Over a decade ago I lived in Portland, Oregon. One of my closest friends there, we’ll call him David, and I used to spend a decent amount of time together. We’d met through similar interests, but we found we had a lot more in common than initially thought.
We’d talk about feeling broken, physically; there was always something wrong. Our physical issues differed, but we both felt less than whole. For me, if it isn’t my severe chronic migraines (which I get relief from maybe three days a month), it’s my generally susceptible health (I get sick far too often, sometimes even if I am taking very good care of myself), or the other nonsense hurts I find myself with.
All that is to say nothing of mental health issues like anxiety and depression, both of which I have and try to manage as best I can.
Last week I got some gnarly food poisoning. I know this can happen to anyone; it sidelined me for several days, and while I was rolling around the couch in pain, I thought about feeling broken.
I’ve often wondered what life must be like for healthy people. What must it be like to wake up in the morning, refreshed? What must it be like to know you can make plans and follow through with them without any caveats being made? What must it be like to not hurt all (or most) of the time?
The last time I remember feeling healthy was just before I got pneumonia in both my lungs at 18. The pneumonia came on quickly, and I was bedridden for a month. I watched Groundhog Day on VHS every day. I had to crawl to the bathroom. After that, though I feel it’s unrelated, I don’t think I ever felt truly healthy again. Shortly after that month, my migraines descended upon me, and have never left. I’ve seen over a dozen specialists in two countries, and no one has ever been able to figure out the cause, or even a treatment, that eliminates them. At one point my neurologist told me, “We’ve literally tried everything.” It was depressing. But I found a new neurologist, anyway.
Sometimes people tell me they hope I feel better. And, while I genuinely appreciate the sentiment, it seems unlikely I will ever feel “better.” I’ve had these for over 20 years now with little relief. My condition is so severe, both my doctors consider me disabled, though I’ve never accepted disability because I’ve always held out hope I will work again one day.
A few months back, I’d started something I called “Operation: Get Outside” where I was making a point to get to the dog park each morning; good for me, good for the pup. I had a successful first month where I was able to drag myself out, even when I wasn’t feeling well, but over the past month, I’ve barely been able to get there. I thought about this the other evening and was frustrated when I realized I can’t even reliably get myself and the dog to the dog park each morning.
I am broken. I am so tired of being broken. I would love to feel good, to feel as though going out wasn’t a gamble, to not have to feel like I have to put a positive spin on how this affects me, but I keep trying because I keep holding out hope that, one day, I won’t feel like this anymore. I hold out hope that, one day, I just might know what it’s like to feel healthy.
The best I can do after two decades is manage as best I can. I’m as good at it as I’m going to get. No matter how bad I feel, I still try to get things done. It’s the days, like yesterday, where I feel so bad that I can do little more than sleep, and it gets to me. I can’t play games, I can’t read, I can’t do anything other than rest and hope my body regenerates whatever it needs to so the next day won’t be quite as bad. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
I think back to those conversations David and I used to have and I wonder if either of us will ever feel whole. If either of us will ever live without something being wrong.
I don’t know the answer.
But I’ll always keep trying, keep pushing along. It just might never be a comfortable path.
Funny side note: my partner took last Friday off to be at home with me since I was so sick, which was a wonderful surprise. Even when I’m not feeling well, we laugh and have the best time together. And we often joke about the image below. I thought I’d share for amusement.
Cheers, friends. Please take care of yourselves.