Tag Archives: Stress

On a serious note

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Today is my uncle’s third deathniversary.

 Of all my extended family, my Uncle B and I were the closest.  He was incredibly sensitive, kind, hysterically funny and very intuitive when it came to feelings of others, particularly mine.  My brother spent a year in Iraq and B remains the only person I’ve ever talked to about it in depth.  He knew how scared I was, how badly I was handling it, and some of the thoughts I had about it that really bothered me. He went out of his way to check on me with phone calls, emails or funny forwards everyday of his deployment.  My parents didn’t even do that; it meant the world to me.

 Three years and two weeks ago, unbeknownst to most of my family, he moved in with my grandmother while trying to work out some extreme marital difficulties.  Believe me when I say most of us had no idea.  I still have emails from those weeks where NOTHING is off.  No weird tone, no signs of depression, no mention of any problems he was experiencing with his wife.

 Three years ago this morning, my grandmother went to water aerobics.  We have put together this much:  around 11:10, B called his attorney and got  devastating news.  Around 11:35, another uncle had a missed call. My grandmother returned home later and found B in her garage.  Self inflicted gunshot.

What happened after that I hope that none of you ever experience.  Reactions that ran the emotional gamet.  Mine was extreme rage.  Not at my uncle, mind you, but at his wife.  Anger so pervasive that I would lay in bed at night unable to sleep and so overwhelming that I had a hard time breathing.  My dad wouldn’t allow me to attend the funeral because I couldn’t promise I wouldn’t make a scene if his wife showed up.  And relationships with her torn beyond repair to this day: imagine two separate obituaries and two separate funerals.  In the same town.  Because when you are trying to keep a suicide quiet, that is a sure fire way to fly under the radar, right?

 Imagine what that did to my RA.   I was newly diagnosed and newly on meds.  My symptoms went from a 4/10 to an 9/10 overnight. Anxiety and sleep medications interfered with the efficacy of the RA meds.  And I was in no way, shape or form even pretending to try to take care of myself.

 I guess what I want to say is that I know as a part of our experience, we do experience depression and anxiety while we’re trying to manage our symptoms. I hope we all know that experiencing it and seeking help for it is not a sign of weakness.  Actually, I think it’s an extraordinary show of strength.  I’ve done it and I hope if you are ever in that boat that you do too.  I was pleased to learn that there are counselors specializing in pretty much every area- I’ve been to both grief counseling and one that specializes in chronic illness.   Well worth the investment!

 We’re all strong people here and we’re doing all we can do to live with our respective illnesses.  I think it’s so important that we’ve found each other and continue to talk and support each other.  Knowing that you are not alone is a huge thing.

I wish everyone had that.  I wish my uncle had that.

 I still look for him at holidays and family functions.  From what I hear, that will never go away.  I still cry about it if I think about it too long and I will probably never talk to my “aunt” again, especially since she hasn’t allowed my grandmother to see my uncle’s young son since his death.  I think that’s shittier than shitty.  I  choose to think about him everytime I hear an AC/DC song- I did that because it’s one thing that I don’t associate with the pain of losing him.  And yes, there’s a GREAT story behind that. I miss him and love him like crazy and am incredibly thankful for the limited time that I had with him. 

 And I’m very thankful for all of you.

BAM!

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And out of nowhere, I’m in full on flare mode.  Laying on the couch, called out of work, nauseous, achy, absolutely no appetite even though I haven’t really eaten in awhile, wrapped around a pillow because that’s the only thing that feels good right now mode..

Not sure why.  I’m no more stressed or upset than normal.  (Although it’s kinda sad that I recognize that lately my “normal” has a continual level of stressed and upset.)  Maybe it’s just a lot of things catching up with me?  Who knows.  All I know is that I’m pissed.  Effing body.  I’M SUPPOSED TO BE THE BOSS OF YOU.  I feed you, I clean you, I clothe you, I spend ridiculous amounts of money on medication for you…..this is really damn disrespectful.

RA- you can officially suck it.  This is so unfair.

Thoughts…

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I’ve been pretty reflective lately about a bunch of things; amongst them, the events and circumstances surrounding my diagnosis, and how I’m just kinda shocked about where I am in my life right now.  Don’t get me wrong- I’m doing good- it’s just if you’d told me ten years ago that today I’d be dealing with all of this, I would never have believed you.  In fact, sometimes I still am shocked and in a lot of ways, I still haven’t really dealt with a lot of the things I feel about my RA.

10 years ago, I was 19.  I was super active and probably too skinny.  I took dance lessons still (ballet and jazz) and I went to the gym to watch the hot guys play basketball.  I was kinda flighty and spacy, emotional and sensitive, and more interested in having fun than much else.  I hadn’t discovered running yet.  I’m pretty sure I thought that those aspects of my personality would still be there today.

10 years later, I’m trying so hard to be active. I have 10 pounds to lose although I’d love to lose 15.  I do lots of run walks.  I want to dance again so badly but I’m not sure if my feet can handle it.  I still go to the gym to watch the hot guys play basketball. Flightiness and spaciness has turned into sarcasm and witty banter.  Overly emotional and overly sensitive- things that would’ve upset me several years ago really hurt me today.  I think that’s actually the worst part.  

Don’t worry- I’m not in a bad time right now.  I’m just trying to process things.  I really miss the Amanda of 10 years ago. Heck, I miss the Amanda of 5 years ago.  I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped to mourn that loss so I guess that’s what I’m trying to do now.

I’m still here….

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Just majorly in transition right now and kinda freaking out.  You see, I’ve been in Greenville for 11 years.  I moved there in 1998 to go to college and just never left.  I knew moving was going to rock my world but I didn’t imagine I would be this on edge.  But I like my job, found a great condo near downtown, and am working on the friend thing.  Right now, I’m feeling pretty alone and lonely.  But all in good time.  First, I have to get the rest of my stuff here.  That happens Saturday.

Oh, and the feline relocation was terrible.  She bit and scratched me getting into the carrier and cried for 2 hours.  Fun, fun!

More coming soon….

Sacrifice

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I totally forgot to “publish” a post I wrote for Memorial Day.  So, let’s just all pretend that it’s still Monday for a second.

10 years ago, Memorial Day’s only real significance to me was that my neighborhood pool opened and there was usually a jamming cookout that night. 

But allow me to introduce you to my sweet “little” brother.

Daniel with gun

When 9/11 happened, I was a senior in college and he was a sophomore in college.  While I was watching CNN in tears, he marched down to the Marine Corps recruiter and signed on the dotted line.  He went to boot camp that summer, spent the next year in CA, came home to finish college, and was sent to Iraq the summer after he graduated.  And I couldn’t be prouder of him.

Iraq was horrible for him- he was in a rough area, saw and did some things that he will probably never talk to us about, and has had some problems since coming home.  He can’t count how many times he was thrown from vehicles because they came under fire.  There are several occasions where he’s unsure if he lost consciousness or was just simply stunned after the concussion of an explosion. He actually had an IED land at his feet and not go off.  He was standing next to a good friend when his friend was hit by a sniper and didn’t know for a week if he had survived or not.  (He did, and after many surgeries, likes to tell people that he’s finally watertight again.) He’s doing better now and I feel very blessed to have him home in one piece when so many other families are not that lucky.  If none of you have been through deployments on the family side of it, it’s torture.  The hardest part is that he knows when he’s safe and when he’s not so he knows when to worry.  The family doesn’t….so you just worry 24/7.  And you stop watching the news.  Because they only report on the bad and crying through dinner gets old really fast.  Trust me.

For those of you who don’t know, I started experiencing symptoms of RA a month to the day after I learned about his deployment.  I do not find this coincidental.  I’ve always experienced stress physically rather than emotionally.  Go figure.  Does it suck?  Yes.  Are my achy joints worth having my brother home with us again?  ABSOLUTELY.  I would give up them up all over again if I thought it would keep him safe.

We all sacrifice things along the way.  Sometimes it’s pretty shoes/clothes.  Sometimes it’s an educational opportunity.  Sometimes it’s activities we love because of physical limitations.  But, I know personally, I haven’t chosen to give any of these things up but rather it was something I had to deal with.  To choose to sacrifice a year of your life, of your time with your loved ones, and to embrace the possibility of sacrificing your life….the hugeness of it overwhelms me.   

10 years later, Memorial Day is still a 3 day weekend.  It still gives me pool time when Mother Nature doesn’t hate me.  But, most importantly, it’s a time to say thank you and to say “I recognize that you have given up yourself to do something to protect me and the things that I hold dear.”