It was hard to admit that I needed to take a medical leave of absence from work. A part of me knew it was necessary, but another part kept questioning if I really needed to do it.
When my doctor asked me how long I thought I’d need to be out, I said 2-3 months, but hopefully only 2. I said that to everyone: hopefully only 2. I even said that to myself. I was trying very hard to ignore the little voice in the back of my head that was saying I would need at least 3 months.
We talk about the “masks” we wear, the image we try to project for the sake of others. But what about the lies we tell ourselves? Denial is a powerful thing. I have been in denial over many things in my life, from my own health, to the health of loved ones, to job conditions, to sexual orientation. Denial is powerful, and lately it has had a lot of power over me.
Yes, I knew I wasn’t getting better as quickly as I expected. Yes, I knew I wasn’t where I needed to be at this point. I thought about these things, but I didn’t accept them. That little voice was pointing them out, but I kept ignoring it, trying to believe that the little voice was exaggerating everything, that my symptoms really weren’t that bad.
This evening I spoke with my doctor. The short term disability insurance renewal paperwork is due next week, and she wanted to see when I would be returning to work. The original goal was January. That is looking very unlikely now. Even typing this out, it’s hard for me to admit the truth. Telling her everything was extremely painful. I had to admit my lack of progress, my increasing pain, my difficulty sleeping, my weight gain…. all of it. Finally, the denial was gone, and I had to admit the truth. That conversation was excrutiating.
When I got off the phone I cried. Actually, I sobbed. I was probably a month overdue for that crying session. I don’t cry often, but this was a good time for it. And in the back of my mind, there was that little voice, reminding me that I had really known all of this all along. It had told me so. It knew. I knew.
Goodbye denial. Until next time.
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