Last Sunday was a really bad day for me. If you follow me on Twitter you would have seen my post on Monday about how I was dealing with these doldrums by using meditation, and journaling. The previous week I had been having troubles with work. My fatigue was draining me of energy, and trying to get more spoons in my day was proving to be elusive. Working a 3-day week I thought would be ok, that I could manage that. But it is not proving to be the case. It is a struggle. This is all being caused by my f**king headaches which as of last Monday have lasted for 1,213 days with no reduction. The more tired I get, the worse they get, and it becomes a vicious spiral of fatigue, headaches, and reduced mobility.
This was triggered, I think, by my work looking to get me to work more than a 3-day week. They are under pressure, and so have put me under pressure. Chronic illness, and particularly MS and headaches, don’t sit well with pressure. This adds to the problem. To be brutally honest I was sick of being sick (again) and with no cure for my illnesses (yet) the future is certain. It will be more of this. I was sad for what I have lost, and scared, really scared, about a future of continual pain, fatigue, and lost mobility. This is a reality for anyone with a chronic condition that has no cure. The only tools we have are various DMT (Disease Modifying Therapies) that all have side effects, some more pervasive than others. Painkillers have many side effects, the worst being addiction, and the upward spiral of dosages. These also sedate you, and you become hollow. Losing your soul (in my opinion). I have opted for pain, as for now, I can just about manage my life with this never-ending pressure in my head.
What did I do about this?
My strategy is simple, but it requires continual effort.
I meditate and journal.
My psychologist (Dr Jonathan Egan) taught me about the body mapping technique of meditation. This is supposed to last about 12-minutes, but I find 20-minutes is the shortest time that I take. It is a process of concentrating on various parts of your body, in a defined route (the map), that allows you to purge the negativity from your mind. In my experience of this, my mind wanders from the map and I start thinking about my problems. The really fantastic part of this is that I can return to the body part that I was concentrating on, therefore returning to the map. This allows me to regain my focus on the meditation. Plus, there is a definite end to the meditation. It is always the same. There is a comfort in having a repetitive system. By accepting that my mind will wander into the things that are doubling me as part of my meditation, and my ability to return to the map, I have now asserted control over my situation. This spills across into the rest of my life.
Control reduces worry.
Once I have completed my meditation (I do not set a time limit), I take my journal and pen and start to write. As I mentioned in a previous post XX I start with gratitude for something, then what I want to achieve in the day, followed by affirmations. One of my affirmations is to be healthy. Parts of my body are sick, but I want the rest of it to be healthy. The next part of my journaling is to document what happened in the previous day, what will happen today, and most importantly to put what is troubling me on paper. This is very therapeutic and forces you to be more than emotional about what is causing you grief. By writing you realise that it may not be as bad as you think. If it is bad, then you will be able to find a way of accepting the negative and move on. Somedays this is very quick, and on days like Sunday and Monday, it takes longer.
This system works for me. It helps me get through the dark days when I find my situation unbearable. These days are a fact of my life, and I have found a way that helps me to move through the crisis. I do not ignore it but face it head-on. Pulling it apart, and solving each of the small parts of the big problem. Multiple Sclerosis and chronic headaches are permanently in my life, and I have had to find a way of ensuring that they do not dominate it (See Tip 1 Master your illness, otherwise it will be your Master).
I have decided, again, that my number 1 priority in life is to respect my illness and to not do anything that will make it worse. With this as my focus, and not work, I am much happier today than I was at the beginning of the week. The demons of Sunday & Monday are gone, and I am much happier. The meditation and journaling worked.
Now, once I post this on my site, I will light a fire, sit down with my partner on the couch, and once again be grateful for the things that I have.
The dark days make the bright days, brighter.