Every day I wake up and tell myself it’s a normal day. I make coffee, get dressed, write, or engage in other activities to fill my time until I resume work. I feel like I’m a superhuman after making it through a stroke, brain bleed and two surgeries. Therefore, what I force myself to do every day makes me feel like I have beat this trauma to the ground. It’s a self-motivating factor to not lay in bed and dwell on the crap I ‘ve been through. It’s a way to say that I’m normal- it must be this way.
When people ask me how I’m doing, I tell them I’m doing great and my recovery is getting better. There is truth to this, but there is a resounding amount that I don’t delve into, because I don’t want to come off as ungrateful for being alive, or depressing or hard to listen to. I don’t want to ruin someone’s day in this climate when there are so many other things going on that are scary. My positivity is a reassuring way to let loved ones and myself know that I’m progressing.
I ask myself, however, am I trying too hard? The answer is yes. While it’s healthy to try to get back to a normal schedule, I haven’t let my body fully rest. I get up at 6:45am when I should probably allow myself to sleep until 9. Once up, I don’t sit and enjoy my cup of coffee and watch the news. I immediately grab my computer and spit out all my thoughts for the world to see. It takes time to write, however short or lengthy these blogs are. I must form my thoughts carefully as to not alert anyone, or myself, that I have grown weak. Once I’m done writing, I start cleaning around the house. Mind you, getting up is a daunting task that makes me disoriented, yet I still clean. Once I’m done cleaning, I make another cup of coffee and get ready for the day.
After I take my shower, I feel depleted, yet I stand in front of the mirror and place my makeup on. I have nowhere to go and no one to see. This is purely to feel like myself and not a slum, despite the whole world are in their pajamas all day at this point. Once I all dressed, I take a picture of myself to document my transformation from buzzed hair to growing out. It’s not a vanity picture, it’s a reminder picture. Then I go through the news to keep up with what’s going on with the day. I check any coding updates so I’m up to date when I get back to work. I am utterly exhausted and it’s probably 11:30 am by this time.
For a bit I would go on Duolingo and learn Spanish and then do some word cross puzzles until my mom arrived to watch me for the rest of the day. We sit on the sofa and talk and watch our normal TV schedule. I feel myself slowly fall into a deep sleeping hole. I’m worn out and my body is desperately telling me it’s had enough. By time my husband comes home, I’m fully depleted. Do I go to bed? No, I stay up for a while occupying my time. When it’s time to go to bed, I collapse into bed knowing that it will be a short slumber before I get up and repeat the day all over again because I have to prove to myself that this stroke did not win.
The full truth is I’m a complete mess. Mentally I’m riding on so many waves that they are crashing into each other, and I can barely stick my arm out to wave for help. I’m so tired, but I’m resisting rest. I don’t know how to solve this problem. I’m happy and joyful one second and the next I’m crying and reliving every horrifying moment in the past couple months. It’s hard for me to stay strong even though I’ve shouted out that I’m strong and I have risen above this horrible thing. I feel like a fake. I’m so lost and I don’t know how to navigate this new life. Try as I might, I’ve asked several people for help or what they think, and they all say this is normal. But for how long? I don’t want to be working one day and then stare at my computer screen and start crying. I don’t know why the crying is even happening. It just turns on when it wants without any warning. As we speak, I am crying as I type this. I’m not equipped with a support system to help me because of the virus. I can’t do all things that would normally give me joy. I can’t go to a support group to talk face-to-face with people like me to work out these messy emotions.
I’ve let myself down, because I didn’t take the time to rest, cry and heal. Instead, I wanted to be a fighter and tell myself this thing will not control me, so I yell “get your ass out of bed and do something!”. I’ve been this way my whole life. When it comes to fight or flight, my body goes into complete fight mode. Does this serve me well? Yes, but there are some instances where you need to take flight and after I did everything I could during the crucial period of my stroke where I needed to be a fighter to make it out alive, I should’ve take flight when I got home to put down my sword.
All I want is to erase this bad memory, this horrific thing that happened to me and how it impacted my family. I can’t, however. I must live with the fact that something happened and rejoice that I’m alive and well enough to sit here and type away my feelings, exposed for anyone to see. Right now, I’m still raw, and in time, I will look back at this and see how much better things have become for me. My hope in time after this virus passes, I can take full advantage of life and live it to the fullest like most people do when they come close to death. I haven’t had that chance yet. Instead, I’m living my life with the roller-coaster of emotions and acting like nothing happened by allowing normalcy in my life too soon.
Overall, I’m admitting that I tried too hard and didn’t take full advantage of letting my mind and body heal during my time off. That is something I will have to navigate in time, as my life will go back to normal next week returning to work. Work is not something that I’m dreading, and I’m excited to get back in the game. I just hope that I can find a balance of work and finally allowing myself peace once it’s time to punch out.
If you ever find yourself in this position remember two things. 1) Fight like hell to stay alive and 2) Take flight when you survive and rest.
Yet, I leave you with this video that I came across that speaks to me. The narrator states we all hit a hall at one point. A wall that will test us and makes us fight with tenacity. Generating the struggle of not giving up will get us through and ready when we hit that wall again. So, as I yo-yo on my feelings about what I’ve done with this time, this video gives me that affirmation that I played the game right. I hit a wall and I fought and fought like hell.