7 Years Later and I’m STILL Healing?
I can not believe that today marks 7 whole years since my dad passed. I don’t know what surprises me more… the fact that SO much has happened since he left or the fact that I am STILL healing from it all. (It’s crazy to acknowledge that he passed away before I graduated Highschool and now, it’s been 3 years since I graduated University and…I’m engaged!).
One of the biggest lessons that I’m still learning is that no matter how far I’ve come, grown, and matured, there will be some days or months where I feel like I’m taking a few steps backwards. I’m still learning to accept that it’s okay if I’m up, down, and even sideways some days. And, it’s okay if I’m not recovering as quickly as I’d like to. As long as I know that I am doing the best I can, that is enough to celebrate and be proud of.
Going through my own healing journey from all that has happened within the past 7 years, I sometimes wished that my pain stemmed from a physical wound as it seems so much easier to confide in those who are healing from something that others can see is broken. This past week, I finally had an opportunity to see a Neurologist to help determine why these headaches are so constant and painful. After a long 10 months of constant headaches, multiple tests and scans, I FINALLY got an answer. I don’t really know what kind of answer I was expecting but being diagnosed with “Chronic Migraines” wasn’t one of them.
Recovering from a chronic mental illness isn’t something we ever want to broadcast or share about. I think a big part of it is because unlike a physical wound, we don’t really ever know when we’ll get better. When the Neurologist came to the conclusion that what I’ve been dealing with is Chronic Migraines, I really didn’t know how to feel. Part of me felt very grateful that it wasn’t anything worse or life threatening. Another part of me was relieved to get an actual answer. The other parts of me felt sad and, in a way, defeated, knowing that all of what I’ve been through the last 7 years has all piled up and turned into this physical illness.
How is it that even with so much time and so much progress, I am STILL healing? I keep telling myself that I’ve come such a long way; that I’ve learned, grown, and matured immensely from all of the pain, grief, and stressful experiences. But Grief keeps pushing its way in and It makes me feel like my efforts aren’t enough. Hearing this diagnosis makes me feel like I’m stuck living a life of despair (even though I know that is not true). I just feel so exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically.
With all of these ups and downs, I’m really learning that I can’t expect myself to magically heal from what I’ve been through and then return to the person I was before all of it. Recovery and healing is a journey that I need to consciously choose to engage in. Yes, it’s hard to accept that some days I’ll still feel like I’m taking 2 steps back but I need to remind myself that any kind of recovery consists of tears, doubts, and fears. Some days, weeks or months WILL be harder than others but I need to give myself more permission to heal slowly.
In this lifetime, we will all experience loss, heartbreak, disappointments, pain, and experiences that leave us shattered. So whatever it is that you’re working through and healing from, I want you to recognize and accept that healing & recovery isn’t linear. As I continue to heal from my personal experiences and struggles, I know that there will be a lot of back and forth between feeling better and feeling just as bad as I have before but, just because I feel like I’m taking steps back, doesn’t change the fact of how far I’ve already come. And if it means seeking medication, therapy, or ways to stop and recharge, then so be it!
Losing a loved one in any way usually means that grief will always be part of your life but this just shows how much you love someone despite their physical absence. Grief has given me a lot of pain, anxiety, depression and even chronic migraines, but it also has given me the ability to find strength, wisdom, and faith in the most difficult of times. Instead of measuring your ‘results’, try to measure your efforts instead. When we choose to listen to our bodies, accept the inevitable ups and downs, and seek help when we need it, we are becoming stronger, wiser and even more resilient. And THAT is something to account for and be proud of.