Although I've had this blog for some time, I don't think I've ever formally defined it's purpose.
I'm not sure anyone formally defines their blogs, so hopefully that isn't a problem!
Is it here to detail highlights of my life? To inform others of the trials of allergy free living? Perhaps it's an attempt to connect and say "you aren't alone" to strangers who are in their own "Can it really be just stress?" quandry. Or maybe it's a bit of everything. I know there are a few friends who follow faithfully, a few family members who drop by occassionally, and fellow allergy sufferers who pop by just to nod and agree...or shake their heads and say to themselves that they're glad they aren't THAT bad off. :P
I think today's post is directed at the latter.
I've been dealing with some sort of reaction for nearly a month now. I got a good dose of...something...just around Thanksgiving, vomiting and all that good stuff. It hit at a particularly poignant moment since I was dreading leaving the house and then conveniently ill.
Maybe it was stress?
But why hasn't it gone away? And why is it getting worse at moments when I want, very much, for it to get better?
I've found myself wondering which comes first, the reaction or depression. Because while it's much harder to deal with a reaction while depressed, the fact is that it's pretty depressing to feel like there's a shattered disco ball being used like a pin-ball machine in your abdomen, especially when the muscles are also feeling very sore and bruised. And then the chills set in, ironically I feel like it's a hundred degrees in here while my teeth are chattering loudly enough to accompany the CD player and I'm sweating. Ick.
The only difference between now and the days before I'd identified triggers are that I harbor hope. There's hope that I'll track the reaction down. I know what normal is, sort of. At least...I know this isn't it. And it isn't a constant tide of pain vs discomfort. There's bits of normalcy in there. There never used to be.
I'm hopeful, but I'm scared too. I don't want to deal with this on a regular basis. I don't like not knowing when it's going to hit. Whenever it DOES hit I get so skittish. I shun company, I hide out at home. I want to ignore the phone and the door and the call of the grocery store (It's not like I'm that hungry, after all.) I used to get the stomach flu, and it was a distant memory within the week.
Now, it's long and drawn out and there's very unnecessary weight loss involved...especially when it ISN'T the flu.
To be honest, the discomfort and embarrassing nature of this malady isn't the only thing I'm afraid of. I know I ought to slip into the doctor's office, recite my list of complaints along with their severity and wait for prognosis. And I know that it's not serious...I'm not even concerned that it might be serious. What scares me is the thought that there's nothing more to do.
I know I don't have something scary like Cancer. I'm lucky, very lucky! I also don't have something scary but treatable like diabetes. Again...I'm lucky. I can eat chocolate now and then! But the mystery digestive ailment that responds violently to comfort drugs and pops up mysteriously; tracked to triggers such as minute amounts of corn in the new tube of my usual toothpaste or helping the kids to decorate "real" gingerbread houses is getting to me. I wish I had something to say other than "I'm just not feeling well today," I feel so whiny. And I'm whining about whining which simply makes it worse!
At any rate, I go back to my checklist. Foods haven't changed drastically, or even that subtly. All the same ingredients, all the same brands, all the same labels (even on eggs). Maybe it isn't food. I'm more prone to reactions this time of year, usually tracked to a trigger but maybe I'm wrong? Maybe I'm crazy? (Wait, blind tests have proven there's SOMETHING physical occurring beyond the state of my psyche)
What about stress?
It's my official diagnosis, one I've been given countless times. Maybe I'm depressed, something I've considered as well.
The thing is, I'm more mad at my body than I am "stressed". And I feel too happy to really be "depressed", if that makes sense. I may not feel like going to a downtown museum and walking through the crowds of the Christmas displays but lying down and listening to my kids play with their nativity set makes me grin. And I enjoy the Christmas displays when there aren't elbows in my ribs and strangers feet tripping me. When I awaken beside a bedtime invader ("It's cold in my room!") I just lay and savor the weight of her body and the sound of her breathing. Candles burning in the menorah filled me with peace. I missed reading together when a child fell asleep before her bedtime book.
Would I feel that way if I were depressed?
The landlord stopped by unexpectedly, and caught me with the living room a mess and my baking unfinished. (At least the kids were dressed...) And I laughed, even at the gentle critique (Yes...my yard's a disaster, it's worse than the living room. It's cold out there for cleaning, though!). If stress were the issue, wouldn't that have tied my stomach in knots? Or wouldn't I lose my calm when I discover that there are beads, scissors and a flurry of paper snowflake-makings filling my now-recently vacuumed living room?
Okay, so I did think "why even bother"? But then the snowflakes made me smile. And if I were depressed, I wouldn't keep re-cleaning...would I?
I'm starting to wonder how many other allergy/digestive sufferers go through this process during a reaction. If you struggle with depression in conjunction with a reaction (but don't know if it's really depression) let me know I'm not alone! You can let me know if I'm crazy too...everyone else does :P And if you know of a good way to get through the emotional aspects of a reaction cycle, post that, too. It's the most frustrating part. Because sometimes it leads to not caring anymore. Whats the point if its not going to permanently cure me?
I know that eventually I'll be fine again. I know that it isn't just stress. I also know that it stresses me out, and that stress exacerbates things...so maybe it is stress to a degree. At any rate, I have to get better. I want to enjoy playing with the kids. We've got playgrounds to explore, and games to play, and recipes to adapt. Not to mention holidays to celebrate...