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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The eternal climb

I just noted a headline stating that the oldest person in the U.S. died today. This is actually a tangential way of getting to my point. Yahoo! may have tips on longevity but I think one of the biggest indicators lies in the mind. One has to want to live and find reason for living in order to reach a ripe old age. I imagine this woman must have had that.

I always imagined I would live to be pretty old but at a certain point it occured to me that maybe that is not even what I want. My desire to live hinges on a number of outside factors. If I am going to live long, I want to live in a world that is still worth living in. I want a viable environment without too much pollution, disease, scarcity and global warming. I need people I love around me and I need reasons and purpose for living. A few weeks ago I made a dramatic post about being "cured" of my mental ailments. That might be a stretch. Every day is a challenge. I meet some better than others and overall I now know better how to deal with my angst.

Living! is still an eternal climb. Some days it is easy. I can often see many reasons to go on trying and to seek happiness but I also must continually refocus my mind in order to keep myself from dwelling in dark places.

One of the things I notice most about life since MS is that I am easily overwhelmed. Little tasks seem big. I am in continual fear of overcommitting. I still often psyche myself up for things by planning my next nap. My anxiety is often directly tied to the feeling that I can't take care of everything or to a sort of mental paralysis that keeps me from even starting. Sometimes the week stretches before me and it is hard to imagine how I will make it both physically and mentally. Mole hills are now mountians and while I recognize this, it is often hard to reframe my thinking.

There is also of course the guilt. It has dulled to a simmer but still I feel it. Part of the guilt comes from being overwhelmed. I am angry at myself for feeling that way. There have been so many times this year where I have pushed through discomfort and illness in order to take care of things and yet the thought of doing so still overwhelms me. I have three weeks before I leave town again and only a few things outside work to take care of and yet I still doubt my ability to take care of things. I see clearly what a lovely life I have and yet I am still operating under notions of scarcity about time and resources.

Even with the tools at my disposal, living with enthusiasm remains an eternal climb. I think that little of this has to do with MS and most of it is quite normal but I do find I sometimes envy people who spend more time acting and less time thinking about it. I even find that at times I envy those who can just lose themselves in other things with little room for thought at all about their relative happiness or unhappiness. My "cure" lies only in my own mind and my own ability to control or not control it on any given day. On the bright side, today is ok.


Jen said...

The climb will level off to a plateau soon and you'll have an easier walk for a while. Maybe another climb after that? And then?...Not sure....Hey--what mountain are you on, anyway? I like to pretend I'm climbing up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia Nat'l Park--Bar Harbor, Maine. Great views from all sides. I'm resting on a bench right now..

pUNKrOCKfairy said...

I sometimes find it hard to remember that I wouldn't have lived every day of my life blissfully happy if only I didn't have MS. Life goes through peaks and valleys for everyone, and I did have some unbelievably low times before this disease came along. Some days are good, use your new perspective to really appreciate them. Some days are friggin' awesome! They'll be easier to recognize and cherish now.

Lazy Julie said...

The eternal question: Is it MS or just life? I think one of the gifts of MS for me is that I stop and ask the question and not just assume I am somehow defective. Plus, my disease forces me to care for myself in a way that I never did before. I'm still not great at setting limits, letting myself be lazy, rejecting guilt, etc., but I'm way better than I used to be.
Peace, love, and jelly beans.
Lazy Julie

Diane J Standiford said...

You keep workin' it out. You'll be okay. Jen--good one.

Shauna said...

One of the things that was brought to my attention after coming out of my depression (a long time ago, btw), was that sometimes we just have bad days. It doesn't mean another spiral into the darkness...And to get out of the darkness takes a lot of up and down motion. A few good days, a bad day, a few more good days, a couple of not so good days. Recovering from depression is a as much a journey as falling into depression.
You're doing well, sweetie, keep on keepin' on.


Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks for dropping by everyone. I appreciate all the moral support. I agree with what many of you said about how it comes and goes. There are more good days now than bad and even the bad ones are not nearly like they were. I'm keeping my chin up.


Someone once told me, "finding true happiness is realizing there is no such thing...oh, the freedom to just be."

You are what you are, kiddo, and it's all good.

Linda D. in Seattle