On Mental Health Awareness Month & Gratitude

A friend of mine is doing a series of posts each day about Gratitude. I figure I can do at least one…
I am grateful that I have a lot of spoons.
A lot of folks new to the whole deal about having a chronic illness or some such don’t know what that means because they haven’t googled spoon theory.
Since I was very young, I have dealt with IBS and Fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder and tinnitus.
Which sounds really terrible. For me, it isn’t.
All of them are stress related issues. For a long time I locked my anger and my distrust away inside me, my feelings of betrayal and my hot, blossoming hate for those who could not look past a facade that I was really good at putting up.
This led to anger issues. Unresolved ones, natch, because I never really admitted to some nor knew others until I was well into adulthood.
I do not do prescription medication for such. I take NSAIDs for the FM, which happen to make the IBS worse, and I sorta just have to watch my diet to make sure that at least twice a week I can go to the restroom.
In a brief nod to current events, sometimes that bathroom timing is quite utterly out of my control. But know that for 30+ years, when I say I have to go to the restroom, it is because I no longer have the ability to hold it.
I served in the military with those issues. I fought for the rights and liberties of others. My initial primary MOS was 55D, and to make things more fun, I was also 11C. Top of my class in EOD. In those days, no one tested for such things, no one really knew about such things.
In those 30+ years I have been beaten, shot, stabbed, tasered, and generally had the crap kicked out of me.
When you go through life all day with a pain level of 5, adding a few minor flesh wounds doesn’t seem like all that much. That many of those were do to my anger issues, well, that’s another story.
I studied my profession. I worked in Kitchens, in my own companies, in retail, I paid my way and took out my loans and I worked my ass off not to get a degree that would do me well in life in terms of money, but to find answers to questions I had.
Along the way I became very good at finding the answers to the questions other people had, and I found a niche in social science that involves duplicating other people’s studies and tearing them apart of proving them so damned right that no one could argue.
I have, though, always needed breaks. Not days off — breaks. Migraines, flareups, sharp downs that were not pushed away by the tide of mania.
This has meant that often my work suffered — in terms of time. Deadlines, for me, are something I do my best to reach, but sometimes my best isn’t good enough. I do a lot of things all at once, with a kind of plan in mind that has them all come out to a finish at the same time.
Because I know that when they do, it will be break time.
In short, I have adapted, and I have a lot of spoons, because while my symptoms are hell, I’m seriously a totally stubborn woman who hates being told no with any kind of authority, especially by something as damned as my body.
The downsides to this are that sometimes people don’t realize that I am this way. They confuse my being exhausted with my being burnt out (to be fair, I do the same thing). They confuse my sudden disappearances for an hour or two with abandoning my job.
They think that when I say an hour seems right for lunch that what I want to do is go have two martini’s, when really what I want is the ability to freaking digest my food without stress, which makes it harder, especially since when working, well, fastish food is often easier, but harder to get out.
Literally harder, not just more difficult.
As a trans woman, it means that some “solutions” to sex are not possible for me. It means that when folks say things like “tight arsed” I grin like a fool because you have no fucking clue, buddy…
And yet, because of my illnesses, I have had to learn how to build more spoons, how to get out of bed when everything says stay the fuck there, how to smile when I want to scream in pain, how to laugh when I want to cry, and how to know that I can do those things.
But mostly, I am grateful for the spoons I have. Because not everyone has so many spoons. I got lucky. Many people have so few spoons that they will never be able to do those things.
So I am grateful for them. And, if I could, I would share a bunch of them. Because I can make more.
Given time.
(May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I am a sociologist and psychologist that studies stuff like this. Awareness is key…)