Monday, June 11, 2012

Should I Bother Coming Out of the Closet?

I don't know when it happened.

As a writer, this is quite embarrassing. I think I'm a hippie. I mean, at least the stereotyped version of it...minus the illegal drugs.

I don't know what it happened, but this is as close to coming out of the closet that I'm probably ever going to get. I'm coming out to say, I think I'm a hippie. I don't know. Keep reading.

But, this has led me also feel like a conspiracy theorist. I'm starting to believe everyone out there has been misled, misdiagnosed, and misunderstood. And because I am currently on the upside of what has seemed like an endless downhill road, I just want to share it with everyone. But, come on, that's just plain scary. I grew up with an evangelical mother in an evangelic church, I'm definitely worn out on the preaching and "do this and you'll get this" operation. So I'm just going to share.

Which leaves me with this blog. This is the quietest way I know how to "come out".

So, while I don't typically list this as public knowledge, I will share it just this once (and perhaps even take this blog down after it's had its chance to run).

I have a number of health issues.

So here's what I face/faced on a daily basis:
Sciatica - This is basically just a set of symptoms. It encompasses lower back pain that at time can run down into the upper thigh. It's got a lot to do with nerves and pinching. It hurts. Some days it really hurts.
PTSD - Post traumatic stress disorder, became more well known after the Vietnam War. I don't like talking about this because I'm still at a point where it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. But, I will say that it's kind of like having to be forced to relive the most terrifying parts of your life over... and over...and over... and over...
Ovarian Cysts - These are pain. When mine rupture, they bleed all over my stomach.
Undiagnosed - When there's a change in the barometric pressure the insides of my knee caps feel like they are going to explode (I have no idea what this is called, some say it's rheumatoid arthritis).

So, let me paint a picture for you. On good days, my ovaries throbbed with an occasional sharp tinge of pain, and my lower back could be appeased with 800 milligrams of ibuprofen. On bad days.... I'd end up in the ER getting shots of morphine. Granted, the worst days only come 2-4 times a year. But, most of the time, my back is in such bad condition, I can't be in an upright position. You'd find me instead, on the floor with my feet elevated, a heating pad on my gut, and movies playing or reading a book. I was lucky if I could concentrate long enough to read.

And the doctors... OOOOoooohhh, the DOCTORS! They'd look at me like some "little woman" and tell me that I needed to get over these "cramps". Thank God for nurses (female, which the industry is still dominated by). The therapists I'd been to were even worse. Most of them, well all of them except the last one, missed the PTSD. Instead, all my symptoms were divvied out into separate diagnoses... IE borderline personality disorder, depression, and the general anxiety disorder. (Treatments for these didn't work... I wonder why... hmm...) Grr.

In any case, my days were spent generally very angry. I couldn't escape the pain. So, I'd angrily try to get the work that needs doing done. But, still I got behind regularly leaving tons of mess for me to clean up on the occasional "good days". This is a daunting task. This was an unbearable task.

As a result, a few years ago, after a night of crying pathetically in pain, flashbacks streaming incessantly through my head, I stomped into a bookstore and looked at meditation CD's. There is a type of unceasing pain that will drive you to insanity, and I was there. I had reached my breaking point. I didn't care what anyone else thought of me. I'd try anything. Even if I had a preconceived notion that meditation was for crazy people.

I threw myself headfirst into the world of meditation. If nothing else, it was a way to make sure I didn't lose my sanity during a fit of pain. And, so a few years past with that. Then, this last November, I had another cyst rupture. I ended up in the ER, crying and screaming. For almost three months afterwards, I didn't do anything. Then, finally I got tired of laying around and worked a million times harder to control my body despite the pain through meditation. Then, I resumed my typical regime of doing whatever I could until the pain got to be too much. Needless to say, I have a high threshold for pain and it has been ever growing.

But, I still couldn't help but thinking that there had to be something better than just coping! So, in another desperate torrent, much like the one that found me stomping off to buy mediation CD's, I start researching...gasp... alternative healing methods. And suddenly, I find myself where I am now.

I drink various concoctions of apple cider vinegar twice daily, and it is gross. I drink apple cider vinegar. Did you hear me? To me, this is right on par with eating chocolate cake in order to lose weight. It just sounds ridiculous. I can't help it. I think it's nuts. But, it works.

At about the same time, I started trying my hand at yoga. No, not the super impressive circus contortionist kind, nor the kind that is intended to make me look like a goddess in a bikini. I'm talking about the kind that is meditative and focused on helping my back. It's more or less meditation combined with good stretching.

So here I am, meditating, drinking apple cider vinegar, and doing yoga. Oh, and after all my PTSD experience, I try to approach people with patience and kindness. So, yes, I'm all about the love, too.

But, you know what makes this funny... at least to me? I still think it's nuts.

I'm still not sure I want everyone knowing how jaded I am towards average doctors or how jaded I am towards the organized religion that never led me toward a path of alternative solutions.

And I guess that's what happens. As people, we endure something long enough and with enough pain that we become jaded. My problem lies before all this happened, I produced a judgement against the hippie (peace, love, and happiness) cliche. Maybe it was because I never thought it was possible. Maybe it was because I was in a state where those ideals could never exist. But now, I've made them exist.

I'm not perfect. I still get entirely out of whack some days. Some days my PTSD gets the better of me. Sometimes, there's not a yoga class suited for my needs when I need it. Some days, I cannot tolerate the idea of drinking that awful apple cider vinegar.

I wonder, what have I become? Am I now that crazy hippie stereotype I always laughed at and disregarded?

And that is when I return to my keyboard, to my characters, and to my writing. Maybe the answers are there. My books are my escape, and yet are the way I stay grounded. I send this query out to the universe, out to the world... I would love your input, your stories. Should I accept that I am doomed to become a label? Is that something I should learn to accept? And why, why am I so afraid to acknowledge that I'm different? Should I even bother coming out of my closet?


  1. Well, my middle name is Groovy, so that tells you how I feel about being a hippie. Welcome to the club--here's your headband and sandals. :) As a nurse, I avoid pain medication every chance I can, because in most cases, the side effects aren't worth the relief (and my list is about four times as long as yours). I am very into two things: alternative forms of pain relief and finding the underlying causes and fixing those. Yoga is wonderful for back pain and meditation is great. However, be very careful about just dealing with pain, because it can be a sign of infection, and you can't meditate that away.

  2. Hey, you don't have to call yourself a hippie, you can just say you have hippie tendencies! And there's nothing wrong with that.

    My experiences have been startlingly similar to yours--evangelical family, PTSD, and weird health problems galore. And for me, too, alternative medicine and alternative spiritual paths turned things around for me.

    I say, let your freak flag fly! Aren't we writers "supposed to be" a little bit eccentric?

  3. Thanks Kelly! And @greenwoman, I think that is my fear... writers used to be eccentric, now we are social media moguls that are "responsible" for branding ourselves. This, I believe, can be a slippery slope when you write YA. Ya know?

  4. You don't have to use hippie as your label. Sometimes I think that hippie is really a dated term that is best left in the 60's and 70's. It meant something different back then.

    The only bad thing I ever associated with so called "hippies" was a distinct lack of the use of deodorant. I went to a college that had some wannabe hippies in the 90's and they would get on the shuttle with their stench and it was a difficult ride. :)

    You could call yourself holistic, if your looking for a way to describe your new method of living.

    I think what you are doing is brilliant and I support meditation, alternative therapies and yoga 100%. It's about us being physical and spiritual and taking care of both parts of our natures.

    Kudos to you for reaching out to discover what works for you and for telling us about it here. Keep moving forward.

  5. I wouldn't classify you as a hippie at all. You are just trying to cope with a situation you find yourself in. And if it makes you feel better, I'm jaded about doctors and organised religion and I haven't even had your experiences ;-)

    I'll pass on the yoga though. I know some people swear by it, but it just made my back pain worse when I was pregnant.

    So sorry to hear about the difficulties you suffer and I can sympathise. I was in worse shape when pregnant - but at least I knew it wouldn't last forever. But like you, it made me a very angry person.

  6. Not hippy. I agree. You are holistic.

    Quick thought. I just saw today that they sell Apple Cider Vinegar pills. Consider that option. It has to taste better than actually drinking the vile stuff. (I like it for some things, but straight, no way.)

    I have PTSD. I was lucky. My counselor AND Psychiatrist caught it straight away. Along with the DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) I have sciatica. You're right some days are horrendously painful.

    A book I HIGHLY recommend, in fact, I am on my 5th edition of it, is: Prescription for Nutritional Healing. It lists many of the illnesses, disorders, etc, such as PTSD, Arthritis (Common forms, including Rheumatoid), Back pain, including Sciatica. It also has lists of natural healing ways, such as vitamins, minerals, and natural methods of helping yourself. There's also a section on how to do a body cleanse, which, if your doctor tells you it's safe to try, seems to help a number of people. It's written by a Nurse (used to be by Husband:Dr. and her, but just her now. It's reviewed before publication by a number of different doctors of different specialties for accuracies.

    I swear by this for helping me to find ways to cope with pain. Some foods to consider eating because they are known to help with pain due to the minerals in them are: Broccoli, Celery, Garlic, Rhubarb, Shitaki Mushrooms, Milk, Onions, Tomato Juice...Herbs: Aloe Vera (Juice), Comfrey, Ginseng, Suma.

    Since this is a female problem, consider these herbs: Alfalfa (Anti-inflammatory), Astragalus (anti-inflammatory), Birch (Anti-Inflammatory and Pain reliever), Boswellia (Anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, anti-arthritic), Catnip (Pain reliever), Cats Claw (Anti-inflammatory, stimulates immune system, antioxidant), Devil's Claw (Pain reliever, Anti-inflammatory,Good for back pain, arthritis, among many other things), Dong Qua (Pain reliever, strengthens the female reproductive system. Do not use with blood thinners!)

    Those are the ones I know about that are good for using. The ones that should help target some of the pain you're experiencing from different problems. Also, many of yours are also inflammation, so the anti-inflammatory properties should help relieve some of that also.

    I'm not a Dr. so of course, I'm going you to talk to your Dr. If you decide to go this route, I highly suggest finding a natural herb store in your area. The people who work there nearly always know A LOT about the herbs, etc. They can help you a lot. I had one that spent a lot of time helping me pinpoint some problems with vitamins. After a thorough cleansing, I started with brewers yeast (Most B vitamins contained. Found out immediately, can't take it...we went through some of the B vitamins and realized, I can't take them. In fact, I cannot take ANY synthetic vitamins. I HAVE to get it through foods. So, I defiantly recommend telling them what your problems are, what I've suggested and get their far more expert opinion on what to use.

    Hope this helps, and sorry it's so long, but really wanted to try to help you somehow.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing all this information! It is so much to take in, and at times I feel like Alice lost in Wonderland... or like I'm back in Calculus. :)

  7. I always liked it when Johnny Rotten (sex pistols) said "never trust a hippy" - I always felt they were a bit too 'pie in the sky' for my liking. And yet I sit here wearing beaded bracelets. Not because I am a hippy, far from it, simply because I like them.
    It seems to be you are far too much of a realist to be a hippy, and you are just exploring different ways to cope with the things that life throws at you. And that's good...

  8. Thank you for sharing with us. This is a very open and honest post and shows real bravery.

    The word hippy has got itself a bit of a bad wrap the past few years, or even decades. I'm not sure it holds any real meaning anymore. I tend to think of people as either being mainstream or alternative, though I suppose they can overlap too.

    Yoga and meditation are without doubt good things to be doing, and I have a few friends that swear by it, and who know it makes a real difference to how they feel about themselves and the world around them. Stick at them!

    I've been taking pain killers daily for the past 30+ years. Doctors, even the good ones, seem unwilling to help. The only way to get treatment these days is to be wealthy and able to afford private medical treatment. Not something anyone I know will ever be able to afford.

    Given what you've described above I think you're coping incredibly well.

    My favourite colour is 'rainbow'. Not sure if that makes me a hippy, or gay? :-D

    1. Lol! That last line really got me rolling!