Rebekah: I am an advocate because I had a wonderful career and advanced degrees in Nursing, was an educator with a family, children & a life I loved. I became suddenly and violently ill and was diagnosed with a catastrophic diagnosis & had multiple surgeries and amputations. This happened over a period of only 3 months. I went from a bright light in the sky , plummeted in to an abyss of pain and deformity. because of the suddenness of the onset, I was frightened every day.
I learned what post traumatic stress disorder meant first hand. I could not look in a mirror. I had a fractured soul. My psychological state held numerous clinical diagnoses & I became agoraphobic, body-dysmorphic, suffered panic attacks…Probably the darkest was the deep depression and chronic pain. medication was only one thing…It became obvious that everything in my life had to point towards recovery. I found that depression can not be treated simply with a pill. I had to learn to brighten my environment with color & light. I needed reasons to get out of bed…it was actually my dogs who brought this first ray of hope to the need for physical motivation. I didn’t need pity… but that was all I received from ‘friends”; pity and avoidance.
Friends do not know how to deal with illness & the aftermath…they ‘feel’ for you but also avoid and finally leave for the complete lack of ‘what to say or do” My myriad of psychological defeats needed just as much ‘help’ as my physical disease. Friends let me down, medicine wasn’t enough….finding the center of my existence and following it, every day towards the light was what I needed and also a good therapist. I was avoided, misunderstood, socially unacceptable due to my appearance; the loss of my career left me with no real focus to live for as I had, perhaps in error, defined myself as a Nurse more than anything else. I needed to redefine myself..from step one.
I was frightened all the time. I was frightened of the disease, of death, loss, …I couldn’t look in the mirror. what was once a life on the edge of suicide has grown from an understanding that my spirit within is not defined by my body, friends, career, image in the mirror nor the pain within. through the help of medication, therapy and a loving family and the dogs that needed my care, I began to climb from the pit. I still have a long journey ahead of me but there is, today, light where there was once a void.
Note: “A painting I just finished for a wedding commission. I have found my painting to be of major import, therapeutically. I had painted before I was taken sick; it took several years to get to the point where I Could paint again..motivationally. Now I have the ability to start & follow through to a finished project – it took a very long time.”