“Whereas the early stages of shipwreck entail a sense of panic, a frantic kind of triage, trying to figure out what we can salvage and what we cannot, eventually we have to slow down…and return to those primary colors. In order to not drown, we have to find a way to ground our bodies long enough to figure out how to breathe and sleep and be again, without the comfort and props we had before. It is not easy to do, because nothing is easy to do after the shipwreck. But the gift is a kind of simplicity: I don’t have time or strength enough now to wrestle with large existential questions. I cannot fix anybody else’s problems. I am not strong enough to be productive in all the ways I was before. I have to stay alive. I have to survive. So I have to figure out a way to do all of these things, again…somehow.”
Jonathan Martin, How to Survive a Shipwreck
2016 has been a year of loss for me, the year of my shipwreck. I discovered I was infertile and fell into major depressive disorder as a result. I had a plethora of migraines for which the source couldn’t be found for 3 months until I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. I traveled to Atlanta for another surgery at the CEC in an effort to find the source of my chronic pelvic pain, which I had to go on long-acting narcotics to control. I’m having brain surgery in three weeks. I have an appointment with a rheumatologist in two weeks to determine if I’m developing some sort of inflammatory arthritis. And it’s only August!
My point is, my life as I knew it before this year doesn’t really exist anymore. While I am slowly improving, my health will likely never be what it used to be; after all, the definition of “chronic” hasn’t exactly changed, so I’m not going to “get well soon.” I will always have celiac disease, even though I’m managing well on a gluten free diet. I will always have endometriosis, even though I currently have no signs of the disease in my body. I will have adenomyosis until I have a hysterectomy, which I know for sure is in my future. Surgery to remove the brain tumor is only curative 70% of the time, so it could grow back.
My point is, there’s only so much of my old life I can salvage from the shipwreck that is 2016. I need to find new ways to live my life to the fullest extent I can, even though my definition of “fullest” has changed. I need to go back to basics, back to the beginning, and figure out who I am now after the shipwreck.