I have had a stage II hypertensive disorder since I was 28. It’s not heart related. It’s linked to a brain injury and a stint in a hyperbaric chamber for neurologic and musculo-skeletal decompression illness (yeah, that’s the hyperbaric chamber above in Townsville). Sometimes it goes haywire – particularly if I am stuck in a situation with not enough stimulus or limited physical activity. That is not useful for keeping the cognitive issues of my “disability” at bay.
I’ve just recently spent a weekend in Alice Springs on doctors orders. I had been resisting a break away but I recognised I needed people around me who loved me. I needed to accept I needed a break and to let other people care for me. I didn’t have to worry about anything, there was lots of rest and lots of laughter.
It all went haywire just before Christmas 2015. 50% of that caused by my “shit-o-meter” wasn’t working. The other 50% was because the medication that was working suddenly stopped working – probably because I am currently in the wrong “place” in my life and I know I am – and I am actually working on changing that.
In February a whole heap of shitty other symptoms started to happen and I’ve just had had two weeks off to do the stuff that fixes it.
Sadly because things were degrading so quickly, I needed to have the time off cause my current routine had begun to fail in order to keep disability issues sorted. And worse, because my BP was so high I couldn’t do intense exercise – which usually solves most of the issues.
The last 8 weeks have composed of working really hard to get my BP down from consistently 180/120 (one was as high as 200/123) to this last weeks reading of 130/90. Meditating, light exercise, eating right and reassessing what is next. It has also been about making some big changes to all of my life.
Cause it became clear something wasn’t working for me. Managing a “disability” is not something you can “just take a break from” or it gets worse. It’s not like a diet that you can just stick to so that you keep in a certain size bikini – and then not worry about it over winter cause you won’t be wearing a bikini.
Add to this the side effects of changing BP drugs; including dizziness, feeling like I am walking on a trampoline, nausea and headaches and finally hives all over my body. Not little dizziness or small headaches either.On top of the regular pain and other issues I face regularly with a smile upon my dial. It’s been a bit of a struggle, but I’ve remained as positive (and vented a few times) as I can.
I’ve worked through it, but it hasn’t been easy, complicated by living on my own and in a new environment with a small support network.
But one of the things my medical challenges have taught me is that sticking around in a job or a relationship or around people that make you miserable is not an option.
I won’t apologise for self respect or self care. Never.
I will never understand people who have to stay and “stick things out” – even if it means obesity, depression, alcoholism and addiction. I understand they may lack self love or have predisposing issues. But it also seems to me that in some instances – misery loves company. I don’t want to join that company.
It does not make sense to me. Yes, I am being judgemental. No, I don’t care. Not everyone, but some people do seem to choose misery over wellness.
Some people believe that they don’t have a choice in that decision and that defines them.
Call me crazy but I do like the expression “If you are unhappy where you are, change something or move. You are not a tree”.
I am not afraid of life and I don’t avoid discomfort either. I’ve had no money and been homeless and committed to keeping trying. I have never regretted studying and learning and moving and keeping going.
I don’t eternally seek joy or happiness either. That does not make sense. I look to feel useful. I find I begin to feel unhappy when my work or life is only benefiting me and does not seem to have any benefit to others. I believe a life of service is a life well lived.
That brings me enormous satisfaction and I don’t have to self medicate every night to cover up any feelings of “is this all there is”.
Every emotion is legitimate. I think sometimes people believe that by “sticking it out” they will take control of things that cannot be controlled. It’s like they try and force themselves into a happy state by guaranteeing some supposed future security.
Emotions are like a river and damming it only lasts so long.
I want to feel life wholly – in the now and I find when my BP plays up its because I have started to get too future focussed and have moved away from the now. I have started to worry.
Even if the now is not so good. If the now is not so good, and I feel it and recognise it, I can act. I can act to change something or move. But if I think staying put and always looking for some future magic is not how to live life, nor is searching out happiness.
It’s about just doing what works and putting away what doesn’t. For me a life of working in service for good outcomes for the world, for a fairer and more just world, is what makes me feel whole. Not always happy, but in the majority, not unhappy either.
I’d rather live life wholly, the good and that bad than “stay put and miserable” for the sake of appearances. Hugh Mackay in his book “The Good Life” puts it better than me:
“The pursuit of happiness? Sounds like a wild-goose chase to me. To seek it, to desire it, to yearn for it is to miss it. It’s not like money, food, power or status: you don’t get it by going after it. When it comes to you, that’s a bonus all the more welcome for being unexpected. But unremitting happiness is not the mark of life well lived – a good life – any more than unremitting sadness is. Wholeness is the thing to aim for.”