In case you hadn't heard: I had a hysterectomy and more than a pound of scar tissue removed two weeks ago. My human body is a miracle of processes that are healing my insides like a sci fi movie! But wow it's a long recovery full of sleeping and eating and hydrating followed by more sleep.
You know what's harder than that? Mental illness.
Sadly, instead of being equals, only one of those topics can be comfortably talked about away from the blog where I put all my feels. You got it! It's the one where I tell people robots pulled my baby house out of a hole sliced in my belly button. Less awkward than depression, woohoo!
Even in scenarios where all health topics should be equal. Yesterday I looked my gynecologist in the eye during my post op and discussed with a straight face for ten minutes whether the last minute removal of my benign tumor covered cervix made my vagina shorter since I read some angry woman on the on the internet saying they twist tie it off like a sausage where it used to connect me to my uterus--and it was a relatively PLEASANT conversation!
Then I made the mistake of mentioning that I have ADHD and have been battling insomnia for years so my psychiatrist had recommended I speak to my gyno about getting my hormones checked, he agreed abruptly, no more eye contact, turned his back to me to click around on the computer, gave a referral to another doc in the office and got the heck out of dodge.
Jon was there so I checked, I wasn't being weird or intense, crying, eating cotton balls, staring without blinking. I wasn't even off topic, it's particularly ON topic after this procedure! I didn't ask for more pain killers OR a prescription for Adderall, I just wanted some information about my hormones especially in relation to mental wellness, particularly sleep.
This happens to me all the time, I say something that makes me feel like I have to apologize to doctors for being a complex creature, a person who is always trying to find the line of what is relevant in a conversation to my whole body health and wellness progress. I'm not mad at him. He's a great gynecologist+surgeon so it's not hard to imagine uncovering the rhyme and reasons of "emotions" isn't a high priority in his professional wheelhouse-- but it still proves my point; mental health takes more time, more time means less patients, less patients means less fun cutting people open and less $$ for the second home in the Bahamas.
I don't blame people for being PEOPLE, I would also like a second home on the beach if I went to school for 30 years and looked at hoo-haws all day long! I just wish he hadn't bolted out of the room. It makes me feel stupid, and in the past, might have discouraged me from following up.
Another insane thing? I was nervous and upset leading up to my surgery, but I also looked FORWARD to it so I could plan to use that time to transition off some meds and come out the other side of this with a clean slate to begin *more/new* regimens of clean eating, exercise, essential oils, pre bedtime rituals, and studied careful applications of medications that enhance my quality of life from a mental standpoint. Because weaning from medications while totally awake? IS AWFUL AND SLOW AND AWFUL.
That worked! I'm off! Hooray! Right? Well, except, even though my stomach hurts and is definitely still healing...it's kind of a relief to have the "pain hall pass" to keep out of life for a little longer. Yes, I just said that out loud and no, it's not a pain killer addiction since I quit those two days after I got home, but my mind? I'm alone with my thoughts a lot, I'm watching my handsome best friend (aka husband) shuttle kids, help me, go to work, and I am in a slow motion penalty box, puttering around the house, finding jobs I can sit for long periods of time doing like organizing craft supplies, going through old clothes for donate stuff, randomly painting a light fixture, all wondering how I am supposed to merge back into REAL life and pick up some momentum without getting drawn into the cycles that were going on before this big time out.
Not the physical part. That part I am chomping at the bit for! Even with incisions I FEEL better in my TRUNK, in my core, no one knew about the scar tissue, I was all tied up. Physical health? I know how to do that part, how exciting I am not fighting my own body this time! But the never sleeping, the impulsive decisions, the social anxiety, the disembodied feeling when I get overwhelmed by choices in the store and leave with items I don't need and not what I came for pretty much every time. Sometimes I cry in frustration when I get home and feel extra stupid because I always make a list and it never helps. Of course trying to avoid this has led to personally funding my local UPS driver's yearly salary with the amount of Amazon prime boxes he brings to our doorstep each week.
I SUFFER FROM EXTREME CARDBOARD GUILT. I'm SORRY. I will stop...
In the last two years between the physical and the mental health struggles that go on daily in my home, I have pulled out of life. I stand by those choices, they were small but often and built up to create an introvert fortress where I could take care of myself and my family, but the emergencies are over. Now I have to stand in this safe place, examine my life options...and put down the drawbridge to rejoin life.
I'm daunted and a little scared. I don't know, human things, worrying I'm not funny or relevant anymore. That happens, right? Public situations make me nervous because for the first time in my life I don't have stories, I'm not doing anything with my free time I'm interested in or proud of, I'm not positive who or what I am right now, and I don't relate to people who can leave their house without a ten minute self help pep talk!
In the back of my head, I still know (hope), I'm a survivor and a fighter. I'm an artist always looking for or scheming my next project. I LIKE people. I think life is hard and I have discernment, but I don't judge. I meet people all the time, and I enjoy that, but I don't enjoy getting to know people well enough that I can let them down. Sigh, it's a fine line. I think I am capable of what life can offer me, and I have a lot to put back in the world. THAT is what is waiting for me, LIFE is where I am heading. Right?
I'm not ashamed to admit that stuff because we all go through these ebbs and flows.
The part that really makes me sad and frustrated about getting back in the world, is medicine, i.e. how Adderall connects my mind so I can be present and think through choices before I make them and/or be successful at *the grocery store!*, but has side effects that can require other medications that also have side effects--an extra frustrating dance because the song can change any minute for no reason. There is a part of me so weary of the DJ who puts on the groovy slow tunes with 30 seconds of slow dance beats before it suddenly turns into a spazzy high tempo jig-- making already awkward life moments MORE AWKWARD.
I call that song AMBIEN, btw.
Mostly, I think I'm writing this because I thought people should know (feel validated or gather some ability to empathize for someone in their own life) that my stark truth about mental health? If I could have a painful 8 week long recovery surgery EVERY year in exchange for not having ADHD, insomnia, anxiety and depression, not knowing which one is going to strike next, or how best to dance to the medication+side effects song that give me access to my best self? I wouldn't even blink, I would do it.
I just wish it was as *easy* (haha) to talk about this stuff as it is to ask a strange dude who's got a nurse and a flashlight pointed at my nether regions if he can still yell "echo!" down my birth canal and hear a response. I wish the stigma that is lifting would lift faster. I wish I could afford the facilities where people go to get centered and have experts analyze their medicines while they safely detox from prescriptions and make healthy life plans for their current stage of life. For heavens sake, I would settle for my insurance covering acupuncture and/or a nutritionist! Today I wish mental wellness could just be part of the dialogue of being human already, and I pray everyday that by the time my children are old enough to be raising children, mental health coverage and opportunities will be boundless and considered as vital as any other kind of health care.
P.S. I'm not cranky as I sound, tomorrow is my birthday! My boyfriend Amazon Prime Now is cued up to bring me ice cream all day to enjoy between protein bars and I continue to love the damn dog so damn much! He's my bestest friend in the whole wide world, yes he is. (said out loud as I wrote it in the ridiculous voice my damn dog deserves and loves.) He is also my bestest NURSE and he cares ALL about my mental health. It's his favorite!! I just asked him.