The Year of Hell – 2018

As this year closes, I find myself with quite a few people who have not had a very fond year. Memories of 2018 seem to be cutting deep for all of us with personal and private losses. I know for myself that it was a record year for what I have been through.

In the past year I have lost several family members. Deaths of my grandmother, uncle, and grandfather-in-law hit hard at several points over the year. They were spread out so it was not all at once but baring those loses still bore down on me.

This year, my wife and I separated and were divorced. I cannot begin to describe the amount of pain, anguish, and hurt that I have been through in this process. Dealing with the courts, being there for my kids, and being single all have been overwhelming in all cases. I will say that my Ex-wife has done a tremendous job of trying her best and we are very civil. Pain, however, is part of the process and it does not stop.

As with the above mentioned divorce, I have had to: Find a new job, Find a place to live, Get a car, and rebuild a life. Much in the same way as getting a chronic illness diagnosis, in a divorce you have to find a new you. Rediscovering everything about yourself is quick daunting and can crush you. Having now been through both of these has added a whole new level of understanding. Learning to live and work and even play (when you even can find the energy) is completely different and is amazingly difficult. You find strength you never knew you had. Some days, it just doesn’t happen and you have to learn to accept that.

I have lost around a third of my friends in my life this past year. Be it time, distance, personal beliefs, or something else entirely, I have lost much more then I have gained in terms of numbers. Such losses take quite a toll on someone who doesn’t have many friends. Chronic illness tends to get in the way of making new ones or keeping the ones you have at the moment. I will say that I have seen a few friendships grow deeper and the ones who have stayed have been amongst the best of people. Thank you.

In all this madness of this year, it has been a bad year for chronic illness sufferers. The Opioid Crisis has been one of the focuses of the year. My medical insurance has skyrocketed along with my medication cost. I have written more published articles than all my years past combined and most have dealt with these issues. Depression and anxiety with the growing social issues and personal issues have taken a huge chunk of my spirit and I find it hard to find the faith I once did before.

However, in all of this, I have survived. I use survived as it has been one hell of a battle to make it through this year. I come to the close of this calendar and I live. By reading this, you as well have made it. I am so proud of you and us in general. I want to congratulate all of us for making it. I still plan on being here, encouraging everyone, staying the course on being positive in this valley. I hope by sharing my story of this year has brought you hope that if I can make it, so can you.

#hugaplushie my friends

PS – Props to those who get the title reference.

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Life on standby

I am on standby on life. With everything going on, I am struggling to just hang on. I have had so much life happen that it is overwhelming. Dealing with life while having a chronic illness takes an amazing amount of effort. I takes twice as much work and twice the effort and we bare this with the constant remarks of “Other people have it worse” or “Its not as bad as you think”.

It is as bad as we feel.

So I close this short post with the fact that I have life stuff. I am continuing to fight, both my illness and my problems. I hope I have the energy to keep going.

Quick post: Everybody smile.

This has been a busy time for me. I have started a new job that I love and that is strange for me. I have had to scramble a bit to get everything together. I did want to share a quick observation.

I have seen on more than one occasion that a smile can make all the difference. I have been in a bad mood and making myself smile made a change. It did not make everything magically better, but I the muscle memory triggered a response connected to happiness. I still felt the positivity spread through me. It was a great feeling.

People will also watch out for you. When you walk into a room, smile. Show that you are, at least outwardly, in a good mood. A kind of “Fake it till you make it.” People will unconsciously take notice. Part of our nature is to evaluate others and a situation. One way to make a positive impact on others without effort is to smile when they see you.

Sometimes all it takes is a smile.

#hugapony my friends

The little things.

One of the hardest issues facing someone with a chronic illness is facing what you cannot do anymore. There is a mourning and grieving process that so many of us face. You go through the Five Stages of Grief.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance all rush through you as you mourn the lose of some dear to you. Yourself.

It has taken away my ability to be Jason Bourne. All the action/super hero movies that I watch, I no longer look at and say to myself “I could do that.” I look at trampoline parks that my daughters want to go to for a party and cringe. I feel my body ache prematurely as my wife wants to do a marathon. You dread looking at yard work because you know you will be down for days and not be able to do anything.

Denial sets in when you see life starting to pass you by. You tell yourself to suck it up and do things. You believe what others tell you that you don’t look sick. You listen to what people say when they shout “Why can’t you just be normal.” You push and push to be normal and this makes your condition worse.

Anger sets in because you cannot keep up. You lash out at others who are frustrated with you at not being the person they remember. You scream in your mind that you should be normal and why is this happening to you. The anger rolls off of you in waves, pushing those who try to help you away.

Bargaining comes when you see people walking away who used to be close to you. You start to plead with people to stay. You cling to those last few people so hard it crushes them. You try to keep up and make deals. You try every supplement, exercise, and diet known to man in an effort to make things better. You bargain with yourself that it can’t get worse, but it does.

Depression sets in hard. You see no way out. In the deep hole you have dug, you see what you believe to be your only options. You find yourself trapped and weighed down by your illness. Loneliness, regret, and suffering. You see the bottle, pills or worse as your only way out. You thought at the beginning of all this it would never be this bad. In the general population, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-24.

If you are at this stage, please reach out.

Call 1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours everyday

Acceptance is the hardest to achieve. You have to fight your body, your mind, doubters, and all the other stages to get here. You have to accept that you cannot do what you could before. You have to grieve the loss of your old self. It can feel a very hollow victory when you still have a life chronic illness ahead of you. I look at these stages and milestones at how far I have personally fought to get over. You have to accept what you are now and that is OK. It is OK that you are sick.

I may never be Jason Bourne, but he is not real. I am. And I am still here.

#hugapony my friends