I don’t know about you, but 2018 has been a total shit show for me.
It started with my migraines going from roughly 5-10 a month in 2017 to 20-30 a month. Mind you, back in November of 2017, I’d started seeing a registered nutritionist, and we’d begun working on identifying and eliminating diet factors that could be contributing to my migraines. So by March of 2018, I’d lost 30 pounds, hey, I guess 2018 wasn’t a total wash and was free of literally anything that could trigger a migraine.
However, that didn’t stop the migraines. From March 17 to May 1st I endured a continuous nonstop migraine that started and ended as suddenly and without cause as it began. During that time I was hospitalized, received a spinal tap, a blood patch, had several tests, went to the Mayo Clinic all while still being a mom, a wife, and trying to be a functional human somehow.
I somehow managed to finish out one of my MFA classes while in the hospital and recovering from a spinal tap that went sideways, not to mention with a lot of support from a really fantastic professor and from my husband and kids, I ended with an A that term. But for the next semester I took a leave of absence in the hopes that over the summer, my neurologist and I could figure out how to get my migraines under control.
By June though, I realized that I was very seriously and majorly depressed and that I was once more battling suicide ideation. Being in constant and invisible-to-everyone-else pain made me feel secluded. Everything I loved to do, every activity including reading and writing, including exercise, including being with friends, talking to them, watching tv and movies, going outside, painting, singing, dancing, design—everything slowly and most assuredly began to be drained of color.
I once more found myself crumbling and fading out to grey. On the inside I was a wreck of spiraling and out of control emotions because the longer I endured this invisible pain, and the more people asked me if I had tried this or tried that, and the more people asked me if maybe the pain wasn’t real, perhaps it was in my head, like maybe I was making it up, I really started to question my own sanity, the more I withdrew from others and the more I pulled into myself and the less I went out and the less I talked about what I was going through.
At the end of the day, people meant well. People always mean well. I don’t believe anyone ever intends harm. But the lack of empathy, the lack of understanding, the lack of ears that were willing actually to hear and listen without speaking, made me sink into the deepest darkest places of myself where there are no friendly faces to be found, where there is nothing but negative self-talk and self-loathing.
The smart thing to do would have been for me to ask for someone to listen to me. To hold their advice. To keep it to themselves. Because while I appreciated their desire to help, what I needed instead was their comfort. Or a hug. Or simply just their company.
In lieu of asking for what I needed, in trying not to offend, I just further harmed myself instead.
To make matters worse, I single-handedly ostracized myself from the non-profit that I’d been a volunteer for and been creating marketing and publicity materials for since the end of 2016.
How’d I do that? Well, I’ll tell you. I made a grab for power sometime in July, and that didn’t go well for me. Remember the fragile mental health thing? Well, nobody needs a suicidal train wreck as the poster child for their Christian moms’ group. Except I sort of missed the memo on that, and I kept trying to make a reach for the top spot. I had the right intentions. Just not the right timing. Or the right mental state.
In the end, I lost two of my best friends. I lost my position on the team. (I ended up stepping down because I was still getting 5-7 migraines a week and I was feeling overwhelmed and didn’t know how to communicate that effectively.) And I wasn’t given credit for an entire campaign’s worth of marketing materials that I created including logos, t-shirts, the website, business cards and postcards.
It was a hard and much overdue lesson my oversized ego needed. It was a lesson in humility and how to communicate effectively and how to work in a team. In the end, I needed the break. But I miss the people. I always miss the people.
I was so filled with shame, for how I’d let everyone down, that I comforted myself that at least we sat on opposite sides of the church. At least I could survive my humiliation, still worship Jesus on Sunday, and slip out of service with the reasonable expectation that I’d not actually ever have to be confronted with my shame each and every single week. In sum. My debacle was survivable.
If it wasn’t also glaringly obvious, I also had something of a faith crisis this year too. Which, being completely honest (as if I haven’t been this entire time), isn’t new for me. I have a tendency to grapple with many things faith-wise and church-wise, so this year dealing with a church-run group and the drama that was associated with it and all the internal issues that I was dealing with myself at the time had me questioning a lot of things this year.
By September, the school year started up again, and my children were suddenly no longer with me all the time. And that long-held desire to have another child began to swell, and then it started to fester and then it started to rot in my heart as the more I shared this hurt with people whom I trusted and some I shouldn’t have, I was confronted with the reality that: hey, I already have two children, I should be happy. And, I have my boy and my girl, I’m all set. But the empty platitudes that were offered to this hurting earnest heart that had been yearning without explanation and without reason for almost a year and a half for this simple desire could not merely be pacified by wanton phrases. These phrases came off as callous and sometimes cruel, and while I recognized that they weren’t meant to be, it didn’t sting any less at the time.
October was a blur as I spent half of it in a 14-day migraine stint. I will say that there are mercies in this life because I had a four-day break when my best friend visited from California. For those four days, I felt like I hadn’t had a migraine in years. It was pure euphoria. In a way, it’s kind of magical, because I almost start to forget what it’s like to have a migraine.
The good days are good. The bad days are bad. It’s as simple as that.
I had 22 migraine days in November. 11 of them were continuous. I don’t remember most of November except that I rescued a half-dead kitten on voting day right outside of the polls. I also remember Thanksgiving because I wanted to throw something, anything, potatoes even, at my brother-in-law, but that’s pretty typical for me where he is concerned and also a story for another day.
And now, to top it all off, my not-even-3-month-old kitten is at the vet on the verge of dying because she decided to eat the chicken swathed in onions and garlic that my 4-year-old left on the table last night because he doesn’t eat anything that isn’t smothered in cheese, pepperoni, and tomato sauce.
So, if all of that doesn’t spell total shit show to you, then I don’t know what possibly could.
If anyone is looking forward to the New Year, it’s this girl right here.
So here’s to a brand new year and a fresh start. Here’s looking forward to brighter things and positive vibes. Here’s looking at you 2019. May you not suck total ass.
UPDATE: Jan 4, 2019 1:34pm
Sweet Pea fought really hard, but she passed away on January 1, 2019 just before 2pm. She is the first pet that I’ve lost and it’s been a really rough time for the kids and me. We miss her so much and we loved her dearly.