small positive gains

I know I mentioned that I disclosed to my doctor and my physical therapist about my sexual assault. What I think I forgot to mention is that part of what I talked to them about was taking some time off from PT. While I can’t actually…get a temporary postponement in disability (and become magically healthy for a few months) to focus on my emotional problems,  I realized that I did need some time away from this constant focus on my physical health. My doc and my PT agreed that taking some time off to try to just scrape by with the minimum in stretching exercises would be a reasonable thing to try.

So I took about a month off, to work on my emotions.

Today I went to my doctor for the first time in a month, as well as PT. Both went well, and had some interesting aspects to them. Chronic health problems are a curious lot (when they’re not being utterly miserable). My month off did set me back a bit; but only weeks worth (probably) not months. Strangely, I also had some improvements in certain areas. Movements that had persistently caused me pain or stiffness feel completely, utterly fine now. In some tests, I wasn’t back to normal, but I did have a surprising level of improvement. And overall, my pain has gone way down in strength and frequency.

This is all especially interesting because my plans to try doing different kind of exercising (I was theoretically well enough to try to do a variety of low level exercises at the gym) completely fell through. I just did NOT have the will to do it. Every time I think about going to the gym, I just want to cry. And NOTHING is getting me over that hump right now. I’ve examined it from all angles. The majority of that feeling seems to stem from a feeling of utter apathy – something I’m completely unused to feeling. I just don’t want to do it, no matter what reasoning I threw at myself.

Thinking about how going to the gym will make me have more energy and feel happier? Don’t give a shit.

Thinking about how it will help me get stronger, which I desperately want? Don’t give a shit.

Thinking about how it will help me sleep better, which I really need? Zero shits given.

Even as a last resort, thinking about how I’m heavier than I’d like to be, and want to lose weight purely to be slimmer (and fit into my clothes comfortably again)? Extra zero shits given.

Beyond apathy though, despite the fact that I’ve never had a bad experience at my gym (and I’ve been going there for close to ten years), I recognized that some of my feelings stem from the anxiety of being by myself in a setting where there are a lot of men. Also, my gym clothes don’t fit awesomely right now, which both feels physically uncomfortable, as well as looks…not awesome. I mean, I’m not going to the gym to look awesome while I’m at the gym, but when my sports bra is so tight that my flesh is bulging out so much that I can see it clearly doing that through my tank top, that feels bad.

Anyways, while my gym stress and apathy suck, learning that the aggregate of my improvements and setbacks might overall be coming out to slightly positive is a hopeful surprise. That was my doctor’s final prognosis of how I was doing: While I did get worse in some categories, I improved in enough categories that I will be holistically in better shape when I catch up to the level of improvement that I had previously.

We also had a good talk about how it might be a good idea for me to take a few weeks over every couple of months during this slow, rehabilitative slog towards increased ability. We’ll reassess where I am starting in two months, and aim to give me two to three weeks off somewhere between every two and four months. It could be that the near-total rest helps address enough minor issues that the backsliding that occurs during that rest period is well worth the total gains.

The last thing we discussed is taking me off of my anti-inflammatories and also doing some more cortisol injections. The anti-inflammatories are something that I’ve been on for way too long. The chances of a stomach bleed are really concerning my doctor at this point. Depending on how things are going off of them, I may stay off of them, try a lower dose, or go back to the full dose, depending on how I react. Whatever we decide, my doctor cautioned me that going off of them was going to probably produce a rocky few days, as my body adjusts.

The cortisol injections are to help improve some of the things that have gone downhill during my time off. They should help jumpstart me back into doing better. I’m going back later today for those. Though they are one of my least-favorite things to have done, they clearly give me big, powerful results in terms of improving my pain and ability to use my body. Well, once the pain of getting the injections subsides. That usually takes a day or two.

So that’s the physical side of things. The emotional side of things is…progressing. Finishing the “dark night of the soul” writing was really cathartic in some ways. In a way, remembering the awfulness of what I’ve already made it through helps me to be stronger when getting through other, less horrible trials.

Otherwise…time passes. I improve. I’m having less days where I alternate between being enraged and devastated. I’m thinking about better things, happier things, more often. I’ve started working on the DBT Workbook a little every night. I wrote about it previously and bought it shortly after learning about it…then put it in my nightstand drawer and didn’t give it a second thought since. But I found it a few days ago, and pulled it out and put it on my nightstand, to spend a little time looking at it every night.

I’m only just starting the first exercise, which challenges the reader to pick from a list of sayings (or write my own) that it comfortable for them to use and acknowledges the reality of the present situation. Mainly, the idea is, reality is what it is and refusing to deal with that reality or being consumed wishing it away is counter productive (yes, we can argue “what is reality?” for hours, or at least, I can, but for the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to acknowledge some “truths” about reality). So here’s a truth about my reality: I was sexually assaulted by my teacher. I can rail against that. I can wish like hell that it didn’t happen. I can agonize over what I could have done better. I can agonize about what he shouldn’t have done. But the reality that I have to work with is that I was sexually assaulted and that it hurt me a great deal emotionally. And it’s my responsibility to figure out a way to get through it (with help, yes, absolutely, but it’s my responsibility to find that help and help myself).

So I chose something along the lines of “this is what I have to work with”. Because it’s true, and because I like having the word “work” in there. It implies I can do something about it. I can work on it.

In addition to that specific focus, the chapter is also about accepting other parts of reality, and invites the reader to pick a few specific things that make them angry, and work on accepting the reality of those things. These are general shitty things that permeate our lives, like reading about far away tragedies and injustices, or being stuck in horrible traffic. The basic idea is to get the mind more used to dealing with these daily difficulties and accepting them for what they are, versus, say screaming obscenities in the car when you’re an hour late for work because of a fender bender.

We’ll see how that goes for me. Reading the beginning of this chapter and starting that exercise caused me to realize that I do feel much more sensitive to everything right now. I have been a little rage monster in bad traffic lately. My ability to handle all sorts of stresses is severely taxed. So I’m working on that one, simple little exercise (in addition to continuing to do my regular therapy) until it seems easier. And we’ll see how it goes.

I think that’s the way I’m going to leave this post. Life is the way it is, and we’ll see how it goes!


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polyamorist, cat-lover, hopeless optimist when I'm not being a firm realist.

2 thoughts on “small positive gains”

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