by Elijah Walker
This piece was first published in October 2017 and is re-posted here with permission.
For more than two years, I’ve experienced chronic pain, especially in my back and neck. I always thought it was something I would just have to “live with,” and didn’t anticipate that it would ever get better or worse. It just was.
But in August, all of a sudden, it was more than it had been. More excruciating. More debilitating. More overwhelming. The first time I noticed this change, I was walking in a shopping mall with my sister. We had only been on our feet for a few minutes when my legs went numb and I started to fall over—I had to use the wall behind me to catch myself. It happened again and again. The next week, I fell on the stairs because my legs were numb again. I fell on the stairs a second time and then realized that this is very bad.
Being in a new town and a new community, I wasn’t sure if I could find the support and care that I need. Thankfully, I found a doctor who agreed with me that something’s not right. I also have a patient advocate (and I recommend getting one yourself if you ever find yourself in a frustrating health situation).
by Juniper Klatt
CN: anxiety, panic attacks, despair
I feel weak sometimes. It’s painful to write that sentence. I feel weak, exhausted, shaky, unconfident, scared, overwhelmed, panicked, anxious, down, sad, in the depths of despair…
And I DON’T LIKE IT.
I live with some chronic pain, and a lot of days my body hurts. Aches. Feels like there are spikes or knives in my neck and head. Like my stomach will never understand the goodness of food and serenity again.
I’ve rearranged my life with rhythms of rest and spaces each day, week, month, year to heal, retreat, and recover.
Even with these rhythms and intentional spaces, sometimes there’s a period of life with great stress. Events and places and people that are unsafe, dysfunctional, or for whatever reason require A LOT more energy and resilience. Even though most of the time I plan my life around my work and rest, seeking what brings life and joy – there are times when I have to be at/lead/do things/show up for situations that normally I avoid. Places and spaces where triggers are many, toxic energy abounds, or there’s conflict a brewing.
I’m gonna be real here and say I don’t always know how to handle these situations. I have a surprising amount of bravery and perseverance in me, and yet the aftermath is often pretty terrible. My body is very good at processing feelings when the rest of me refuses to deal with them, and usually transforms stress and trauma into physical sickness.
Yesterday after many a hard thing lately I spent the dark hours of the morning pacing in my bathroom sobbing and attempting to not throw up. That feels like a vulnerable thing to put out into the internet.