Chronic pain is hell on earth. It’s being trapped inside a box with no fresh air to breath or room to move but constantly trying to fight your way out of it.
Chronic pain is lonely beyond measure. It’s feeling like no one you know understands or could possibly understand you or the pain your body is in. It's feeling like you're constantly letting people down no matter how hard you try. (yes, I know I'm not the only person in the world to suffer from chronic pain but I am in my friendship group and family.)
Chronic pain is not just a couple of achy body parts or an extreme cold. It is feeling like the majority of your body parts are fighting against you in a bid to bring you down. It’s feeling on fire but not being able to move to reach the extinguisher.
Chronic pain is tiredness beyond reasonable comparison. It’s fighting the flu, pulling an all-nighter to study and running a marathon combined. It’s living half your life asleep to be able to survive the other half.
Chronic pain is feeling a new pain and wondering if it’s a part of your existing condition or something to worry about. It’s countless doctors appointments or trips to A&E over the odd sensation you felt the other day. It’s trying different medication hoping just one of them will take the edge off.
Chronic pain is seeing the four walls of your bedroom more than any other place. It’s lying on your bed in complete darkness to try and elevate the head pounding constantly going on.
Chronic pain is not the sum of who I am though it makes up a great deal of it. It does not define me as a person. My beliefs, my attitude, my personality and my actions define me but living in pain does not.
Chronic pain is making me stronger whilst simultaneously making me feel the weakest I have ever felt. Its crushing my spirit and hurting my heart. Yet, I keep a smile on my face.
But chronic pain is not going to defeat me. I am going to keep fighting because it’s all I know how to do. I am going to talk about my pain until I run out of breath because it matters. Just like talking about your job, your boyfriend, the party you went to last night or your time at uni matters to you. I can’t switch my pain on and off, I can’t make it magically stop affecting my life. And until it does, I won’t pretend it’s not there.
Chronic pain is seeing your body in a whole new way. It’s learning to love the thing that is destroying you. It’s becoming at peace with the thing that wrecks havoc in your life. It’s living you life despite your bodies best attempt at trying not to.
I did it. 15 miles walked on the backend of a terrible week and 4 hours sleep. I actually did it. Now there wasn't ever really a doubt in my mind that I would until the night before and my old friend, insomnia decided to keep me up with anxious thoughts swirling around.
It was hard. Really bloody hard but still, I did it. I'm not often proud of myself (something I need to work on, self love is important!!) but that moment I crossed the finish line I was PROUD. For those 15 miles I wasn't the girl with a chronic illness or mental health problems, I was just me. I was the determined, self-assuring me that I once used to be. I felt alive again (even though my feet felt like they were going to fall off) I felt purpose. I mean don't get me wrong at around mile 10 the self-doubting Jasmine made an appearance but we were all sore, tired and ready to finish so we pushed through together. I wasn't in it alone and that made all the difference.
It all sounds very dramatic for "only" 15 miles but listen here..... a year ago depression made having a shower seem as difficult as running a marathon. It made a 10 minute walk outside seem like a race I was never going to finish.. 6 months ago chronic pain made walking up the stairs feel like a climb up Mount Everest. It made getting out of bed feel like journey my body was not willing to make. This past weekend chronic pain has sent me to A&E and left me unable to get out of bed. So 15 miles, to most may not seem far (I'd would like to see people complete it before shrugging their shoulder at it;) but to me, it felt like an eternity. And rightly so. My feet ached and blistered. My bones felt like they were being sawed into pieces. My back was on fire. But my mind, oh my goodness my mind felt FREE. For just a little while, my mind was quiet whilst watching the world speed past. It wasn't aching from the constant worries or darkness. It could simply be.
So whilst I have undoubtably helped the mental health community with the money we raised (£2,700!!!) I've helped myself more than I could have imagined. I needed this after two weeks of feeling like I was failing. Failing at being a good person. Failing at losing weight. Failing at winning this battle. I needed this. It's given me back my power to fight. And reading through this today is what I needed after horrible pain these last 3 days. It's reminding me that chronic pain will not always hold me back and I can do hard seemingly impossible things!
There have been moments since my battle with mental health that remind me what it truly feels like to live again. But that moment when I crossed the finish line, that one has to be my favourite yet. I'm going to bottle up that feeling and use it in moments like today where the fight seems never-ending.
I can't end this without thanking my mum and her 3 wonderful friends, who despite each having their own children and busy lives, took the time to do this with me- for me. I am grateful beyond words and you should all be proud of what you had accomplished!! Mental health is better fought as a team than alone, and I have a pretty great team around me each and every day. Thank you to every person that is a part of that❤
The last two weeks have been good. I've worked out 6 days out of 7 both weeks and ate healthily. I haven't binged, purged or starved myself. My fibro symptoms don't feel like the constant burning flames they usually do. I've had the dieters ideal couple of weeks, I've had my idea two weeks except it's still there. I didn't think 'it' would go away completely but I'm doing it the right way, the healthy way yet my old habits have been replaced by new ones making my eating disorders voice still as present. It happens every time, regardless of how I'm eating, the disorder adapts itself to whatever I'm doing.
It's there when I purposefully go to sleep late so I wake up late and I won't have to have breakfast because the thought of 3 full meals a day makes me feel sick. It's there whispering 5 more minutes when I'm at the gym, over and over again. It's there when I look in the mirror everyday and my hands automatically start pinching at the fat. It's there when I think about the amount of calories in everything I eat and if they're worth it. It's there when I work out how long I need to exercise to burn off at least half the calories I'll have consumed in a day. It's there when I do choose to indulge making me feel guilty for every bite. It's here as I write this, furiously picking at my skin and bringing tears to my eyes.
It's not here in the way it used to be though. It isn't here telling me to binge or to go buy a bunch of food. It isn't here telling me to have another biscuit because it doesn't matter. It isn't here telling me that I will be fat forever so I shouldn't work out or take care of myself. It's different. And I can't decide which voice I prefer. They both tell me I'm fat, worthless and my body will never be good enough yet they do it in such different ways. Ultimately, they're both horrible and both lead down a slippery slope. I'm trying my hardest to resist going down it but after 8 years of this, I know how it works.
The other day I was in the shop looking at alcohol, I had decided to go out that night. It was a bank holiday the next day and I just wanted to have some fun. I went early on in the day and spent over 25 minutes googling the amount of calories in certain drinks to then figure out how long I needed to exercise for. As I was doing it I knew it was crazy behaviour, I even laughed about it with a friend because I sounded so silly. But in the back of my head, IT was telling me a night of drinking would make the 4 pounds I had lost that week all come back. And I believed it. So I set out on a 4 mile walk. It was all a numbers game, I burnt 700 calories on my walk, calculated the walk home later that night and the dancing that would most likely occur to make sure I had burnt over 1,000 calories that day. And yes, I realise that isn't how most people would prep for a night out ;)
It's like that every single day, numbers flying around my head and silently whispering horrible things. I knew it wasn't going to go away in 2 weeks of living "normally" but I've stopped binging and that's a huge victory for me. Yet if I've been restricting then maybe I'm not being a healthy as I think I am. But at what point do I admit it's a problem? The voice is so incredibly powerful. More powerful than people could imagine possible. Some of the things I do may seem like poor choices but I am not underweight or malnourished or critically ill so it's okay, right?
I'm eating healthily and exercising. I'm eating healthily and exercising. I'm eating healthily and exercising. I have said this to myself over 20 times today to silence the voice and as a way of proving to myself that I'm okay. Except I haven't eaten healthily, my only full meal today was dinner and even then I wondered how many calories I was consuming. It's a constant war between knowing how to lose weight the healthy way but my disorder knowing how to do it faster. I'm sure tomorrow will be a normal day. It comes and goes in phases, much like everything else. This, this right now is not a relapse, I tell myself. It is simply a bad phase and they're destined to happen.
That's the thing about eating disorders, it's always at the point when you feel most in control that you really start losing it and realise you never had any of the power. Maybe I haven't got this under control...
Some time after I had recovered from the darkest depths of my depression I began to have this sense of urgency in finding a meaning for the suffering. To me, there had to be a reason because why on earth life would throw me this great big hurdle that ruined my life for no reason. I couldn’t understand it. I had spent the best part of a year not feeling anything but emptiness and suddenly emotions just came pounding down on me. I had finally got my head above the water again but coming back to reality after the depression is just as hard as the suffering. It still is.
Over a year later, I feel like I am still trying to grieve for everything I lost. Often times when I wake up, I have to consciously make the effort to not think about “where I should be” or what I “should” be doing. I get tiny moments of defeat thinking of what depression took from me. It took my friends, chance of going to university with the rest of my peers, travelling and much more. I know living in the past contributes to depressed feelings but it can be so emotionally draining to pretend that I’m not angry. I’m angry with myself, I’m angry at my brain and most times, just plain old angry at the universe. It doesn’t get me anywhere; I know that, yet my mind can’t seem to forgive itself. Sometimes anger is just anger- it's not a feeling that is masking any sadness, it's the sense of knowing what could have been and desperately trying to move forward.
Pain wants to be felt, it lets us know something is wrong. But the brain is different; we push this pain away because it doesn’t demand our attention until it has taken things away from us. I didn’t care about my life or its worth until suddenly I was overcome with desperation to live it. We see in films how a tragic event brings people together and gives people a new sense of life but in reality that's not what happens. I didn't reach some miraculous epiphany on how to live my life to the fullest because I had suffered.
Depression was nearly the end for me. And now here I am convincing myself that I can’t of come that close to death and it not mean anything. I wish I could say it has inspired me to fulfil my dreams but it hasn’t. I wish I could say it has convinced me to get healthy but it hasn’t (although having fibromyalgia has done that!). I wish I could say it hasn’t made me bitter but it has. I’m a good person. I can say that with no guilt or shame. But am I a much better person for what I’ve been through? I don't think so. Stronger, most definitely. But it’s made me weary of the future, it’s made me angry and I’m no longer the carefree person I used to be.
Maybe there isn't ever going to be a clear meaning. I am not the type of person that believes everything happens for a reason, I wish I was but I don't. I believe that some things will never have a reason for happening and they are just simply crap. Depression was/is utter crap. Yes, it's taught me many things but that doesn't mean I always think there was a reason for it.
So I begin the search to find myself again. Not to find a specific meaning but to find me. The new me. Maybe this year of hell isn’t going to have meant anything other than I’m strong and depression is the worst thing ever. But a part of me believes good will come out of this and that good will be finding myself and who I really want to be without depression on my back. I’m a believer and depression didn’t take that away from me. I go through life with a hopeless sense of optimism that I’m going to find my way someday. My day may not be here yet but I will get there. I believe I can become a better person again. I also believe that at some point this suffering is going to have meant something.
Hey there, I'm Jasmine, your average 20 year old working as a nanny and play assistant. Maybe Tomorrow follows my journey living with mental health issues and chronic pain, all whilst trying to have some fun along the way.
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