It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a new blog. There are several reasons but the main one is because on top of going through recovery from ED & the Gang, I have also been dealing with chronic health problems for the past 2.5 years and the last four months have been especially difficult.
Living life with an eating disorder feels like living life with a broken leg, but life with an eating disorder and chronic health issues is like having two broken legs.
My life changed on July 1, 2014. While picking up a prescription at my local pharmacy, I passed out from abdominal pain. As a result of the fall, I ended up with three staples in the back of my head and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
I have no memory of the fall or the following 8-9 hours. The next morning, the hospital discharged me. They told me to take the week off work, and then I could resume my normal life.
I had no idea my life was going to drastically change.
It ended up taking 10 months before I was back to a resemblance of my normal life. I dealt with dizziness, vertigo, nausea, foggy brain, concentration problems, light and noise sensitivity, neck and shoulder problems just to name a few. I was born with several eye muscle issues and the TBI increased and changed my vision problems.
Even simple tasks like cooking and cleaning became difficult.
As someone who was battling Binge Eating Disorder (BED), laying around and doing nothing was difficult since I used eating to cope with the difficult issues in life. I struggled with depression the following weeks of the accident. At that time I recognized I had an eating disorder but hadn’t started working with my dietitian. It was one of the hardest times in my life.
Towards the middle of 2015 I was starting to feel like I had my life back. I had hope I wasn’t going to live with this forever. But then in 2015, I had another fall on an escalator and was rear ended three times in my car in 2016. These accidents stirred up the whiplash and Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) problems.
Towards the beginning of 2016 I started to have blurry vision and was seeing colored spots. As the year went on I started getting the old TBI symptoms back and started getting severe migraines.
I went to see my eye doctor and he believed I was having problems because of the TBI and vision therapy I received in 2014 following the fall. My brain as a child learned how to work around the congenital eye issues and came up with a system that worked . The TBI affected that system.
As 2016 went on, my health continued to get worse. The migraines left me laying in bed in the dark. Even when I wasn’t moving, the vertigo I experienced made the whole room spin.
I always have a headache and experience dizziness on a regular basis. Even simple things like reading a book are difficult.
My family doctor referred me to a TBI doctor and he referred me to several other specialists. We didn’t really know what was going on for sure. The MRI and other tests had all come back normal.
As I continued to see the specialists, I finally started getting some answers.
The doctors believe I have what you could call a perfect storm. My TBI, eyes, migraines, and whiplash all come together to create my current living situation. The plan to get better isn’t a one step process. It’s a combination of medications, physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), and transitioning to monocular vision.
My doctors have told me individuals who have suffered a TBI are often called the “walking wounded” because they look and appear fine, but their life is greatly impacted by the injury. This has been my experience as well.
While this has been going on, I was also dealing with ED. The added health issues made recovery more challenging. As someone who likes to plan each day, keep an organized house, and check things off my to do list, the physical health problems make that difficult and at times impossible. Each morning I wake up and I don’t know what the day will look like because if I have a migraine or vertigo, all my plans go out the window.
My life now consists of work and doctors appointments. Right now I am unable to drive outside of town, so I have to find drivers to take me to my appointments which are 1.5 hours away. My brain fatigues very quickly making rest and downtime a necessity. Mr. Performance and Ms. Perfectionist for so long have said my life needs to be do, do do, but the physical health problems have forced me to just be.
We live in a society that says, push through it. Don’t be a wimp. But I have learned over the past 2.5 years that I can push through it, but I will be in more pain and discomfort later.
Self-care has become a crucial part of my recovery both with the physical health and with ED. Before I would have so much self-hatred and unrealistic expectations I would force myself to keep going and going when really I needed to ask myself how I could take care of me.
We have to take care of ourselves before we can really help others. It’s like when you are on a plane and they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.
To be honest, there are days when I wonder if I will ever get back to my normal life. I have a big pity party for myself. My health doesn’t just affect me. My husband, family, and coworkers are all affected by it too. It’s hard to not feel guilty for making their lives harder.
But I don't have to look far to find someone who has it worse off than me. I have found it’s important to know others have it worse while at the same time validate that what I am going through is real and challenging.
When I am having these pity parties or feeling down, I have found taking my eyes off myself and putting my eyes on Jesus helps take me out of the pity party and into a place of deep joy, peace, and love even while still in the pain.
I don’t know why God is allowing this to happen. But what I do know is He understands. He knows pain.
My recovery and physical health have forced me to cling to Him and has deepened my faith in a way only trials and suffering can. This is not my forever home. This is not all there is.
ED recovery has taught me endurance, perseverance, and how to deal with pain. All which are helpful to me as I go through this physical recovery.
Dr. Timothy Keller's book, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, has been helpful in walking through this time of my life.
"If we cultivate within ourselves a deep rest in God, an existential grasp of his love for us, then we will find that suffering can sting and cause pain, but it can't uproot us, overthrow us. Because suffering can't touch our Main Thing - God, his love, and his salvation." Timothy Keller