Yes, we celebrated Halloween…

I know there is controversy among Christian parents as to whether or not kids should dress up for Halloween. Welp, I am throwing my own opinion out there.

With proper teaching I have found it to be harmless.

I have dressed up for Halloween every year since I was a very small child and never once did it interfere with my relationship with God. And I need to do more research on the background of the holiday, but early research in my twenties suggested that the origin of Halloween had nothing to do with witches or the occult. Instead it seems as though it came from a day set aside for honoring the dead. After all, doesn’t the word “hallow” mean “holy”, or to honor as holy?

Both of my older children are secure in their belief in Jesus. My son, being older, has a full understanding of who Jesus is and what He did to secure our salvation. My daughter, being only 4, knows the basics and we are pleased with what she knows thus far. I am confident they will continue on in the faith, and we will train our baby girl accordingly. So if for one day out of the year they want to wear a fun costume and get candy, so be it.

Admittedly, my husband and I cut down on the trick-or-treating. People just aren’t as honest as they used to be. The youth at our church hosted a Movie Night/Harvest Fest where the kids came dressed in their costumes, watched Monster House, ate chili dogs and popcorn, and left with a full bag of candy. That was the Friday before Halloween. On Halloween proper, we let the kids put on their costumes again, but only to go to select houses on our street. They spent most of the time in the house handing out candy and listening to festive Halloween music. It was a fun time.

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In the last few weeks I have been doing my best to put my best me forward. It is getting increasingly more difficult. I am trying my best to meet all of my obligations, but per the restrictions of this mystery illness, which is becoming more and more consuming, I am finding myself developing new symptoms almost daily. I was lucky enough to score an appointment with the very kind neurologist who I saw last year–an appointment that did not come easily.

This entire ordeal reminds me of one of my favorite episodes of the Golden Girls (which, for anyone who knows me, is my favorite show of all time). It actually was two episodes, Sick and Tired Parts I and II, when the usually very strong and resilient Dorothy Zbornak found herself plagued by a mystery illness. During her visit to a specialist in New York, she is dismissed as possibly being depressed due to her status as a single woman and because of her age. Obviously I am not that old, nor am I single, but I felt as though I was treated dismissively by the first neurologist I visited, one who didn’t acknowledge any symptoms other than my migraine headaches, and then asked if I was depressed. This after I poured my heart out to her, embarrassed and angry that I could not even properly fulfill my most important role–that of being a mother.

As I have mentioned, the symptoms dissipated during my pregnancy. Jayla is now four months old (going on five this month) and the initial symptoms have come back aggressively and brought some friends along. Each day I am plagued by myriad problems, such as headaches, either sharp or throbbing; a weird pressure or fullness in my ears; balance problems; dizziness and/or lightheadedness; sharp pains in my chest; constipation; itchy skin for no obvious reason; twitching muscles in my legs, arms and even eyes; hand cramps and pain; general pain throughout my entire body; ridiculous confusion and memory problems; issues with speech, including difficulty finding words or putting sentences together; difficulty following or even establishing instructions; numbness in my extremities and occasional tingling; an occasional feeling as though something is crawling on me; sensitivity to heat, visual disturbances that have decreased my confidence in my ability to drive, thus further diminishing my independence… I could go on. It is an extremely disruptive condition, whatever it is.

As such, I am finding that it is harder for me to function as I normally would, and THAT is, indeed, depressing. Over the past few weeks I have been looking longingly at pictures of me as a happy, healthy, well-proportioned, athletic youth, specifically pictures of me engaging in sports–basketball, softball, volleyball, track. I have pictures of myself on the playground or outside with my two oldest kids. THAT is who I am, or at least that is who I am supposed to be. Not this person who gets tired in the middle of cooking a meal and has to take a break. Where is my stamina? What happened to my endurance?

The physical aspects are troubling, but the cognitive problems are what would drive me to depression before anything else. I have spent a great deal of time and have the student loan debt to show for the fact that I love education. I am an inquisitive person. Always have been. I have always liked to read challenging material and push my brain matter to its neuronal limits. Now I have a hard time retrieving even simple words from my once vast cache of vocabulary. I cannot quickly add even two-digit numbers together. You know what my biggest fears are right now?

  1. I’ll be a total burden to my husband. I already feel like a partial burden, as I am not working, but I imagine myself bedridden, unable to take care of the house and our kids, and that to me might as well be a death sentence–I would feel completely useless.
  2. Looking stupid. It might seem simplistic to some, especially since I know that there are people out in the world who are fighting much worse conditions and diseases. I know that there are some people who are living out their last months or weeks of life. I sympathize and pray for them but I am honest. I picture myself in a public setting and finding myself unable to get a word out, or standing at a cash register and having difficulty counting out change while a line of impatient customers forms behind me. Now, I am already Black, so that increases my anxiety about being perceived as uneducated. I just don’t like it.

I have been praying, but it is not necessarily for God to remove this cup from me. If I have an incurable condition, so be it. I am no better than the millions of other people who have a chronic illness, and that just means it was in God’s plan for me and He will help me through it. I have been praying that there is a name for this, that it can be detected, and so I can do my research and find out how to best move forward with my life. There are so many questions I have. If I have a chronic illness, it would be best not to have any more children, yes or no? I mean, my body could probably support another pregnancy, but do I want to have more kids that I won’t have the energy or mobility to actively raise, per my motherhood standards? Would I be a candidate for disability benefits, or would I possibly be able to work at least part-time despite my symptoms, given they can be managed with lifestyle modifications, or something I am less enthused about, medication?

I need an answer.

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