The experience of getting hit with a health crisis seemingly out-of-nowhere shifted my world on every level. There’s no going back to the day before it all happened; although, sometimes I wonder about that day.
What were my struggles and worries? Did I know what a gift it is to feel grounded and entire connected to this dimension? What would I have done if I’d known my world was about to be rocked?
These days it’s hard to remember the “me” before this experience. In so many ways, I feel like a completely different person. However, this trail has giving me the opportunity to really get to know myself. To face darkness head on and find the light in the dark at every turn. I’ve uncovered a resilience that was somewhere buried deep within me. I feel like I’ve traveled to hell and back, and I’m overflowing with gratitude to be on solid ground. I open my eyes in the morning and I look around and take in the pure wonder that I can experience this life.
I watch my two little boys run around the house and my heart just bursts at the beauty of the moments. My youngest was three months old and my oldest was two years old when it hit. They had no idea what was happening to their mommy, but either did I. All I knew was that my eyes were no longer focusing like they should, my world was tilted on its axis, I was disconnected from the body I was living in, and my brain felt scrambled.
I went into survival mode nearly immediately.
But, for the first week I genuinely thought it would pass. It was just an ear infection and I’d heard of people dealing with vertigo. Certainly, I’d sleep this off and be ok very soon. In that first week I fell to pieces contemplating what I should do. How was I going to show up in life? I mean, I was just crawling around the house a few days ago scared to walk. Spatially, I was a disaster. Nothing looked the same or felt the same as it once had just a week ago. Walking felt like a challenge, as if I had been dropped in an alternate hellish dimension where nothing made sense and every movement was an assault to my system.
I cried a lot in the beginning. I just didn’t know how I was going to make it through this every moment of every day. To say I felt awful was an understatement.
That’s the thing about vestibular conditions, they quite literally rock your system. I used to say, “Imagine you’re drunk, only there’s no party, and you actually have to function. Also, you’re walking on a trampoline and it looks as if you’re looking through a smudgy window. And, no one knows you’re experiencing this. Yeah, that pretty much sums up how I feel”. My heart would sink feeling like I just wasted energy trying to explain myself.
I feel the need to emphasize the absurdity of what the throes of vestibular condition felt like because I know there are so many people out there trying to make sense of the madness. It made me feel crazy trying to put words to it. I was fighting to stay connected to this earthly dimension when the darkness was creeping in.
The only thing I know about the beginning is that I was putting one foot in front of the other. I was showing up. I put on a happy face on the outside and I fell to pieces behind closed doors. I was terrified, but in so many ways I couldn’t even let my mind go to that place. I was afraid if I let that part of me out too much, it could take over.
I’m on the other side now and I’m in a safe place to explore the darkness because I know there’s a way out. I also know that I have the ability to fight my way out.
That’s why I’ll never be the same.
Because two and a half years ago I hadn’t been through this. I had never heard of vestibular neuritis or vestibular migraines. I didn’t know I could feel like a shell of a person living in a body that didn’t feel like mine. I didn’t know I could get by regardless of the all-consuming, overwhelming and heartbreaking symptoms.
But I know now and that can never be taken from me. And because I know, I will open up my soul and pour out every detail so that someone sitting in the darkness is handed a flashlight.
You should know that I made it through the tunnel.
It was slow and arduous process, but entirely possible. The end of the tunnel doesn’t look identical for all of us, but there is happiness, love and a bounty of possibility at the end of the tunnel. There’s huge opportunity to elevate our wellness and make strides toward vibrant health. I’m not at the end of my journey, but I’m at a place where I can shine light to those at the beginning or in the messy middle.
And the more we shine light, share our stories, and advocate for our wellness – with a vestibular condition and beyond – the more these experiences will be the best damn thing that ever happened to us.