The theme of this weeks post is “one thing you’ve learnt since becoming chronically ill” and I think for me this is possibly one of the easiest prompts in the series so far. What have I learnt? I’ve learnt to listen and be patient. I’ve written about this a few times before, about how sometimes my body has to scream before I’ll pay attention, about how patience really isn’t first nature to me, and about how I’m absolutely still working on perfecting this skill.
For me, getting this right is vital. Learn to listen and be patient or suffer – it’s the easiest way through. It dictates how I pace myself to prevent flares, it dictates how I plan my days, weeks and months to fit in all of the hobbies and interests that I refuse to give up on. It’s how I work full time and continue to grow my career. It really is my whole life and it’s the driving force behind everything that I do, every day.
Listening is about paying attention to your body, being aware of what it’s telling you, but also ignoring it enough to keep going. The last thing I want is to develop a hyper awareness of the pain I’m experiencing, or the dizziness, or the brain fog, or any of the other among the myriad of symptoms. Being hyper aware of any of that would be crippling. Instead it’s a fine balance, of tuning in, but also of tuning out.
Patience is about waiting for the right time. My default setting is action, NOW. I hate waiting, I hate leaving things until later. If I thought of it now, I want to do it now. But with chronic illness, that isn’t always possible. In fact, it’s almost never possible. Spontaneity is a luxury (although I do make a point of being spontaneous when and where I can). Though even when being “spontaneous” I must plan – don’t forget to bring your walking stick, have you eaten enough to have energy for this? don’t forget to take water, how long will it take? how far away is it if I need to rush home? More often than not every little thing I do involves huge amounts of planning. It’s easier with a rhythm, I don’t have to actively waste energy planning if I go about the same routine week after week, but then, where’s the fun in that? Patience means being willing to postpone, it means planning in advance and staging out how to prepare and make whatever it is possible. Patience is one of the things I struggle with the most.
Before I became ill it never occurred to me that one day I’d have to find a balance between looking after my body and looking after my mind. Now, it’s something I must consider in everything I do, every single day. It’s not always a conscious thought but it is always there, driving me through life as best it can.
This post is Part 25 of 52 in the series –A Year of Growth.
The series is a celebration of the first anniversary of The Truth About M.E and is designed to help me grow through my illness throughout my second year of blogging. I look forward to having you along for the journey!