THE DICTIONARY DESCRIBES an Epiphany as a revelation or a sudden moment of realisation:
When you suddenly are thrown seemingly headfirst into an unexpected and unbidden underworld of indescribable burning, violating, throbbing, itching, screaming pain, that encompasses every millimetre of your body, inside and out, when paralysis strips you of every function, every move, every feeling, every hope of possibly and tremendous suffering is suddenly, shockingly, helplessly upon you, yet it is not seen, barely acknowledged or recognised for what it is.
When you cannot move or get out of bed and no part of you is not screaming with infinite agony, but the doctors are not interested and tell you to your face that they do not believe you are physically ill, you suddenly reach an almost heart- stopping, gut wrenching moment of unbelievable clarity and awareness; a shocking epiphany.
For you realise that you have slipped out of normal existence and are living/ operating on a totally different level, way below normality and incredibly, devastatingly bizarre, the only way you are going to survive and cope is by going within yourself and holding on to your essential self.
It is to know with all your being that no matter how much you want this unbearable, intolerable nightmare of unimaginable, indefinable pain to stop, the truth is, that it is real, it is in all levels of your being .
Every moment of your life is going to be defined by this. You are going to have to be incredibly strong to endure it, unimaginably brave to bear it, totally focused on finding meaning within it, so that it does not totally define who you are or overwhelm you, despite it has invaded every space in you.
You are going to have to bear the unbearable, cling onto your deepest values of goodness and caring for yourself and others.
You are going to have to live your beliefs that you are precious no matter what is going on inside you, removing and incapacitating you from every aspect of life previously known.
You are going to have to walk your talk as never before, because only in the depth of your being can you find and hold on to love that can help you survive such torment, not just for a day or a week or a couple of grave months, but many years, decades, probably forever.
Because it really is very bad, really serious, really never-ending severe and uncomprehendingly, ignored. Your precious precious life, your beautiful body, your sharp, clever, aware mind are all being turned inside out in what can only be described as unimagined, devastating chaos on every level.
Everything is being torn, ripped away from you, burned, hurt, mauled, assaulted, broken within you, so that nothing works as it should. Yet you are still going to have to exist within this, without explanation or help, harmed by ignorance, tormented by normality, stripped of almost everything, then left in almost total isolation and negation, to cope with it as best you can.
This then is the epiphany I had when I first became ill. An epiphany of pain. Later I had other epiphanies, moments of clarity, the truth illumined before me, of just how hard it is to keep going :
▪ when no one understands what is wrong with you
▪ when you don't get better
▪ when you stop trusting that doctors can and will help you
▪ when people fall away, disinterested, thinking it can't be that bad
▪ when you are forgotten because you didn't engage with friends, family, neighbours, omitted from their calendars and time lines
▪ when you are no longer invited to social events, not even missed from them, because you haven't been seen for so long
▪ when you are mistreated and consequently harmed
▪ when you deteriorate still further and no one knows how to help you
▪ when those supposed to help you turn their back and walk away - because they can
▪ when you find yourself misinterpreted, misjudged, misdiagnosed by ignorance, arrogance, carelessness and you are left still alone, hurting, bewildered and desperate
▪ when you want so much to get better, but there are no sign posts out of here, nor medical pathways nor anyone able to help or reach out, nor even magical beans available to take you to other happier, healthier places, yet one person stays with you, despite the agony and the helplessness and the hopelessness of it all and despite the truth that your best self is rarely around, so destructive is the illness you experience.
Then you have the deepest epiphany of all, for you come to see what love really is and come to know that this is a precious blessing that few find, for to love and be loved in such circumstances and to still be able to say, decades later,"I love you", is simply incredible.
And perhaps this is the truest meaning of epiphany of all- for it is to see with absolute clarity, before you, the truth of Love and find it is within you and around you and holding you; then, now and always.