For an audio version of this blog post please click below. Happy listening!
This exact week last year I allowed my intuitive intelligence to take over and I was overcome by clarity. I left my job where I was highly uninspired and barely hanging in. Activities such as elevating my legs under the desk, going home for rests on my lunch break, and not having any energy in reserve to even scoot past the supermarket afterwards were some of my daily norms. I left my relationship which was full of love but incapable of holding the growth I desired, and I left my lifestyle. I moved overseas to China to start a relationship with my dad, and not to a tourist city of China where people spoke English, the middle of a Chinese community where a foreigner was reason enough to stop in the street and stare. Big changes.
In an effort to better explain where my thoughts were at this time last year, the best analogy I can draw is this: I felt as though I was too exhausted to even stand, that I had ropes tied all over my body holding me down regardless of what I tried, whilst in contrast my intuition knew that I needed to walk forward into an environment of healing and wellness. In order to move forward I had to make compromises and sacrifices in the form of cutting these ropes and releasing energy back to myself. It didn’t by any definition mean that each of these ropes were bad natured people or environments, just simply that I no longer had the energy to give to each if I also wanted to move forward, and I chose me. Cutting each of the ropes came with harsh internal critiques of my personal worth; that I was horrible, lazy, insufficient, weak, unsuccessful, and inadequate. There was a lot of “I just need to do this and then I’ll let that one go”. I believe that’s also called denial. I’m laughing to myself now as I write this by the way so know that there is absolutely hope!
After these major lifestyle changes and against all expectations my health deteriorated even further. It took a month or two for my body to stabilise, coming to its own balance and giving me a platform to work from albeit extremely low. During this time were the heights of my Anxiety, where regardless of my tactics I couldn’t shift a persistent heart rate of 73 BPM (my resting is 63), and the busyness of my mind made me want to scream. My Depression was also at its worst with nearly two straight weeks of suicidal thoughts and no desire to continue living. I would wake up each morning and after an hour of patiently willing my body to function it would allow me to shuffle to the kitchen for breakfast where I would sit with no appetite and tears streaming down my face. Beyond the force feeding of each meal was my body’s serious inability to manage and digest which delivered a further array of extremely difficult symptoms. I don’t recall a day where I couldn’t get out of bed, however tasks like holding the remote to the TV, using cutlery, filling my drink bottle, or showering were extremely fatiguing and would send me back to bed. I would struggle to even reheat a meal for myself. The inability to manage basic liberties of my prior life such as socializing, exercising, or working made for a very bland existence.
Despite all this pain, I had an unrelenting knowledge that these decisions I’d made were the best for me and were going to move me forward. I think that’s a definite positive from chronic illness; there is no space to consider luxuries or ideals, it’s emergency stations and survival focus. I cut any cloudiness or white noise, accepting situations and solutions for exactly what they were. Would I have stayed in that job or relationship long term with excellent health anyway? Unlikely, so I was grateful for the extremely sharp jab in the right direction. The universe delivers again!
A fantastic and empowering question I ask myself in the toughest times (especially of late with my parasite treatment) is this: “Okay, so if we quit this path, what next, where to?” I find this extremely effective because when your body is holding you prisoner from the life you dream of living there has to be a plan. It’s not a job or a relationship that you can just quit and move on from, you’re still chronically and seriously ill. The pain and fatigue doesn’t stop just because you’re fed up with the process.
Putting myself first and listening to the cues my body is giving me has made this process so much easier than what I believe it would have otherwise been. At times I would even say peaceful. When I’m not pushing myself to attend or achieve or accomplish things that aren’t of absolute paramount concern to me right now, my body and mind get a break and space to breath. It’s from this space that recovery is possible. It’s about putting me first.
I’ve come to adopt the mindset that it doesn’t really matter who is annoyed, frustrated or disappointed in me for not meeting their expectations. It doesn’t really matter if my career or lifestyle is on pause. If these things are holding me back from moving through the current moment with health and happiness then I tend to feel that they’re actually quite irrelevant and that I’ll get to working on them in the future if and when they do become relevant. From this belief, this week of this year I sit recovered from Anxiety and Depression. Don’t get me wrong, I still have difficult and challenging moments as I continue to overcome the remaining items on my chronic illness list however those moments are only that; rare moments that are appropriate for my current load and that I now overcome with relative ease. I am back working, have developed new passions and directions, grown and gained beyond my most far reached dreams, and my CFS and digestive symptoms are continuously improving and better managed than before I started cutting the ropes. Very awesome!