The Week That Wasn’t

Picture 179So you probably noticed that last week Monday was the only day posts were shared from this site.  I can (and will) explain, but first I want to say one thing.

I am really sorry about that.

Lots of little factors came into play, like me thinking I had Tuesday scheduled out when I did not, but all the little factors tie into two big factors that have eaten my life whole for more than a week now: travel and severe back pain — more specifically, sciatica.  As those of you who have experienced sciatica, or any type of intense, recurring back pain know, not only is it hell to live through, but it forces you to pretty much put your entire life on hold while you work towards being able to move your body again without screaming.

The one thing I could not, would not, did not put on hold was flying out to Pittsburgh to see my grandfather and other assorted family members.  My grandfather gets the emphasis, though, because he just turned 95 last month (I will pause here for your congratulatory remarks in celebration of this auspicious event. . .), and because he’s my best fella.  So while I love seeing uncles, aunts, cousins, my other grandfather, and sometimes more extended family, the aforementioned gentleman is why I make biannual pilgrimages to the city I was born and raised in.  The incredible food is a close second, as reasons go.  😉

The sciatica struck a couple of weeks ago, and instead of being alleviated by a cocktail of oral steroids, prescription anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and narcotic pain relievers as it usually is, it’s been hanging on in all sorts of ugly, painful ways.  It’s also causing me to think I have posts scheduled when I have not, as I mentioned above.

When my mother tentatively approached me to ask if I though I could make the trip — she has learned the hard way and over many years that when I’m in pain I should not be approached, but if the need arises I should be approached as gently as possible — I told her, “Absolutely!  I don’t care if I need to be shot full of tranquilizers and carried onto the plane, I am not missing this visit.”

If you caught the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago for A Canvas Of The Minds (I reblogged it here), you’ll know why I’ve implemented Wild Card Wednesdays on Blog For Mental Health — even though last week I dropped the ball with it, as I did with pretty much everything.  Simply put, I feel like because of the incredible response to the BFMH campaign — which is wonderful, don’t misunderstand me there — I’ve spent nearly all of my online blogging time doing things that don’t allow me to connect with and get to know all of you amazing Blog For Mental Health Warriors.  I want the chance to do that.  I need the chance to do that.  Each of you is so very intriguing to me, I’d like to know you as people!

I thought I’d start today by asking you if you’ve ever been in a similar situation to the one I’ve just described.  Have you ever had major pain or an illness derail something really exciting you had been looking forward to?  Were you able bear down and complete your original plan, or perhaps a modified version of it?  Be it a vacation or a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the celebrity of your dreams, tell me about it.  We’ll commiserate.  😉

Also, we cannot forget the elephant in the room.  Has your mental health ever tried or succeeded in preventing you from doing something that mattered a great deal to you?  How have you coped, or perhaps worked through the problem so you could enjoy what you had planned?

I know that especially in discussing your mental health, I could be detonating landmines, so please don’t answer if in so doing you become upset by opening up the proverbial can of worms.  This whole idea is meant to be a way for us to make our ‘how do you dos’ to each other, not an exercise in how to trigger your readers.

On a completely unrelated, but very noteworthy note, I was recently alerted by the lovely Mrs. Bipolarity to the latest awesome stand* Mr. and Mrs. Marshall — the Mr. of that pair has a first name of Brandon and plays professional (American) football for the Chicago Bears,** in case you were wondering — are taking for mental health  This time around the amazing and gracious Michi Marshall has stepped into the spotlight, partnering with OPI nail polish to create a fantastic shade called #CrazyStigmaGreen!  It’s an absolutely gorgeous shade (click here to see), and a great way to get people talking and working to end stigma, all while looking incredibly glam!  Visit to get some today, or if you aren’t inclined to do much manicuring, pick out a shirt to represent the cause!

*To read about previous Marshall awesomeness — click here.
**Talking about mental illness in pro football does not happen, which is what makes Mr. Marshall that much more awesome for speaking about his diagnosis and creating a dialogue in that sphere.

Love to you,

© Ruby Tuesday and The Official Blog For Mental Health Project 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruby Tuesday and The Official Blog For Mental Health Project with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

11 thoughts on “The Week That Wasn’t

  1. Barbara Rath

    I have a dear friend who chose to attend my Mother’s funeral less than a week after surgery that left his right arm without mobility and strength. Unable to be a pallbearer, to shake hands, he still was there and available to the family. It meant so much to our family to have him there with us. Strength in adversity, yours and his, is admirable.

    1. Ruby Tuesday Post author

      Barbara, what an incredibly moving story. I can only imagine what your friend’s presence meant to you and your family. For me, I needed to see my grandfather no matter what, and I know it was important that he see me. It definitely took its toll on my physically, but I will never regret it. Every moment with him is a true gift.

      Thank you so much for you your kind words and for sharing your experience. This is exactly the part of blogging I’ve missed so much. 🙂

  2. Janet (ocdtalk)

    I do know about back pain… debilitating and painful. I think it’s incredible that you were able to make that trip to see your grandfather….hope your back is feeling better.

    1. Ruby Tuesday Post author

      Janet, I think I would have walked the miles to see him, if that’s what it took. He’s so special, and we’re at that point where every moment is that much more precious. I did have good pain meds for the trip out, which helped tremendously.

      My back is going to take some time, but fortunately I have a great team to help me get it in shape again. Thank you so much for your kind words, and for always being so supportive.

  3. NotAPunkRocker

    I am glad you got to go out and see your family, though I am sorry about the sciatica.

    Certainly mental health has had more of an impact on me doing things than any other health crisis. Sometimes I would go through with things and go home and collapse, other times I would just not participate at all. Not the best coping strategies there. I am still learning how to get through…after I learn how to accept invitations to such things without saying “no” immediately.

    I have got to get that green polish when it comes out 🙂

    1. Ruby Tuesday Post author

      Sheena, I know what you mean about the way mental health can limit things in our lives (obviously). There was even a day this trip that I had to stay back at the hotel because I was so overwhelmed and anxious. I guess all we can hope for is to make a bit of progress here and there, like not gut reacting with a “no” to every invite, as you say. 🙂

      The polish is out, by the way. You can only get it here, with a $25 donation. You can also explore the site further — Mr. and Mrs. Marshall both seem so amazingly genuine and sweet, and when I had a snafu with my donation, she was so kind to immediately connect me to the people running the foundation and get things straightened out.

      I hope you’re well, I really haven’t had a chance to catch up with much. Thank you so much for all you do and for all that you are — which is someone very special. 🙂

  4. Hope

    I was diagnosed almost exactly a year ago with an autoimmune disease called ulcerative colitis. I’ve had to put a lot of things on hold, but I’ve also learned to work around it so I can still do some of the things I love. Like about 1/3 of UC patients, I’ve never been able to get into remission, and it’s a process of learning to come to terms with that. I’m a political organizer, currently working on a gubernatorial campaign, and my boss has arranged things so I do a lot of the data management and social media stuff, which I can do from my computer at home–often in bed, when the pain and fatigue are too much for me to get out of bed. I make calls from bed and sometimes even from the bathroom. On good days, I can go out and do stuff with the rest of the team. I’m lucky I have a very understanding boss–he’s even made an effort to find out a little about my disease. I work part-time and make my own hours, and he doesn’t get upset if I can’t do something I’d said I would because I’m too sick or in the ER or something. I’ll note that I made a point of telling my boss from the very beginning that I was dealing with an unpredictable disease that would probably impact my ability to work at times, so it was never a shock to him.

    It does frustrate me sometimes that I can’t do as much as I want to. Sometimes I look at other campaign staffers who work 80 or 90 hour weeks, and I’m envious. I love my work, and I want to be able to do it full time instead of needing a nap every four hours and spending weeks at a time in my bathroom. Sometimes I berate myself for my limitations– “You’re just lazy and exaggerating it for attention; you could do as much as they do; you just need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” and so on–and it’s hard to stop that train before it goes off the tracks. But most of the time I’m able to. I remind myself that you can’t make up an autoimmune disease or exaggerate a colonoscopy for attention. I remind myself of the praise I’ve gotten from my boss and other staffers for what I am able to do. And I remind myself that I love my job and that it makes me happy, no matter how many hours I’m able to work.

    1. Ruby Tuesday Post author

      Hope, you are truly inspiring. I know only a little about ulcerative colitis, but from what I do know, it can be pretty brutal. It’s wonderful that you have such an understanding boss, truly — one of my first thoughts was, ‘I don’t know who this person is/what state they’re from, but they’re the kind of person I would want to vote for, political leanings notwithstanding!’

      I know that when you have an illness that is debilitating and lifelong, being able to work in a field for which you have a true passion can really keep you going. I not technically “working” in the traditional sense, I’m on disability for my bipolar etc. Having A Canvas Of The Minds and BFMH has really made all the difference for me. They have given me a purpose, responsibility and connection to others, self-worth, and just so much in that I’m interacting with people and doing something I really feel passionately the importance of. Like you, I have times when I wish so much that I could be doing more — I see others who are active in the mental health sphere and I want to have the same abilities — but I’ve had a lot of time to realize I can only do what I can do, and every little bit helps.

      I imagine you are still doing a lot of working through things and accepting how your life has changed, yet you seem already to be at such an amazing and positive place — it truly awes me. Keep fighting the good fight, Hope. And thank you so much for responding and sharing your story. This is exactly the part of blogging I’ve been missing out on, and being able to connect with you is very special for me. 🙂

      1. Hope

        I’m not technically working either, as I’m on disability. I’m what’s called a super volunteer. (Seriously, that’s how it’s coded in our computer system. I think we should get capes.) I thought about applying for the paid version of my job, which would be a regional field organizer, but they work 80-90 hour weeks all the way until November. Even if I weren’t sick, I don’t think I could do that!

        When I referred to my boss, I mean my direct boss, my regional field director, not my candidate. But my candidate’s pretty great too. I was attracted to her campaign primarily because she speaks loudly and often about improving mental health care and decreasing stigma. She’s the only candidate for any office I’ve ever heard discuss mental health outside of conversations about gun control, which makes us all sound like violent criminals. She has other positions I like too, but that’s the biggie.

        I think you came to the same conclusion I did–even though I can’t do everything, the part that I can do still matters. I used to feel like I was completely replaceable–if aliens abducted me, people would notice I was gone, but since I don’t do much, someone else would quickly fill the hole I left. Working in politics made me realize that’s not true. There’s a lot of “scut work” on a campaign (can you tell I’ve been watching too much Grey’s Anatomy?) that’s important, but it probably wouldn’t all get done if I weren’t here. I’m also realizing I do have a valuable skill set beyond just scut work, and that’s kinda revelatory for me.

        I still have to work at accepting my illness sometimes, but it hasn’t been as hard as I would’ve guessed. I still have the occasional day where I call my mentor in tears about the unfairness of it all, but most of the time I deal pretty well. I think in some ways having a mental illness actually helped me–I was already used to struggling and being in pain and feeling hopeless, so I already knew how to deal with those feelings. With UC, unlike mental illness, there’s a clear diagnosis, there’s proven treatments, an agreed-upon progression of what to try in what order. The science is much clearer than it is with psychopharmacology, where the approach seems to be “throw stuff at the wall (your brain) and see what sticks.” I’ve almost never been blamed for my UC or told that I’m just using it as an excuse, I’m just making it up for attention, etc. So in a lot of ways, it’s easier to deal with than my mental illness.

  5. WeeGee

    Wow! I’ve been away from WordPress for a little while and I CANNOT believe how many pledges there are. It’s awesome…..

    Last year I came down with a really rotten kidney infection on the very weekend I was due to see my beloved Frank Turner twice in two days. I tried as best as I could to get to the first gig but I pretty much fell over as soon as I left home so had to abandon ship……. That’s my story. There was no happy ending! Curses to my kidneys.

    Love you lots like jelly tots, WeeGee xoxoxo

    1. Ruby Tuesday Post author

      It really is pretty awesome, last count we were up to 207!

      I’m so sorry you had to miss out on something so special to you, and also that you were in such horrific pain! I actually missed two shows I was really looking forward to last year due to depression, and like you said, there was no happy ending. Well, other than my depression eventually lifting, but that took a while.

      Love you lots too!

      (I feel like I can’t say “like jelly tots”, since I’m American, though I have had them and I did love them lots! 😉 )


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