Category Archives: brachial plexus injury

Life Isn’t Always A Straight Line

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge – This week, share a photo that foregoes the straightforward in favor of the twisting and winding.

untitledMy trip to Mesa Verde National Park, 2007 

Life never goes in a straight line.  It goes left, it goes right, then left, and right.  The straight line is usually the quickest way to the destination (thank you math class), but the quickest way is not always the best way (thank you life for teaching me that, it is not always the easiest or greatest way either and most people hate it). I don’t think my life has ever let me use the straight path, or I should say, it rarely has let me go down that road.  Sometimes, I wish it would, I pray that I could just take that straight path.  Looking back though, I have learned a lot from all those twists and turns – all those zig zags that life has taken me through. 

I hated going through what I went through.  I hated the abuse.  I hated what my teacher did to me.  I hated being raped.  I hated when I got my brachial plexus injury and my arm was paralyzed.  I hate dealing with my nursing school.  I hated being diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder and PTSD.  Would I wish any of that on anyone else, no.  But would I change what happened to me?  No, because it has made me who I am.  It has shaped me, and I like who I have become.  I would not have said that a year ago, and there are days I still don’t think that. I know that I am going to turn my pasts hurts into something positive though.  How do I know this, well I am already doing it – and I am saving that for a future post, just give me a day or two!

Sometimes, the zig zags are good things too though, those twists and turns aren’t always bad.  They can be great adventures.  They can open our minds and our eyes to amazing and beautiful things.  I have had plane delays and trips turn out to be completely unexpected adventures.  I have taken the longer way, the zig-zagging path, to reach a goal – and it was much more meaningful and fulfilling than the easy way. 

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Jenga at Christmas, 2009

 

Mental Illness and Substance Abuse … They Stole Her Away From Me

In November 2013 I lost a good friend to mental illness.  Both of us had a nerve injuries to our arm.  I have had a brachial plexus injury since December 2008 and have struggled with the nerve pain since then.  My shoulder and arm were paralyzed for 1.5 years and while I have gained 80% of the movement back, the pain is still awful.  We bonded over the frustration of no one understanding how hard it was to live with chronic pain.

Her injury was much more recent and I felt as though giving her hope that things would get better was my job.  She struggled with deep depression as well as drug abuse.  She was in therapy but still felt like no one understood.  She felt like talking to those around her just made her seem like she was complaining and everyone would get sick of it.  I understood completely what she meant. 

I think most of us with mental illness can understand that though.  After a while, when we tell people that we are down, it just seems like people say, “What’s new? You always feel that way.  Why don’t you do something, go out, have fun, get a hobby, spend time with friends, etc, etc.”  We seem like a burden to those around us.  I think it got the best of her.

Her only escape was drugs.  It took away not only her physical pain, but her emotional pain too.  I feel guilty many times because I feel like I should have done more.  What if I had been there for her more?  What if I had listened more? What if I had pushed her to get into a rehab?  What if I had shown her more hope, and pretended that my life was better and not complained about my pain in my arm so much?  Would things be different?  Would she still be alive? 

Unfortunately that is what mental illness does, it is a vicious disease that tears us apart and lies to us about our lives.  And when substance abuse is involved it clouds our minds even more.  These two things took away my friend.  They stole her from me.  I know she made the decision, but I also know that if she hadn’t been affected by these two diseases that her decision might have been much different than it was that night.  Her outlook might have been much more hopeful.

Despite that she left this world 8, almost 9, months ago, I still think about her all the time.  Sometimes I am jealous that she is not in pain anymore and I still struggle physically and emotionally.  But then I think about all the pain she left behind her – the pain that her family and friends feel.  I look at it and think about what would happen to those around me if I let mental illness win.  I have to stay strong.  I have to keep fighting this battle.  I have to win it – for me, for my family, for my friends, and for her.