Hi there! It’s Michele from NVSD. Missed me?
While I gave a nice little summary of my life on my About Me page, I still have a section for my journey, and
this is my first entry. I want to tell you a bit more about myself. While I started this blog post first, I ended up putting it aside in favor of other posts, so it is absolutely not my first entry to My Journey, buuuuut that’s fine.
I’ll spare you the details of the childhood and teenage years (mostly because I forgot most of it myself) and jump right into the good stuff.
There’s good stuff?
I guess. Or maybe it’s just entertaining to read when you’re not living it! Either way, I made this blog to show a lot of vulnerability to the world (along with a ton of sarcasm) and, in part, because I’ve been wanting to talk about my life story for some time now.
Good question, I shall have to ask my therapist. Something-something not-being-believed-all-my-life-something or whatever. Truth is, when people question what you say so much, it can become difficult to even believe yourself. I spent many years working through all of that, and now, I want to talk.
is it so hard to believe?
I often asked that question. Is it that hard to believe me when I say I’m in pain? Is it so hard to believe when I ask for help for my depression? When have I ever lied to anybody?
*The answer is: never. I physically cannot keep a straight face while lying.
It took a decade of questioning myself before I understood that I didn’t have a reputation for lying; I was talking about mental health, and that is, somehow, a gray area. People have opinions, thoughts and beliefs about mental health. Mostly negative ones, really. In fact, I noticed that a lot of people I used to try to convince just flat out don’t believe mental health is a thing.
I kid you not, some people I know just… don’t believe in it. I once told a friend of mine to go to a doctor and ask about depression and she just flat out said “oh no I don’t believe in that crap”
That’s not… I don’t think that’s an option, friends. There are things that go in the “belief” category and then there’s science, ya know?
So, let’s start with the basics. It’ll be slightly complicated to go in a chronological order, but I will try.
First off, I was born with one deaf ear. Otherwise, I was pretty healthy, and being half-deaf was the only issue I knew of for most of my childhood and teenage years, until insomnia. Looking back NOW, I know there was more, but nothing I was aware of.
What is there to say about insomnia that hasn’t been said already? It sucked, it still sucks, and I still joke that the last good night’s sleep I got was the day before I was born. Keep in mind from this point on that insomnia is a daily struggle that I was never able to cure. No pill, no routine, no natural bs ever helped.
The next thing to happen was depression. I was 14 or 15 years old, and it was mostly school-related, or at least, that’s what I said. Truth is, there were quite a couple of extra things around it, but being bullied at school was certainly a main factor. I “got better” and I was taken off my meds, which was, in hindsight, not smart. We eventually figured out that what I had was long-term depression, meaning that I haven’t healed from that depression yet… Or maybe I keep getting new ones? Either way, I’m mostly depressed all year long.
Are we having fun yet?
Nope. I grew up seeing my mother go through fibromyalgia, meaning I’ve always been very aware of how that chronic illness manifests. At around 16, I already knew I had it (note: even back then, there were theories of it being hereditary, and I had looked it up) but my doctor did not believe me.
Pretty par for the course. It should be said that, while my mother and I have the same doctor, my mother has a very good relationship with him, while I seem to make him want to jump out the window. I don’t know why, I don’t know what happened, I just know that I am not on his good side.
So, fibromyalgia, denied. Okay. What now?
I keep forgetting things – a late edit
I almost forgot to mention that around that same time, I had noticed a significant change in my hearing. That, my doctor did not like, and he sent me in for exams of all kinds. Turns out, no amount of tests were going to help, so the closest I got to an answer to that was, “beats me, here’s your hearing aid.” So, at 16, I have a hearing aid to make up for the 25-30% hearing I lost. For no known reason. Cool.
I keep forgetting things – another late edit
Look at that, another one! At 16 (it was an eventful year) I also had to have lower back surgery for an infected cyst. When I went to the ER for it, I could barely walk anymore; the cyst was pressing against my lower spine and the nerves that go to the legs. One heck of a bad ER, one surgery that was a couple hours later than expected, and 4 hours of trying to come out of the paralysis caused by the anesthetic later, I was… a mess.
Cue 10 months of pain, discomfort and other bs. It’s all good now, though. Well, it’s better than some horror stories I heard, anyway… and I’ll take it.
I keep forgetting things – one more late edit
Oh, and that’s right around the time that I tore my shoulder muscle forever! That was fun. It has been 11 years now, and both my shoulders are useless (thanks to compensating with the other shoulder) and the only surgery available has a 50% chance of making my chronic pain worse, so… hard pass.
that one time i wanted to be a nurse
Now, my friends, is the exact moment when ADHD hit me in the face with a bag of bricks. I was never one to study, before. I kind of just… made stuff up and managed. Even through that one semester I did in college before dropping out.
DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH MEMORIZING IT TAKES TO BE A NURSE?
Because I sure fricking didn’t. Within the first month, I went to my doctor (yay) and told him about my struggles in school. He, shockingly, did not believe me. I was ready for that, so I asked him to make me take the regular test anyway, which he begrudgingly agreed to do.
GUESS WHAT, I DID HAVE ADHD *fake shock*
So my ADHD is diagnosed. That’s the fun part; now I get the pills that make my brain go silent. I have to admit, I had never really noticed just how noisy it was in there until I took the meds that made it go away. A lot more stuff made sense that day.
Nurse school… doesn’t pan out. I passed all the exams very well, and did most of the internships with very good grades and nice comments from my teachers, but towards the end, I made a mistake.
I didn’t know it back then, but now, I can say that the mistake was a side-effect of ASD.
One mistake, which could have potentially hurt someone; I am still thankful to this day that it did not. I was on my way to give information to the nurse on the floor when my teacher got ahold of me and said “come with me, you’re going to do your first blood draw.”
So I followed; when I am in a position of learning, I rarely question authority. It’s the teacher; she knows what she’s doing, so all I’m doing is following her instructions.
and so the information never made it to the nurse.
Failed. It was a harsh moment for me to see almost two years of training amount to nothing. Nevertheless, I understand, and agree, with the decision.
Also in hindsight, I am -not- made for being a nurse. Standing, walking, running for 8-10-14 hours? No thank you. I’ma be in the next hospital bed real soon. Remember that cyst surgery? It may have healed pretty well, but it doesn’t allow me to stand for long periods of time. Guess I hadn’t thought it through, but I was 18 so leave me alone 😂
I keep forgetting things – i can’t promise it’s the last edit
It was somewhere around this time when I got my Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis. Not fun, no thanks. Hard pass.
at 21 years old: you have your whole life ahead of you
Do I, though? Let’s recap real quick.
One deaf ear, and my functioning ear lost some hearing capacity for ? reason. Insomnia, every damn day. Depression, every damn day. Undiagnosed fibromyalgia, a back surgery that went well but still impacts my life most days, a ripped shoulder resulting in both shoulders dying of chronic pain, and ADHD.
I have a whole life of problems ahead of me, sure.
Still, there I was. Freshly (kicked) out of school, plenty of baggage and not a darn clue what to do next. Time to find a job, I guess. Like you may have read in the #Imthankful post, I was already pretty worn out and tired, so I found a small job in a big company with the goal of becoming a number in a file.
I was over here, mentally ready for retirement at 21 years old!
Not even mentally ready, more like “mentally done with this s–t.” So anyway, I brought my insomniac, half-deaf, broken body with ADHD in to a call center job. What is it I hear? Did every one just groan? Yeah, sounds about right.
My plan: from 21 to 65, taking calls, day in day out.
What actually happened: from 21 to 26, I kinda managed, and then 27 was an uphill battle that I lost just before turning 28.
cue dramatic music: work leave due to medical reasons.
Yiiiikes. Somewhere around 23, I finally managed to get my doctor to send me to a rheumatologist who told me that I did, indeed have fibromyalgia. Cool. It was nice to have the diagnosis, but it’s also not a diagnosis I can do much about, so I just thanked her for confirming what I had figured out 7 years earlier. And mentally flipped the bird to my doctor.
Long-term depression was not done with me. Then again, I guess that’s why it’s called long-term depression. It kicked my butt, solid.
I started therapy. I was not too sure about this, as I had had a bs experience before with a “therapist” that should not have had such title. But this one was nice, understanding, and helpful. Therapy is not quick, as I’m sure a lot of you know. With my therapist’s help, I figured out many things and confirmed many others. I was always very aware of my trauma, so I needed help more than I needed information or explanations.
One thing led to another and long story short, that was one toxic person kicked out of my life. It didn’t fix me, but it helped me. I could breathe easier. I didn’t have to think about them or wish I didn’t have to interact with them or dread social events. And that, my friends, is priceless.
What’s that I (barely) hear? It’s the sound of my Autism Spectrum Disorder waiting nicely to be acknowledged. Took me long enough, I know. Truth is, when you have ADHD or ASD or both, they can be difficult to differentiate. I also had my lovely anxiety on top of that, so I attributed some ASD symptoms to my anxiety as well.
But no. I am autistic. I know that now, and it makes so much sense.
I have forgiven many of my own mistakes and behaviors; I could never understand the why of them before. Now, I am nicer to myself, and I make sure to notice my triggers, problems, recurring actions or reactions, etc.
I’m a work in progress! But that’s okay. In fact, learning about my ASD is one of the things that made me see hope again.
That’s around the time my hearing went to shit.
Remember that “one deaf ear and one crappy ear” thing? Well, lemme tell ya. Now, I have one deaf ear and the other one is at 20% capacity, PLUS constant tinnitus, vertigo and POTS.
So, yes, my days generally consist of me saying, “WHAT?” really loudly and being mad at myself for turning my head too fast.
I am currently waiting to get a new, more powerful hearing aid. Mostly because I keep ADHD-ing out of calling for an appointment, I’ll admit. But I think I’ll wait a little longer.
I’m a little overwhelmed right now.
I have a brain full of stress and anxiety, I am getting no sleep, and I am in pain daily. It’ll be winter soon, too. Being disabled and dealing with 3 feet of snow is not my idea of prime circumstances for anything. Plus, this new hearing loss is like the previous one; no reason in sight. I can’t preserve what’s left of my hearing. I already lost that battle.
Chances are, I’ll be fully deaf very soon.
And truth be told, I’m tired. I don’t want to fight any of this s–t, and I don’t have to.
Instead, I spend my days doing things I enjoy, like researching information for my blog posts, writing said posts, and thinking up projects and ideas and things of the sort. I spend time setting up passive income and trying to make things work (spoiler alert: things are not working much) and trying to sleep or laying down in bed, cuddling with my cat and watching tv or chatting with my partners.
I’ll be deaf soon enough; doesn’t mean I have to care about it.