Healing - Introduction
I’ve been struggling with how to write about healing, and when to write about my own healing journey. The phrase ‘healing journey’ only recently entered my lexicon. It forced its way into my consciousness like the way a new boyfriend’s name does. At first you laugh while saying it because it sounds so foreign, “my boyfriend, so-and-so haha”, and after a few weeks, it feels like the most natural thing in the world. All of a sudden you catch yourself saying it several times a day – much to the dismay of your coworkers. My only hope is my network of peers and friends don’t roll their eyes too hard at the phrase ‘healing journey’.
My healing journey is hard to talk about because it’s not done. Simply put, it will never be done. That’s because healing (physical or mental) is not a linear path – the circumstances that lead you to needing to be healed typically alter a lot of random aspects of your life permanently.
For example, I had knee surgery at the age of 14. To this day, I still opt for an alternative version of pigeon pose in yoga, I hesitate before agreeing to go snowboarding, and I have to take precautions when I go on long hikes. I still do these things with a smile and with lots of joy – but the way I do them is forever altered.
So that’s why the journey is never done. And in fact, the specific leg of the journey I’m on right now is not even done. I’m still at a limited capacity, unable to walk or stand for longer than 10 minutes, and as I write this, I’ve been off work going on three months, and dealing with the symptoms for 8 months. But, if I waited until I was healed to write about healing, then the work would never start!
This brings me to the point of why am I writing about healing? First and foremost, it’s important for me to channel this painful experience into something creative and positive. I say painful experience and not negative experience, because it has been largely positive. I’ve learned a lot about myself, have had time to clear my head and reset, and have re-committed myself to living the healthiest version of my life. Still, I’ve had really bad weeks, painful sleepless nights, and have found myself incredibly frustrated and angry throughout.
Second, I want to help carry some of the burden of others living with chronic pain or injuries, and provide a source of empathy, understanding, and maybe even some education to those who are just starting to heal. When I first realized this was going to be a long-term injury, I looked online for a form of support. All I found was incredibly negative chronic pain forums that propelled me into a month’s long depression (*I've since found some great resources and blog posts about living with chronic pain that I've posted below). These forums, with people describing very similar symptoms to me, left me feeling like there was no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel, and that I would forever be an unwanted, unloveable, burden in the lives of my friends and family. My mum, my friends, and my therapist all helped pull me out of that place (thank you), but I know not everyone has a support system in place.
Third, I would like to have something to look back on to remember my experience authentically, so that I don’t stray too far from the lessons I’ve learned during this time. I feel the need to write about it in a public place to hold myself accountable.
As I write this series, I will often talk about the connection between my body and mind. I used scientifically proven methods of healing, and also experimented with other healing methods which also proved to be helpful for me. Some of these methods include counselling, Reiki therapy, writing, reading, and… Angel cards. My experience is the sum of all of those things, combined with physiotherapy, prescribed medication, support from my friends and family, a few breakdowns, several gift baskets, a few sneaky glasses of wine, Japanese reality shows on Netflix, and a literal fuck ton of chocolate.
I'll write about my experience across 5 personal essays – Heartbreak, Support, Joy, Treatment, and Meaning. I'll release one each month for the next 5 months.
I’d like to note that I do not have a chronic illness. Dealing with chronic pain (6 months+) and being diagnosed with a chronic illness are very different experiences. I do not pretend to understand what that is like, and I imagine it differs greatly from my own experience. There’s a great conversation on Twitter about living with chronic illness – #chroniclife – and resources listed below. So, if you’ve stumbled upon my story in search for support for living with chronic illness, I encourage you to check out these resources first.
- Back Mechanic by Stuart McGill (Given my pain was caused by a chronic back injury - reading this book helped me see my body with a new perspective)