Pretty as a picture, right?
What you don’t see are the crutches for two broken tibial plateaus from jogging on a treadmill and the toll that six weeks of complete dependence takes on your sense of well-being.
If you look closely, you can see the immobilizers on my legs. I camouflaged them with black pants as well as a sh*t storm of symptoms that required big changes in order to feel whole. The wheelchair is tucked away for one snapshot in time.
What ensued would be the hardest battle of my entire life: osteopenia/osteoporosis, vitamin deficiencies that wreaked havoc on my physical and emotional health, an excess of cortisol, which creates our fight-or-flight response and crying at a moment’s notice. I literally felt like every moment was life or death until we got the cortisol levels under control.
There were weeks of sleepless nights when I never closed my eyes because my body was too afraid. And then anxiety and depression (like one isn’t bad enough); these were foreign to me. It was as if someone had injected me with darkness.
It took months of struggle to find support that helped me find an equilibrium for my body chemistry. My struggle became the struggle of everyone in my life. Thank God for my mom, my sister, my kids, and a few amazing friends who never gave up on me; you know who you are.
Thankfully I maintained the strength not to give up when it was unbearable. When life gets hard, sometimes people isolate and I did. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I just didn’t feel like me and I couldn’t bear pretending I was okay or trying to explain what was going on—particularly since I couldn’t grasp it myself.
All of my body systems were out of whack. Nutrients weren’t being digested. Serotonin, which makes us feel calm, was in short supply. My body wasn’t making nearly enough.
Many doctor visits, blood tests, supplements, medication, talk therapy, meditation, yoga classes, and acupuncture sessions later, and I am stronger and wiser, as promised. My sister told me at the end of every phone call, “This is temporary. You will be okay.”
My perspective is clear, and what I want from life is real people who care—about themselves, about making their difference, and about me. Thankfully, that was the silver lining of the war that my body was waging against itself. I found a few new friends and was reminded who I couldn’t live without because they showed up.
Listen to the whispers when things feel off. It’s uncomfortable, but that’s a walk in the park compared to what can happen if you ignore them. There are consequences if you don’t, and they are unrelenting until you pay attention. Speak up for yourself in every relationship, especially the ones you have fallen asleep in. Don’t keep toxic thoughts pent up in your body—they are poisonous.
One year later, things look a whole lot brighter on the other side. I am grateful for every lesson. It was certainly the most painful chapter of my life, but I wouldn’t rewrite history because it opened my eyes to the struggle so many people wrestle with every single day. I felt completely alone most of the time and I am a person who thrives on human connection.
The causes of my symptoms were organic, physical, from my body, but so what? Does that make it any different? What if I was just struggling emotionally without a “good” reason?
Most people are uncomfortable with the subject of mental illness. They don’t know what to do to help, so they remain frozen in their fear and do nothing at all. I know better now because I have walked in others shoes—and not been able to walk in other people’s shoes.
Thankfully, my journey had a beginning and an end. I am certain it had a purpose.
I now deeply honor the struggle in others, be it physical or mental. I appreciate the challenges of the physically disabled and I have boundless gratitude for a body that works and a soul that shines, and I give it total permission to dim when my battery needs to recharge.
I lived on crutches and in a wheelchair for six weeks of having to be non-weight-bearing. I got a tiny peek into that existence and it is brutal on its best day. I felt like I was a burden to anyone around me because I was completely dependent on the people I loved—for everything. I even needed assistance to get to the bathroom.
I felt the stigma that our culture places on the mentally ill. Their existence is not supported, many are alone, and we toss them aside. Many have become homeless and are considered a nuisance. They make us uncomfortable so we don’t look into their eyes, or their soul.
What I know for sure is that we are all more similar than we are different. Our journeys may look different but we all just want to be seen and heard.
Let life’s challenges be your teacher. Let adversity be your compass. Surrender to the lessons you are meant to learn and know that ultimately it is a solo flight.
I kept wanting Alan to make it better for me, but he could not and did not. My struggle was a trigger for him, which only served to make me feel more alone. There is no copilot in finding resolution.
You are the only one who can create your peace.
The universe gave me a brilliant opportunity to do just that. Asking, “Why me?” will not bring you the answers.
Now when I start to feel a bit shaky, I ask myself one simple question: “What am I supposed to learn?”
“The divine light in me recognizes that very same divine light in you.” We are one. Namaste.