Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I see normality. I don’t appear to have anything wrong with me, and occasionally I even fool myself. For a little while. When this happens, I wonder is this all happening inside my head. Is it a fiction I have immersed myself inside? I have learned to mask, for the public, the burden that this disease has placed on my back. If I am sitting down, having a brief conversation, I am normal. But once this lasts longer than 20 minutes my acting skills suffer. The pain appears in my face, and my concentration crumbles.
What it is like now
The last few months I have been working for 4 hours on one day in the week. This day of 8 hours, when you consider travel, takes a huge physical toll. My headache, leg pain and fatigue means that the following day I do nothing. I crash. On day 2, I do some limited things, such as cooking a dinner, writing a blog post. By the third day I can think about adding exercise into my routine and, possibly, baking bread. But that is my limit.
Why do I inflict this pain on myself?
The physical problems I face are difficult, but the psychological impact of not doing anything is much greater. Trying to exist, just for existing sake, would be very difficult, and would lead to despair, and I think depression. If I step into that hole, climbing back out would be hard. So this work I do keeps this pit that surrounds me, covered. By having worth, a value, and escaping from the house I am also maintaining my mental health. I have a strategy.
5 tips to help stop being overwhelmed
These are the 5 things I do to ensure that I stay away from the edge of the pit.
- Meditate: At least 4 days of the week I meditate for about 30 minutes. This helps me to clear my mind of any negative thoughts. (See my post about meditation)
- Journal: Writing every day about what has happened, and how I feel, is how I take what is in my head and making it tangible. It is much easier to process then, and the big problems don’t appear so large.
- Eat well: A healthy body can only happen if you have a good diet. (My post about diet)
- Have a project/job to do: This can be cooking a dinner, writing a short story, or helping someone else achieve something. It helps to give your life purpose.
- Keep active: Despite limited mobility I try to keep fit. I am now trying yoga to help my muscles stay flexible, and strong. (This is a great site to help you start to exercise)
It isn’t always easy to keep doing these when you have a progressive illness like mine. Sometimes I don’t do one or two of these, and I fall into darker days. When I notice, it is time to check if I am doing all five and start again. It is a continuous process. Rise, get knocked down, and rise again.
A new phase
I am in a rising phase now, trying to rebuild the habits that will keep me moving forward. Searching for projects I will do when my current job stops. I have joined the local writers group and have written two short stories. I’ll post them on a page in my blog. It is fun and allows my imagination to take over.