Note from the author: I’d appreciate if you read this blog whilst listening to “Life During Wartime” by the timeless masters, The Talking Heads. I encourage this partially because, duh, it’s kind of the theme here. Mostly, though, do it because David Byrne is possibly the jazziest cat that has ever been. It’s my favorite Talking Heads song. Just do it.
This ain’t no party.
This ain’t no disco.
Frankly, this totally freakin’ sucks.
As adults, we expect any number of things to happen on any given day: I will wake up. I will put on pants. I will drink impossibly large quantities coffee. I will stop working for 5 minutes at least once during the day to look up photos of Jake Gyllenhaal. You know - the usual. In this life, though, some days manage to turn the whole world upside down. Some days the totally unexpected rears its ugly head, knocks you off your feet, and sends you reeling. I’ve had a couple of those days recently; I think a lot of us have. One day in August, however, knocked me off my literal feet - and it actually managed to break one of them.
I wish I could tell you I was doing something exciting. Long story short, though, it was just your average saving-a-collection-of-small-children-from-ferocious-animals kind of scenario. Or maybe it was a mis-executed lunge during a morning workout. It could have been anything; think what you like. Anyway, it was a garbage situation. My thoughts were racing and I, for the life of me, could not get them to slow down. How will I get to work? How will I get up the stairs to my apartment? What am I going to do if I get sick? What if my friends want to go to the trampoline park and I can’t go?! All aspects of my life would need to be approached differently. I was honestly terrified.
While learning to adapt my life to my broken-ness didn’t turn out to be quite the horror I anticipated, coping with my movement inhibiting crutches and (super attractive) walking boot was a huge bummer. I mean HUGE. (It was, however, a pretty stellar conversation starter. Everyone wanted to hear how I defeated the radioactive land-sharks and saved the retirement community. Such a crowd pleaser, but I digress...) It sucked. I managed it. And, I am (finally!) back to living life in two shoes. None of this made me an expert per se, but I do have some tips for getting through to the other side.
- Healing is tiring. Like, it’s really tiring. Whether you’re coming back from an illness, stitching a bone, or mending some deeeeeep emotional wounds, you need to go easy on yourself. Trying to bulldoze through hardship will only reinforce how sucky it is to not be at 100% - and the possibility that you’ll just make it worse is very real. Chill out, make yourself a latte, and accept that this will take time. Now, breathe.
- Although nutrition is always important, it’s super crucial right now. Vitamins and minerals all work together to keep your body’s systems functioning at their peak. Allowing oneself to become deficient will not only elongate your healing time, it can leave you facing whole new issues. Can you even imagine how dumb you would feel if you got scurvy? You’re not a pirate and you cannot pull off that look! I know salad is boring, but eat a couple for me. And maybe an apple. And no more than one full pie a day - I mean it.
*Be a little cautious with the carrots, though. Excess beta-carotene can build up in your skin and turn you orange. You don’t want to look like a literal monster.
- Speaking of vitamins, don’t forget your daily dose of D. I know you don’t feel great and your face looks a mess (please stop crying - this is embarrassing), but getting outside will help. I promise; it really will. Even if you’re moving slowly due to crutches, a nagging cough, or intense emotional malaise, get outside for a couple and let that beautiful sun smile all up in your face. Vitamin D is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It facilitates calcium absorption to keep your bones strong, is thought to decrease your risk of a bevvy of diseases, and helps fight depression. You don’t even have to move - you can just sit there for all I care. But soak it up, please, because D is your best defence! (Ugh god. I’m sorry, guys.)
- Get creative! You can’t carry a water glass on crutches, but you can totally manage if it has a lid. Camp bottle? Thermos? Ziplock baggie? (I don’t know how you live.) You can make this work. Need to be able to maneuver your office quickly? Implement a wheeled chair to get you from here to there. (No lie, I used an ILOA around the office for two months. It’s comfortable, it’s quick, and I felt like a go-kart driver. Wins all around.) Stuck in bed and just CANNOT watch another episode of New Girl? (I know Winston is adorable, but 3 seasons in rapid succession is just too much.) Dig up some old magazines, get your scissors, and unleash your inner kindergartener. I’m pretty sure your mom would still be down to put your art on her fridge.
- And finally - LET PEOPLE HELP YOU. When you’re experiencing tough times, you’re likely not going to be able to do all the things you normally do on your own. It feels rough, and it can make it really hard to look in the mirror and see yourself looking back. The world is full of some great, great people, though, and I’m guessing you know a couple of them. They love you, and they want to help. Let them.
I try to see the world through the untainted eyes of my childhood self every day: beautiful and magical and full of happiness and ice cream. Things happen, though, that try to shatter your world and leave you shaken and tear-stained and wanting to give up. Life can be really, really hard. Remember, though, that you are still here and can still be your own champion. Look adversity in the eyes and refuse to let it win. Refuse to be defeated. Time will pass and, although that time might suck, you will get through this. They say that a mended bone is frequently stronger...you just have to get through the break. If you let the hard times break you, though, you won’t even have one leg to stand on.
(Note to Mr. Gyllenhaal: I spelled your name correctly, on the first try, and without the Google. I think I deserve a hug.)
Heal up and keep on crushin’,