It’s been a while since I wrote to y’all and with my 9 year chronic illness anniversary just passing (Feb 16, 2011) I want to introduce you to my friend Susan!
I have a friend named Susan and she isn’t like any normal friend because nobody can see her! No she is not my imaginary friend really, I can feel her presence more than I can see her. Actually I never actually see her, but I do know what she looks like.
Now before you write me off as some crazy loon who’s making things up, let me explain who Susan is and why she’s always hanging around.
Nine years ago I was injured at work and from that injury I was blessed and diagnosed with a chronic illness. I went downhill very fast after that injury as I was so used to being healthy and independent. I never asked for help and was always helping and doing things for others because that’s what made me happy! Feb 16, 2011 that all changed and I couldn’t handle it. I was sent to a pain program to try and help with all the excruciating pain that I was now forced to deal with everyday. Part of that program was talking to a psychiatrist and I honestly didn’t like that idea, but I had to do it. Turns out that she was very helpful and brought me back from the dark hole I was now living in.
One day she told me to imagine my pain. What did my pain look like? It only took a few seconds to imagine this and I then described it and drew it out on paper. What I saw was this little girl wearing a purple dress. Weird thing is she didn’t have any feet. No, she wasn’t a ghost, but she did just float around my body. As I described this girl I said that if I really listened I could hear her laughing. I didn’t like her laugh and I still don’t. She will just float around my body causing me pain and laughing about it. I don’t really like Susan, heck I don’t think anyone could like her.
As part of my treatment, my psychiatrist taught my some breathing techniques. What she would have me do is sit back, close my eyes, and focus only on my breathing. I would have to count to 3 as I breathe in and count to 3 as I breathe out, making my breathing even. The point to this was to be able to relax, and as I relaxed my body went more numb and I could just drift away from all the pain and trouble this horrid illness brought to me!
She next told me to imagine My pain leaving my body. The first thing that came to my mind was the ending of Beauty and the beast, where the beast turns back to a man. As I sat there, eyes closed and relaxed I pictured beams of light shining from my toes and fingers and Susan trying very hard not to leave me. But she eventually was gone, although it was only temporarily. Susan never stays gone, she always comes back and sadly I will never be able to get rid of her.
After all these years I have gotten used to Susan hanging around and that in itself is sad! I don’t wish a friend like Susan on anyone. Some days I can manage the pain and not notice too much that she is there. Although more days than not she is very noticeable and angry and causes way too much pain!
Even after 9 years I still have hope that my doctors and I will find a way to manage her more and make it so she’s not so angry and mean. I still hope for the day that I can say “Susan who?”
Have you ever pictured your pain and given it a form of some sort? Did you give you pain a name?
I do truly hope that you don’t have a monster friend like Susan! If you do, have you found a way to manage it, and keep it from acting up?