It's an interesting thing, chronic illness and pain. It forces you to take care of yourself in ways that most people don't even have to consider. Yesterday, for instance, I noticed the beginnings of an IBS flare (and a brutal one, by all indications), confirmed by today's symptoms and pain levels and placement. So now I have to be really careful in food choice and hydration. I've got a soothing tea steeping right now, and I'll probably try to pick up some safe bread later on today. I've still got a few bucks left from my last paycheck.

It's funny, how far I've come in the whole "taking care of myself" thing. I'm glad I learned so much about being kind to myself and loving myself and that I dropped some of the self-hatred when I did. The pre-kindness me would have been thrilled at so many ways to inflict self-harm and pain.

It's still difficult, knowing how to take care of myself... dispelling the twisted conceptions that lurk within my psyche. I struggle with pain management, not because I like being in pain (unless I'm going through a particularly dark time) but because I don't feel as if I'm ever in "enough" pain to warrant lessening it. I'm failing somehow, showing weakness and proving that I'm worthless or unworthy when I take a pain pill. There's always the thought that I could have endured more, for longer, and that I should have. Funny that I should have this mindset when everyone around me is prodding me to just take the damn painkiller already! I think I know where the seeds of this thought process come from, at least in part, but that doesn't make it any less potent or damaging. It's an evil little lie, one that I fight with on a daily basis. Multiple times. All the time.

I'm really grateful for the anti-depressant that my doctor put me on. It has helped to even out the ruts and valleys that I used to fall into so often. Just look at my blog entries! There are times when I'm down, to be sure, because of the pain or because I'm grieving or what have you, but the senseless spirals into darkness? Gone. I had already gone a long way toward alleviating them with the work I did with my last counselor, but this was the last puzzle piece, I think.

I have a friend, D, who is struggling with her past and the trauma it has inflicted on her. I hear myself when she writes to me... at least, where I used to be. It shows me how far I've truly come. I mean, I'm with myself every day, so it's more difficult to see a change, but man... it's gratifying to know that all that shit I had to wade through... there has been gain. I'm in a better place now, I really am. (And part of me is terrified to write that, because just when you think you're safe, BAM! Something happens to prove you wrong. I'm afraid that I'm going to get hit with a terrible wave of depression or that something awful is going to happen to someone I love.)

I can see that I still have work to do. But that's okay. Healing is a journey, and I know I'm not at the end of the road yet. That's why I keep going to group, keep reading books. I sure wish I could get back in with a counselor, though. That'd be nice... especially with all the crap I have to deal with with these damn illnesses. They've taught me a lot, though... and I guess I'm (grudgingly) grateful. Heh.

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