We live busy lives. Often, we find ourselves stressed out and on the go. There is so much to do and not enough time in the day to get it done. We get overworked and stressed out. We don’t take time to just relax and have fun. When you have mental illness, the stresses of life can bring on anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and depression. We over think and worry about everything. It’s enough to turn our minds and souls inside out.
Recently I hurt my lower back and hips. I started seeing my chiropractor for it. I have scoliosis, and when my back is hurting, my chiropractor usually adjusts me and in a few days I feel better. This time the pain didn’t get better. Instead it kept getting worse. My chiropractor had me take a week and a half off from work with no relief.
I called my doctor for a second opinion. She put me on muscle relaxers and light duty at work and she ordered physical therapy. Even with the muscle relaxers I kept waking up in the early mornings with intense pain shooting from my back down my hips. So, I called my doctor and she prescribed pain killers. I started physical therapy and even on light duty I struggled with pain. My mind began to race.
What if something serious is wrong? What if I need a hip replacement? I just know this is more than my usual scoliosis. I don’t want another surgery, but what if I need one to end the pain? I can’t take the pain anymore. Will I ever get better? I hurt so bad; something serious must be wrong.
The pain medication is helping me sleep through the night, but when I get up, I hurt. Working hurts. Everything hurts. I’ve been stressing out. I had to give up exercising with my friend. I can’t snuggle long with my husband. My friend Cheryl keeps telling me to stop magnifying and thinking the worse about my back and hip pain. I put a heating pad on it each night, I rub bio freeze on it, and take my medication. I feel like the pain will never get better. My body is tense, I cry in my husband’s arms, and I feel sad and hopeless. This has led to some depression. Everyday my life has been consumed with my pain and my worrying about it. I haven’t had a chance to relax.
On Thursday at work my friend Denise asked me what I was doing on Friday. I told her the only thing I had planned was physical therapy. Since we were both off, she invited me to go with her to Keystone Safari, an hour and a half away. I agreed. I’ve never been there but was excited to be asked. I needed a day away.
Denise picked me up at physical therapy at eleven a.m. and we were on the road. We talked and sang to music on the way there. At the safari we were given a cup of food and a bracelet to get more food to feed the animals. We walked around to different caged-in areas where animals were kept. We fed llama’s, goats, sheep, and pigs. We went to this one area where we were given lettuce to feed giraffes. One of the giraffes stretched its neck over the fence and ate the lettuce from my hand and then I posed next to it so Denise could take my picture.
My hip ached as we walked, but it didn’t seem to matter. For the first time in a while I felt relaxed and free from worry. I was enjoying the animals and my friend. My mind was free from racing thoughts, negativity, and worry. Denise and I talked, laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company. If it weren’t for the nagging pain in my hip, I would have totally forgot about my injury.
After we were done at the safari, we went a few miles on the freeway to an animal park called Living Treasures. There we got to go in with the goats. The goats jumped up on us begging for food. They even pulled my shorts down and I was suddenly showing off my underwear to the other guests! Instead of being embarrassed I laughed. I must have been a sight, with me trying to pull my shorts up with one hand and pushing goats off of me with the other hand.
That day was the most relaxing day I’ve had since I hurt my back and hips. I needed it. I didn’t worry about my pain or about my injury. I was free to laugh, to smile, and to be me. I didn’t want the day to end. On the way home Denise took me on a scenic route. I sat back and enjoyed the scenery. Denise took me through areas where she ran when she was in college. She told me different stories about her college days, and I enjoyed listening. When she dropped me off at home, I felt sad that the day had ended.
During our stressful lives we need days where we just have fun and forget about our worries. When we are struggling to manage our illness, we need time where we can distract ourselves from our worries, hopelessness, and racing thoughts. We need to find things to do to relax and let go. Getting away for a day, going out for a nice meal, spending time with friends, or going for a walk can help. When I was at my worst and I was living with my grandparents, my mom would come once a week to take me shopping and out to lunch.
Find something that will help you let go of your stress and anxiety. Free yourself from the chains of your illness and do something relaxing. It’s not easy, but give it a try.
Friday, a day of fun and relaxation helped me shed the darkness from my soul. It helped me rest in the light of recovery.