By Julie Gagnon Prior
It’s been several weeks since I have submitted a piece to “Julie’s World.” It hasn’t been by choice, and believe me; I have tried.
Have you ever seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind” with Russell Crowe acting as John Nash? It’s a movie from 2001, directed by Ron Howard. The movie is based on a brilliant mathematician. There is one scene in particular that I empathetically and personally appreciate. The scene displays the walls of the character’s office covered, like wallpaper, with pages upon pages of handwritten math equations. I imagine that to see such a “manic” display would confuse most people. Yet, I can understand, relate and even feel a bit validated by this particular scene.
I have not been able to submit any writing of any quality recently. But it not from lack of trying. I, myself, have pages upon pages of thoughts, rhyming words, notes of encounters, deep feelings and more that my soul wants to share.
Unfortunately, with Lyme, it is not only your physical body that suffers. It also affects your emotional and mental abilities/capacities.
For me personally, medicines are a slimy, slippery slope. The introduction of new medicines or the omission of needed meds can send my brain into a very delicate, unstable, unpredictable whirlwind of dark storms.
In the past ten years, there have been times that I have been so overwhelmed by my brain’s malfunction that I have been dangerous to myself and others. And yes, I have been suicidal.
Once my chemical imbalance has been stabilized after one of these episodes, I am afraid. I am afraid because I don’t remember much of them. I am afraid because it represents a loss of control. I am afraid because it is a period of time where the real me disappears.
Sometimes I have reached out for help and sometimes I haven’t.
Sometimes my brain allows me to seek out a friend or relative; sometimes my brain will go to extreme measures to keep them from knowing.
These past weeks I have been able to recognize that I was on that slippery slope and heading downhill. I contacted my doctor to have blood drawn to check for issues, and I did something else of which I am very proud. I went to Sheriff Ray Allan and asked him to help me make a safety plan. Yup, I am extremely impressed with myself for being honest, realistic and humble enough to share my fear and concern. Ray was fantastic, and I and my family are feeling much better about the future with this additional support and game plan. It was just a few days after meeting with the Sheriff that I received my blood work results: hypothyroidism that requires two medicines to balance my body function. This case of depression (and other symptoms) was validated: Validation always feels wonderful.
I am now on a positive track. The meds are kicking in, and I had a procedure at Dartmouth Hitchcock that is reducing some of my physical pain.
The very first feel-good story that I would like to share is the miracle of the arrival of my first grandchild. My son Joshua and his partner Shannon gave birth to Ryan Hudson Prior. My mother, daughter and I went to visit the young family in the hospital in St. Albans. It was such an overwhelmingly, surreal experience. As I am trying to find words that will do justice to describing the event, I realize that I am shaking with emotion. It’s a good “shaking,” but it does make it difficult to type. Witnessing the love, gentleness, inherent caring and instinctive nature of my son with his own little boy brought me to tears of awe. These two parents, with their first child, have displayed a calm, comforting environment that not only resonates within themselves but carries over to those around them. Observing the soft touch as my son caresses his own son’s face, the soothing voice, and the curiosity and amazement as he plays with his fingers and toes makes my eyes leak a steady stream of warm tears of amazement.
When I held Ryan in my arms, life was perfect. Now, when away from him, I actually feel my body mentally and physically ache wanting to feel his warmth and soft skin back in my embrace. Ahhh, Life is Good, and I am going to do everything I can to stay here and enjoy it.
Julie Gagnon Prior
Julie Gagnon Prior resides in Grand Isle with her partner Carl and their 5 dogs. Prior has been battling Lyme Disease for several years, which she