Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Synkinesis: How I learned to Live with it



I made this video a few months ago to illustrate one of the complications some people experience after Bell's Palsy is technically healed.  Meaning, the degree to which my facial movement has improved is as good as it gets for me.

When I first realized I had developed synkinesis, and that the condition, for all intents and purposes, is permanent, I'm not going to lie - I was upset.  Upset being a mild word to use to describe my feelings of frustration, discomfiture, distress, depression and just plain DISAPPOINTMENT.

Most people who develop Bell's Palsy return to normal facial movement with a month to a few months of the onset of the affliction.  The overwhelming majority of people have no lasting side effects once the inflammation that caused the Bell's Palsy in the first place, has subsided. So, there was really no reason for me to think that I wouldn't be in the majority.

Not sure why I thought that.  Have I ever been in the majority in anything in my life?  Nope.  Just the fact that I have red hair and green eyes puts me in a minority, so, you might say, I was just born to be different.

Knowing I would never regain full facial function, and actually accepting that fate, was a long and winding process.  A road that was made bumpier by family issues, stemming from having four teens under one roof with only two parents to spread between them (oh, the volumes I could write on this subject alone.  I'm waiting until they're grown before I tell all the tales, though); I detoured and meandered quite a bit before I was able to say - You know what?  It is what it is, and it is here to stay.  Let's get on with the business of living with it.

Most people say they don't notice the odd, un-synchronized movements in my face when I talk, laugh, eat, etc.  That's why I made the video, so that I could point out what is obvious to me.  It's hard for me to imagine that people don't notice it right away when they talk with me.  I think that A) they love me too much to point it out, or B) don't pay attention enough to notice.

Since making the video nothing has changed as far as my face goes, so I didn't feel as though making a new video would be advantageous.  Although nothing has physically changed, a lot has changed emotionally over the past few months, and today I find myself so much more accepting of myself, aging, synkensis, big nose, sagging, wrinkles, and all, than ever before.

There comes a time in life when we just have to let go of perfection.  Or, the perception of perfection, anyway, since perfection is never fully achieved.  I grew tired of striving for perfection and always falling short. I knew I had to stop the obsession with perfection or face a future where I will forever feel the need to be a bit thinner, a bit smarter, a bit prettier, a bit less wrinkled, etc., etc., etc.  You can see where that goes - everywhere and nowhere all at once.

Perfectionism is a horrible cycle that I hope I'm starting to break.  It's time to say - I'm good enough just the way I am.  Look at it this way, my dog and my God (stay with me here), the 2 entities that love me unconditionally, think I'm great.  They don't care about my physical flaws, they just want to have a relationship with me.  How brilliantly simple is that? I'm going to seek my approval from God and my dog a little more, and from people a little less; I think I'll be just fine.

I'm pretty proud of the progress I've made over the past 6 months.  Going from feeling completely worthless, depressed and hopelessly anxious, to self acceptance and bold living, in that period of time has been a whole lot of work.  Hard, intense, grueling, and often agonizingly slow, work.  I'm glad I didn't give up though.  I'm glad I decided I was worth the effort of the fight.

This whole blog is not one of self-aggrandizing.  I haven't done anything that remarkable.  I'm writing this as a beacon of hope for others who find themselves in a deep, dark pit, a hole, that looks as if there is no escape.  Hear this: If I can overcome, then you can too.  There's nothing special about me.  I'm just a person who's been through some hard times and decided not to give in to the pain.  I want to urge you - Don't ever give up on yourself.  Give yourself the best of your efforts, and put yourself first when you need to.  I can guarantee you will be glad you lived to fight another day.

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PS:  Just for the heck of it, I decided to post a picture of myself.  This is "after" Bell's Palsy, etal. I may not be perfect, but I'm here and that's enough.