Eventually we recover
When you recover, you get something back that you lost.
I seem to have been doing this for nearly all my life. Time and time again I lost my balance and came apart. Recovering my balance was always a lengthy process.
One of my relatives calls it the family flu because it seemed to hit a high proportion of my wider family. I could say that it is not my fault, it’s in my genes. I don’t want to get off scot free with that. I would say that nature played as big a role in my illnesses as nurture. Scientists battle with this argument all the time. I was very competitive as a teenager and wanted to well. I went from a poor (in all senses) secondary school to one of the best girls’ schools in the whole US. I had serious catching up to do at the age of 14. I went on to reach 8th in a class of 80, was named the school’s Scholar Athlete, had a Hockey Award instituted in my honor and won the coveted White Blazer for sport in general. I went on to a prestigious women’s college where I sank into obscurity. I went away my Junior year to St Andrews University. I returned to the US to finish my degree for which I received ‘cum laude’. I married, in the summer of 1973, the love of my life, who has put up with and taken care of me during all the highs and lows.
Here are little signals I remember that puzzled me at the time but fell into place after several decades:
1) I hardly smiled all year in 11th grade (comment by my Director of Studies).
2.) I had insomnia at university. A senior took me under her wing and fed me glasses of whisky. I still couldn’t sleep.
3.) I had a massive panic attack while in Scotland. I didn’t know why or what do. I felt so completely out of control.
4.) I began to feel awful during my first year of marriage while attending Teacher Training College. I felt strange physical sensations and was very jumpy. As this worsened, I went to the doctor. Every word of this is true: He seemed totally uninterested in me as I described my symptoms. Finally, he turned me and asked, “Is your husband being unfaithful?” Astonished, I said, “No”. He wrote me a prescription for the horse pill of sleeping tablets. This was before the days of magical anti-depressants. The sleeping only kept me from feeling bad. But I managed to carry on. This was my first true episode.
In years that followed, my subsequent bouts became so severe I missed 2/3 of a year of school each time – ’89, ’92. ’96, 2010-2014.
Anyway, to make a long story short, which included bowel cancer as well, every day I am happy and lucky to be alive, I am still recovering because often I feel new and different in my skin. Sometimes every person I see looks handmade and beautiful in their own way.
Recovery from illness is one delight of my retirement. When I wake up in the early hours to work on this blog, I feel that Mindfulness came at the right time. Practicing Mindfulness is a progressive recovery. Without trying it is possible to get a little nearer to being able to focus non-judgmentally and with curiosity on what really matters in this life. And this journey has no end. But along the way are inspiring things to learn.
I have recovered my mental balance and my physical balance.