Today I woke up feeling great. An 8am wake up thanks to the lovely noise of the construction work happening outside my window, but considering this I was feeling sprightly and vibrant, ready to take on the day.
As per my usual morning ritual I made my fave smoothie bowl, the kind with all kinds of goodness, and listened to my affirmations. Affirmations on health, wealth and abundance which usually only amplifies my happy and positive mood. But today, as I listened to these affirmations I couldn’t help but feel anxious and depressed.
I don’t know what brought it on. If the affirmations were just too intense or if my head was just so filled to the brim with thoughts and feelings, that any new concepts just couldn’t fit in. I think the latter was the case because right now I feel so overwhelmed that my brain is going to explode. My usual positive mindset is trying to fight it, but these negative thoughts are bubbling up and trying to overtake my mind. My thoughts are pessimistic and distorted but I refuse to let them win.
Anytime this happens, when the dark cloud tries to hide my sunshine, I reflect back to what has happened the past few days. Could I have overdone it somehow, overexerting myself and using too much energy? Have I eaten the wrong foods or taken supplements/medication that didn’t agree with me? Did I put myself in a situation that was against my values, beliefs or true self? So many possibilities are racing through my head as to what could have caused this.
For so long I have been spending so much time by myself, working on me, indulging in self-love and moulding myself into the person I need to be to recover from and heal myself of CFS. As isolating as CFS already is, this has just caused further isolation as I have shut off from most of the people around me to focus on this goal. It’s not that I don’t love them or don’t want anything to do with them, it’s just that I don’t believe they would fully understand or comprehend what am I going through, nor my journey of recovery. And quite frankly, I don’t want to burden people with that either.
It’s especially hard being here on the coast with the people I have known for most of my life, the friends and family that know who I really am. This illness has changed me, it has made me a completely different person with completely different values on life and I feel that I won’t be accepted for the new person that I am. I have emerged into this person who is more grounded, reserved and mature then I used to be, seeing the world in a much bigger light. My energy is limited and I choose to use it on the important things in life, health, self-development, building and maintaining positive relationships and building my business. Everybody has different priorities and I worry that they will not understand mine or like me for the person I have become.
Not just this, but sometimes the cloudiness is so overwhelming and the energy is so limited that I can’t do the things that they want to do, or keep up with them. I am usually an active, outgoing person so as much as I want to do these things, I have got to hold myself back, or I pay the price afterwards. I don’t want these people, the people I love or even new friends to bear witness to the aftermath of overdoing it- the lifeless, exhausted mute that I become. It is degrading, embarrassing and not at all a depiction of who I truly am. I am not really lazy, boring or unsociable, it is just this illness and it’s consequences.
I also find myself drawing away from potential friendships or relationships for this reason. My illness was part of the reason why my ex-girlfriend and I didn’t last and it has limited the friendships and relationships I can have with others. If I can’t keep up with them, enjoy doing fun social things, and risk exposing this sick version of me on my bad days, then what is the point of getting close to people. I want to tell people that I am in fact a very fun person, that I do have a personality I really do, but instead I just worry that they will see me as a slack friend that makes no effort. Trust me, if I had a lot more energy, I would be a much better friend, a much better girlfriend, but I just need you to give me some time, time to get better and be me again.
I love meeting new people, I love spending time with the people I love, but my anxiety over what they will think of me and my illness does get in the way. I find myself thinking that I am boring, lazy and that my life is worthless in comparison into theirs and while I am working on eliminating these beliefs it is always at the back of my mind. I know I am unwell and the way I live my life is different to others because I am healing, I just need to believe that.
The people I meet or know have good jobs, they can travel the world without a worry and they can socialise and enjoy life without a care in the world. My circumstances are different. I had to quit my job because while the money was good, it was using up all my energy and robbing my quality of life. I can travel but I have to consider what I do, who I travel with and have it well planned to avoid to much stress and energy exertion. I can socialise in moderation but I can only spend time with positive people, negativity drains my energy, and I need a solid rest afterwards.
I try and assure myself that I am getting better, that this is my process. I have chosen to spend some time working on me and getting me better with the prospect of building a successful business and travelling the world later. But sometimes when other people talk about their lives, how they are progressing with their career, how they are planning their trips, how they go out all the time, I can’t help but feel partially like a failure and feeling like I don’t fit in. I know that I am getting better and things are different for me in my healing process but I still can’t help but crave a level of normality some days, especially on my worst.
Everybody has their things going on, their hardships and not everyone’s life is perfect, I know this. So why do I keep trying to be perfect and not accepting my unwell but healing self for who I am now. I guess most days I do accept this, but when I socialise and spend time with others I can’t help but question this and doubt myself. Their lives sound so complex and wonderful, meanwhile I am living this simple life, counting my energy. I try and hide it, I try and be the old me and the lasts for a while but I can’t be this person all the time. It is no longer who I am. My greatest fear is that I won’t be loved for this person I have become. This is why I keep my friendship circle small and my socialising to a minimum.
Most of the time I am grateful. I am grateful that I have this time to focus on me and getting better and devote my energy to doing the things that I love. This illness sucks sometimes, it truly does, and of course some days I will have some negative thoughts, but it is my choice to let them either take over and make my life miserable or to transform them. I am working on the latter, reading books, listening to podcasts, meditating all to change my experience to a positive one and to re-frame my mindset. Naturally, some days can just be hard.
I need to be kinder to myself, this is part of the reason I got sick in the first place. Trying to be a perfectionist, criticising myself for anything less and comparing myself to others. That didn’t get me anywhere before but sick so why do I think it is going to make things better now? I am not perfect, I have flaws as we all do and my path in life is a little rocky now but will smooth out in time. Everyone has these moments and challenges in life, these are mine, and I need to love myself regardless of these. Self-love and self-development will help me conquer these and come out the other side better for it.
I keep putting pressure on myself, to try and be like others, to work harder, to achieve my goals, but one of the greatest things I can do right now is just accept things for what they are, work through getting myself better and being patient, my business success and travel will happen in good time. If I continue to do this, making myself feel like a failure for not working at the fast pace of everyone else, then I am just jeopardising my own recovery, future plans and my relationships. I am worthy now as I am, even on my bad days when I am lifeless and cannot do much. I love myself to a degree but once I accept this only then will I realise that the people around me, the ones that matter will accept this too.
With CFS, depression and anxiety come as a package deal, and while they dawn over me sometimes, I cannot let these feelings take over me and hinder my chances of recovery. I just need to take it one day at a time, deal with emotions as they come, through writing, meditation, talking to others, and just embrace the journey that I am on. I try to tell myself that this is what is happening today, things will get better and I will reach my goals, but right now this is my time to focus on me and the steps of my recovery.
What I am going through is quite a big thing, and while I try to underplay it and act like I am not sick when I am around others, part of this recovery process is accepting that I am. Somehow I feel that if I say that I am unwell or think or communicate any negative thoughts that I am setting this idea in my mindset, in my subconscious and it could effect my ability to recover. This is the dilemma I find myself constantly in. So I try and avoid telling people that I am having a bad day, telling them about how bloody hard some days can be or even thinking worrying thoughts about my life now and in the future.
I know I am on the straight and narrow to recovery now, I can feel it. I stripped myself of all complications and simplified my life and now I can see things so clearly, most of the time. I need to do what I need to do, what I know I need to do to recover, and this is what I am doing. Sure doubts, feelings of failure and ill-achievement, as a former type-a overachiever personality, these characteristics will sometimes well up. This is normal, but it with all my self-work I have done I will do my best to work through them and overcome them, as I am doing right now, and reassure myself of the great job I am doing.
Today I am just a little overwhelmed, a little unsure and I guess the treatment is to just love myself lots, do what I enjoy and get lots of rest. I need to just let myself be lazy, a challenge that I am coming to grips with in this healing process. But I am allowed to be right, it is how I will recover. It is hard for an outgoing, active person to accept this sometimes, especially when I used to always spend so much energy keeping busy. Now I have to stop, chill and just be one with myself and my emotions, instead of spending all my energy running away from these things.
So today, I am going to thoroughly enjoy watching Ellen, laughing at funny Youtube videos, reading my new favourite book and eating great food. Perhaps even a bike ride later is on the cards if I am feeling any less anxious and down. So far, watching Ellen seems to have helped with these emotions.
My life is not typical, it’s not comparable, it’s not easy, but it is mine.
I wish you love and happiness today and as I am doing, just enjoy the present and try not to let the future and your worries or down moments consume you.
Peace and love