Friday, March 9, 2012

The Down-Low on being Down-Low (And Finding my Way Up)

This has been a perfectly difficult week.

It came on the heels of having the cough from hell for the previous 2 1/2 weeks.  When I say "cough from hell" I mean it.  I'm talking barking and spewing and horking that makes you puke up blood and endure sleepless nights.  The "cough from hell" was accompanied by fever, chills, fatigue and aches and pain.

This past Sunday I was sure I was turning a corner.    My cough seemed to be getting a little better and I could feel my energy coming back.  I was ready to bring it.  But my body had other ideas.

I woke up on Monday morning coughing and spewing.  Throughout the day I had increasingly severe pain when inhaling even a little bit, but especially when I had to cough.  I managed to get the groceries, teach piano lessons, and make supper.  By the time we finished eating I was sure I had broken a rib.  My secret stash of leftover T3's got me through the night and I was waiting at the walk-in clinic when the doors opened at 8 Tuesday morning.  I left with a diagnosis of pulled inter-costal muscles, a prescription for super-powered anti-inflamatories, a requisition for a rib x-ray and a hell of a lot of sadness.

Tuesday went on as it needed to.  I had three girls at home because of the BC Teacher's Federation Strike.  I had an appointment with my physiotherapist downtown and kids to get ready for their piano lessons.  I had supper to get on the table and homework to look at.  I had a birthday party to plan and phone calls to make.  I had overflowing garbage cans and no dishwasher detergent left.   I had kids that were this close to wearing their underwear inside out unless some laundry got done.  (You can only tell your kids to dig through their hamper for clean leggings so many times before even you're embarrassed).

I don't often write about my struggles with mental health.  It is part of who I am, but it doesn't define who I am.  I willingly call myself crazy because I know it's true.  It is a part of me.   I live with being a little crazy every day.  It's been my lifelong companion and we're well acquainted.  That I can mostly handle.

You see, crazy I can do.  But when my physical body shuts down I have trouble holding the pieces of my puzzle together.  It feels like a betrayal of sorts.  With all that I juggle and rise above, must my body choose this time to hang me out to dry?

This week was hard.  My reaction to it is to burrow down deep.  Hide and avoid.  Ignore people.  Wish they'd go away and leave me alone too.  For the most part I'm pretty good at this.  I've got my small select group of people that I can relate to during times like this.  (By relating I mean a one or two sentence email that says something cryptic and cynical but begs for understanding).  I listen to music that matches my shade.  I swear a lot.  I read and contemplate.

One of the best parts of living in BC is that when I need to burrow down deep I am left alone.  Mostly.  I have a few friends here that are on to my wiley ways and refuse to let me burrow away completely.  They know it's not really good for me to disappear that far.  One of them showed up at the door this morning with flowers and a card, some tears and a hug.  She did this even after I didn't answer my phone all morning.  She just came anyway.  We all need people to scratch away persistently and knowingly before the cover above your head gets too thick and too deep.

My day was filled with questions and some answers.  I had space and time to let them swirl around until they found their homes.  And soon I was filling a laundry basket with my girl's clothes and bringing it downstairs to throw it into the washer.  And it was at that moment that  I knew -   I was on my way up.  It's those little things from the normalcy of life that remind you that you're OK.  You're functioning and taking care of business.  You're cleaning up the mess that accumulated and you're starting again.  You always do.

Somehow you always find your way back up.
Sore ribs and all.


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  2. Such a honest post Karla! Loved reading it. I never want to push but hopefully you know you have a friend in me! insert the theme song from Toy Story here... ;-)

  3. Karla - I was wondering what had happened after getting your message on early Tuesday. Glad I popped over to Penner Five to try to find out, and also glad to hear you made it through a tough week.
    And remember, when the society around you is crazy/Alice-in-Wonderland-upside-down, the ones who feel/are labelled "crazy" & "misfits" may be the sanest ones of all.

  4. I love how just doing a load of laundry reminds us of some normalcy in life. Thanks for this post, your writing is awesome! I hope you are feeling, I am glad there are others out there with a secret stash of T3 's too!

  5. I too love your honesty and I get the struggle with mental health. Sucks that even tho you KNOW it's your mental health wreaking havoc, it still is really shitty when you're in the middle of it. I tend to be really angry when I'm there. That doesn't always result in the prettiest things. Hope your body pulls itself together for you real soon! Schwester

  6. i love you when you are down and low and I love you when you are up.