Since last Tuesday, I’ve been on medical leave.
I thought it would be a relief – that this wasn’t all just in my head, and that being granted the time and the freedom to get better would be a huge weight off my shoulders – but it wasn’t. Somehow being officially labelled as “totally disabled” made me feel worse. I sat in my car for a few minutes teary-eyed after getting the note from my doctor, clueless as to what to do next.
I’ve had a hard time accepting the truth about my health. I’ll openly admit to the physical pains, but when it comes to the psychological ones, that’s a whole other issue in which I’m still largely in denial.
It’s been reassuring to have the support from those of you that are supporting me, and to hear your stories. But for every person supporting me, it feels likes there’s one judging me, making me embarrassed and hesitant to tell anyone anything. This may be my own fault as I tend to make jokes and dismiss the seriousness of it all as a way to cope. Maybe that’s confusing people and inviting a lot of the backlash I’ve been getting? Or maybe people are just jerks. Either way, I should have anticipated the “You don’t look sick”, “I’m a lot sicker than you”, and the “paid vacation” comments…
Let me reiterate: this is no vacation, my friend. I can tell you that much already.
I mean, yeah, it’s been nice to be able to crawl into bed when the migraines start and not have to worry about setting an alarm, but it sucks to be an adult that goes to bed at 9pm. It’s nice to rock the pj’s all day, but it sucks that somedays the simple act of getting dressed is too much.
The “good days” can suck, too. I start to feel like a fraud – like I’ve exaggerated everything and that I should get my ass back to work. Or I feel guilty for going out to lunch with the boyfriend, or for sleeping in just because I can, while everyone else is stuck in the office. I can’t enjoy it, which isn’t going to help me get better.
I am eligible to get Sickness Benefits through EI which will help financially, but that comes with a whole lot of paperwork, and a whole lot of waiting. And if I’m understanding this correctly, my employer can contest it and I may need to “prove” that I am unable to work. I’ve been advised to keep a low profile – if I can go to the bar with friends, or spend the day volunteering, why can’t I work? It also makes me hesitant to share anything online because it too could be used against me. (Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.)
I know that pretending everything is normal, or trying to hide this part of my life is only going to make things worse. I’m going to try to accept the situation I’m in, write about it, talk about it, share it – but choose my words carefully – and hope that one day in the future I can look back at this as the first steps towards living the life I’ve always wanted.
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