So, this is 41.
A year ago I was quite eager to turn 40. I know, that seems strange. I thought, though, that turning 40 would help me feel better and alleviate my symptoms. I was grasping for anything positive at that time.
I will be honest. The past year sucked. 40 was awful. 40 was horrible. 40 was painful. 40 was sad. I would be lying if I said the entire year was a nightmare, for the past few months have been filled with those silver linings, they just happened to occur at the same time as my pain.
A year ago, I honestly did not know I would make it to 41. There was no light at the end of the tunnel of hell I was trudging through. I couldn’t even fathom a future over 40 as it was so painful and difficult.
I am forever thankful to my family and friends who stood by me, helped me, chauffeured me to appointments and did so with no judgment and with humor. There’s nothing like a girls road trip to go to ECT! I am thankful for the care I received, in every possible way, at Yale. I believe I was meant to be treated there. The pieces fit together so nicely, from the hospitalizations to ECT, to the MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) group. I am proud that the medical director (who was my doc while in the hospital and through ECT) has all of his medical residents read my article about ECT. And yes, I’d like to be called a Visiting Professor at Yale!!
These days, I am beyond thankful to my therapist. Words cannot do justice to my feelings about my work with her but I will say that I would not be who I am today, this person who I am just learning about, without her hard work with me. I simply feel lucky.
So, this is 41. I am 41 years old today and I can move on in my life in a healthy, healing and peaceful way. I think I’m going to like 41.
May God heal me, body and soul.
May my pain cease,
May my strength increase,
May my fears be released,
May blessings, love and joy surround me. Amen.
-R. Naomi Levy
I was just inspired to write about something that may seem counterintuitive. I am sure we have all heard the phrase, silver linings, at one time or another from someone possibly wiser than us in order to pull out a positive from a negative.
When I first heard about silver linings from my therapist when I was still quite sick, I thought she was completely off the mark. I could not understand how anything good could come from my illness. The truth is, there are so many silver linings for me, I am not sure I could list them all on one page. I was severely depressed, (which astounds me each and every day as I continue to fully realize just how ill I was) had several medication trials with unpleasant side effects or no effect, was hospitalized twice within one month, began electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and was involved in therapy where I was peeled and sliced open in order to work through the depression and all that came with it.
As an outsider reading this, I am sure it sounds daunting and terrifying. Trust me…it certainly was and sometimes still is.
The funny thing is, since July, every now and then, there are realizations, epiphanies that I have that sometimes make my heart race, my eyes tear and the excitement I feel is indescribable. These are the silver linings. I began to notice and understand them shortly after I began ECT as I “woke up” from my illness. They are now constant and it is sometimes difficult to keep up.
I now have the ability to feel love in an intimate and deep way unlike I have ever felt it before. I am able to practice mindfulness where I can focus on the present moment and not focus on other worries or life events. Now, my relationship with my husband and daughter runs deeper than I ever knew was possible. I learn of silver linings every single day right now and I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
If someone had the ability to take away the past year and a half, my depression, the medications, hospital, ECT, all of the difficult and painful work in therapy and I could simply go on as I was before this nightmare, I would say, “absolutely not.” I would beg that person to leave it as it actually happened. If I had the choice, I would do it all over again, the same exact way. I would do anything, endure anything in order to live in these amazing silver linings. Not only did I gain my health, I gained myself in the process.
For anyone suffering, enduring illness, await the silver linings for they will make themselves known. It is worth it.