Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I’m one of the weirdos who really likes Thanksgiving. The food is not the biggest reason, though. I like that it’s a day celebrating gratitude, which I try really hard to stay focused on.
You know how some people have Halloween decorations up all year round? I have some Thanksgiving decor that stays up all year.
I also love that two of my three kids have birthdays that fall within a five-day span in late November, which means that often one kid’s birthday falls directly on Thanksgiving. (This year, it was my “baby”, who turned 16 yesterday.)
I also really like that it’s a day just for us to chill at home together. I’ll be honest that I didn’t like Thanksgiving much when we were in Michigan because we had to split the day between my parents and my in-laws. It was exhausting and we basically had to eat two turkey dinners in one day and both sides of the family felt like we didn’t give them enough of our time.
So this year, we stayed home and we ate and the kids all played video games together and it felt an awful lot like the old days in a good way. And I had a few fleeting bittersweet moments when I realized days like today may happen less often in future years.
As they grow up and maybe move away and may have families or relationships of their own, I can’t necessarily count on them always being here. After all, my husband and I didn’t spend Thanksgiving with either of our families. Over the course of our total marriage, we only spent about half of them with our parents and extended families.
So our Thanksgiving was good and I was grateful for it. But in the back of my mind, I had the worries about my MS that I try to push away. I try to believe that God will take care of our needs and can look to the past as evidence that it does usually work out. Still, the fact of the matter is that I am getting noticeably, markedly worse. The anxiety I feel is likely a symptom of the MS itself.
I have been pushing myself to do more freelance writing again and I can’t even put into words how frustrating it is. I tried writing a corporate blog post and the editor kicked it back and said I could take a stab at a rewrite, but my original draft was so far off the mark that they didn’t have much hope for it and they would encourage me not to rewrite it. That kind of reaction from editors is rare — or at least, it used to be.
These days, I’m getting revision requests nearly all the time, even from clients I had long-standing working relationships with who didn’t used to ask for revisions. It’s incredibly discouraging and disheartening because this is really the only thing I know how to do. And I don’t know how to do it anymore.
I’ve also been applying for customer service jobs, a type of work I’ve done before and would prefer not to do again, and I don’t even get interviews. If something happened to my husband, I literally don’t know how I would support myself. Honestly, that’s terrifying. I have a bachelor’s degree, graduated magna cum laude, and I can’t seem to get any job.
I’m now looking for work-at-home jobs exclusively because of my sleep needs and I have an advantage that I have a lot of experience working remotely. But nobody wants to consider me.
I used to be able to get by with freelance writing, but it seems like my brain is slipping away. I can’t put ideas together to form a coherent article anymore, especially if I’m not familiar with the subject matter. I used to be able to do it. I used to be able to research almost any topic and write something that made sense. And now that ability is just *poof* gone. I’m having trouble even writing about topics I know.
My husband might tell me I just lost my commercial writing voice when I quit freelancing last summer to try working full-time in an office and I never got it back. Maybe that’s the case. I still love to write down my thoughts about things that interest me. But nobody is paying me for those.
I have much to be thankful for, including a supportive husband I love very much, great kids, and a beautiful house to live in. I am also in relatively good health considering how serious my brain scans look. I can still walk reasonably well.
But I’m also scared that I can tell my brain is deteriorating. I truly can’t do the work that I used to do anymore. As the social security examiner concluded, I’m also pretty seriously depressed most of the time. I can’t help but feel worried and discouraged. Still, I also notice that I feel more worried and discouraged when I do try to work because the extent of my limitations are so obvious to me. It’s so hard to try to work around what my brain clearly doesn’t want to do.
On the one hand, I’m proud of myself for continuing to try even though it’s so hard for me. But on the other hand, I see how much my family would benefit from it if I could help more. I may have lost functionality, but I haven’t forgotten about what my dreams used to be. The hard part is learning how to adjust to the new normal and to control my anxiety enough that I can stay focused on all the reasons I have to feel grateful.