To my husband, who has rallied beside me throughout this entire experience. You (literally) picked me up when I fell, rubbed my back after I dry-heaved, held me when I was scared and paranoid, sat and held my hand while I went to the washroom because I developed irrational fears of things such AS going to the washroom, stayed home to "take care of me" when he probably could have used a night out, helped with meals many nights, listened to me say countless times, "I think I might be dying...this isn't normal...what is happening to me?...you should just leave me because I'll never be normal...my body feelings like it's dying inside...please do something!", put our daughter to bed each and every night and gave her the confidence that, "Mommy will get better"...and most of all, you loved me and treated me like I was worth it. You put me on a pedestal and became my #1 cheerleader. I am forever grateful.
To my daughter...you're almost 9 and have seen so much these past 2-3 years. My counsellor told me to not feel guilt over what I was "doing to you"...that all I was doing was teaching you something you'd never learn in a textbook. She told me I was teaching you that Mommy could cry every day but still be viewed as strong. She told me I was teaching you about life and how life doesn't always come easy. You told me I was strong. You wrote me notes and drew me pictures on a weekly basis. You cried with me, and rubbed my back. You put on a brave face when Mommy crumbled, but then allowed yourself to crumble when you felt the time was right. You gave me your favourite bear countless times and told me, "I know you'll get better, Mommy".
To my parents, who drove out rain or shine, night or day, to be with me if need be. You watched me buckle over in pain, cry and ask, "why?". You "spread the word" about these meds to those around you and helped open others minds. You supported my husband and daughter when they needed it as well. I am forever grateful for your generous help throughout this, even if it was just to sit with me while I cried.
To my friends...how lucky am I to have so many friend who "got it" as much as they could without living with it? Many of you took phone calls from a "scared Sarah" too many times to count, drove my daughter to and from school when I could barely get out of bed, called me or wrote me to just say a simple "thinking of you", and even passed on my blog to others because you believed in me and my message.
To my family - from my brother and sister-in-law, to my Aunt, my Uncle, cousins and extended family...everyone understood the best they could and always supported me.
And to the pharmacists who believed the pain I was in. They reassured me this would end but that it could take months or even years to fully heal. They took my phone calls at 8am when I was still awake in a panic after losing a night's sleep due to pains and anxiety and talked me through it. I will never forget that.
I am a lucky woman. I don't know how people get through this without support, but I know it's possible. Because even with support, you feel completely alone. I remember when I began this journey I thought I'd be permanently damaged or I'd live with PTSD, fearing that I'd never be "normal" again. But one year later?
I am getting there. Slowly but surely, I can see many signs I am hugely improving. LONG gone are the urges to self-harm. Gone (I hope) are the panic attacks, gone are the body jolts and ticks in my arms and legs, and (mostly) gone is the anxiety. Sure I still have some fears and a slew of physical symptoms that wear me out some days...but I have motivation again. I can wake up with a plan and often follow through with it. I wake up HAPPY - this has not happened on years and I can now clearly see how the medication I was on fatigued me beyond belief.
So many good things have come out of this experience and I prefer to look at the positive side of it (of course I'm human and do have my days where it's a little doom and gloom). Because of this experience, I changed the way I view my body inside and out. I eat extremely healthy and my daughter now asks for "pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil" instead of "Mac and Cheese". We haven't touched fast food in many many months (2 years for me!). Gone is the pop and now water is all you'll see in our fridge. Yes, we still have fun...I LOVE chocolate and cookies and still indulge daily...yes, my hubby enjoys his beer on the weekend...and of course our daughter is ALLOWED the "Mac and Cheese" if requested...but most days it's a healthy balanced diet - and by "diet" I mean a "way of life".
I cut out meat (only fish) and dairy (only yogurt and Kefir). I won't touch store bought sauces and instead make my own. MSG has been a very difficult thing for me and it's hidden in so many prepackaged foods. Yes, I am now that "special friend" at the potlucks and bbq's as I normally won't touch most of the food. But I AM okay with that. I eat before I go and I try to make a salad or appetizer I know I can touch. At first it was a bit embarrassing - and at times it still can be - but most people are receptive.
Whew! I could go on and on. But instead I'll now leave you with 2 songs...one that depicted how I felt a year or two ago:
And one - also by Sia - that is a bit more celebratory:
WOO HOO!!! HAPPY ONE YEAR TO ME!!!