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Filtering by Tag: healing

kelley, the woman {4/12/13}

Kelley Clink

I have a confession to make: I have another blog. 

I started it in the fall of 2011. At the time I was extremely ill. I'd lost over twenty percent of my body weight and no one knew what was wrong with me. I spent most of my time on the Internet, trying to self diagnose, and running from one doctor to the next in search of answers. My obsession with my health kept me in a state of constant panic, and with no end in sight I plunged into a deep depression.

I didn't have a therapist at the time, so I went to see one recommended by a friend. She dropped some wisdom on me that helped save my life. She said I needed to separate Kelley the woman from Kelley the patient. And so was born.  

I resolved to post a photograph every day for as long as I needed to. And I succeeded. It helped me to remember that my life was about much more than my illness, and it gave my body the space it needed to heal. (I had gastroparesis, which is now, thankfully, under control.)

Why am I telling you this? Because I recently had hip surgery, and the recovery has been much slower and much more painful than anticipated. Once again, I found myself growing obsessed with the state of my health, and falling into depression. Kelley the patient was choking the life out of Kelley the woman. I've decided to resurrect my old blog, in the hopes that I will regain some perspective.

It occurs to me that the advice that therapist gave me stretches well beyond those recovering from illness or injury. All of us--especially those of us prone to anxiety or depression--run the risk of narrowing our lives and losing perspective. Problems demand attention. Uncomfortable situations are, well, uncomfortable. People want everything to be pleasant and easy, and we burn a lot of focus and energy trying to make them that way. And there isn't anything wrong with that--we're human. But when focus turns to tunnel vision, and all the other layers of life go dark, we need to step back and reassess.  We need to reclaim our personhood. 

It's important to remember that we don't do this alone. I always forget that, and spend weeks trying to fix everything myself before I reach out and ask for help. It's scary to take that step. It's scary to admit that everything isn't okay. But once I do, I instantly start to feel better--because in that action I am widening the circle, taking those first steps out of the tunnel.

Come with me, if you would like. Tell me about your tunnels, and your guiding lights.

don't panic {3/28/13}

Kelley Clink

I know I haven't written in a while, but I have a good reason. Four weeks ago I had hip surgery, and I've spent the last month focused on my body. Healing takes a lot of energy--both physical and mental--and I haven't had much spare brain power. Plus rehabbing is really, really boring. Seriously.

This week, however, has been a little more exciting. First off: I got my stitches out. The scars are actually quite beautiful--delicate pink dashes and dots, like the story of my pain in morse code. If I can figure out a way to photograph them without getting too scandalous, I'll post a picture.

Secondly, I started coming off crutches. Having been prohibited from engaging my hip flexor for three weeks, I've basically had to learn to walk again. The first few days were surreal: my rhythm was totally off. But I gradually began to trust my body more, putting more and more weight on my leg, easing into the bending of my stiff joint. On Tuesday I took my first steps without any crutches. On Wednesday morning I walked the length of the house.

On Wednesday afternoon, I was back on both crutches.

This is just how it goes sometimes, I know. The old cliche: two steps forward, one step back. Don't panic, I told myself. 

And then I panicked.

This is one of the problems with having a history of anxiety and depression. The more we practice a behavior, the more often we engage a set of responses, the deeper they become engrained. Over time, depression becomes a neural pattern. So to does anxiety. The more we panic, the more we panic. 

The good news is that we can change. Of course it takes practice and patience. Both of which suck. But it gets easier--I think. I hope? Well, it must, because here I am, 24 hours later, not panicking. 

Or panicking less, anyway.

I'm finding, and have been throughout this month of recovery, that awareness helps most of all. If I can acknowledge my anxiety for what it is--a feeling, just a feeling--it doesn't last quite as long. I can give the fear and frustration space, like a child crying out a tantrum, and then I can validate them. You are right, I can say. This is hard. Life is hardAnd then the anxious, fearful thoughts quiet down, and I can hear the rational, steady voice that has been there all along.

Maybe the more I practice, the faster the rational voice will come. Maybe panic won't always be my first response. Maybe it will. For now, at least, I am not panicking about panic. And for now that is enough.

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