Who Is in Your Village?
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” but, do we ever stop needing a village? Just because we turn 18, doesn’t mean we need a village any less. Adding to that, I juggle headache disease and comorbid conditions on top of it. It was difficult to build my village. However, I saw the importance and set out to network the best that I could. I had no idea how much I needed my village until I had one.
My daughters and I volunteer for the local animal rescue league. We visit cats who are up for adoption at a local pet store. We often encounter cats who eat very little. They are skittish and in a new environment. The first thing they get is a vet visit to check them out medically. Then they are moved towards environments for adoption. When they first arrive, they often hide in a box or even the litter box! We sit with them and as they come out we are able to let them check us out and usually they let us pet them. After they connect, then they will eat! Humans need connections too.
Who is your medical team?
First and foremost you need a solid medical team that understands your condition and is willing to help you navigate treatment plans. There is no way to replace this. I have had doctors who didn’t believe me, didn’t have patience and didn’t want to help me dig out of my hole. I now have a few doctors who are amazing. They listened, cared and wanted me to have better quality of life- and I do! They have equipped me with more tools and I feel more comfortable sharing with them so they can help me. I feel validated.
In tandem with this, I have an amazing therapist. I wanted a therapist that understood trauma and chronic pain. I was fortunate to find one who understood both! My mental health has improved leaps and bounds in the past year! This helps me manage my pain conditions better and has helped me connect with people again. He helps me learn to set boundaries, process my thoughts (I was very self deprecating) and helps me find healthy routines. I had a habit of shoving traumatic events into boxes in my head and now we talk about things as they happen or as they creep back up instead of pretending they don’t exist.
Who do you connect with in person?
Do you have people you connect with face to face? I used to feel people wouldn’t want to know me or spend time with me. I hate to cancel or even make plans knowing when that date arrives an attack will probably come with it. However as I’ve gotten to know others I find they cancel too! They get sick, have health conditions or just other commitments that can make meeting hard at times for them too. This helped me feel more normal - that it’s not just a “me” thing.
I’ve also found people do like to connect with me. It’s taken time to develop those connections, but they do value me and my perspectives. I have found relationships aren’t as scary as they once felt. Finding safe ways to to connect with others has been a hurdle. One way has been in my volunteering. I also joined a support group on a topic that I am learning to navigate- domestic violence. I have found putting myself into situations where others have the opportunity to meet me has helped me get to know people. Some have become amazing connections for me. They are people I can reach out to and they can reach out to me.
Do you utilize online connections?
Finding people online was how I started making connections. In online groups, I find myself running into people in the comments section who have similar experiences as me. We end up getting to know each other and reaching out for support or in support of one another. These connections have made a huge difference for me. I’ve even met a few in person and have had video calls with many others. I really value my online buddies!
Being involved in organizations virtually has really made connecting easier. I enjoy meeting people and am one of those people that whether we are sitting down at a coffee shop or meeting up on a Zoom call, the connection is the same. I really care about the people I have conversations with and they have changed my life. They have helped me see I am more than my diagnosis and I matter.
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