If someone were to ask me to define myself, one of the first adjectives that would pop into my head would be “sick.” Since before I can remember, I have struggled with physical, mental, and emotional illnesses. However, I went largely untreated until the age of twelve. Right after my birthday, my family finally realized that something about me was not normal. For months, doctors and their assistants interrogated me with awkward questions, performed frightening tests, and stared me down. Former worries I had about being abnormal were confirmed as I had an MRI scan, ultrasound, analyzing for schizophrenia, allergy shots, speech therapy, medication prescriptions, occupational therapy, and much more.
Now, years later, I still struggle with my health. Sure, my asthma and allergies are much better but I still struggle with depression, sleep, head aches, self-injurious behavior, and anxiety. Other diagnoses have been added to my list including Aspergers, Anorexia Nervousa, PTSD, and possibly OCD. When I think about this list of problems, I mourn for my poor patient family. Why did they have to have child like me? Will I ever make it up to them?
However the biggest question that I have is if I will ever be healthy. After being sick for so long, what does health even look like for me? Without my disorders, who am I? To be honest, that question really frightens me. Deep down, I am afraid that I am nothing without these labels. To be myself, I need to be in pain, misery, and loneliness. That is what the voice in my head keeps repeating. Why should I leave the ugly familiarity of what I know for the unknown? What if being healthy is worse than being sick?
When I saw the Weekly Writing Challenge for this week was called Fit to Write, I was intrigued. Daily Post challenged bloggers to write about what health means to them. As I read this, I tried to dismiss the idea of responding. After all, I write about health all the time. Why should I do it for this challenge too? But the more I tried to avoid it, the more this prompt bothered me. What do I see healthy as? Who would I be if I were truly healthy?
So, I decided to write a response to the Weekly Writing Challenge. Although I am still figuring out what health means to me, I am exploring what type of person I could be without my disorders. Like a detective, I am solving a mystery by trying to uncover my healthy self. Since I used to enjoy writing poetry, I am going to try my hand at it to explain my emotions. This is the first time I have shared a poem on my blog, so I am rather nervous. It won’t be perfect but I hope that it will be good enough and maybe even inspire you.
Who Am I Healthy?
Purple bruises on my legs,
Goosebumps on my arms,
Little signs all of over my body remind me;
They refuse to let me forget
That even my very skin is warped, is breaking, is weak.
Stomach curled like a fist, empty
Calling out like a baby bird whose mother is gone.
Am I the keeper of my body? Am I the one who should care for it?
Soon, the dizziness overtakes the pain
As I sway, teetering like a rock atop the pinnacle of a mountain.
If I fill my belly with food,
If I swallow the sea with all its creatures,
Will I be well?
If I erase the angry scars form my body,
If I paint on hearts and health instead,
Will the urges end?
Alone in a group of people,
Grizzly bear lumbering about it a swarm of bees,
Longing to share in the honey, flowers, and buzz,
Bumbling about, causing the tiny swarm to depart,
Left alone once more.
Perhaps I am really Cinderella,
But she wandered into a haunted house,
Terrified of invisible demons and ghosts,
Trembling with each passing shadow.
Her white dress is now blackened with soot and despair.
If I reach out to a few strangers,
If I summon up the courage to look someone in the eyes,
Will my Aspergian traits lessen?
If I fight back the sickening memories,
If I stop hiding under the car seat from each stranger,
Will I stop hiding?
What is health; may I choose its definition?
Could my body morph into a tree,
Staying grounded while swaying in the wind,
Inviting in life while constantly growing taller?
Can my heart be a sponge,
Soaking in pain and misery
But wringing it out whenever needed?
Could my mind be the Grand Canyon
That constantly grows deeper with time
While never growing smaller or eroding?
Can my spirit be a dandelion,
Striving to imitate the sun in the sky
While stubbornly brightening up every hillside?
Those would be health.
I might never attend a party without shaking in the corner,
Or pass a man without shying away,
Or eat a crumb without feeling guilty.
However, health is possible for in me if I am willing to seek it out
And uncover the mystery of myself.