The worst part of chronic illness/pain

The worst part of my chronic illness isn’t the pain, feeling shitty, or the endless meds and doctors appointments… it’s the bone crippling loneliness. The world is going at a hundred miles per hour around me while I sit still. Friends go on and grow while I sit stagnant. 

I have no consistent social life since I can’t work. I can barely commit to anything because I won’t know how I will feel and I don’t want to let people down by canceling. I could go days with out interacting and that is so fucking depressing.   

This lack of interaction creates a couple of emotions… 

1. Insecurity: You see everyone out doing fun things or growing in their careers… yet you can’t participate.  You start telling yourself horrible things about why people don’t want to hang around you.  You’re not able to keep up with people and rarely are people willing to slow down for you.   You quickly start believing your worthless.  

2. neediness: you start CRAVING connection. It’s like your body and brain go through withdrawal. You start pestering friends… pestering to the point they hate you and leave you. They have jobs and have no idea why you could be so lonely. Don’t get me started on how you’ll feel about canceled plans… you won’t have your normal reaction of “thank God I can just stay home and rest”. Instead it’s “I’ve been looking forward to this social interaction all week… it was the highlight of my week!”. You will feel disappointment like you’ve never felt before… because your brain has turned into a needy bitch. 

3. absolute loneliness: you are left with your pain and illness as your only constant. Your brain starts playing tricks on you. You start to realize you’re not a part of society any longer. The world has moved on with out you. It doesn’t need you any more.  

4. crippling depression: Your world has come crashing down. Your brain just can’t function normally. You become this hyper emotional creature from the depth of hell that is a dark shadow upon the light of the world. Being on huge doses of pain meds doesn’t help either. You unlovable at times.  

Expect friends to leave you. This was the hardest part for me. Friends can’t understand what you’re going through. They have their own lives… their own struggles. One by one they will leave you. That’s okay. They have lives too. You can’t expect them to move at your speed. My own husband couldn’t handle it. If a spouse can’t handle it how can you expect a friend to handle it.  

The emotional aspects of having a chronic illness or chronic pain are worse than the physical aspects. I long to work in an office or group again just so I can have a social outlet and feel productive. I’m thankful for the couple of friends who can handle my crazy when it kicks up. I’m thankful for those who haven’t turned their back on me. I’m thankful for those who remember “hey Elizabeth might want to join me/us”. These are the people who will get me through.  

Why ladies?!

I was explaining to an old friend that one of closest and dearest friends was opening a huge show that will most likely end up on broadway.   “You sound really happy for her… Aren’t you jealous of her?  That’s your childhood dream.” My old friend asked.  My old friend has been a struggling Broadway actor for years. She’s one of those that will be struggling till the day she dies but she’s doing what she loves. We met when we performed “Julius Caesar” together WAY back in the day, lost touch, then regained touch through the miracle of Facebook and rekindled a superficial relationship. 

I thought about the question… I thought hard.  “No.” I replied, “not at all… I’m proud of her.”  It’s the truth.  I never thought to be jealous.  My close friend has been preparing for this literally her entire life… so why would I be jealous?  Just this one project has been a 2+ year journey for her.   I’m proud as hell… I’m screaming from the rafters to anyone who will listen about how happy I am for her.   

My old friend then said “you’re not a normal woman I guess.”  Not a normal woman… wait… so because we were both born with vaginas I’m not supposed to support her?  I really started thinking.  I thought back to when I was a kid riding horses competitively… it made sense now.  We were all friends until we got to the same level and started competing with each other.  It made sense now.  Jealousy and competition reigned. I just thought they hated me… 

Why as women do we get this way with each other?  We are all spouting “woman power” until say a friend starts excelling in something then jealousy takes over.  Aren’t we all in this together?  If we are all in it together why does female rivalry exist?
Doing a little late night internet research I came across a plethora of articles about the subject.   Some blame hormones, some blame upbringing, while others blame our caveman ancestors.  Are women inherently jealous of each other?  Is it part of our brain structure?  Is it something some women can’t help?  Reading this information makes me wonder how we ever came together to win our right to vote.  

This newly gained information really enlightened things for me.  Maybe I was only made fun of as a school girl because I was tall and skinny.   Maybethe reason people gossip and lie as adults is because they are jealous of something.  Oddly enough this makes me feel better… no idea why but I will take it.  

How can we overcome this jealousy and rivalry?  It’s all “yeah female power” till jealousy or rivalry hit.  We women need to work together… we need to stick up for each other… we need to support each other.   We need to stand together for our basic rights and that starts with supporting each other’s accomplishments.   We have a president who talks about “grabbing women by the pussy” yet we are ostrisizing, hating, and making fellow women’s lives miserable out of petty jealousy?!  

Ladies… who gives a shit about the petty stuff.  Support your female friends.   Love them for the sisters they are.  Stop creating drama… we have enough all ready.  Stand together in love and celebrate each other.  
I am proud beyond words about my friend’s success… as I am with any friend’s success.   I will support my friends with my last breath.   I will promote her because I believe in her ability with all my heart.  Good, deep, platonic friendships are rare…  don’t let jealousy and pettiness ruin them.  

My friend Stephanie Wall as “Michele” (in the pink) *obviously NOT my picture… stole it from one of the many adds popping up on social media*

Dating… the inner ring of hell

She probably got a dick pic
Being that I’m in my mid 30’s and finding myself single again I’m once again in the hell filled dating pool of L.A. Dating in your 30s is like dumpster diving for dinner… yet you’re part of the dumpster trash too. We are all the scraps… most of us trying to get over heart break while we fight through the rivers of hell to give it one more chance at the behest of our friends.   

Let me make something clear… I never want to be in a serious relationship ever again. I have joined the ranks of women who have found joy in being single. Why date then? It’s simple… my friends in relationships make me and it usually involves food. I’m always down for food… or whiskey.

Daily I get calls or texts telling me they found someone I need to meet. That they are perfect for me. I politely remind them I really don’t want to date. They send me a picture… usually a headshot… of a 30 or 40 something blonde woman (sooooo many blondes in Hollywood… even the latinos are going blonde… thankfully I’m over my aversion to blondes… except Latino blondes) or metro guy (probably actually gay) they worked with on a show or met through a friend. Something in my heart twitches with some and for some reason I agree to an evening out with a stranger.  

We exchange headshots… look at each others Instagram… talk on the phone once or twice… then we make plans to meet. This is when anxiety takes hold. It’s the same anxiety that grips me once an audition pops up or I agree to stage time. 

Do I shave my legs? (Don’t give me that shit that a ladies legs are always shaved… I can guarantee at least half of you turn into furry beasts) Do I wear make up? Is my hair going to cooperate? (Probably not… let’s be honest). What the hell do I wear?! Bra or no bra?! Is there enough time to go get waxed?The 3 hours before I leave the house are either spent running around like crazy or giving in to the inevitable betrayal of life and laying in bed watching the clock like a countdown to my execution. 

Finally it’s time… I always arrive first. I’m always on time since I’m from the east coast and being LA everyone else is late. I sit. I have no qualms about ordering a drink so I do. Eventually they show up. We do the awkward stand up, shake, hug thing. Neither of us looks like our headshots and they never look like their filtered Instagram photos. That’s just the way life goes.  

We eat awkwardly. It’s Hollywood though so usually we just push food around our plates as we suck down white wine. I mean… when your on a diet there are priorities to your caloric intake.  

Conversation is made. They are usually working on some big movie, tv show or project. Then there’s me… uh I took an oxy and sat at Disneyland harassing some entertainers I know… but I do some stand up and writing to keep from killing myself (I don’t say the killing myself part… that’s CLEARLY 3rd date material). Then I have to explain both my chronic illness,  my bizzare circle of Disney friends and why I see so many cover bands in dive bars. I also have to promise not to use them for stand up or writing material… oops.  I feel like I should have a disclaimer or something. Eventually the conversation moves on from my bombshells into something more pleasant.  

The uneaten food is packaged to go (we both know it will either be tossed or eaten by room mates while we devote more calories to booze). It’s time to say good bye. It’s awkward hug and kiss time. It’s awkward walk to the valet time. It’s awkward make plans for a second date time. I usually tell them I need to check my schedule… then wait till the 3rd text or call to make another date. Not playing hard to get. I just hate dating that much. Eventually I end up back in my car texting something cynical and depressive to a best friend (okay there’s the occasional “holy hell I love her/him” but that’s only till we get to the 3rd date… then it’s back to flipping tables).

 I would rather sit on a friend’s sofa drinking wine and talking shit on the world than go out with someone I don’t know.  On that note I will probably never get asked out again… that’s fine. Dating is one casket I would love to seal.  

I’m told I’m just still angry over my shitty marriage… that I’m in a mourning stage. Honestly I just really enjoy being single after my disastrous marriage. I’m happy with my close friendships and if I want sex I don’t have to deal with a relationship for that. (Sorry mom)  I’m an adult and it’s 2017. That’s another blog post though, lol.

So into the fires of what is the LA dating pool. Stay tuned for my adventures in dating.  

Everyday is about adjusting my sails…

Freaking truth

Pain… yesterday was a high pain day. It was a high pain day that I had to power through. I wanted to curl into a ball and cry but instead I had to smile and interact. I couldn’t do my usual cancel everything so I can hide on the sofa popping narcotics every 4 hours praying for a meteor from space to come kill me. It was beyond exhausting and stressful.  I feigned functional adult though and for that I’m proud. I push myself hard everyday but days with severe pain are even harder.  

Living with chronic pain is… well… shitty. One day it could be reasonably controlled using modern medicine and the next day I could be unable to leave my bed. No rhyme or reason… it’s just how it goes.  I can’t really plan things with out the disclaimer “if I’m feeling decent”. I go to bed at night wondering what level of hell I will wake up in. That’s if I sleep at all. Most nights I either toss and turn or give up and lay awake thanks to pain and anxiety.  

Going out places requires planning. Will there be someone to drive me home if I have to take my strong meds? Will there be a place to sit? Will there be a quiet place to be for a minute if things get overwhelming? Will I be with a friend who will understand when I want to leave early? Can I fake a smile through feeling shitty so people don’t get put off?  Are people going to think I just want sympathy?  I’ve started just avoiding shows and other social activities that I used to enjoy.  

I feel like a drug addict. Traveling… even just overnight… means bringing multiple bottles of pills. I have to take my narcotics everywhere. If I’m gone for more than 8 hours that means I have to bring other meds too so I can stay on schedule.  My purse sounds like an 80 year olds.  

Much of the time my meds make me feel mentally dull.  I try to take the very minimun… just enough to take the edge off because I hate feeling dopey… but I hate being in pain more.  “Can’t you just deal with the pain” a former friend asked me once… worried I was going to become addicted.  I’m well aware about the risks of addiction but until you’ve been in a public restroom laying on the floor praying for death because you didn’t bring your meds with you and you were 2 hours past your scheduled dose please don’t lecture me.  

Most days I can sort of function thanks to my meds yet other days I can’t do shit. That’s honestly the hardest part of this illness. Gone are my days filled with physical activities like weight lifting, boxing, horseback riding, rock climbing, surfing, and every other hobby I had.  Gone are the days where I could just go go go then party all night.   Instead it’s pats on the back for getting out of bed, showering, and especially leaving the house.   That’s pretty shitty for a 30 something woman… that’s life though.  

My heart still beats and (thanks to a medication adjustment) my brain still works so it could all be worse.  I’m blessed to have awesome room mates who help me more than they know (huge step up from an abusive and neglectful husband), once again live close to other friends so it’s easier to see them and be social, and thankfully live near places that bring me great joy.  Tomorrow could be better… or it could be worse.  All I can do is pray and attempt to sleep… and thank God for that first breath in the morning.   

My life has done a massive 180 but it’s gonna work out if I can just keep myself from myself. I’m trying to learn how to be kinder on myself… to remember that I’m not lazy… that I ACTUALLY NEED rest.   I’m blessed with amazing friends who call me out when I don’t take care of myself and provide comfort and support.  The really good days are rare now as the bad days become more frequent but I have to keep hope that one day the storm will end and I will be left with strength and a story. 

With help I am standing in this storm. My favorite quote… human in picture is Stephanie Wall. Picture was taken during a performance. She has become one of the greatest friends I’ve ever had due to her unconditional love and support during this rough time.