Recently I spent a lot of time at the hospital with my dad. My mother and sister were there with me. One morning while we were on our way outside for some fresh air my sister decided to walk into the gift shop. I walked in and immediately spied this little pink notepad and had to take it home with me. The front of it was covered with three quotes:
A Pencil And A Dream Can Take You Anywhere
Dreams Are Illustrations From The Book Your Soul Is Writing About You
Fill Your Paper With the Breathings Of Your Heart
Fill Your Paper With The Breathings Of Your Heart
This saying said something to me straight away. I fill my journal with the “breathings of my heart” especially when dealing with a difficult time in my life. My book, Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope, is filled with the “breathings of my heart”. I included many excerpts from my journal written during the most difficult times of my journey through mold induced illness and chemical sensitivity.
I found myself crying the other night. I was having an emotional meltdown at the passing of my father and could not sleep. My journal was once again there to comfort me. It allowed me to say all the things I could not say out loud. It allowed me to talk to my father and to write a poem about one of his favorite belongings, his lucky horseshoe (I am not yet emotionally ready to share the poem). I am still finding it difficult to resume my writing on my blogs or other projects that I am in the process of starting. Until I can write, I have my journal.
Which quote resonates the most with you and why?
I wrote a few days ago about how the mold exposure and chemical sensitivities that I developed because of it caused such loneliness and isolation. I was sad all the time. I felt an ache deep inside because I had lost contact with so many as well as the inability to visit friends or do many of my “old”activities. I would be awake early in the morning and cry as I wrote in my journal. The crying sometimes was more like screaming or keening not just crying. My heart was just broken.
My therapist first reminded me that I needed to write in my journal daily. Writing is cathartic. It helps release emotions that are kept bottled up inside. This writing frequently included crying and screaming as I released the pent-up emotions.
My therapist also asked what can you do? What do you like to do? My first response to these questions was that I didn’t know what I could do or what I liked to do. It had been so long since I attempted anything. I had tried sewing in the beginning of this illness and it just made me anxious and it was something that used to relax me. I remembered that I used to like to embroider. I went online and bought dish towels, a transfer pattern and some thread. I soon discovered that this was relaxing and filled some of the void I was feeling and before too long everyone had embroidered dish towels.
I began reading again. I read things that weren’t related to illness. I read books that took me away from my isolation and into a world of suspense, drama and sometimes comedy. Having always loved old movies, I began to search out old movies that I could purchase on DVD. On those nights that I couldn’t sleep, I would pop one into the DVD player and take myself out of my world and into another.
I also began to find ways to meet friends on neutral territory by meeting in my back yard or theirs when the weather was cooperative. I began to enjoy packing a lunch, making the long drive to the ocean and sitting on the beach and watching the waves for a few hours before the long drive back home.
It didn’t seem like others truly understood what I had been through or how it felt dealing with all the medical and emotional crises I was going through. The thought came to me that I should write a book. I had recently bought a new computer and so I began to tell my story. This story, my book, has taken nine years to complete. Reliving all the trauma and emotional stress I have gone through is not easy. While it is good to write and get through it, I found that I would start typing and suddenly have to stop. Reliving the pain was too much and I would develop a panic attack. Weeks and sometimes months would pass before I could pick up again. After the initial writing was done I pulled out the journals and went through them to finalize my story. This was the hardest part for me; reading what I had felt. I knew I was sad but after reading my journals as a person who is learning to deal with what my life has become, my heart ached for the person I was then.
For me to overcome some of the isolation I felt I just had to write, find things that took me away from the feeling, find creative ways to fill the void, have a good therapist with whom I could talk and realize that I had to allow myself to grieve for the life I had lost and to celebrate the life that I still had. I am not saying that I don’t still grieve for my old life or suffer bouts of depression accompanied by severe crying fits. I am saying that by finding outlets, they are less severe.
I am curious how others have dealt with the isolation caused by multiple chemical sensitivity and other allergies.