It seems the human brain has an ability to forget trauma as a mechanism to cope in life. I’ve had a very bad period of withdrawal during my working days, and it was the hardest period I’ve gone thru so far. Yet the memory of me coping thru it is now vague. There were only 2 memories that stuck with me dearly.
I felt it is important to journal these as these points reflect points in my life with extreme clarity in thought of what I really wanted or needed at those moments. Moments when you are ill and things that really matter, your immediate needs, not wants, become clear to you.
1) Shift duty during work
I was performing a full day shift duty at work, work that required constant moving, vigilance, awareness to details. It is expected to last through the whole day and night depending on the training schedule. And this particular day was the busiest of all.
No issues at all, obviously when my skin was perfect. I used to enjoy these difficult days as a challenge. But not today. My skin was bad, torn, oozing, weeping. My guys whom I’ve been working with took pity on me and told me I shouldn’t be there doing this. Well back then I thought it was something that I could push thru mentally. “It will go away, It is just bad skin”
The work was tough, it was a grind. I literally gritted my teeth through pain to get thru the day. I didn’t sleep during the breaks I had not because I wasn’t tired, but everytime I dozed off, I’d scratch and peel off bits of my skin and it hurt.I was the one in charge of the day’s operation. I had to lead, supervise, monitor, authorize. Even though the difficult work day ended, while any normal person would have felt at least a tinge of pride, I didn’t. I just felt relief, I just wanted to go home, shower and rest.
The next day I knew clearly what I had to do. I called my boss and told them I’ll be taking a short leave of absence. My bosses were great in allowing the flexibility and trust in me knowing my condition. I took close to two weeks off work to recover. It was this period that I didn’t know I was suffering with withdrawal, so I took dosages of oral steroids. It cleared for a while, I went back to work, but it was just a ticking time bomb when my oral steroids dosage was stopped.
I still remembered this very clearly. There was nothing to be proud of, absolutely nothing despite going thru a gruesome day of work. I had enjoyed my job, enjoyed working with the people, leading them, inspiring them and etc. BUT, at the moment of illness, all those seemed not to matter. It is crazy to think about it this way. Everyone will kill to have job satisfaction. But not me, on that day. When you are ill, the seemingly important things become unimportant. You go back to the basics. Basic comfort, shelter, food, safety is all you needed, not money, not friends, not job satisfaction or career progression.
2) Bad flare after waking up.
Remembered waking up one evening, pillow was full of wet ooze from my neck. Some blood. Fingers were stained. Wet spot on calves (which made it difficult to sleep) was really bad. It was debilitating. I took dinner and immediately went back to lie down. Something wasn’t feeling right. While I had pain all over my body, there was another feeling that made me feel worse. I felt that all energy was leaving my body, and a little cold.
The only clearest thought I had was that “This is it, I’m gonna die.” It sounds funny now, but back then that thought was kind of a relief. I just felt my energy draining, I was cold, I couldn’t move, I was in pain. I can’t remembered if my life had flashed past my memories, but I didn’t think that if it did, it didn’t mattered. All I thought of was my partner, she was at work and was on the way home. Perhaps it will be a relief for everyone if I had really died that day.
I can’t remember for my life of what happened next. All I knew was that I slept, and I can’t remember what happened the next day. I only remembered this moment of absolute miserableness.
It has been a long way since then, and my clarity of thoughts having improved immensely, mainly due to the fact that my skin condition is LESS debilitating that it was before.
Today, whenever my skin gets bad, I think of those 2 darkest days and compare them. “At least it wasn’t like that back then” and I feel slightly better and know I’ll get thru the short term pain easier, and that in time, it will pass. Looking back, those were scary moments indeed.
People need to understand that all these thoughts were manifestations of the topical steroids withdrawals. Depression is common, and it is not a moment of mental weakness. They say alot about mind-body connection, on how your mind can overcome any limitations your body can’t. This statement is true but not true in its entirety and not applicable to all issues. Your mind and body are not separate entities as they exist as a system. When you body is compromised, your mind will be affected, and no amount of hard mental-will will be able to get through what your body can’t.
Well, those were my darkest moments. I’m glad to have lived thru them. I’m not sure what kind of flares will come in the future. There is still this fear lingering. We will just have to take it one day at a time.