I really wanted to retrain myself as a counsellor after my accident. Everyone told me it was the perfect role for me as I had the right traits.
I enrolled into the course and started off on a high. I soon learnt that having CRPS meant that I had to work a lot harder then I used to. I did really well at school. I did very well at my studies once I gradulated. But the medication has turned my brain into a foggy wasteland. I had to read and re read… And re read… And re read… I was absorbing some of the information but not as much as I needed to. It was frustrating. I felt as though I was stupid. How could I have read a paragraph and not remember anything? I used to love studying and learning new things. But my brain and my heart were not agreeing anymore.
One of the biggest problems, I was only allowed a certain amount of time on each unit before I had to re enroll. As you can imagine it was getting expensive. I think that education institutions need to consider the difficulties some people have and extend the unit times when needed. It would have made things a lot less stressful. I tried talking to the disability advocate, I tried to talk to my tutor but their hands were tied. They had to follow the rules. It felt like I was being set up to fail. I didn’t know how I was going to complete the practical side of the course either. My mind gets distracted by the pain and I find it hard to focus. How could I actively listen to someone else, when my own brain was screaming at me.
I kept at it. I was determined. I was going to show everyone and myself that I could do it. And then I stumbled. A unit that focused on greif, loss and suicide. It threw me more then I realised it would. It brought up a lot of feelings I had pushed aside for so long. I had no idea it would stir up so much in my head. I struggled. I thought that I had dealt with what happened but I hadn’t. Knowing that I had to read all this information caused my anxiety to go through the roof. I didn’t want to read this. I didn’t want to talk about it.
Something had to give and it was my study. I couldn’t cope anymore. I couldn’t think about how I was going to help someone else, when I couldn’t cope with what was happening in my own life. My head was a mess. I threw myself into other things to get myself through the darkness.
I thought that after 12 months I would be ready to go back. But I wasn’t. Almost 3 years have passed and I am still not. Instead I’m choosing to do my cakes, as it is like art therapy for me. I get to express myself but bring joy to others at the same time.
It turns out, I don’t need to be a counsellor just yet. I can bring happiness and joy to others by creating something that is just for them. Its not exactly how I imagined things to go. It’s not the direction I thought I would go, but sometimes life throws you curve balls!
I hope one day that I can go back and finish what I started. But right now I’m content doing what I’m doing. I’m building a list of regulars and trying to advance my skills. A lot of it is learning by doing. Trial and error. Sometimes it’s a success, sometimes it’s an epic fail. But I keep trying. I am constantly sketching little pictures and making notes about designs and ideas that pop into my head. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing until I’m actually doing it. Sometimes I can see something completely random, and all of a sudden I have an idea for a cake. I have to get it written down before the fog creeps in and covers what I see, stealing my ideas.
Working by myself, I don’t have to worry about someone else. I don’t have to try and concentrate on what they are saying and freak out because I become distracted and cannot remember what was said. I get lost in what I’m doing and it provides a much needed distraction from pain. The pain is always there, but keeping myself busy is what is best for me. When I need to stop I can. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. If i am not up to doing something, I turn it down. Some weeks I can’t function and just need to be. Sometimes I have a cake to do and I am a mess, but I fight to get it done. I don’t want to disappoint someone. It’s about scheduling myself, making reminders of what I need to do, and giving myself deadlines. If it wasn’t for the calendar app on my phone my life would be a lot more chaotic then it already is.
Once I’m finished I’m completely exhausted. I overload myself and the CRPS pain spreads throughout my right side. I am tired. I am fried. The spoons are gone and the jar is empty. But this is what I love to do. I have to tell that side of my brain to be quiet while I get things done. The time for falling in a heap is once the cake has gone.
I’m always finding different ways to do things in my kitchen. Different tools to help get things done quicker and easier, allowing me to save some spoons for other things. It’s about doing what I enjoy, but within reason. Finding what works for me and what doesn’t.
Life doesn’t always go as we planned. Things happen, and we have to learn to adjust. We have to try and find new things, and new skills we didn’t know we had. 7 years ago I had no idea I could decorate a cake! The old saying goes ‘when one door closes, another opens’. It takes a little time to unlock a different door, but it sure beats being stuck in limbo. Don’t give up just because one part of your life is done. It’s up to you to find the next part.
#CRPS #complexregionalpainsyndrome #depression #anxiety #findanotherpath #breakthestigma #bewhoyouwanttobe