The last couple of weeks have been a shock to me. I’m not even sure how to process whats happening. Long story short… I got the job! I also finally got my diploma! So within a week, God provided me with a car, my high school diploma, and an awesome job. One after the other like dominoes. Part of me feels like I’ve been waiting for this for so long, and now its finally happening. And part of me feels like I’ve been launched back into life at warp speed with no time to adjust.
Not only did God provide me with a job, but He provided the “perfect” job, considering my physical limitations. I spend most of my day watering and pruning flowers, helping customers, restocking shelves, and cleaning up around the garden center. Its fun, and cheerful. Its physical enough to enjoy since I love being active and on my feet. Staying active is the only thing that calms down my mind and silences my obsessive worrying/intrusive thoughts. But its not so physical that I’m making myself sick everyday trying to keep up.
The managers and other employees are kind, friendly, and understanding. They are happy to work with people who have disabilities. Even though I haven’t submitted any paperwork through my doctor, they can usually tell if/when I’m not feeling my best. They are happy to help me when needed, and understand if I need to take it a little slow.
There is a mandatory 1 hour lunch, plus optional breaks, which are great when I’m not feeling well as it gives me a significant amount of time to sit and rest to get my strength back.
Also, it pays better than I expected, and its very close to home (which is important if I’m not feeling well at the end of the day and don’t feel comfortable driving a long distance). I was able to get regular hours too, which are convenient for my dad since I don’t have my license yet.
I spend most of my time outside, but being inside doesn’t bother me either since the store itself is huge. I can’t quite explain it, but it doesn’t take much to make me feel trapped. Open spaces allow my mind to calm down, relax, and breath.
The almost constant social interaction helps too, in ways that I can’t explain either.
I can see God’s hand of provision all over this job. Last year if someone told me that I would be feeling better and have a car and a job, I would laugh and say they were crazy. There were so many obstacles…. blackouts/absence seizures meant that I couldn’t drive. Lack of energy, debilitating daily migraines, dizziness, and vomiting would prevent me from having a job, especially a full time physical one. God promised me last year that He could do the impossible, and I’ve been holding on to those promises for dear life. Hoping for a miracle is one thing, but seeing God perform miracles right in front of my eyes is very different.
I should be praising God and leaping for joy! And part of me is. The other part is still cowering in the corner, waiting for the carpet to once again be ripped out from under me.
I was hoping that my mind and emotions would instantly heal once I entered the “real world” again, but it doesn’t work that way. The guilt, fear, pain, and doubt are still here, threatening to eat me alive every night when I drop my guard and crawl into bed. I don’t notice them much while I’m at work, being active calms my mind and allows me to focus on the tasks in front of me. But they consume me as soon as I come home.
Hannah (my best friend who has also been sick for many years) and I have repeatedly talked about chronic illness and PTSD (or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I know what you’re thinking… and no, I haven’t been in mortal combat. I haven’t killed anyone. I haven’t watched people die, or witnessed unspeakable violence.
But I have been sick for 6 years. I’ve had everything and everyone I care about ripped from me, repeatedly. I’ve spent years in solitary confinement. I’ve had to relearn social skills, like body language and conversation. I’ve had friends, family, and even doctors turn their backs on me. I’ve gotten better, only to fall sick again and again. I’ve spent countless days puking my guts out, and countless nights crying myself to sleep. I’ve developed OCD, depression, and anxiety. I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts, and things that I can’t even talk about about. I have nightmares every night, some of them are so vivid I never forget them. There are places that I’m terrified of, because they cause flashbacks of fear and pain. My life for the last 6 years has been a constant stream of negative events, and my mind and emotions are stuck in a loop of fear and negativity. I’m perpetually in fight or flight mode, bracing myself for the next threat to come around the bend.
This isn’t normal.
I’m not normal.
I’ve been to hell and back.
I’m not ok.
When people meet me, they have no idea what I’ve been through. They have no idea about the mental and emotional war I’m fighting everyday. They treat me like any other normal, sane, healthy human being, and they expect me to act accordingly. So I put on my make up. I do my hair. I smile. I act confident and happy. I put up the wall that they expect to see, and it usually works. I feel safe there, behind my wall. But just once, I wish someone could understand. I wish they could see though me, and tell me that they’ve been here. I wish they could tell me things will get better, that someday I’ll heal. That someday I won’t have to fight anymore. I’m tired. I’m confused. I don’t know where I am. This isn’t a crossroad with its convenient intersections and street signs telling me which way to go. Its a tangled mess, I’m being pulled in every direction, and it hurts.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” -Exodus 14:14 NIV