When someone with a chronic illness glimpses remission, It's sort of like what most people would expect- a super joyous, exciting and wonderful feeling that, for an instant, washes away any terrifying thought of what it had been like to be sick and waiting for such a day. Some sickies wait years for this feeling, stuck beneath the rest of the world, and I myself am no stranger to it. But what's it like when you're actually in the thick of healing? When you hit the layer of dirt jusssst beneath where the sun shines on the surface?
Some unlucky and very brave individuals know that there's a roller coaster jammed into that layer. And a tilt-a-whirl. And I can't tell you how many other suspiciously, unsafe-looking pieces of crap machinery there are, meant to confuse the fuck out of anyone on their way back up.
Fortunately, there are ways to cope with this ridiculously bogus and unfair part of healing. But, it still hurts. You find yourself again when you're body is better, but what no one tells you, is that if you've been sick for an extended period of time, that person you've been waiting to meet again quite possibly may have never ditched his or her unsavory character flaws or deep-seeded issues. Fighting the good [sick] fight turns any wimp into a stallion, but if there were things in there like emotional or psychological issues that were never addressed, the person in the mirror looks less like your old self, and much more like a rhinoceros. I'm not sure why I used rhinoceros there, another part of healing is growing back into your brain's comfy cognition. Never mind the slough of issues that had developed while you were sick. So, what's the best way to heal with your bad self while navigating through your new and exciting life?
Let's start with a basic How-To:
[Unfortunately for you, I never tire of these]
Be Up Front
When you can't remember making plans with friends, or even to be in contact with them, or that you were supposed to keep someone's pregnancy a secret, or you forgot your Goddaughter's birthday, or you went ahead and cried into your pizza for no good reason in front of a bunch of townies at a favorite dive bar and totally freaked out your dude, or that you know you'll DEFINITELY not be participating in any of these online challenges, SAMANTHA, be honest with the people around you regarding why. Staying home and crying to your Puffins cereal is VERY okay. Just make sure you're getting the point across that you care. And you know, write things down once in a while.
Know When to Call It
Think you might be too emotional about seeing people that you used to, or attending a party similar to those before you were sick, or that you're just not feeling a snug sesh with your ladyfriend or fella? Say so. If these people are worth their salt, they'll attempt to practice understanding, and you won't end up in a ball on the floor three hours later, regretting you left your house.
Apologize for Hiding
Remission means an ebb and flow to how comfortable you are around others. Some days, I just can't do much more than lay around and reflect on how different my life has become in the last year, since reaching remission. Yes, I'm sob/laughing and having full-blown conversations with my dog/ pain management specialist. For me, sometimes that's just necessary to getting through those moments.
Apologize to [and forgive] Yourself
This is your own.
But I choose Kung Fu and those orange gummies with the terrible sugary coating.
When You Need Help, GET HELP
Save us the time here and just do it, please. It'll be spotty, and you'll blow it off because remembering is painful. But the only way through it, is THROUGH it. Personally, I've been exploring what it's like to have never been diagnosed with a fierce case of ADD. Turns out all of those "attempts" at things make a whole lot more sense, and I'll be better for even trying to understand why. Countless apologies and my incessant thoughts of unwished happiness for wonderful occasions, unfinished collaborations, and never-done favors are something that I'd like to extend to so many people that I care about.
I sometimes want to tell people who I know are sick, that the journey is so much more than reaching the point that I've gotten to. I understand that communicating something like this should, and does, come with such deep feeling for every individual's experience here. Crohn's Disease both ruined, and saved parts of me. I couldn't be the woman I am right now if I never got sick. I don't regret or hold bitterness for my body. Letting go of that has made this journey much lighter, but I am, and will be continuing uphill for probably longer than I'm anticipating or giving credit for. I can't give much more advice on how to move faster or lessen the load, as I'm still figuring it out. I just want anyone else in the same place on the trail to know that they're not alone.