Proportional Pain and My Guilty Genes

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Scrabble doesn’t come with a question mark, so we’ll have to make do without one

There once was a girl (A) who didn’t pass her cheerleader tryouts, and she was upset. There was also a girl (B) whose boyfriend dumped her, and she was upset. But then there was a girl (C) whose friend was dying of cancer, and she was upset.

Before us we have three (fictional) girls, and each is upset. Who, in your opinion, is most upset?

Please don’t answer that because it’s a trick question. I believe that it’s not fair to compare people’s pain because each is suffering in their own right. So yes, one situation seems way more serious than the others, but does that mean that the other two aren’t upset and don’t have a right to be? No. The fact that one person is worried about cancer and the other is worried about boys doesn’t mean that the one worrying about boys isn’t distraught and in pain, and you can’t discount that.

That said, I am human and sometimes I fail at upholding my own high standards. I look at this girl who is throwing a tantrum because she didn’t get the teacher she wanted for a certain subject and can’t stop thinking about girls in many parts of the world who have to fight to get an education, and often don’t win. I want to scream at her, “just appreciate what you have!”

But then those thoughts lead me to one of the most depressing inner conversations I regularly have. I know I’m suffering, and I know my pain is real, but at the same time look at the world, look at how many people live in terrible pain due to poor hygiene and distance from medical help, and see how many of them continue living completely normally. In comparison, I’m just acting like a baby. But those thoughts don’t make my pain go away and it still gets in the way of me doing everything people my age do.

So when I have these conversations, I force myself to the conclusion that it is important to keep things in proportion and not feel too sorry for myself, because compared to some my troubles are not that bad. I do think you need to keep going and try to pick yourself up, and that’s what I do. But there is also a real reason for sadness, and it’s okay to let yourself feel it.

When someone I know is suffering from a horrible headache, I bite my tongue and never let the “now you know how I feel all the time” escape. But I always think it. It’s not that I think their pain is lesser because it’s a one off thing, it’s just that it gets frustrating when people have no way to understand what I’m going through. I want him or her, for just a minute, to try to imagine what it’s like to feel what he or she is feeling every day and how hard it would be to manage.

Then I feel guilty. For not focusing solely on the person I’m with, but mostly for treating myself like I’m the top-sufferer, like I’m the most unfortunate. I promise you I do not forget how lucky I am to have everything that I have. But then after feeling guilty, I feel even guiltier because it’s almost like I just betrayed myself by my sort of accusation that I’m just exaggerating.

It’s exhausting.

So to girl A I say that there will be more opportunities in life and this way she’ll have more free time to hang out with her friends. To girl B I say that he’s a fool for breaking up with her and if she ever needs a wing-woman I’m her girl. To girl C I tell her how sorry I am and offer her my shoulder.

I allow myself only a minute to contemplate how it seems no one is ever that happy.

 

Yours truly,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

I find it hard to take, when people run in circles it’s a very, very mad world. -Mad World, Tears for Fears

 

Next Week:

My Relationship with Taylor Swift

Get ready to tweet along with me using #TaylorReadThis, because I need your help getting her to see it! So as of next Sunday when I put it up, we’re going to bombard twitter with this hash tag and the link to the post and try to get her attention. You with me?!

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Oblivion

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For always, I’ve been worried about death. To just… disappear like that? No one will ever be able to know just who you were. Your history and experiences are recorded nowhere. All of the thoughts you’ve thought, all of your feelings… they’re just gone. Never to be seen again.

Sure, your family will remember you, and your friends. But you won’t exist anymore. Ever.

It’s scary. Here I am, a living, breathing human being. And in seconds, I can be gone, along with everything I feel inside. And just like that, I’ll never be able to talk to anyone again, I’ll never see another person, I’ll never hug anyone, and I’ll never get to experience new things. Suddenly the latest conversation I had with every person will be the last.

I’m not conceited enough to think that the world will be any different without me. If I die, I’ll just die. Simple. I want someone to tell me that the world will be a less good place without me in it. That I’m important, that I’m worth something. I try to spread goodness around me, and I try to make a positive imprint. I write down my feelings so that they can’t be lost. I save pieces of things that mean something to me. I don’t want to disappear. But I don’t have a choice in the matter, not really.

I’m not going to end my own life. That’s not what all these thoughts about death are about. It’s about the opposite: I don’t want to die. Because then I won’t be alive anymore.

Yours truly,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Oblivion is calling out your name. -Oblivion, Bastille

I Am Strong

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I’m done. I am done with being sick. I don’t care if my body agrees with me or not. I am ready to be healthy again. My fears will all go away. My worries will come to naught. My strength will come to light.

It’s time to get my life back. No, that’s wrong: it’s not time to get my life back, it’s time to get my life. A life in which I am able to achieve what I set my mind to, a life in which I am no longer held back by things that are not in my control, a life in which I am free.

Freedom is a simple word with a simple concept. The definition of freedom is:

1. The power or right to determine action (think, speak, act) as one wants without hindrance or restraint

2. Exemption from external control, interference, regulation etc.

3. The quality or state of being free

But the truth is, that freedom means something completely different for each and every one of us. There are the technical definitions of the word, and then there are the definitions we hear about in songs, read about in books, hear about from the people we look up to and figure out for ourselves.

I’ve been waiting for freedom for a long time. I haven’t been sitting around waiting for a phone call to tell me I’m free. I’ve been working hard. I don’t think that sheer will power is going to make my Fibro go away. If that were true, it would have happened already. I’m not sure I believe that the current treatment plan will help me. I don’t know if this will ever go away.

But I do believe that I am strong. Until now, I was hoping that my strength would help me through. Well, I’m done with that. Now, today, I know that my strength will help me through. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but I am strong and it will happen. I don’t care that this week was bad, that I was clearly not better this week. I don’t care that I don’t get to eat comfort food. I don’t care that I have to force myself to exercise even when my body is screaming with pain, trying to shut down because it doesn’t agree with me that I should be moving.

I care about the fact that I don’t get to participate in things with my friends. I care about the people who have been with me all this time. I care about getting better. It’s time.

Are you with me?

Yours truly,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

If the clouds don’t clear, then we’ll rise above it, we’ll rise above it. –Before the Worst, The Script

 

 

Quotes about freedom that I used in a speech I wrote last year:

Freedom is not worth having at all if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. -Mahatma Gandhi

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.  -Coco Chanel

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. -S.G, Tellntyre

You wanna fly, you have to give up the sh*t that weighs you down. -Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew — and so do I, thought Harry, with a fierce rush of pride, and so did my parents — that there was all the difference in the world.  – JK Rowling

Never Feeling It Again

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There were two days last week that came and went without my headache showing up, and I’m scared. It doesn’t make any sense to be scared, I should be happy that I might be getting better. Actually, I should be way more than happy, I should be ecstatic! But I’m not. And I’m trying to figure out why.

I’ve waited for this day for so long, for a day that’s headache-free. It’s been over two years since I’ve had one. Every single freakin’ day I have pain. There’s really no exception. But I’ve been on a new treatment plan, made up of three components: a concoction of herb extracts (nicknamed “potion”) taken twice a day, acupuncture, and a gluten-free, dairy-free, processed-free diet. I was told that if I follow the plan, I should be feeling much better after three months. To say I had full faith in it would be a gross exaggeration. I’ve been told that many times before. In fact, two and a half years ago I was told my recovery time frame will be two-three months.

But because I had two days without a headache, everyone around me asked me if I’m feeling better. Actually, I was told by other people that I’m feeling better, based on my behavior, apparently. So I started to really believe it. Excited, I happily shared the news with just about everyone that I might be getting better.

But now I know what I’m scared of. What if this is a fluke? What if this week is just a hiccup, and I go back to my sorry state and stay sick for many more years to come? And now everyone thinks I’m getting better, everyone is going to expect me to act healthy and be happy and yadda yadda yadda. I’m going to have to play the thankful survivor who made it out of the darkest time in her life. But I don’t want to! First of all I don’t want to do that even if I do keep getting better, and I especially don’t want to if I don’t keep getting better.

It’s like suddenly there’s all this pressure.

What if I don’t know how to be healthy? Oh great, I’m crying again. I hate when this happens. But seriously, what if I don’t? It’s been so long. Being healthy is something I dream about, not something realistic. I’m so used to being sick by now. It’s just my life, and it has been for a while. All this time I’ve viewed fibro as something that’s holding me back. But how much of it is ingrained in me already? How much of the sick person will disappear once I’m no longer sick? This isn’t just a blip in my medical history, it’s become (unfortunately) a part of who I am. So that’s it? If it even goes away, everyone will just expect it to disappear from me. They’ll think, why is that girl so ungrateful? It’s gone, why is she so caught up in the past?

But… But… I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m still working my hardest to get better, following the plan, exercising, not over-doing myself. And I’m training myself to see the positive in getting better (which is ridiculous, because it’s literally been my dream and goal for years and I’ve just been yearning for it, but now it feels like some impending doom, which probably means there’s something wrong with me and I’m ruined for life), but it’s scary.

It’s scary because I also don’t want to let myself believe it’s happening. What if it doesn’t? Then it’s just this tempting tasting of what I need and it’ll be taken away from me once I stop being scared of it.

Do I even make any sense? My tears are blocking the screen, I can barely follow what I’m writing.

Yours truly,

Ella

Song Quote:

Seems to me like I’m just scared of never feeling it again. –High Hopes, Kodaline

 

P.s. Cameron Von St. James sent me an email the other day, letting me know about a beautiful tradition his family has started since his wife got sick with cancer and needed to have a lung removed. They created a beautiful website (you only get the full experience if you view it on a desktop), and I’d like to share it with all of you:

http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/#.UuTHdf3g7u0

Sharing Is Caring

That’s what I have been taught my whole life. It was the mantra repeated throughout my childhood, and is the nostalgic phrase thrown out in my present. I wholly believe in it.

I’ve had a sharing kind of day. My dad lent me his sweater, I brought some food from home for my friend, another friend shared some of hers with me, I shared my scarf and hat with others who were cold throughout the day, I received yarn as a gift from a friend for whom I knit a hat, and I got a ride home from someone because it was raining. It was all really great, and it got me thinking.

So, sharing is caring, right? We’ve established that. If so, why can’t I share my pain? Why am I the only one of my friends who’s suffering every minute of every day? Why am I the only one who has to worry about her health and her treatments all the time? Why am I the only one who isn’t healthy enough to participate in things?

It’s not that I want my friends to feel like this. I wouldn’t wish Fibromyalgia on anyone, ever. It’s just that I’m frustrated with feeling so alone in it. I can talk about it with my friends, especially a couple of them who are really there for me with this stuff. My class knows what I have (after a really messed up year of it staying a rumor despite the fact that I told everyone what it was). I talk to my parents; they know exactly what I’m going through. All of that is great, and not to be underrated.

But no one feels what I feel. No one knows what it’s like to have this pain, to feel so sick all the time. Anyone who doesn’t feel what I feel the way I feel it would have no way of ever understanding what it’s really like. And that makes me all alone. People care about me, but I can’t share this. I’m the one who wakes up and goes to sleep this way. I’m the one who sits in class with pain travelling through her body. I’m the one who stands talking with people, but is usually actually fighting a migraine, knee pain, exhaustion and more to do so. I’m the one who’s hurting. 

There’s really no solution to all of this. Even this blog isn’t the solution. It helps a lot, don’t get me wrong: seeing positive comments and a show of appreciation for what I write makes my day a lot of times. But it doesn’t take away the pain. I try to keep up with normal life, with the things people my age are doing (by the way, the driving license picture ended up coming out great!). But at the same time, I’m also a really old person: I can predict rain. C’mon, no one my age is supposed to be able to do that. My knees swelled up last week, while my friends were all on vacation in locations around the world, because the weather was changing. And yet I still can’t figure out when to bring my umbrella.

I’m tired of hurting, and of feeling alone. Just tired of it.

Yours truly,

Ella

Song Quote:

It’s taken me a while to tell you, exactly how I feel inside. The words, they may seem simple right now, but they took me a while to find. –Be Alright, Lucy Rose

Shining, Elegant, Weightless White

In an uninspired moment, I tried to think of something to write. My brain seemed to be tired of words. I’m scared fibro is taking over. I wrote this:

Like a thin sheet of aluminum foil,

Wrapped tightly around my forehead.

It’s thin,

But heavy, heavy, heavy.

Pain has turned it into a dark, somber, rusted gray.

 

I imagine white acrylic paint and a paintbrush.

I painstakingly paint every millimeter,

Over and over,

Until the layers are threefold thick.

It’s a shining, elegant, weightless white. 

 

I wave my magic wand,

Wingardium Leviosa,

And it floats before me,

As I observe it in all its glory.

 

When time comes to me,

I open up a stark white pouch,

Place the luminous pain within,

Open up my drawer,

Slide the pouch inside,

And bid it good bye.

 

Until I see you again.

Yours truly,

Ella

Song Quote:

Try and stay out of your head, I have seen you invent the damnedest things there. –Take a Bow, Greg Laswell

(My new ‘song of the week’ is waiting for you on the right side of your screen)

Excavations

Copyright sickandsickofit.wordpress.com

The excavation site

Hidden beneath a pile of other important things in my drawer, lies a folder that is full to the bursting with slips of paper. Every page has some words, written at some point in my life, and when I open that folder, I travel back in time.

It’s amazing really, how I’m instantly transported to how I was feeling, where I was, and what I was doing when I wrote something down. There have been many days in my young life, but the ones that I remember the most are the ones when I had a sudden urge to write- and I took myself up on it.

Sporadically in life, pretty much from age six, I would get bouts of motivation, generally in the direction of: “I’m gonna be a writer!!! I’m gonna get published! I’m going to be in The New York Times!” During one such bout, when I was around twelve years old, I sat cross legged on my bed, and wrote something on a piece of ripped notebook paper. It was my old bedspread, the highly colorful one, and I was staring at the mirror that was glued on the back of my door (before it fell, and broke).

This is what I wrote:

   I wish my mirror were my life. When I look in my mirror, I see what I am meant to be. I see myself with a fancy hair do, all dressed up at my very own book signing. I want to be famous for my writing.

  I look in the mirror, but I don’t look the way I really do. I look like a writer, posing for a picture while she writes her next bestseller.

  My mirror is the only one that knows; knows what my life should look like.

To be honest, there are pieces written in bouts of motivation from when I was much younger than 12, but they’re slightly embarrassing, so my drawer is their permanent residence.

Besides the motivated snippets, the folder is mostly full of products of hard times. It’s sad to think sometimes that most of my poems are ones of great depression, sadness, guilt and discontent. At the same time, that’s what I use my writing for: it’s a place I can turn to when it feels like nothing else is right. To quote the great Oscar Wilde,  “Words! Mere words!… what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of flute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?”

Fast-forwarding a year, I sat after quite a horrible day and wrote this (and I’m making sure not to edit myself, even though I really want to):

Why is the world such a hard place to be?

Why can’t I just spread my wings and be free?

Be heard, be known, for the things I can do,

Let it be known, that I will make it through.

 

I don’t want to think that no one will hear it,

If I fail, I won’t admit it.

I just want a chance to be heard,

Help create a better world.

 

I don’t think that’s taking it too far,

If I just keep trying,

It can’t be too hard,

I will keep reaching for the stars.

 

But it all comes back too:

 

Why is the world such a hard place to be?

Why can’t I just spread my wings and be free?

Be heard, be known, for the things I can create,

If only there wasn’t so much at stake.

 

My hopes my dreams, my innocent will,

To help the world with the best of my skills.

I can write the poem, that comes to terms with the world,

With just that single world that will be heard:

 

Free.

 

But now a tear is tracing its track down my check,

For in writing, it certainly sounds absurd.

 

At least it  has a slightly positive edge to it. Some of these transport me to a really, really bad time. Like this one:

Let’s make the bed,

Fold the dirty clothing,

Pack up our bags,

And hang up the happy drawings.

 

Throw away the tissues,

Return the garbage to its place,

Comb through our hair,

And patch up our face.

 

Strangle all those sobs,

Dry up all those tears,

Leave not one trace of sadness

“I was never here”.

 

There was a lot going on. I had no choice: life kept moving, so I had to as well. I’m worried I might be depressing you all, but I know that I also worry too much (there’s a poem about it). I’ll only share one more with you. I wrote this just last year, when I was worrying about something:

Borders are

As borders go

Separating,

Existing.

 

Some borders are paper thin, hazy, fragile,

But hold within them

The power to destruct.

 

These borders are

Long

Thin

Lines.

 

Tread carefully.

 

But the border, the line, that

Scares me most,

Is the one I balance on when I act

By the sheer power of feeling

Empathy, love, worry.

 

Then I walk the border of

Making

Things

Worse.

A single toe out of line, and that power to destruct

Is free.

 

And on that supremely uplifting note, I will now stop the barrage of sadness, and share some facts of happiness:

  1. I now have a place to write regularly, and it’s full of positivity! I have self-discipline, and write regularly, and you are all lovely people, and leave me uplifting comments. I now can write of happiness, and not just sadness.
  2. I have a much better support system in place than I used to. My family is as great as they always have been, but I now also have a bunch of friends that really care about me.
  3. I have matured since I was 12, and though I still write poems of depression in epic proportions, I also hold on to some perspective. I have a good life, even with Fibromyalgia.
  4. My math test is over! I don’t know if you feel the same way I do, but in my book, this is definitely a fact of happiness. I was stressing out about it so much, but it went really well, so now I believe all my hard work was worth it and I am happy. Next one in three weeks.

 

I hope I have now lifted your spirits after having lowered them. Otherwise, I would feel guilty. There’s a poem about it.

Wishing you all a wonderful day and happy reading,

Yours truly,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind. –Hurricane, Ms Mr

 

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While giving my drawer a photo-shoot, I realized I was photographing one of my most prized possessions: my Song Quotes notebook. It is a beautiful little thing….

 

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A hundred points to anyone who can leave a comment below stating which books are on my shelf… (hint: there are fifteen in the picture). Let the games begin!