Permission to Grieve
Last Thursday, I visited a geneticist to get a second opinion/genetic "confirmation" of my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) diagnosis. Rather than confirmation, I just received a slew of confusing news, contradicting diagnoses and quite a big to consider regarding going through with genetic testing (i.e. the cost, the possibility of an incredibly jacked up premium if Trump's proposed healthcare plan passes). The appoint was three hours long, filled with so many medical terms and a ten page recap. I left feeling heavy. I wanted to be "normal," I wanted to stop spending money on co-pays three times a week and mostly, I wanted a real answer...especially after I thought I received one (which, I still believe to be accurate based on my symptoms...but, I am no doctor).
After the three hour appointment, I returned to work, slapped a smile on my face and drowned myself in my workload. So, it goes, I supposed.
A few weeks ago, when I was diagnosed EDS and received the subsequent news that running was no longer going to be a part of my future, I immediately started to think of what would be next. Of course, I was distraught by the fact that my identity was apparently shifting without my control, that a huge chapter of my life was ending without my go-ahead, that my goals were being compromised and that the Google description of this genetic condition was utterly frightening. I shed a few tears here and there, but mostly I was trying to brainstorm ways I could stay fit and what I could do with my extra free time.
Yet again, so it goes, I supposed. Life isn't fair...and it is what it is.
Then Friday happened.
I went to a hip-hop class with two friends - and it was comical how bad I was (tone deaf and rhythm-less don't go together well). While I had fun laughing at myself, I got into my car and immediately started to cry. I've tried so many other forms of activity...and there's not a ton that I'm great at and/or enjoy. I let myself cry for a few minutes...and drove to Nick's. He asked about my doctor's appointment and the class...and the breakdown finally happened. Not just a few tears for a few minutes...big, heavy, wailing, embarrassing sobs. My weeks' worth of bottled-up emotions finally let loose.
I understand that crying doesn't fix anything, but it felt good to finally feel the sadness, to feel the grief and the loss of a "former" life and of my notions of what my body was capable of. I just wish I had allowed myself to feel these things sooner.
Honestly, after dozens of people telling me that I am an inspiration, that I am always happy and spirited in the face of injury and bad news...well, I felt (self-induced) pressure to be okay, to be happy. I had to be the girl slapping the smile on her face. More than that, I convinced myself if I immediately hopped into the next thing and had positive thoughts, that things would get better. I'd forget all about EDS and life would immediately move on. So, I told myself I was happy, nothing could bother me and that things were going to be fine because it wasn't life-ending.
But, this breakdown made me realize that it's okay to grieve. It's okay to feel all the feels - the sadness, the confusion, the loss, the anxiety. Looking forward is part of the grieving process, but it's not the entire thing and I'd been neglecting and suppressing all of these other parts. How could I ever work through it if I was just pushing the feelings down?
So, from here on out, I am giving myself permission to grieve. I'm not undermining how big this news is anymore. I'm not giving myself pressure to be happy-go-lucky and positive every waking moment of the day. I'm giving myself permission to cry and process and just feel the feelings as they come up and move through them. Eventually, things will get better and I'll find my new niche (anyone up to try any workout classes or kayaking or SUP with me?!)...but for now if I feel sad, I feel sad. No more pushing it down...till it bubbles up in a day-long breakdown (sorry, Nick!). In a selfish way (sorry...kind of), I need to prioritize me and not what I think others expect of me to respond with.
Health update: While we may seem far in the modern medicine game, we're still in the Stone Age! So, I am trying to practice greater patience with my doctors. Right now, I am waiting six weeks until I find out genetic results. From that point, I may be submitted to a few clinical trials at Baylor University and University of Washington.