The Art of Acceptance

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So I know I said previously that I refused to give up, but truth is, the time has come.

I’m so exhausted of trying to fight for my health. I’m so tired of having to think about every little bit of energy expenditure. I’m fed up with having to strategise my whole life. I am just done with trying to keep up with others or the life I once had. I am done with trying to be so positive and optimistic all the time. I’m just done. I can’t be at war with myself anymore.

My adrenal glands, that I thought were well healed are now back to burnout stage. I’ve been trying everything to heal them and restore my energy but perhaps in my efforts to do so, I have just worsened the situation. I feel like I just don’t know how to help myself anymore.

The past five days all I have done is cry. I cry as I mourn the person I was four years ago before my world came crashing down. I cry for the life I want but can’t have. I cry because I feel lonely and helpless. I cry because I fear for my future. I try not to because I know there are people suffering worse than I am. But in these moments my tears feel justified.

Being 29, having a debilitating illness, no secure job and still living with my mum was not exactly the picturesque plan I had for my life. I had hoped to be living in my own place, perhaps with a partner and running my own business in between travelling the world. But I guess life doesn’t always go according to plan.

My Doctor told me yesterday I have to start accepting what is. Just when I thought I was on the road to recovery, it seems CFS has come back or just worsened. I told her I was frustrated, fed up, tired of fighting. Her response- stop fighting. Stop trying to be so ambitious in your recovery. Your mind and body is at it’s limits and it needs you to love and nourish it. You need to accept that this is your normal for now.

My heart broke in that moment. I’d been denying for so long that things had worsened, just thinking that it was perhaps just the effects post anti-depressants. On the bad days, which seemed to be happening more regularly I would tell myself to stop being so lazy thinking I was just in fact unmotivated. To a degree, I think the chemical changes in my brain have impacted the status quo but they are not entirely responsible. My body needs more TLC.

I know that this starts with me learning to be less critical of myself and lowering my expectations. I have always been someone to set the bar high and if I wasn’t achieving at that level, well than it just wasn’t good enough. But it is this mentality that got me sick in the first place. My expectations need to change although it is challenging when such high expectations are ingrained in your personality.

Well I guess with acceptance, these changes will come. So here it is- I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and it has worsened. It seems I have more lessons to learn. This is not forever. Just for now until I make some changes and love myself more and my mind and body follow. Things are going to have to slow down for a little bit while I go back to the beginning of everything. Back to the basics and simplicity.

I accept that some days will be horrible and symptoms will be in the full form- debilitating fatigue keeping me housebound, severe brain fog preventing socialising and depression. On these days, having a shower and eating breakfast is a huge achievement. I accept that some days will be mediocre and I’ll be able to go for my walk, socialise with ease and do normal daily tasks with ease. I accept that some days will be great and I will feel ‘normal’ again but I cannot be fooled by these days. If I do too much on these days I know that I end up back on the horrible day again.

I know that I need to just take one day at a time and stop worrying about things or criticising myself for not being there. My life is different to others so I cannot compare to what they have. I need to reverse the picture- how would these people that have so much feel if everything was taken away from them. Their health, their job, their finances, some of their relationships. I’m sure things would be different then. I guess we cannot compare ourselves to others when we are all experiencing different things in life.

This whole experience has made me realise the insignificance of material things. To have your body turn on you makes you realise that in the grand scheme of things, stuff just doesn’t matter. It is the simple things that hold meaning- the flowers and trees, sunshine, the ocean, love from family and friends and most importantly, love and kindness for yourself. In addition to health, these are the most valuable assets in life.

I used to want the top job, the wealth, the superficial relationships, the latest fashions. These are the things I strived for. Then when Chronic Fatigue came along all of that faded. These days, I strive for inner peace and a deeper level of happiness. I stop to smell the flowers. I sit by the ocean for hours just listening to the waves and feeling the sand beneath my feet. I transcend to somewhere deep in the Universe when I meditate. I aspire for a life far from the mayhem of the city where I can live in the quiet of nature and the peace of the ocean.

So yes, my life has changed far beyond what I ever thought possible. While I am entirely grateful for the lessons and experiences CFS has brought me, I did think that my active fight for recovery would bring it closer. However the recent backward leap has proved this untrue. So I have made a vow to myself- I will stop fighting so hard and just take it day by day. Acceptance, as it seems, is the answer.

I have to let this illness take it’s full course as clearly it is here to make some changes to my life and has some unfinished business. I have realised that no amount of treatment will speed up or intervention by me will change this. My body needs to heal in its own time. The least I can do is accept what is happening so that I can take action to support it to the best of my ability. How do I do this? The answer is simple- rest, relax and restore. Rest my body when it needs it, relax my mind and nourish it with positive thoughts, use restorative exercise. These things plus self love will be crucial in progressing forward.

Thank you Universe for blessing me with this gift and the lessons. I will stop fighting it now and accept what is. From this point forth, I will accept who I am now. And with that weight lifted, finally I will be free.

Sending love to all my fellow invisible illness warriors ❤

– the Soulful Wanderer.

 

 

 

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Why I Will Never Give Up

 

amanda+joaquim (29)After the past three days, I honestly don’t know how I have gotten through. This has quite possibly been the worst crash in a while. All catalyzed by me trying to be somebody who I am not. Or more specifically, no longer am. I was me trying to be the old me.

Sometimes I just want to be normal. I think I am. But truth is the way I live my life is a lot different from others. And at times that can be challenging to accept. I know it won’t be like this forever, but for now it has to be. That old me is a figment of my imagination.

For the past 6 months or so, I have been having treatment in the form of Chinese Medicine for Chronic Fatigue. Like everything I try, it seems to work great at first. But then after a while it’s like my body protests and tells it to just fuck off. As you can imagine, this is very frustrating.

In fact this whole illness can be frustrating. You think you are making great progress and then bam, you have a huge setback. It is forever two steps forward and one step back. Some days it will feel like there is nothing wrong with you and you feel on top of the world. But other times, like the past few days it actually feels like a steam train has come and run you over.

The alarm clock goes off but you cannot move from your bed. You can barely eat. Conversations are a struggle. Showering is a struggle. You cannot do any form of work or uni work. The very thought of doing anything exhausts you. No this is not laziness. Nobody chooses this life. This is CFS on the worst days. You just cannot deal with your life.

If I am being completely honest, it has taken every part of me to get through the past few days. It’s like this spiral effect. I feel incredibly fatigued, which makes me feel depressed and anxious about my life and my future. Will I ever be able to work a full time job and have a proper career? Will I ever be able to date again? Will I ever get my complete independence back? Will I ever be the energetic, clear-thinking me ever again?

But then I remind myself- the future for all of us is uncertain. None of us know what is in store. And if I just keep thinking about what is going to happen tomorrow, I will never enjoy today. I will never be able to use the present effectively to maximize my recovery. I will be forever living for tomorrow instead of making progress today.

There are people out there that have things so much worse than me. People dying of cancer or with family members who have or are dying from cancer. People with worse cases of ME CFS. People going through extreme poverty or famine. So I feel guilty when I just feel so depressed. I am grateful for the life I have and yes it could be much worse. But on the bad days, you can’t help but feel sorry for yourself. And feel like your life is unfair.

The difference is, while I grieve for a little at times, I will NEVER let myself live in this state forever. I am focused on working towards things that help others because I believe that when we have purpose and give back, our lives have more meaning. It can just be disappointing at times when you work so hard on yourself and your health and it all just gets thrown back in your face.

The worst part for me is letting others down. I make commitments that when I am feeling energetic, I can quite easily fulfill. Although, when I have these bad days, I realise that I have over-committed.  I have a bad habit of doing this. I guess you could just say that I am optimistic and every time I feel good, I think that I am on the mend. CFS can be horribly cruel though and torture you like that. You think it is teasing you with the feeling of being recovered, but it is just the cycle of boom and bust. That roller-coaster ride.

So I’ve had my three days of being bed-ridden, binge watching Netflix, surviving on Vegemite on toast and barely being able to move. I’ve cried to my Mum multiple times at how unfair life is, vented to my friends who kindly listen and essentially shut myself off from the rest of the world. So where do I go now?

The way I see it, I always have a choice. I have a choice to keep going on like this, getting in this cycle of camping out in my bed and feeling sorry for myself, letting life pass me by. Or I can do something about it. I can make the decision to, no matter what, make tomorrow a better day. Even if it is just getting out of bed. Even just sitting in the sun. Tomorrow will be a better day.

I may have gone backwards and may have to strip things back to basics once again. And on top of that, I may have made some unfortunate realisations this week that tugged my heart strings. But everything is going to be okay. I will be okay and I will continue to get better.

There is no time for sadness or expending my energy on things that don’t contribute to my recovery. No distractions. No dating. Right now, it’s all about me. I need to be selfish. Right now is about becoming the healthiest, happiest version of me. I have had a taste and now I want more. I deserve more. I’m made for more.

This happened to test my strength, to help me grow. So I am going to grow. I am going to use all my strength. I am going to beat this. I will never give up!

Sometimes all it takes is some good music, a good cry and writing to make you see things in perspective. I’m glad I can see things clearly now and know the path set out for me, even when brain fog tries to cloud it.

I know there are still things I need to work on. I’ll get there. Life is a journey of self-work and personal development. But hopefully taking more time for me will help with that. It has already been a year, surely another year or two can’t hurt.

If along the way I find someone who appreciates me for me and the journey I am going on then great. But I am not actively going to pursue dating because I know right now, I can’t give myself 100% to someone when I am working so hard on myself. Friendships are adequate for now.

So back I go on this journey to recovery despite the little hump in the road. I will tap into every piece of strength and love I have within me. Because I know I will recover. If I know anything in this world it is that!

Even if I have to leave uni until next year, leave all my commitments behind and just spend my days building myself back up. If that is what has to happen, then so be it. But I will never be a victim, always a fighter, fighting for her life back.

I will never give up.

And neither should you.

– the Soulful Wanderer