Pain, Gut, Symbols… and What I Mean When I Say “Balance”

After seeing how behind I was (on pretty much everything), I decided to give myself a little boost, by creating a mixt post that would at least bring my blogging up to date; one full wee step at a time, right?

Let’s start with my chronic pain: it’s still here; it’s not going anywhere; it’s chronic… So if anything, it has been getting worse. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t get better at dealing with the symptoms. I’m always working on ways to help my sexy body hurt less—through the use of herbs and oils, doing stretches and exercises, relying on my Piano Man’s before-bed-rubs, believing with flesh and soul that I can make it better (the brain is a magical thing). On a less abstract note, I haven’t taken a synthetic pain killer since June 29, 2014. That makes me (and my holey gut) feel really good…

Speaking of my holey gut… Yesterday, my GI doctor stopped one of the two stomach medications I had been on for quite some time. I wanted to be taken off of both, but after a long conversation (about recent lab work and holes in my gut) we decided that it might be best to continue taking the second medication, until after my upcoming tummy tests. In truth, my doctor wasn’t all that excited about stopping any of the meds, but she agrees that our bodies are intelligent things; and my body has been hissing, We’ll be all right without those damn pills… as long as we keep things balanced, witchy woman dear.

A bit on balance: a few days ago an herbalist told me, “For someone who knows as much about herbs, you do yourself a disservice when you mix pharmaceuticals and natural medicines.” First, my Wicked Luvs, I don’t know as much about herbs as this lady has presumed that I do. When a friend, a professional, or a person living with my same maladies suggests a remedy (natural or synthetic), I research it like a mad woman and then make a decision. I believe that Nature offers most of what we need to prevent disease and to heal that which is already diseased. I also believe that Nature is not a surgeon, so thank goodness for man-made and man-learned things, such as quick acting synthetic medications and laser surgery. I believe in balance: dancing with Nature and Science gives my witchy body the best chance.

On symbols… I was just reading the comments some of you left on “My Weird Sisters” (the poem I published before this post) and my heart filled with grins. Before I detail the reasons behind the mirth, let me share a larger quote from the Terry Pratchett novel that inspired the poem: “Your average witch is not, by nature, a social animal as far as other witches are concerned. There’s a conflict of dominant personalities. There’s a group of ringleaders without a ring. There’s the basic unwritten rule of witchcraft, which is ‘Don’t do what you will, do what I say.’ The natural size of a coven is one. Witches only get together when they can’t avoid it.”

I was grinning like a word-loving-Pratchett-obsessed-lunatic because your combined responses reiterated a belief I hold so close to my soul that you could say that it feeds me: Words mean everything.

According to your responses, “My Weird Sisters” is about community, about solitary practice, about different parts of one self… When a couple of my friends argued, over what the poem really meant, they decided to email me and ask. My response to their inquiry: “Poetry is poetry. It can mean a million things. And it does.”

And that, my Wicked Luvs, is what keeps me rereading the works of Terry Pratchett year after year. His writing never tries to tell people what to do… His tales show how different people do all sorts of different things… His crafted worlds nudge all kinds of minds to think critically… and grin.

So… my pain remains, but I’m smiling at it while showing a considerable amount of teeth; my holey gut is somewhat under control; balance means more than just standing in the middle; Pratchett’s words rocketh my world very mucho; I posted a pic of a flower sucking up the evening sun; my health needs are draping uncertainty over my October publication prospects… but I’m alive and grinning…. and this, my Wicked Luvs, can mean all sorts of glorious, promising, chaos.

Yellow Flowers in the Sun

Courage Doesn’t Always Roar

The other day I was speaking to a friend who thought her coworker’s anxiety-depressive disorder diagnosis was a hilarious topic. “She’s acting like a crazy person, telling people not to stand near her, won’t let anyone try to cheer her up,” my friend said… and laughed.

Don’t be too harsh on my friend, my Wicked Luvs, for her reaction to her coworker’s illness can be highly attributed to culture. I know that it is hard to believe—it’s 2015 for goodness’ sake!—but yes, there are individuals that still believe that things like depression and chronic pain are myths or delusions. This is a terrible thing for those of us who have to live with one or the other, and much worse for the ones who must spend all their days dealing with both.

I find this lack of acknowledgment shocking and enraging (I think I just heard Climate Change shout, Sing it sister, before the myth of me cooks you alive… *cough, cough*).

The day before yesterday was a physically and emotionally draining day for me… So when my friend started to bring up her coworker’s situation again, I wasn’t feeling as patient as I usually am. Instead of trying to reason with her (my standard tactic), I sent her the following quote with a link to the original article: “Refined brain imaging shows us that when non-depressed people try to retrain their thoughts, or reframe negative emotions, they are often successful. The brain activity responsible for negative emotions in the amygdala (fear center of the brain) decreases. However, when depressed people try this, the activity increases. Their efforts backfire. The more they try, the more activation in the amygdala.”

My friend’s reply isn’t worth sharing. Let’s just say that her “interpretation” of the article and of “those people” left me in a rotten mood. It is difficult to live with an illness that steals bits of you every single day. And nothing adds to the horrors of such malady like the added humiliation of people believing that you’re mad, or weak, or just looking for attention…

I was thinking about that, yesterday, while failing to open an oil jar—my hands and feet continue to weaken; the distance I can walk without my bones, nerves and muscles begging me to stop is getting shorter. I knew this was going to happen… I’ve been getting ready for it, even if I still hate every moment of it. Some days acceptance is shit… But I can tell myself, “Manure is a good thing for gardening, witchy woman, plant more stuff.”

In the past, I would have taken my butcher knife to that jar’s lid and spilled its guts while smirking at it. Today, I know I’m lucky… for I’ve lived enough to know I can turn manure into a good thing. People who are severely depressed can rarely see beyond the shit. And if they take the knife to the jar, it is likely that they’ll end up causing themselves more harm than they can cause the lid.

I’ve never met my friend’s coworker, but I admire her; it takes an uncanny kind of courage to get out of bed and go to work day after day with a brain full of despair and a mind oozing desperation. I’m proud of the Wicked Darling who made me aware of the article I quoted above; for even when she is at her most depressed, she pushes herself to look up from the dark pit, and tells the world that tomorrow might not suck (also, she has learned to ask for help). I have a lot of respect for my Self because I know what it takes to say, “Magaly, giving up on certain things (on certain people…) is beyond difficult, but you’re made of fire, teeth and gut (even if the latter has been sort of crappy lately); you will do what you must.”

P.S. I know I shared no specifics when it comes to what I’ve just given up, or what changes forced me to do it… but I will tell you, eventually… For now, I need to gnaw on it quietly…

For a Moment of Silence, by Gina Morley“For a Moment of Silence”, by Gina Morley

* The title of this post is a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher, borrowed from here.