Well today could have possibly been one of the greatest days ever. Sure every day is a great day, but for some reason, today was extra exceptional.
It wasn’t just the fact that I got to spend the day with my beautiful 6-year-old sister, riding bikes, baking gluten free chocolate chip cookies and swimming in the pool, although that was wonderful. It was the fact that I realised how far I have come and how grateful I am for that.
There are so many times when I get down in the dumps, thinking that I am not making any progress in my recovery and mourning for my old life. But the truth is my new life, this life that I am living now is possibly the greatest life I could have ever imagined.
Spiritually, I am in the prime of my life and after reading the book ‘How to Heal your Life’ by Louise Hay I am astounded at the amount of growth I have undergone, particularly in the last 6 months.
In the book, Louise talks about how thoughts and beliefs manifest into disease. How resentment, criticism, guilt and fear cause problems in our lives, and if we fail to deal with them can transform into all kinds of illnesses and hardships that cause even more problems. She emphasises that if we want to rid ourselves of disease or prevent it from happening in the first place, we need to learn to forgive ourselves and others and love and approve of ourselves more. Only we can take responsibility of our lives and change our fate.
What I realised, while deeply engulfed in the pages of this wonderful book of wisdom, is that most of the teachings Louise Hay is preaching, most of the processes to overcome illness, I have already unknowingly gone through.
The issues all built up and cemented themselves in the way of an illness- CFS- because I failed to deal with the feelings of low self confidence, self-hatred and my depression. Instead I tried to submerge my feelings through obsessively exercising and cleaning, spending way too much money unnecessarily and keeping myself so busy, there was no time to stop and deal with things.
However, no matter how much you try and subdue your negative feelings, they will always come out one way or another. For me, these feelings started coming out in the form of anxiety attacks. Out of nowhere in 2011, I found myself suddenly overwhelmed constantly, having random panic attacks every few days and at times, even ended up in hospital they were that bad. I thought it was just my body having a reaction to my exorbitant caffeine intake, but little did I realise this was the point of change in my life- the first step.
Then the next sign was the depression, the dark, gloomy cloud that hovered over me and would just not disappear. At the time when it started appearing, I was working at a shoe store and JB HI FI in the city and studying my cert 3 and 4 in Fitness at the Australian Institute of Fitness. My confident work persona, rapport-building skills with my customers and co-workers and my ability to hustle in sales, all slowly dwindled. I found myself unable to be my usual outgoing self and every time I looked in the mirror, I just looked so horrible and bloated, it made me just want to cry. I despised the person staring back at me and just wanted to hide away from the world. I couldn’t even talk to others because I felt that they were so happy and looked so fantastic and healthy, they would not want to associate with a hideous person like me. I had never felt so much hatred toward anybody but myself. All I wanted to do was just cry.
I had suffered from depression in the past, but this was on a whole new level. I felt my life slowing drifting through my fingers.
At the time, I had no idea what was happening. The darkness consumed me and the only thing that would make me remotely happy or lift my spirits was consuming anything with sugar- chocolate, lollies, ice cream. My body was in such a state that even eating was challenging- despite eating my usual foods, my appetite doubled and it felt as though no matter what I ate, nothing was being absorbed in my body. The clouded thinking made it difficult to work, finish my PT course or even articulate myself when having conversations with people around me. I felt like a crazy person, like I was losing it.
While I tried to mask my suffering with more supplements, a strategy I had employed in the past to disguise my problems, the issues became even more prominent. I felt like I was dying, as dramatic as that sounds.
For a period of 6-12 months following this ‘breakdown,’ I visited endless specialists and doctors trying to find the root cause, until I through my own research discovered the root of the problem. I determined, based on my variety of symptoms, that I had Chronic Fatigue or Adrenal Fatigue, and after advising my GP at the time of this, she confirmed my fears- it was Chronic Fatigue.
Based on the research I had done and various specialist’s ‘assistance,’ Chronic Fatigue was very complicated and very difficult to recover from. It involved spending most of my days in bed, telling all my friend’s and family that I can’t have much to do with them anymore and saying goodbye to my active, healthy lifestyle. This pushed my depression over the edge. Most days I cried, mourning my energetic, lively self and the life I used to have. All I wanted was to be a normal person again.
It was a rough year, and quite frankly I don’t know how I got through it. I had moved to Melbourne with my partner and her family when everything was surfacing and it couldn’t have happened at a worse possible time. I was in a new state with none of my family, unable to work and falling deeper into a state of depression with limited people to talk to. But somehow, I gained the strength to push through and get through 2014, the hardest year of my life.
Over the course of the years that followed, I slowly began to learn more and more about my Chronic Fatigue. I tried a cocktail of different supplements, some Naturopath recommended, some I had researched and sourced on my own, in the hope that they would give me the energy I needed to return to work and earn some money like a normal human being. However, it wasn’t until October 2016, I realised what a chaotic effect these were having on my body.
While I realised in time Chronic Fatigue can be recovered from, it was really when I came off all the supplements, except for a small dose of magnesium, that things truly began to become clear for me.
For so long I had focused on ‘bandaid’ solutions to my problems, trying to give myself temporary energy just to get through tomorrow when what I really should have been focused on was my long term energy. These supplements were just giving me false energy that was masking the true effects of my illness and in order to get better, I was going to have to keep things simple. Too much stress and overwhelm on my body had been what caused this illness to transpire in the first place, so I needed to take a different path.
In the past year prior to this realisation in October 2016, I had done a lot of personal growth. Meditation and tai chi had become an everyday ritual, I began reading lots of personal development books and I started listening to lots of great podcasts, all in the hope of retraining my thought patterns. I figured that if I was going to recover from this illness and deal with side effects of depression and anxiety, the power lay within my mind. It wasn’t a light-bulb moment that this realisation occurred, but more of a gradual process learned from other sufferers, research and my own experience and determination. However despite all of the growth, I still felt this glass ceiling preventing me from being my full self once again.
So after the break up from my partner of almost 3 years, I finally had that light bulb moment. I realised I needed to strip myself of all complication and stressors in my life, simplify things and just focus on learning to love myself again. The supplements were the first to go and immediately I felt a huge change. Despite having less energy I felt my thinking become a lot clearer and finally after almost 3 years I began to felt like me again. I resigned from my very overwhelmingly stressful job at the bank and decided to go with my gut and just engage on this page of self development full time. I had just moved back in with my mum and had to pay minimal rent so figured that there was no time like the present to stop, slow down and listen to the universe’s plan for me.
All my life I had pushed my problems to the side. My low self-esteem and confidence as a result of being bullied and having braces and acne in school. My anger towards my mum and dad over the break up of the marriage. My poor body image and hatred for myself. All of these I masked with obsessions and distractions when instead, all my body needed to do was deal with it and heal. For so long, I blamed others for all of these problems, but it wasn’t until that light bulb moment that I realised this is my life, and I need to take responsibility for it. I cannot dwell on the past anymore, nor let the past dictate my future or potential recovery from this illness. Only I can make a change, and the change begins today. And so, my full-fledged self development journey began with one goal in mind- to be fully recovered from CFS by December 2017.
My days became filled with routine- a morning smoothie followed by gratitudes and affirmations which usually took about an hour or so. Then I would have a shower, get ready for the day and sit out in the sun while I meditated for 20 minutes to half an hour. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I had committed to going to the gym, leaving after my meditation session and listening to my self development podcasts while I walked there. On the other days I indulged in a nice walk or yoga session at home. I would then come home, meditate some more, have lunch and read at least a chapter of my latest self development book, taking notes as I went. Then I would have at least 1 hour writing, followed by a nice epsom salt bath, some reading and a gourmet vegetarian dinner. My day would of course always entail lots of sunshine, given it wasn’t typical overcast Melbourne weather and connecting with nature- a crucial part of rebuilding the life force within me.
Over time I noticed things happening. Most of the time I thought of a negative thought, I would become aware of it and change it into a positive one. When my life had become so different to others, so much slower, there were always little criticisms popping up into my mind, comparing mine to theirs, but now I was able to transform these patterns. On days when I was feeling horrible, instead of criticising myself for resting or staying in bed all day I began just to roll with it, letting my body recuperate and not forcing myself to do anything except be. As somebody who had the belief since childhood that slowing down was a sign of weakness, this was definitely a huge feat!
I also began to stop comparing myself to others, something that I had done for years and had resulted in much self-criticism and depression. I started to accept that this was my journey and my purpose in life and despite it being not an ideal or common one, it was my unique path that in no way could be compared to others. Instead I took the parts from their life that I admired the most and where possible, added them to my repertoire of goals to work towards. I stopped wasting my energy on thinking how useless I was compared to them and instead redirected it to where it mattered- showing my self love and working towards my goals.
The most significant think that happened when I stopped and slowed down was that I became aware of what the underlying problems that caused my disease were and developed plans on how to combat them- stopping negative thinking and being kinder to myself. The negative thinking was often a result of limiting beliefs that had been cemented in my mind over time so to change them I began to listen to positive affirmations every day and every time I had a negative thought I would write it down in a little book with my old negative thoughts in the left column and my new, re-framed positive thoughts in the right one. Over time, those criticisms and negative, limiting beliefs began to change, filling myself up with more love within and exuberating love to others around me.
Naturally, the self love began to fill every part of me. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing Shrek, once again I started to appreciate the girl looking back at me. I developed the confidence to talk to people again, giving me the ability to work on my existing relationships and build new ones. I began to love my body again, being able to wear a bikini, swim in the pool and wear shorts in public, something I hadn’t had the self-esteem to do in years. Finally, I was feeling like me again. Not the old me though, a new and improved, healed version of me.
I know that I still have things to work on, but for the first time in my life I feel mentally, physically and spiritually aligned. It may have taken a huge shake up to get me here but I am so irrevocably proud of how I turned this difficult situation into something that has made me a much better person. I am so proud of how I used my mind to heal my body, well for the most part.
Now instead of me working so hard to get what I want, working my mind and body into the ground, I simply become aware of it and put it out to the universe. Why? Because I love myself, my mind and my body enough not to put it through the torture that anxiety, overthinking and overexertion do to it.
I may not be healed 100% but I know I am well on the path and for my mind and body’s ability to direct me to that path I am truly grateful.
What I am trying to say is that no matter what is happening in your world, no matter the problem, it can be fixed and you can be healed. It may not be the most obvious path or it may not be the easiest one, but there is a way that you can recover and it all comes down to you.
Take responsibility for yourself, your thoughts and your life and drown yourself in a ridiculous amount of self love- the kind of love that you would give to a child. We are so perfect, so innocent as children yet somehow limiting beliefs plant themselves in our minds and cause us to be diverted from the path of self-love and set on a course where we undervalue our self-worth and value. If we can instead become aware of these issues and take the steps to change our beliefs to more positive, affirming ones then we will in turn become the ideal, happiest version of us we yearn to be and as a result attract great things into our lives. As the happiest, most self-loved version of me, this is happening to me as we speak.
The message is simple- conquer your limiting beliefs, love yourself and the universe will work in mysterious and wonderful ways to give you what you want, as it is for me right now.
All the best on your self love journey.
Remember it starts with you.