‘At Times, Our Own Light Goes Out And Is Rekindled By A Spark From Another Person.’ Albert Schweitzer

Dear David (from Gerstein Crisis Centre)

It’s taken me four days to finally be able to compose this letter.

Not because I didn’t care to but because I became too emotional whenever I thought about your kindness towards me during my short stay at Gerstein.

You were the first person during my ordeal who did not see someone who was ‘weak’ and ‘needy’ but instead you saw someone who was tired of fighting so hard.

Someone who just needed a safe place to land.

You gave me that.

From the very minute I stood in front of the office doors as a crying hot mess, until we had talked long enough for me to enter a sleep-like.

state.

You threw me a lifeline.

You listened.

You talked.

You joked.

You laughed.

You related.

You made me feel heard and understood, and there are not simply enough words in the English language to convey my complete gratitude towards you for that.

So from one panic attack sufferer to another…

In words I know you’ll understand best.

I’ll just say:

I’d lay down in the snow with you, until your panic attack passes. 😊

Forever grateful,

Angela

PS if anyone knows him or how to get in touch with him let me know

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‘That Which Does Not Kill Us, Makes Us Stronger.’ Nietzsche

Mornings and late late nights are my worst

So far, I’ve made it through 7 mornings and 6 late late nights

Though it felt more like months of both

My body is tired

From ingesting little more than diabetic meal replacement drinks

And the occasional PB and J sandwich

I never thought it could get so bad

Correction

I never thought it would get this bad, again

Although it feels new to me

In many ways I’ve done this before

From calling crisis centres to emerge visits and drinking meal replacers and med changes

I guess I should say

I hoped it would never get this bad again

I know the old adage of ‘that which does not kill us, makes us stronger’

But I think I’d be fine not being tested for the millionth time on my strength

I think I’d prefer something like

‘You’ve been through the worst, it’s all sunshine and meadows ahead’

Shit

I’d even settle for something like

‘Way to go Angela!

It’s all overcast and fields of manure with the occasional sun shower ahead.

Yeah

I could settle for that

‘A person with panic disorder may experience symptoms such as severe feelings of terror, rapid breathing, and rapid heart rate. People with panic disorder may experience these attacks unexpectedly and for no apparent reason.’

One week

That feels more like a year

One week

That will go down as the worst in my life

I’ve lost count of how many nights I’ve woken Joey during the night in a sheer panic

Two emergency rooms

Two emerge doctors whose kindness I won’t soon forget

A private inpatient facility

A crisis line

Two triage nurses

Anyone who would listen

Even the ones that didn’t

Two psychiatric nurses

One psychiatrist who cared more about ‘stepping on the toes’ of my neuro psychiatrists than helping me through a crisis

One night at a crisis centre

One night where I never thought I could ever end up

One staff member who was my lifeline

One 37 year old who needed her mom to get through the night

One nine hour wait in an emergency waiting room

One road trip to Collingwood

Another half hour wait in an emergency waiting room

Countless nurses and doctors who looked right through me

As long as I didn’t kill myself

No skin off their backs

One prescription for Diazepam to get me through another scary night

Several messages and emails left for my neuro psychiatrist and to my family doctor and to anyone else I could think of

Two more days until I get to see my neuro psychiatrist

Thousands of hugs and kisses and words of encouragement from Joey and my mom

Countless messages of support from my friends, family and Facebook peers

One persevering warrior

Who is trying her absolute fucking best

To not give up

One day and night

Where the first and last thoughts aren’t about panic attacks

Would be nice too…

‘There Are Moments That Mark Your Life. Moments When You Realize Nothing Will Ever Be The Same. And Time Is Divided Into Two Parts – Before This and After This.’ Nicholas Kazan (Fallen)

I had an a-ha moment today in my support group. We were on the first step which is:
1. We admitted to ourselves that we are powerless over our disease. That our lives had become unmanageable.
I got to go last…which meant I got to listen to 3 MS veterans. All having been diagnosed more than 15 years ago.
One spoke of feeling comfortable in being alone on Xmas day.
Someone else spoke of being okay with their sometimes self-imposed isolation. Another spoke of being aware of their limitations, without being self-deprecating.
I sat back and listened.
One in a wheelchair.
One in a scooter.
One with cognitive symptoms.
And I felt envious.
Of them.
Me,with my mostly mobile body.
Me, with my mostly cognitive functioning brain.
I felt jealous of each of them.
I felt jealous of the comfort and grace each of them had come to possess upon accepting their illness.
I sat there and reflected over the last 6 years since diagnosis.
The ups and so so many downs.
The relapses.
The symptoms.
The steroids.
Treatments.
Injections.
Sleepless nights.
Crying fits.
Raging fits.
Anxiety.
So much fucking anxiety.
All of it, having led me to this moment.
Waiting for my turn to talk in a 12 step support group.
Their eyes looked to me.
My turn.
I looked around the table.
Less than a year ago, they were nothing more than three strangers. People I would have passed on the street, without a second glance.
Now we share this inexplicable bond.
This illness we all have.
Referred to often as the ‘snowflake’ disease, since symptoms vary so much from person to person.
These three people who now know more about my feelings and thoughts than most of the people in my more immediate circle. These strangers not so different from this lifelong outsider, after all.
I told them I thought that I had accepted having MS.
6 years ago. I heard the words coming out of my Doctor’s mouth and thought to myself ‘okay….so now I have MS.’
I thought that was enough.
I thought that meant I had accepted it.
But it wasn’t until that very minute that I realized, I would never be able to accept MS, until I had also accepted the negative impact its had on my life.
That meant accepting the change in my job status.
The permanent damage to my eyes.
The toll all of it has taken on my already fragile mental state.
Taking all of that in…and still being able to say that while I won’t succumb to it, I have come to terms with having MS in my life. That I’m OKAY with it.
I’m not there…
Not even close.
But I found hope in looking around me.
Which for someone as chronically hopeless as myself, is a fucking lifeline.

‘I Regret Those Times When I’ve Chosen The Dark Side.’ -Jessica Lange

I always thought I was a ‘no regrets’ kind of person

Did the things I wanted to

Things I loved

With minimal regrets

I told myself that’s why I got tattoos

Why sometimes I could be impulsive

It now seems so childish to think you could live an entire life without regrets

It’s an impossibility

Sure maybe you took that trip you wanted

Or you told that person you loved them

But we each carry some type of regret over something we wish we could have done

Or just done differently

Sometimes it doesn’t take ones deathbed to look back over your life

Sometimes all it takes is a really restless sleepless night

And suddenly regrets pop up faster than you can search for the sleeping pills

So you’re stuck

Staring into space and reviewing 37 years of a life you’d thought you had lived regret-free

I wish I could wax poetic like Sinatra did

About admitting to having had regrets and yet having had too few to even mention

But it’s nearing 4 am and I fear I won’t be able to get some rest until I lay them out there

So here are some (in no particular order)

Regrets:

◦ Not getting my degree when I was younger

◦ Wasting time with forgettable people

◦ Not spending enough time with memorable people

◦ Not reading a book in every spare minute I had

◦ Giving up my job (this one haunts me)

◦ Selling a home that I felt instantly connected to

◦ Not telling off a former boss (or two)

◦ Some coworkers too

◦ Not speaking my mind when I knew I should have

◦ Declining certain invitations from the aforementioned memorable people

◦ Allowing some people to make me feel less than

◦ Every time I felt embarrassed for not knowing something

◦ Not showing or telling some people how much I care(d)

◦ All the time I spent wishing instead of doing

◦ Not relishing the enjoyment of watching a movie or tv show

◦ Not relishing the enjoyment of reading a book

◦ Not relishing every single peaceful moment

There are more

Of course

I’m sure I’ll add new ones to this list as well

Although I’d much rather say from this moment on, there would be none

But that would be a lie

And I’m too tired to pretend with myself

——-

I did fall asleep about two hours after writing this but it didn’t give me the relief I was craving

Instead I laid in bed crying about my job

Feeling sorry for myself

Feeling sorry for Joey

Feeling sorry that there are kids out there that I just know I can help

But that I won’t be able to

And that last one

Just fucking guts me

My tears now feel hot and painful as they roll down my face

My chest and stomach hurt

And I’m overcome with feelings of guilt, sorrow and that same fucking regrets

So it seems that exorcising your regrets isn’t the same as having none in the first place

Who knew? 😒

‘In The Depth of Winter, I Learned That There Was In Me An Invincible Summer’ Albert Camus

You know how every winter when it gets below zero

You think to yourself

‘This is the problem with Canadian winters, it just drops and you don’t have time to get accustomed to the cold temperatures.’

Well

That’s kinda like having MS

In one day

In one minute

In one nanosecond

You go from being just another random person

To be a person with Multiple Sclerosis

Maybe you lose functioning of your right hand

Or your lower half goes numb

Or you’re like me

And one day there’s a blurred spot in your vision

That no amount of lens cleaning

Will get rid of

The fucked up part

Is that with relapse remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Every relapse is kinda like reliving that first one all over again

Yeah sure you have your symptoms

But you’ve grown used to them

You’ve figured out a routine

A method of getting shit done

And then bang

Boom

Pow

Out of nowhere

Your leg stops working and you fall

Or your speech gets slurred and you sound intoxicated

Or you’re like me and you can’t stand to have your eyes open for another fucking second

So yeah

MS is kinda like that

And every time I think I’ve gotten the right equipment

And my coat is warm enough

And my snow tires are on

Then it changes in a flash

And now I’m standing outside in a T-shirt and it’s minus 30 Celsius weather

And I don’t remember a time when I ever felt warm enough

And I can’t remember what the sun’s gaze feels like directly on my face

And I certainly can’t recall what I was like before I turned into ice and shattered into a million pieces

Or who I was before MS blew into my life like a fucking snowstorm on steroids

…..

‘There Was A Time In My Life When I Thought I had Everything…Now I Struggle For Peace.’ Richard Pryor

This morning I read about Richard Pryor and having Multiple Sclerosis

Now I’m pissed off at myself

Because I allowed it to fuck with my head

All day

I kept seeing Richard Pryor towards the end of his life

In a wheelchair

His head sort of lolled forward

Frail and sickly

As if that image wasn’t sad enough

The word ‘invalid’ is stamped onto the backs of my eyelids

That’s how his widow referred to him in an interview after his death

When he became an invalid’

Something like that

That word taunted me all day

Haunted me

Invalid

It’s the opposite of valid

Which means

An idea or thought that is sensible

Or

Something that is important or serious enough that it is worth saying or doing

And that’s what got to me

Because at the end of his ‘battle’ with MS

He was reduced to a word

Irregardless of his willingness to fight and stay positive and be strong and every other trivial motivational one liner people throw at us

He was reduced to a word that literally meant he wasn’t important

That his life didn’t matter

And quite honestly

I cannot think of anything more heartbreaking

Than to be thought of

As nothing more than just inconsequential