I’m making progress. I’ve had more energy lately. I’ve been up and around a lot more and I’ve felt better about myself and how I’ve been spending my time. The problem with an illness as vague and uncharted as chronic fatigue is that it often feels like I’m taking one step forward and two steps back. I alleviate some symptoms and then develop new ones. I get advice from a new doctor that convolutes other medical guidelines by which I’ve been living.
One thing that I’ve found important among all the confusion is persistent and continuous movement. I have to keep moving in some direction– growing in one way or another. Regardless of the obstacles or distractions, there’s always either a solution or a getaway. There’s a way to find peace amid the chaos. This time, my outlet was a beautiful hike to Diamond Fork Hot Springs.
Hikes are a great manifestation of my movement theory. No matter what else is happening in your life, a hike is relaxing and rejuvenating, it gives you break from routine and stress. You set the pace, and you still achieve and accomplish goals that you set– exercise, building strength, reaching the peak, appreciating nature. My hike reminded me that my body was strong and functional, even considering its deficiencies. Not only that, but my mind was clear and calm, free of stress and self-judgment.
My choice of movement didn’t stop the pain, or solve my problems completely, but it refreshed me, helped me strengthen myself in other ways so that I could come back to the struggle feeling confident and able. Without some sort of growth, passion, achievement in one direction or another, I couldn’t deal with the constant, crippling pain and emotional woes of chronic illness. With movement there is hope and healing.
I took a break from the blog for a while. It seemed to be becoming too negative. It was establishing a self that I didn’t want to be. If I squashed the sad, sick Summer, without publicising her, it would all be okay. Then I could get back to the grind, and my blog would reflect the more internet-acceptable me. We blame ourselves a lot. We try to beat, tame, and smother the parts of ourselves that our society tells us are weak and undesired: the sick, the depressed, the different, the confused. Those parts of us that are inherent and not necessarily “bad,” but less understood and accepted by the mass than others.
We spend so much time hiding and hating ourselves. Everything that’s unique and beautiful about us, we perceive as deficient. In Buddhism, there is an understanding that suffering arises from the idea that there is a separate self, i.e., we can detach flaws from the aggregate of characteristics that we perceive to be our identity. Fear, sadness, yearning, and illness are all natural phenomena that contribute to the fullness of life and the fulfillment of the individual.
I cannot hide my illness− I can’t put it away until I’m mentally prepared to accept it. But I can accept that my other ambitions and personal qualities can exist alongside it. And I can stop waiting for it to be invisible to others. False feelings of inadequacy are too rampant in our world. There is no reason to feel that you are less entitled to life and happiness than other beings. There is no reason to be ashamed of life. We must allow all of ourselves to be awake and alive. If we starve the parts of ourselves we don’t value, we only foster an incomplete and dishonest life. People get angry, selfish, hungry, tired. For some reason, we value the ability to control those natural aspects of humanity. Stop. Attend to yourself. Love yourself. If you only value part of character, you are choosing to strain and disable the very part you most value, for fear of the resources that enable it. You cannot be helpful to others if you are sick and starving yourself. You cannot be academically successful if you aren’t envious of those who know more that you. You cannot be in a healthy relationship if you don’t allow anger. Stop lying. Stop hiding. Know those needs, and allow yourself to thrive with them instead of forcing yourself into suffering because of them.
When you get the flu, you rest for a week. You lay in bed, drink sprite and eat soup, watch a lot of TV, and in a few days, it’s back to the daily grind. There’s an understanding that the nausea and weakness is temporary. You’ll only be a “sick” person for a little while, and after the affliction is gone, you can go back to being yourself– eating, drinking, working, etc. This is the general public’s knowledge of illness. It’s a temporary hindrance to your way of life. When the illness is chronic, this kind of thinking gets tricky.
I can’t put my life aside for the time it takes to heal. I would be eating chicken soup and watching Netflix for years. Our conceptions of illness as crippling combined with the association of “rest” with “laziness” present a huge conflict in my attempts to live actively while fighting illness. It makes me feel like I’m wasting days waiting until I’m a full, healthy person again. I’m not “wasting” until I’ve considered it “wasted,” in the meantime, I’m fighting, actively and intentionally fighting.
If you wait for the stars to be aligned before we start moving toward our goals, you’re going to spend a lot of time feeling hopeless and bored. The universe will never send you an invitation to your life. We pity ourselves and submit to helplessness much too often. I am in a compromised physical state, but that doesn’t make me submissive or stagnant. The people I admire most are those who succeed even with opposition. The problem is, when we encounter opposition, we generally perceive it as an instant termination of our success. We don’t see it as an opportunity to succeed with elevated persistence and growth. There will be times in our lives when our circumstances are less than desirable. Bad things happen. You are the one who makes the decision– wait for the struggle to subside, or fight it and live.