Some of you who have been reading this for a while or who know me know that I was sick for a long time. No one really knew with what. Various diagnosis included chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, candidiasis, irritable bowel syndrome, low DHEA, “everything is just out of wack and we don’t know why” (a doctor actually once said this to me), and what I like to call the “you’re just fine maybe you should get therapy” diagnosis. Nobody really knew, is what it came down to. On top of this, I also inherited a pretty strong predisposition to depression and anxiety from both sides of my family which seemed to be totally unrelated to any sort of situation – just a general predisposition to sadness and anxiety.
This was quite serious from about 16 until I was 20 and had been problematic but sort of touch and go since then. Until about a year and a half ago when I started going to an acupuncturist in Cambridge. Over the year and I half I have been seeing her, things have improved a lot. Less sadness. Less stomach aches. Less headaches. More energy. Until. One. Day. They were gone.
I joined a gym. Three years ago, walking the five minute walk from my car to classes was an ordeal. I can’t believe I can join a gym, exercise, and still be able to breath and get out of bed and move my arms and legs without exhaustion. I take the lowest doses possible of antidepressants, and I think it is only a short time until… until those are no longer part of my life.
I write all of this because a lot of people seem to find this blog by googling chronic illness or sickness or chronic fatigue syndrome. When I was sick NOTHING anyone told me helped. I was sick of recommendations of doctors. Of treatments. Of cheerleading about how well I was handling it. Sick of people telling me I looked pale and maybe I should see a doctor. Sick sick SO sick of trying to explain to ANOTHER f’ing doctor my symptoms, previous attempts at treatment, and of this constant feeling that because no one could figure out what was wrong with me that somehow, maybe, I wasn’t really that sick and was sort of making myself sick because, well, you know, I was struggling with depression.
So this is not a cheerleading session to those who are experiencing chronic illness. You might get better. You might not. But, I guess what it is a statement of hope that you really might not be like this forever. That there are people in the healing arts – doctors, alternative medicine practitioners, other chronically ill folks who believe you. Who will listen to you. I guess I just want to say that you can get better, even when it looks pretty damn dark and miserable.
I am so thankful to be so much better. Thankful for my acupuncturist who listens to every little thing that my body does and feels and wants to know it, and doesn’t judge or imply that maybe it isn’t there or maybe it is because of something I am doing wrong.
We are taught that our bodies – our sickness – somehow happens to us. Or that we cause it. When it is really neither. We are in relationship with our bodies – we are our bodies – yet, they have a mind of their own. Both. And. And neither.
May we love our bodies. May we be fully in them – listening to them – open to the healing that can take place, yet gentle on ourselves knowing that incongruence between body and soul and spirit is both real and something we might be able to draw closer together. When I was sick I hated my body not cooperating with me. Yet, I had to also to come to terms with it being me. Me being it. Yet, also not.
This might not make sense. But I think especially for those who have been there, it might. I hope it does. I wish you so much hope. And a life without pain. Without that constant need for assessment – how is my stomachkneeheadfoottoe today?
In deep deep thankfulness for not feeling tired and sad and sick so much of the time,
and with heartfelt prayers for those who are still struggling with this,