SELF CARE ON A WHOLE OTHER LEVEL : STANDING IN MY POWER – LOVE, WENDY

The pain is debilitating. The swelling has stopped any active mobility. The burning sensations down my arms and in my feet make me feel like there is a fire burning within me. The doctor says any and all activities are…RESTRICTED for at least 3 weeks. Even working is off limits.

I am so busy with work and projects, and mental health and self care professional developments lined up for January, so this frustrates me even more until I realize that being so tense is causing even more pain. I begin to breathe, to meditate, and to visualize myself walking around the pond that I have walked almost every day for the past 7 years.

Lupus…it has hit without warning again, only this time, I do not recognize it. My face, arms, hands, wrists, knees, ankles, feet are all simultaneously affected. I can’t find a comfortable position to sit, or stand, I cannot walk, and even laying in bed is causing pain and numbness. I feel scared.

My children live far away, and I live in a town where I do not know anyone. So, I find the need to humble myself on a deeper level and find the courage to ask a neighbor for help during this snowstorm, taking out the garbage, and a “just in case of emergency” person.

I have NEVER been one to ask for help. Growing up, I learned very early on that I was “a burden,” and this became my mindset. I would tell myself that I don’t need anyone’s help for anything. Through a childhood of domestic and sexual abuse, I was always silent because I was too afraid to tell anyone. This is how I became addicted to prescription drugs at age 14 which would last for the next 4 decades. Self medication which was the only coping skill that I learned from my parents who lived with their own mental illness and addiction. May they both rest in peace.

I have 8 years of recovery now, all earned and practiced holistically using natural and organic solutions.

So when this “fire,” pain, and swelling disabled my every movement even with steroids and Motrin, my doctor, who has been with me for 30 years and throughout my recovery, suggested the mildest form and lowest dose of pain medication so that my body could rest and sleep. My body was in a constant state of physical and emotional trauma. I could not sit long enough to teach on Tuesday, and yesterday I barely got through my scheduled parent-teacher conferences for my students. Throughout my recovery, I have maintained that I will not entertain using any controlled substances, but my doctor said he would only give me 14 pills, and would be my accountability partner. He assured me that “we won’t let you become addicted.” I trust him wholeheartedly. So in excruciating pain set on fire, I agreed.

But then…

Once I received the prescription, I just stared at the bag. I examined the size and shape of the pill. Although it is the smallest dosage made in this pill, I saw that I could easily break it in half. I told myself this would alleviate some of this unprecedented, indescribable pain, and I could rest, and sleep, which is imperative for healing. This medication would temporarily be part of my self care. After all, I wasn’t taking it to get “high,” I was taking it to be used for what it is prescribed for…severe pain. I had to get the self judgement out of my head.

That was two days ago. I still have not taken any of the pain medication. I trust myself in my sobriety implicitly, but I don’t know what I don’t know about a brain disease that had been addicted for 4 decades, and I guess part of me, my “wise brain,” vs. my “emotional brain,” is calling the shots. I hear Spirit in prayer and meditation reassuring me that everything is going to be alright. To keep using my “tools,” that are getting me through each moment of pain. It is totally exhausting, but it is a choice. I have gotten little relief thus far, but just as I wrote the other day, “Pain is a mindset.” I choose to focus on the visualization of walking, singing, dancing, and being in love and in joy to promote a natural high. And, I am using all of my holistic supplements, including gut support, Vitamin D, B, Magnesium, to further support my physical and mental health.  Lots of water as well as I attempt to “flush out” the inflammation. I am taking care of myself, sliding my feet across the floor, slowly to get from point A to point B in my home. Slow and steady.

I am a recovery warrior. And I want to inspire others living with this brain disease to learn to manage symptoms with the proper mindset. Mindset is everything. When we are awake and aware of our thoughts, we can re-direct them to a healthier, more positive mindset, which changes the outcome of the situation. Here is where we can find a resolution that is a healthy practice, and serves us body, mind and spirit. Sure, it will take longer, and it will be a slow process, but my recovery is the most important thing to me. I will never, ever jeopardize my recovery for any one person, any one thing, or any one situation. I am an overcomer, and I stand deeply in my faith which has never failed me.

This is not to say that I will “never” take this pain medication in a true time of severe inflammation in an acute emergency where I am sleep deprived, unable to eat due to the pain, or focus on my work, or to do the basic daily activities of living. But make no mistake, I NEVER take this brain disease for granted. I am always cognizant of what the outcome could be, and that thought and realization causes me more pain and distress than the physical pain that I am suffering at this time.

When my mother was dying earlier this year, and my child was extremely ill with her own addiction and severe and persistent mental illness landing her on the local Behavioral Health Unit mental health facility, breaking up with a longtime boyfriend that had me deeply stressed, and starting a new job and career which I loved in the field of mental health, the anxiety that has been present daily since I was under the age of 10, with a diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) came back on a new level. It felt like a heart attack, and I was taken to the doctor immediately. I could not get any air, I felt hot in my face, pain down my left arm, and tightening and pounding in my chest. I could not speak. Barely could whisper. Dizziness, nausea, and tightening in my head. Three hours later, the doctor came in and said, “It was a “panic attack. Everything looks fine.” I was in weekly therapy sessions to “sharpen my tools,” but even talking things out was not enough. The doctor prescribed 12 anti-anxiety pills in February of this year, 2020, so that I could manage my symptoms, and that bag was still stapled shut when I disposed of them.

I got home and decided since I was cleared physically, I would implement my self care tools on an even deeper level to manage my symptoms. I also took some time off from work to pamper myself and to process it all, and it was an absolute wonderful decision that served me well.

I just did not want to “pull at that thread.”

I was greatly successful. Those pills were dumped long ago, by me.

I continue to meditate, to practice deep breathing, listen to music, stay connected to loved ones, rest, to take Motrin, my new dosage of steroids which will continue as a maintenance dose to keep another flare at bay, hopefully, Plaquenil, which has been my long term Lupus medication (I admit, I go off of it when I feel better, but will not make that unhealthy decision again), and I am being considered for possibly an additional Lupus medication.

I feel that my 8 years of recovery from addiction has given me so many options to manage pain and anxiety. Until I have exhausted each one during this very challenging time, slowly, and methodically, the pain medication will not be an option. Maybe my brain just feels better knowing it’s here “if” it becomes another emergency as it was this past Monday. THAT IS ADDICTION. Cunning and sly, but hopefully I have figured out how to fight back. I continue to repeat to myself, “Pain is a mindset.” “Wellness is a mindset.” I get to choose my mindset which will drive the outcome. I choose wellness.

So, every self care strategy that I am using, including writing my blog to share my successes, my challenges and adversity, and my pain not only is cathartic for me, but I always get an email or private message of thanks from at the very least, one person, who my story has helped.

That is my passion, my joy, and my honor.

On April 2, 2013 before bed I asked God/Spirit/Universe to help me, to show me the way out of my brain disease…addiction to prescription drugs, and my mental health disorders, and I made a promise to dedicate my life to whatever path He put before me. He saved me, and nurtured me, and guided me, and I have kept my word.

I began my recovery from lifelong addiction and mental illness on April 3, 2013, and the only voice I listen to is Spirit for guidance in my recovery. That was the voice that encouraged me to call for help to save my life after my near fatal overdose in early 2013. I have been listening to that voice ever since.

My pain has now lessened after writing this blog. This has been a necessary release for me. The mindset. It is always about the mindset. When we are feeling unwell mentally, it manifests physically. I have been under an exorbitant amount of stress and a very traumatic experience this year with the deeply disturbing circumstances of my mother’s death in March of this year. It is still so painful. Some days, it takes my breath away in disbelief. But, I am working on it. As it is said, “It is a process.”

Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the cells in the body attack themselves. It can be triggered by stress. It is an unpredictable and misunderstood disease, difficult to diagnose, challenging to live with, and to treat. Lupus has a range of symptoms, and it strikes without warning. The doctors are telling me that a recent injection that I had a reaction to for Osteoporosis triggered what was probably already bubbling to the surface on my way to a flare.

Similarly, addiction, aka Substance Use Disorder, is an unpredictable and misunderstood disease, challenging to live with, and to treat. It too, has a range of symptoms, and it most definitely can and does strike without warning. I am unwilling to offer my brain what it wants. I am in charge. I will do this my way.

Prevention and awareness through ongoing self care is the key to management of both of these diseases, and to thriving in wellness. I am learning to manage two diseases, simultaneously, and everything that I experience, and learn, I will always share with those who crave wellness, as I do.

For information on my health coaching program, where I work with others in recovery, either with or without their chosen psychiatrist as part of a team, please fill out the form on my contact page at
www.harmonioushealth4life.com/contact, or email me at wendyblanchard044@gmail.com.

Self care is the actions that we take to achieve wellness, and wellness is where we stand in our power.

Love and blessings, and wishes of wellness,

Wendy

 

Wendy Blanchard, M.S., INHC, NYCPS