Part 1: Thankful for Mental Clarity

I had a turning moment in my recovery yesterday.

I woke up, feeling my sick self – mentally and physically. I woke up feeling tired, fogged, dazed, achy, and generally heavy.

I woke up with two goals for the day, just as I have with every other day for the last year or more.

Goal 1: Get dressed, put mascara on, and take all my meds before noon.

Goal 2: Do something that makes me appreciate my abilities.

Yesterday, Goal 2 was accomplished by getting in my car, driving to Walgreens to pick up my prescriptions, get Starbucks for my mom, and go to the neighbors to feed the cat.

I had no other intentions for the day. I’ve had this cough for several days that’s exhausted me more than I expected. My body was tired, my mind was dazed. My legs and arms felt limp, my eyelids were growing heavy. It was around 4 p.m. that I decided I’d give yoga a try.

At the beginning of November, I decided to push myself and do at least 30 minutes of yoga a day. I missed two days at the beginning of the month due to knee pain and headaches. I stayed pretty true to my goal, but I didn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t get on my mat. I’ve been too wiped out the last 4 days to do anything more than what I’d already done. So, today, I decided I’d give it a go. I rolled out my mat, I slid off my socks, I cued up Yoga with Adrien’s Yoga Camp Day 22, and began breathing – taking coughing breaks every few breaths.

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Head-standing in Minneapolis, MN. // Photo by Tim Comfort

I pushed myself. I pushed myself a lot harder than I have in a few days. I am proud of myself for getting on my mat and increasing my core temp.

I chose to continue pushing myself. I ran a bath, poured epsom salts in, sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of baking soda, shook in a few drops of lavender essential oil. I drank lemon water and soaked. Baths wipe me out.. and I mean WIPE ME OUT. I feel like I hit a brick wall when I get out. Always. I drank all of my lemon water, finished an episode of The Office, drained the tub, and dragged myself into the shower.

It was then, when I got in the shower that I felt something shift. Something felt weird. Something different. I always put music on before I get in the shower; I tried to shake the weirdness and focused on the lyrics of each song. I turned the shower off, dried off, brushed my hair, got dressed and sat on my bed. I stared at my closet for what seemed like days, but was only a few minutes.

I felt an odd sensation in my brain. Something changed. Not physically. My legs still felt limp, my arms still felt weak, my head still hurt, my cough was still persistent.

Mentally. Something was different with my mind. I felt awake, but I was so tired. I felt alive, but I was so exhausted. I felt clear, but I was still fatigued.

Mentally. Something shifted. How could I be so dazed, so fogged, so clouded for so long? And then one second I feel clear, alive, alert? How does that happen? I guess it’s the same way that one day I woke up feeling a lot sicker than I ever had before. Maybe?

I didn’t feel happy, though. I didn’t feel good. I didn’t feel relieved. I didn’t feel excited.

I felt sad. I felt frustrated. I felt alone. I felt mad. I felt defeated. I felt confused. I felt disappointed.

I lashed out at my mom about a new medication. I felt nauseous and hadn’t eaten much of anything all day. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to go to sleep. I wanted to ignore what I felt.

I curled up in bed, turned on The Office with hopes of laughing and smiling.

But all I could do was cry. All I could do was feel overwhelmed and a bit hopeless.

Let’s get this straight. Mentally, I felt clear and alive? But, emotionally I still felt just the same as before?

Kind of.

The feelings and emotions I felt after the shower were real and totally raw. The feelings and emotions I felt before the shower were out of confusion and misunderstanding. The feelings I felt after the shower was pure realization of my reality. The feelings I felt before the shower was my sick brain, my inability to decipher reality and imagination. The feelings I feel after the shower are overwhelming. The feelings I felt before the shower didn’t have context. The feelings I have now, I am thankful for.

After my shower on November 22, 2016, I became well aware of my reality and the situation I am in. I see clearly that I’ve lost a lot, that I’ve learned a lot, and that a lot has changed.

Right now, I am thankful for the treatment and doctor that I have. I am thankful for a support system that is loving and forgiving. I am thankful that I am alive and have the resources to get me through this dark, deceiving disease. I am thankful that I have a relationship with God. I am thankful that I have a strong faith. I am thankful for friends who make me laugh. I am thankful for my family who loves me unconditionally. I am beyond thankful to have the opportunity to get my life back this year.

I ask, wherever you are in the world, that you recognize your situation and find something to be thankful for. God is so incredible and He deserves all the glory. Be thankful for something today.

Elise Hendrickson

“She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.”

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.


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