Accepting my illnesses.

A few days ago, I finally spoke aloud to a medical officer that “I may have bipolar disorder.”

He was prescribing me medication and asked me to choose between 2. He recommended one, and when I asked about the side effects (you always need to ask), he’d said, “Oh, nothing much, unless you have a psychological disorder.” When I replied to that, his face held a thoughtful look before he said, “Okay, thank you for telling me. We’ll go for the other one.”

I don’t know but the feeling I’d had then – relief? defiance? peace? – eventually led to me walking out the room with the beginnings of self-acceptance. I’ve been struggling with many things recently, one of which my identity and enough-ness (because who am I now that I cant do many of the things I used to do?) but I am slowly learning that my ‘self’ is in a constant state of motion and I’m always a work-in-progress. After the PTSD diagnosis on top of the pre-existing panic disorder, this is another step to healing.

I had so many panic attacks today that left me spent at my table trying so hard to be kind to myself and fighting the urge to hide, despite my kids being so thoughtful and kind. My counsellor had sat across from me during the last session and jotted down all the things I was vomitting out. When I kept silent for a count, she showed me all the things she’d written down and quietly said, “I’m just really, really glad you’re still here. You don’t even realise the amount you’ve been carrying.”

Like Kak Ayu once proudly told me on our first meeting, with “I am HIV Positive” sprawled across her chest – “If I don’t accept my story, how can I expect others to accept me?”, I’ll learn to dance with the shadows and have tea with my demons again. I’ll sit with this emerging new self and learn her quirks and fancies, her fears and boundaries, and walk with her in compassion towards our shared future.

I’ll learn to hold space in love and kindness for myself, to keep dancing in grace in this new part of my story, and to seek in a Greater Love. I’ll seek ability from Him, by His power, and from His immense bounty. For indeed He has power, and I am powerless; He has knowledge and I know not; and He is the Greatest Source of Love.

This is a war the illness will not win. I shall not even wage one to begin with.

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