When chronic pain struck, it drove me right off the track of my life plan. I had been driven, motivated and excited by life. I had started my own business and was passionately pursuing a career in the mental health profession. Getting struck down almost took me to a complete stop. But it didn’t. It just slowed me down so much that I could barely recognize myself. I went on medication that clouded my brain. It put me in a double whammy state of pain and then the brain fog that came with the only thing that minimized the pain. The failure of two surgeries to get me out of pain added a sense of hopelessness and discouragement to my already knocked down state. But there were some ways in which I was lucky: I was lucky enough to have a few good hours a day during which I could think and work. I was lucky enough to be my own boss and was able to set my own hours. I was lucky enough to have a very supportive and loving husband, friends and family.
In my darkest, most painful, most discouraged hours I contemplated going on disability (among other even worse options). But I continued to work, albeit with greatly reduced hours.
The defining moment was when I contacted my office landlord and asked about getting out of my lease early. When he said that I could, I hung up the phone and began to cry. The potential loss of my career, of the people I worked with, the clients who were like family to me felt worse than any of the blows so far. I realized at that moment that the work I was doing, being there for other people, was actually saving me. I realized that I never stopped loving my work and I couldn’t lose that. It gave me purpose, meaning, and identity. It was a thread holding me on to life.