Chronic Illness, Mental Health, Phase 3

Goal: 50 by 30

While I am no longer in DBT, during my period working through it I spent some time working on coming up with goals. This was in attempt to come up with reasons to stick around and not give up hope. We were meant to list all sorts of things, but my lists invariably comprised of travel. These kinds of goals are really helpful for me, because they are attainable, fun, and I can never run out of places to see. My main short-ish term goal is to visit, even just passing through, every one of the 50 US states. I’ve already been to 28, and we’re about to add another, with plans for 6 more in the nearish future.

A few days ago I had an urge. My girlfriend is amazing when I get these. They help me navigate what’s reasonable and what’s not. I wanted to just take off on a road trip right then, but they reminded me that while that would be fun, we had frozen groceries in the car. My car also needs some work before it’s roadtrip worthy. Did you know that if the hood latch fails on the interstate, the hood will fly up and not only shatter the windshield, but also bend the hood itself out of shape so much it can barely close? I do now. We’re still yet to fix the hood to be roadworthy, but it works to putter around town. Zip ties are amazing things when you use them right.

Anyway, we went home and began planning. Last year I discovered that I love backpacking and hammock camping, so we decided that getting a second hammock would be cheaper than a tent and that set up (we were barely right). It’s also more space efficient, seeing as we will have to carry everything the whole way, and a whole ass tent would not be fun to lug up and down the trail. Also, freakin’ hammocks. Come on.

There are several states right nearby that I haven’t been to, and figured this would be a great excuse to do so. However, after some research, I realized that it’s still cold in Michigan and Minnesota right now, so the original itinerary is going to be postponed. The original plan was about 30 hours of drive time, hitting, in order, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, backpacking in Michigan.

Instead, we’re going to go backpacking in Arkansas, then going down through Louisiana (state number 29) to Florida, where we plan to go to the beach under the full moon.

With COVID isolation for almost 3 months and only working at home, I’ve lost a lot of muscle mass, so I’m apprehensive about how my stamina will be on this hike. The last time that I went on anywhere near this long of a trip was almost a year ago. We plan to make a slower pace. I found this to be incredibly important on my last long hike. There’s no destination, you’re just walking for the sake of walking, no reason to wear yourself out by booking it. We also got two different style and shape backpacks, so when one gets uncomfortable, we can swap. I made sure to get trek sticks that were tall enough for me, even though the trail isn’t all that rough. Trying to take into account my abilities and instabilities, experience with this kind of activity, and the general attitude I’m approaching the hike with has been really helpful in alleviating my anxiety.

Some time in the next month I will hopefully be posting about backpacking as a semi-disabled person.

Chronic Illness, Mental Health, Phase 3

Chronic Illness in the Face of Pandemic

It’s been a while since I was able to write. Immediately after rebooting my website my life fell apart. My girlfriend had moved in, and it felt like things were going to finally be ok. We joke that we had a normal life for 5 minutes. Due to certain plans falling through, we ended up homeless and couch surfing for a good month and a half before finding a friend to stay with short term. After that, we had to be separated, them living with a sister, and me living with my parents. This was torturous. My mental state began collapsing around me, and to top it all off, I had to stop going to therapy. Also in this time, I had a car accident, failed to appear in court and got arrested. That’s right, ya boi is an ex-con now. I was in the lockup for 2 whole hours.

Now, things are– ok. It’s not the best situation; I’d much rather be living in our own apartment, but at least we can be together. I’m still not in therapy, and it’s getting harder and harder to cope.

On Halloween I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, a complication of psoriasis. Having a name to put with my debilitating joint pain and fatigue was unbelievably relieving. I’m still in a great amount of pain, but at least with my medication it’s not getting worse. Psoriatic Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, and as such puts me at a higher risk of getting sick because my body has decided that attacking itself is a better idea than attacking microorganisms trying to make a home in my body. The most common medication, and the one I’m on, also suppresses the immune system. So needless to say, I’m effin’ terrified of getting sick.

Enter COVID-19.

As of writing this, I’ve been in isolation for 45 days. It had been ok; I prefer to stay home most of the time anyway. This week though– this week has been hard. Both my BPD and arthritis are acting up (I guess because they’re bored), making me a miserable, sore mess. I had an argument with my Love, and haven’t been able to clean at all. It’s not usually an issue, but one of my other conditions is agoraphobia. I’m usually ok with leaving home with only slight anxiety. I’m usually totally happy to drive my Love to work. But nothing is as usual right now. The world is upside down. All my fears are legitimate. Usually my fear that the world is trying to hurt me and those I hold dear is unwarranted. These are unusual times. The world could kill me. It’s killed nearly 200 people in my state alone.

The worst part of this pandemic, for me personally, is the mental toll. Not only the ramifications of being in isolation for over a month, but also seeing people’s reactions. When I go out for some essential reason and see people who aren’t wearing masks or aren’t wearing them properly, it is a visual example of how many people simply don’t care about folks like me. They don’t care that they are exposing themselves and everyone around them to this virus. They think that because a healthy person can fight it off, they are safe. When I read about people complaining about the shutdown, all I can see are people who care more about money and appearances than my life.

Don’t tell me I’m overreacting. Don’t tell me everything is going to be ok. Don’t tell me that my daily anxiety and panic attacks are unnecessary. Don’t tell me anything. Just let me sleep.