So my life sometimes feels like one funk followed by another, and having both PTSD, and Behcet’s means I often have to pick apart whether the symptoms of the funk are related to both conditions, either condition, or neither condition. We all find ourselves in funks, and my PTSD comes with a boatload of anxiety, which triggers depression. Likewise, the Behcet’s related fatigue (and annoyance over being ill) also triggers depressive states. As I approach my 30th birthday (cue the gasps) I’m being constantly reminded through friends that it’s a big birthday, but for me it’s just another day.
I started my new job last week, and to say I hate it would be an understatement. I’m not using my degree because I haven’t gotten my license, and the jobs I qualify for without my license are all full-time positions, a situation that my current health doesn’t allow for. Maybe if I didn’t have school, too, but between work and school, I already have to carefully carve out a social life. My roommate and friends will say, “it’s a paycheck,” but they’re failing to recognize how absolutely soul crushing it is to find myself in this position. I have a B.S. that should open up a wealth of job options, only my health closes those options drastically. Most places want full-time employees, who can work a 9-5, which means an early rising time given the 30-40 minute commute to most of the locations. Since I can’t really eat during the workday without risking massive GI upset, I would have to have something bland, hope the liquid diet during the day sustained me, then eat as much as possible in the few hours between getting home, getting homework done, and passing out.
“Wait,” say the friends, “it’s okay not to have a social life during the week, that’s what weekends are for!”
Not when you have a chronic illness. When you push yourself to pull 40-hours out of your body Monday-Friday, you definitely don’t go out Friday night. You go to bed early, sleep in till 1pm on Saturday, and are still so overcome by fatigue that you probably don’t do anything that day either. By the time you have any energy for anything, you’re taking an online exam Sunday, and trying to rally a few friends, or your guy you’re seeing (if he can still put up with your lame ass) to get together for something but not too late because oh, that’s right, the week is starting up again.
Depression isn’t exactly a shocker when that circle of life is your life. I’ve talked about my fatigue with my rheumatologist, but unfortunately that seems to be the one thing symptom wise where we haven’t made a ton of strides, and where people who don’t truly understand the fatigue associated with chronic illness just lapse into confused glares. When I say I’m tired, I’m not saying I don’t want to stay out much longer, I’m saying I’m going to sit on the floor of the store we’re in if we aren’t in a socially acceptable place to sit within the next 5 minutes. Yes, I have sat on the floor in Bed Bath and Beyond, because the display beds are displays, and in any event, they were just too damn far away. I’ve witnessed people abuse Adderall to stay up and study for exams, and found myself wondering if that would help, at least revive my social life, knowing full well I’d never actually do it because my heart would probably stop, or some other horrid symptom would arise.
My point is, when you’re starting to contemplate off label uses for what basically amounts to speed…you’re going to lapse into depression.
The good thing lately is that my hair, for whatever reason, is growing again, and not just longer, but thicker, too. (This sounds like a Viagra commercial, sorry!) I took the plunge today to dye the dark hair lighter because I’ve missed being a blonde, and if I have to dye it routinely to cover the grey, I might as well enjoy the color while I’m at it. Of course going blonde has always been associated with mental breakdowns in the past, so my friends who have become aware of my sudden trip into blonde hair land are waiting for the news of my current heart break, anger, or some other life altering whoa.
I’m not saying I’m completely happy. My birthday is coming up, and despite my attempts to deflect the fact that I’m turning 30, I do realize that I am turning 30. I figured I’d be starting a family around 30, and instead I’m going through a divorce that should have happened years ago. Maybe if I’d left back then, I’d have found happiness and have started over by now, but we can’t live in what-if-land, and besides, I do like a lot of the parts of my life right now. Even though it’s still casual, the guy I’m seeing is great, and I’m living in a city I love, a city I may not have found my way to had I not stayed in my shitty marriage as long as I had.
I don’t think there is a woman on this planet who approached turning 30 with gusto, even if they did it following some survival scenario. Yes, being one year older is better than being dead, but it’s still not exactly woo-hoo worthy when people throw at you the fact that you’re going to be 30 as if you’re supposed to suddenly rethink your entire life. Thanks universe, I was already doing that…
My job sucks, and I need to change that. I can’t be 30, even in graduate school, clocking into a job that makes me wish the building would quietly burn down without harming anyone. As nice as my coworkers are, the fire that a lot of employees seem to have, for a job that is borderline pointless 75% of the time, is never going to burn within me. When I put on my horrible uniform I’m just reminded that my body failed me. I feel where my belt hits my sensitive stomach, and I sit in the break room and watch everyone else eat while I pick at bland chips and count down the miserable hours until I can go home and eat some real food. At least if I was enjoying my job between those moments, I could at least have a sense of accomplishment, but instead the entire thing is one long exercise in hating my body for letting me down.
Last night I injected my Humira, and I was grateful, but spiteful, all at once. I do this injection, and it burns, and it helps, but it doesn’t make me feel normal, and nothing will. Even constant steroids won’t give me normal stamina, and they’ll just cause a bunch of side effects that I hate on top of it. Even now, I’m working in a field where I’m encountering thousands of people in a day. Yeah, THOUSANDS. I didn’t really think through the potential germ impact of that scenario.
We will see where this all goes.
The good? My hair is in great shape, so the blonde is coming. By 4/26 I should be a total blonde.
The bad? My job is a soul sucking reminder that my body has failed me, and continues to fail me.
The frustrating? There isn’t a damn thing I can do besides go with the flow. And, you know…bleach the fuck out of my hair. Hey, I have to control something.