What a strange question, you may say, but whether we view our health issues as our ally or something to fight against makes a huge difference.
For a long time I saw my illness as the enemy – something to fight, to resist, to plot against and to overcome.
This context was not an empowering one.
The struggle associated with this illness-as-enemy context was ultimately almost as tiring as the physical fatigue I was experiencing.
It was only when I finally accepted the illness as just “what was so” that I started to move forward both physically and mentally.
Acceptance that I was ill and what that meant for my life was a huge step for me.
It wasn’t that I was in denial exactly prior to this.
I was seeking medical and other assistance, managing my diet, exercising (when possible), and generally doing all the good stuff I thought I needed to do to get well.
But my life had one mission – to be well again, to fight the intruder in my body called CFS.
Ignoring for now extra issues this controversial illness label brought up for me, I just wanted it gone so I could get on with my life.
It was an inconvenience, to say the least.
I was angry with the illness’s presence in my life.
I was angry with the effect it was having. It was not welcome!
I spent two years fighting the horrible intruder before I realised I could be at peace with its presence in my life without that meaning I had given up or given in.
When people or books told me I had to reach a point of acceptance of the illness, I thought they meant surrender to it.
But acceptance is not about surrendering to the illness or pain, it’s about letting go of the struggle around it. Surrendering to what is so, but not making that a good or bad thing.
It’s just what’s so.
I was ill. That’s what was so.
Then it was a case of “Now what?”.
When we just acknowledge what’s so, we let go of the struggle.
We acknowledge the illness, but don’t make it mean anything.
When we don’t make it mean anything, there is no emotion attached to it, so it has a lot less power.
We then have the ability to choose our next step with a clear head.
Choosing to accept the illness gave me some power back as I was no longer expending energy fighting the notion of the illness.
I was then able to use that mental energy on working out what activities helped me and which didn’t, and on what further treatments to try.
The journey became so much easier then, and though my physical state hadn’t changed greatly, I felt a lot more peaceful and calm.
That, in turn, did cause me to physically improve in certain ways.
This pattern repeated itself all over again with the even more indefinable, unbelievable electrosensitivity that arrived with pregnancy six years later.
I didn’t think I’d ever come to terms with such a life-altering, bizarre illness, but I did, and I now live quite matter-of-factly with headaches every day from things most people don’t bat an eye at.
I get headaches from electricity. Ok, That’s So. Now What?!
You have CFS / ME. That’s So. Now What? You tell me … 🙂