taking my time with recovery

cw: discussion of health conditions, mental illness, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, grief

recovery is not linear and there isn’t really a finish line.

it’s often difficult to remind myself that there’s something better out there, that it’s worth it to keep pushing myself forward.

i did not ask for my chronic illness, no one ever really does. a large part of me wants to be angry, to storm into the offices of the countless doctors who did not believe me or my symptoms, who did not have the time to listen to such a young person speak about such profound pain.

it took over ten years of searching, ten years of going to doctor after doctor after doctor, ten! years! of wondering if it was just me, if this was normal, if this was how everybody felt all the time and i’m just the only person who couldn’t handle it.

for those of you who don’t yet know and those of you i have not yet met, i have bipolar disorder and ehlers-danlos syndrome, among a myriad of other conditions (it’s never just one, is it?). i’ve fought through incredible pain, days that i could not force myself to get out of bed, days that i have not eaten more than the particles of air i’ve breathed.

i’ve survived eating disorders, honest-to-god OCD (and not the quirky TV kind), self-harm, suicidal ideation. there are days that i am furious that i did not get to fully enjoy my upbringing, that i was always wondering when i would be able to sleep more, when i’d be allowed to go home, whether or not i could get away with another absence.

having words to describe this horrific menagerie of symptoms hasn’t actually fixed anything. there are days that my own muscles are attempting to rend themselves from my bones. there are days that snowball from bad to worse to worst. there are days that imagining another ten, twenty, fifty years of this is simply too much to process.

but it has armed me with new vocabulary, words i can wear and wield, phrases i can cast out to the sea of indifference and catch others like me. searching for community isn’t like navigating minefields: diagnoses may bring the death of hoping for a cure, but they also bring the reassurance that no, you aren’t making this up, and no, this isn’t “normal”.

this is all to say that it’s okay to give yourself time to heal.

you are allowed to feel angry, to seethe with rage, to so desperately desire retribution for the suffering you’ve endured.

you’re allowed to be scared, to hear your own voice shake and feel your body tremble, to long for anything other than what lies before you.

you’re allowed to mourn the life you think you should have had.

you’re allowed to exist. to take up space. to be ugly and messy and unfit for human consumption.

but what i’ve slowly been learning is that while i am always allowed to feel the things i feel and wish for the things i wish for, only ever doing these things will not magically correct these cosmic wrongs in my life.

in a sense, it’s only slapping a fresh coat of paint on a house that needs new support beams.

while i may have trouble containing my fury on days that i cannot even put my feet on the floor in the morning, there are still so many days that i get to sit on my balcony with my dog and my cat and watch the world go by.

while there are days that ingesting anything other than water causes years of trauma to come crashing back, there are still so many meals that i get to eat that remind me what joy and love and family taste like.

i cannot stop every anxiety that intrudes on my inner peace, i cannot soothe every ache that pierces down to my very soul.

there are many things i cannot do, and that is a reality i have been working on accepting.

but there are also so, so, so many things i can do, things that i absolutely can’t wait to do!

yes, i know my future still holds several lifetimes’ worth of physical and emotional pain, but i have never been more certain that there is still so so so many lifetimes’ worth of love and happiness and hope.

maybe i’ll live another fifty years, maybe i’ll have to say goodbye tomorrow, but i’ll be damned if i’m not going to fight tooth and nail to be able to look back on the life i’ve lived and know that it could not have been lived any better.

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