterday, at the end of our walk, she pulled out her joint and asked if I wanted to get high. I laughed and reminded her of the futility, but said I’d try again if she was okay with potentially wasting her weed. We have different ideas of what classifies it as wasting, so we shared the joint. As per my history, I didn’t feel any different afterwards. When we got back to her place, the three of us (me, her, and her boyfriend who’d not gone on the walk) snuggled on the couch together and watched some movies. I left about 2 hours later and on my walk to the bus I realized that I was walking normally for the first time in a long time. My pain was significantly reduced! The effects lasted until after midnight (smoked at about 730) before they started to fade. I still felt less pain and more energy when I woke in the morning (no more sleep than usual). But, by noon, I was almost back to where I’d been before the walk. By evening, I was so done that I couldn’t force myself to stand long enough to chop veggies. Even sitting, I needed breaks.

It’s a sad comedown. It’s not what I want, not what I ever saw of myself. I’m hopeful that the answer will come back from the doc that it’s celiac (there’s a history of it in my family and I was born allergic to wheat, it’s high probability). That’ll be the easiest answer. I’m worried, however, that I’ll be facing another round of test after test to find out sometime down the line that it’s actually something like fibromyalgia or MS, things that will be with me for the rest of my life either staying where they’re at or slowly getting worse.

I’m coping, I’m trying not to focus on it too much. And I’m seeing the doctor soon. It’ll be okay. Right?