Today, over at Jamie Ridler Studios, Jamie asks us
What do you wish to awaken?
I wish to awaken compassion for myself in dealing with my chronic conditions. I don't like to admit that I have these health challenges, so even sharing about them is difficult. (Those little voices in the back of my head are yelling about how I'm talking about this to get attention and pity, both of which I avoid like the plague, so I don't see why talking about this is seeking them. Of course, if someone else were to talk about their mental and physical health struggles, I would be encouraging them all the way. See why I need to be more compassionate with myself?)
I live with severe clinical depression, some Seasonal Affective Disorder, and a more unusual condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH). This last condition means that, for a general description, my body produces too much Cerebro Spinal Fluid which squishes everything in my skull but most especially the optic nerve. It isn't deadly, which is how one of it's old names - Benign Intracranial Hypertension - came about, but the optic nerve is affected which could lead to blindness if not taken care of. Another old name for it is Pseudo Tumor Cerebri (fake brain tumor) since the symptoms often mimic a brain tumor but without the growth. On a more practical level it means that I am lucky in that I live with (generally mild and tolerable) light sensitivity and a general low-grade (to me) headache that sometimes spikes into oh-god-just-let-my-head-explode-and-get-it-over-with. Ironic that to help the SAD I need sunlight, isn't it? The other bright spot (I say this quite tongue in cheek) is that the headaches produced by IIH cannot be relieved with pain relievers, especially over the counter ones. Doesn't touch that kind of nerve pain. So you suck it up and live with it.
Unfortunately, since I do live with these conditions, I find that I can be quite hard on myself. "Other people live with far worse, what are you moping about for?" is a favorite. "You're just using that as an excuse to not do (fill in the blank)" is another. This one usually comes out of hiding when I'm having a bad headache day because one of the no-nos is doing anything that could raise the pressure in the skull any higher, which includes sneezing, coughing, crying, blowing your nose, lifting anything over 5 pounds, or generally anything requiring the use of your core muscles. And caffeine. That's a killer.
Since I am in the process of finding a new doctor (I've put it off for over a year after a really bad experience) because my conditions are progressing, all of my excuses and hardness on myself are coming out. So yes, I wish to awaken compassion for myself. I can make all kinds of excuses for someone else, make them go take extra good care of themselves if they are not feeling quite right, even do the taking care of them for them if they need it. But the minute it looks like I need that same compassion for myself I discover that I have all kinds of resistance to it. I need to be gentler on myself.
What are you wishing for today?