Is my overwhelm just an excuse for laziness?

I am confused at the moment. I continue to struggle with who I am. I mean, I know who I am and what I believe usually, but the other pieces of my identity don’t always back me up.

My family really needs me to work so our children and the adults can get all their needs met. We are struggling financially, and not too long ago I was bringing home a good paycheck.

These days, I feel like I can’t work. I am working at getting through the days and taking care of my kids, making major changes to my health, and keeping myself emotionally stable.

The fact that I am functioning by getting out of bed and going out into the world, and actively taking care of my kids everyday is a miracle that didn’t exist 4 months ago.

Yet, there is increasing pressure from my spouse, myself, and our mounting debt to get myself back to work in my old job so I can bring home that money again.

At the same time, I still find myself getting overwhelmed by little things from my old life that were easy then.

Today, my major accomplishments were to make myself breakfast, pick up my son from camp, take him to a park for an hour, and check Facebook a few times. Those few things literally took up my whole day and felt like all I could do.

I hear inside my head “you are so weak. Quit complaining and stop being lazy and get back to work.”

I never considered myself a lazy person, but maybe I am. Maybe the overwhelm I constantly feel is just an excuse to get out of work.

I like giving my family money so we can live a good life. I just don’t know if I can put myself back into that position of doing what I do to make good money.

I am good at this work when all parts of me are working together, and anxiety doesn’t hang close by. Sometimes I miss it, so sometimes I secretly dip my toe in the water and feel overwhelmed like I can’t do it. Then I feel completely inadequate.

Who am I? Am I this smart, talented, strong woman who is a good provider for her family, or am I this pathetic, damaged, weak woman who gets overwhelmed when a door slams too loud?

I don’t know. It seems like this is my fate to be on a polar opposite pendulum depending on the moment.

One moment I am feeling healthy and strong with the health changes I am making in my life, the next I am falling down my stairs again and re-injuring myself, and feeling depressed about the state of my health and the hopelessness of not getting help or answers from the medical community.

I was thinking earlier today maybe the medical community is just writing me off because I am 50. I feel like I am 30 in spirit, so it is confusing to be thought of as old.

My life is frustrating and good. I am smart, but cognitively impaired sometimes. I am strong, but easily hurt. I feel really healthy, then chronic pain consumes me again. I am super stable, and then utterly disabled by the chaos in my brain.

The only thing I know for sure is that I am usually a really good mom.

Other than that, who am I?

Arizona Desert

I am at a treatment center called Sierra Tucson in Arizona for pain and trauma. I have been here 11 days now, and I am having the most amazing treatment experience. 

It is the first time in my life I have felt like I mattered, and my feelings were important. They have a completely different approach to trauma treatment than all the other trauma programs I have gone to. This is working for me!!!

I get such a broad combination of therapies to help me. I am doing massage, shiatsu massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, EMDR, somatic emotional release, somatic experiencing therapy, equine therapy, individual therapy, group therapy where we actually talk about our trauma, and lots of educational lectures and other services.

It is a grueling program, but I am hanging in there and doing it, and it is helping me so much.  I highly recommend if you are up for the challenge of pushing yourself. This used to be a self-pay treatment program, but they now take many private insurances.

I always want to pass along things that work for me, so if you are considering this and want more information, let me know. It may take me a day to get back to you, but I would love to tell you about my experience on this journey so far.

Sending love from the Arizona desert!

My health, brain, and dissociative disorder 

I have always been a clumsy person, someone who bumps into things and doesn’t really pay any attention to it because I am so used to it. I end up with bruises or scrapes on me and have no idea where they came from, but have a always assumed I just bumped or scraped something and didn’t really pay attention.

A common occurrence for a lot of people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is that we often experience many serious health symptoms, with typically no explanation from the doctor other than the common shrug of the shoulders or scratching of the head. Sadly, I never know whether I am about to drop dead, or if it just more of the mystery health that goes with my DID body.

This is not something that can simply be written off by neuroses as many would like to quickly put it in that bucket.

I remember in my 20s, I had routine blood work done that came back abnormal enough that I was sent to a Hematologist “blood” doctor. I had to go there for months as they monkeyed with my blood and did test after test because they just couldn’t figure out why my blood work was coming back abnormal (I think some kind of leukemia was on the list). I’ll be honest, I was too screwed up dissociatively to worry too much about it. And then one day, it just disappeared and my blood work has been normal ever since (a lot of years have gone by).

Another time I had extreme chest pain, and they could see the pain on their fancy machines, but they couldn’t figure out why it was happening. I listened patiently to all the doctor’s theories, and then gave up. I went back a few more times when I had serious episodes, and they could see it again on the machines, but never came to a conclusion. About a year later, the symptoms just disappeared.

I am fairly sure I have had one surgery that I didn’t actually need. A laparoscopy for endometriosis. 

I tell you this because it leaves me in a place of never knowing when to take something serious, or when it is just the DID somehow playing tricks on my body.

This past year, I started having falls. Falls where I actually injured myself. The first two were down my hardwood stairs when I was wearing socks and not holding on, so I thought it was reasonable that I had those falls. Then I went on vacation the next week and fell twice at the resort. My first fall I was just walking toward my family and there was a wet spot mixed with a little beach sand, which resulted in a broken arm the first day of the vacation. By day 5, I thought I was ready enough to leave my room in my arm sling and take my 5 year old son to experience a petting of the icky sea animals. Afterward, I mistakenly said let’s look to see what is in this cave (it looked really cool), which resulted in me falling in the cave again on a water/sand combo, and unable to walk or get up with only my 5 year old there as there were no other people around. Eventually, back to the hospital we went.

When I arrived back in the states, I went to my regular orthopedic because I was fairly sure they didn’t diagnose the broken arm correctly back at the island. From then, I started seeing her regularly for new falls.

Again, I felt like all the falls were justified, but the doctors said statistically impossible!

I realized at the dog park what was happening. A dog ran behind me and lightly brushed the back of my legs. I then fell frontwards down a very uncomfortable hill. I realized then that I was not re-balancing myself when something threw me a little off balance.

The doctors were busy ruling out MS, brain tumor, and Parkinson’s. I was a little worried about the MS as I had everything on the internet lists, but once that one was ruled out, I wasn’t so worried about the rest.

The cardiologist has his theory that it was cardiac. The two different neurologists I saw both ruled out their guesses and then gave me the shoulder shrugs and said to come back in 3 months. They both agreed there was definitely something wrong.

Fortunately, my chiropractor told me about this special physical therapist in town who did Balance and Dizziness problems. This PT has given me more information that has made sense than any of the doctors.

I bring this all up because today I felt sad and angry after seeing her. She doesn’t know about my childhood trauma or DID. She was telling me her hypothesis of what she thought was going on to cause what I had correctly figured out.

The PT said she didn’t understand why, but for some reason in early childhood my brain did not integrate all the things it is supposed to do in order for it to work properly. Like, my brain doesn’t communicate to my feet and other body parts to compensate when I am off balance, so I fall.

She shook her head, and said “I just can’t understand why this has happened to you.” Then she went on to tell me she sees this in her 4-5 year old patients. And then I knew, it is because of the extreme abuse I endured. I wanted to tell her, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to casually mention it, and then also to say “by the way, I also have a dissociative disorder.”

I have lots of every day scars from my childhood, but today just finished my week with yet another shitty surprise about my childhood abuse and what it has done to me.

Though the PT is optimistic she can help me, I worry that her prognosis could change if she knew the truth….