Five years ago, I tried to take my own life. During this dark time, I was diagnosed with depression. I also learned that while I don’t have a traditional family (never married, no kids), I do have a support system. Sadly (or scarily), I find myself now in a similar situation to the one that led me to make that dire decision. The good news is that I have no desire to repeat the events of five years ago.
My father is going through a very difficult time right now. And while he does have a traditional family, it seems as if I am the only one in his corner, who gives a damn about his health. I need to do something but I don’t know what. I live a good 10 hours away. I have researched the situation. I have spoken with attorneys and I still don’t know what to do.
In addition to his health problems, I could be dealing with a health crisis of my own. I am currently undergoing a battery of test (MRIs, an endless amount of blood work and quite possibly a spinal tap) to determine if I have multiple sclerosis (MS).
And then there are a litany of other small issues that should be simple but end up being more taxing and time-consuming than they should.
Standing Up for Myself
My doctor explained to me that MS is when your immune system turns against your brain and your nervous system. Well, depression is when your thoughts (your inner voice) turn against you. We all have insecurities and doubts, but I am talking about a deluge of negative, defeatist thoughts that plague you from the time you wake up in the morning, throughout the day, until you go to sleep at night (and even then, sometimes they don’t stop).
When it comes to my dad: “You know you can’t do anything, and it is only going to get worse.” “This is an uphill battle. You are going to have to go it alone and you will lose.” “Wow, all these calls and all this concern and you still haven’t come up with an answer. You’re useless.”
When it comes to MS: “This is a debilitating disease.” “You can’t afford these tests.” “What happens when you are diagnosed? It’s only going to be down here from here on.” “Hope you like your job. If you try to leave, you’ll have a nasty preexisting condition which no one else will cover.” “You’ll always be alone. Why even try dating? No one wanted you before. They definitely won’t want a burden like you now.” “You can’t help your dad, you can’t help yourself.”
When it comes to the litany of little things: “Can’t you do anything right?” “Every time you wake up, it’s something else.” “When will it end? It won’t” “No wonder no one wants to date you, why would they.”
In the past, I let this barrage of unproductive and negative thoughts get the best of me. Now, I try to fight back.
When it comes to my dad: “It might get worse, but that’s my dad and I will be there for him regardless.” “I have some support (I name names), I am not alone.” “I will come up with some kind of solution. It’s only a matter of time.”
When it comes to MS: “This disease doesn’t take the same course in everyone. Right now, I’m practically asymptomatic and that’s a good thing.” “I like my job and the whole preexisting thing is something I’ll deal with when it happens.” “If it is meant to be for me to be with someone, I will be. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll go it alone. I’ve done it this far, I can keep doing it.”
When it comes to the litany of little things: “I get more things right than I do wrong.” “Everyone has their struggles, I’m no different.” “This is life.” “Gawd, you’re an ass! Shut up”
Doing What I Can
And then, I had an epiphany. Well, it’s one of those things that you hear constantly, only that one time, for some reason, it finally sinks in. You can’t do everything, so focus your energies on what you can change. There is only so much I can do for my dad. I can’t control if I have MS. I can’t anticipate every problem, but I can handle things as they come.
I will continue to do those things, but I am starting to put more energy into the things that I can change. My doctor suggested that a lot of his patients have had luck with the Paleo diet (to reduce inflammation), so I’ve bought and read the books, got all the food I need, cleared the pantry of what I don’t need and combed my new cookbook for some yummy meals I look forward to eating.
I’ve also looked at my exercise regime, what I can do at home and when I can get to 9Round to kickbox.
I’ve also decided to take a closer look at how I’m managing my finances and take a spending fast in June.
As far as how I feel about myself (and dating for that matter), I had to admit that my weight gain has not only changed the way I look but it has changed the way I feel about myself. I don’t put on makeup regularly (and I enjoy makeup) and I haven’t been putting any effort into my hair or my wardrobe. I mean I work in a corner cube in the basement, so who really sees me? Well, it doesn’t matter who sees me, what matters is how these things make me feel.
So far, the one-two punch of standing up for myself and doing what I can is working. I had been moving toward the abyss, now I’m headed for the mountaintop.