Acceptance – such a huge word for us. Any chronic illness is difficult to accept. However, one which takes over your entire being is most difficult. The first thing that I found so very hard – beyond words – to accept was resigning from my management position. I kept taking sick days - then trying to go in for a few hours, but just couldn't sit up to work. I had no choice but to quit and that, in itself, felt like defeat.
We sometimes base our self-worth on what we did each day and how much we accomplished. We've been trained to think in those terms for so long, that the emotional part can be devastating. Then there's the acceptance of a life-long illness with so many symptoms, too numerous to comprehend. Accepting having to see so many doctors, taking medications, spending time in bed, isolation and loneliness. All of this deposited onto one person to bear. It's a process of reminding yourself that this is not of your own making. You're not your illness but a vital and wonderfully made human being. Forgiving yourself is a huge step to acceptance.
Listening to your body, resting, napping, taking good immune building supplements, learning and practicing slow, deep – in the nose, out the mouth – breathing is not giving into the illness. It's taking care of you, in your present situation. Pushing will only result in a worsening of your condition. If your car breaks down, don't you do what it takes to repair it ? The same with our bodies.
Talking about it is very therapeutic. Getting out those emotions of how it makes you feel to be in this place at this time in your life is essential to healing. If we hold it in, it doesn't go away, but returns another day with reinforcements. This change won't happen over night and will take a retraining of how you view who you are. It's a process of grieving your loss and finding your new way of normal, in your new world.
You show your strength and courage with each breath you take, every obstacle you overcome, each time you learn news ways to cope. You are fearless, even in your pain, for you move ever forward despite it.
All of your adversity has rebuilt you, mind, body and spirit. Allow the reality of this truth to wash over you – to fill up your innermost being, bind you, hold you, carry you and settle inside you. You are heroes of a unique kind, taking a journey down a very winding road. With uncertainty around every curve, you rise to the occasion with grace.
When you hear those voices of defeat speaking to you, tell yourself that you're not defeated by this. You're only learning to maneuver on a different path. Realizing this is not defeat, yet quite the opposite - it's empowering. When we're stuck, we can't move forward. We miss the things right in front of us, which could help us to find a better quality to our lives. You are strong, so allow this truth to pour over you. Know that living life, in a different way, is not giving in or giving up.
When you find yourself in that place of, "I should try to work” or “I should be able to do more," stop and say, "I deserve to be treated with love and respect." It's an ongoing process, so be gentle with yourself – even in your acceptance of acceptance.
About the author: Clarissa Shepherd is founder of the uplifting Fellow Travelers: Support and Chat (ME/CFS/FM) online Facebook support group and author of the book of natural healing:
USA – Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living With Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
Europe – Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living With Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia