For years and years I've struggled with chronic health issues, mainly in silence, rarely revealing the full extent of them and their effects on my day to day life. My reality is that I feel sick more than I feel well. I am tired more than I am not. When I say that I am "pain free" I really mean that I am able to function through the current level of pain, but I am rarely ever totally pain free. Due to the level of and frequency of pain, I throw up at least 4 times a month and feel like I'm in this perpetual cycle of having to take it easy and focus on gaining strength back.
Despite that, I've always had this crazy inner drive to always be active. I don't like to sit still, I don't like to be complacent. I love doing, working, moving, achieving. . .that inner drive comes in handy on really bad days or weeks. I throw back the covers and tell myself, "Get up!"
During the bad times, I can find every excuse to stay where I'm at: in bed, on the couch, in my car outside of the gym, in my office. Sounds lazy, I know, but it isn't laziness that keeps me down. It's illness. Consciously and audibly commanding myself to to Get Up gets me off the couch, out of my car, in the gym, and back to work.
Sometimes the bad spells last longer than others. Recently I had an unrelenting few weeks of pain and nausea. I found myself in a very dark place emotionally. Why do I still feel this way when I'm so focused on and strict about my health? Why is it suddenly becoming worse? Why?
Late one night, I called my Mom. I was hoping the conversation would distract me from the pain but as soon as I started talking to her I cried. No, I sobbed. Wept? There needs to be a better word that fully describes the desperate ugly cry she had to endure over the phone. Sputtering, blubbering, snotting, voice-cracking cry that is reserved only for talking to your Mommy.
The ceaseless pain and nausea, the years of joint and muscle pain, the waves of debilitation, the doctors, the medical bills. They all crept up and took me hostage. I admitted to my mom that I have no desire to grow old. If I feel like this at 27, I can't imagine how I'll feel with age.
For two days, I did not Get Up. I stayed in bed, too ill to even sit up for long. I worried about whether I would ever Get Up again. This time around I just didn't have it in me to give myself a pep talk, slap on some make-up, and pretend to be okay long enough to keep people from worrying.
The time of rest was good for me. I stabilized and started feeling increasingly better. Monday morning, face still numb, brain still foggy, body a bit sore, I threw back the covers on my bed and shouted, "Get Up!" And I did. Slowly, painfully I got up and methodically attacked my day.
Sometimes, the only thing we can do is charge forward so that we don't remain stagnate, so that we don't wallow. My physical weaknesses are why I take on a lot when I do feel well. They are why I box, take random road trips, ride roller coasters, take opportunities to help people. What if someday, despite my mental pep talk I really can't Get Up? I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I was going to really live while alive, not wait to feel better to live.
Sometimes, as I have learned recently, it takes a breakdown to justify rest. The needed rest, and even the crying, desperate, dark times can be the biggest motivator to Get Up.
The day after I wrote the first section of this post, which was the day after my breakdown, someone in my life committed suicide. He did not Get Up. He couldn't see past the dark places or around the mountain of problems to hope. No one really knew the depths of his difficulties or how desperate he was. He was known for his enthusiasm and ability to motivate others. He was positive, had an infectious smile, and always put others before himself and yet, last week he chose to stay down.
I am really sad. However, I am motivated more than ever to continue to Get Up because I know how easy it is to slip into hopelessness and fear. I am thankful for a mom who validates the dark times and gives me hope that it will be better. . .tomorrow.
It seems strange to say that his death resulted in something good. For me, it was immediate thankfulness that even in my dark times I have hope. We all struggle in different ways. We show strength and weakness in different ways. I hope that we all make a conscious effort to Get Up and live past difficult situations and when it seems too hard, that we reach out to someone who will help us Get Up.