I’m in another flare-up of my autoimmune disease. Unfortunately, the gap where I felt halfway decent between the last exacerbation and this one was very short-lived, lasting just 13 days. Although any break from the pain is like a cherished oasis however small or brief, it is hard to not get pessimistic when the pain and illness symptoms swoop in in full forceful vengeance after a short, highly anticipated respite. The last flare-up was not only intense and quite debilitating, but it dragged on for nearly 3.5 weeks, so I was desperately hoping the acute resolution would last at least as long. Each morning, I woke up with such prudence and dubiety, as I didn’t want to move a muscle and find the pain had rallied back a counterattack. On the thirteenth day, I didn’t even have to move to know that I was shoved back into illness. The pain consumed me like a vengeful monster to the point that movement was not necessarily to detect its presence. I was hot with fever, my head throbbed like the skins of a bass drum, and my stomach churned in wariness. There was no amount of sunny disposition that could overlook, or at least readily minimize the beast that is this current disease flare.
It’s not easy to remain optimistic that “this too shall pass (quickly)” when the last flare was so long and so severe. I’ve been doing a remarkable job over the past several weeks of maintaining a decent mood and outlook instead of sliding down winter’s icy slope of deep depression. It hasn’t been perfect and it’s been a deliberate focus, but I’ve endured the trying weather, emotional holidays, and other tolls of the past couple weeks in a way that even impresses the harshest of self-critics that lives within me. I felt like I was developing body armor that clad me in a higher degree of mental health safety and shielded me from the usual slight stab that would typically be enough to topple me over and render me defeated to massive clinical depression and crippling anxiety. The armor wasn’t a bulletproof vest, but it helped me approach the levels of psychological resilience from depression that normal humans possess. And it’s not that I didn’t feel the burden of effort that went into donning it daily, as sometimes the emotional toll of feigning mental strength in order to subliminally convince my brain that all was good, was exhausting, if not depleting.
Well, now the armor has been stripped off. I’m standing in the battlefield naked, heeding to the ammunition of the physical and mental health adversaries. I feel the autoimmune disease assault my physical body, and watch her try to double-team me with bullets aimed at my mental health. The pain and debility can so easily invite depression and hopelessness. I’m stumbling, but I vow to try to hold my ground. I’ve worked too hard over the past couple of weeks to succumb compliantly.
So, today as the pain drills into my joints, muscles, head, and stomach, and even fever threatens to keep my body awake tonight, I will try to seek cover from allowing negative thoughts topple my mood into an irrecoverable place. I’m aware of the vulnerable position I’m in, so as I try to nurse myself through the physical ramifications of the flare-up, I will try to prophylactically care for my psychological health. Part of this means going easier on myself and being patient with my shortcomings instead of demanding constant self-improvement. I can continue working hard to progress and grow towards the way I want to become when my body is healthy again. As long as I don’t regress too appreciably, I need to count this as a win. This WILL pass on time; without knowing the duration, I can still be confident that there will be better, less painful days, somewhere down the line. I just have to scramble to grab the protection available in the meantime to get me through.