When I became ill the doctor told me he could only give me a medical certificate for one week off from work. Seriously? You are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, neutropenia and thyroiditis and all the time you are allowed to take to recover is a week?
I had just gotten out of the Intensive Care Unit, a single mom with two small girls at home (who were also a bit confused about life now) and I am expected to move along with life as if nothing had really changed when EVERYTHING had changed.
In the end I took six weeks off. I didn't travel beyond my little village, mostly I stayed at home.
This was purposeful. I couldn't navigate beyond - not physically or emotionally. I built a cocoon around myself. There's no TV in my house, I didn't listen to the radio, I generally didn't know what day it was.
I stopped participating in anything, in everything. Why?
There was an innate understanding in me that I needed to 'unplug' from a lot of things in my life, in my belief system and in my head. I needed to understand how this happened, how I allowed my mental and emotional health to deteriorate so far that I became so desperately ill.
When I say 'unplug' I am using Caroline Myss' idea that we loose energy by being plugged into ideas and beliefs that don't serve us, that are damaging. We plug our energy circuits into negative thoughts, thereby losing vital energy. If we continue over time to lose energy this loss manifests as physical ailments.
For me, I had gotten into a pattern of constantly looking ahead to all the 'things' I needed to do - cooking, cleaning, laundry, planning, continuing education, organising children's activities, school lunches, taking care of the dogs, feeding chickens, tending the garden, getting to work, meeting deadlines, finishing projects, and on, and on, and on....with no end in site. I was constantly doing something so I could do the next thing....to organise for tomorrow....and next week....all to reach some imagined goal sometime in the future.
This constant striving with no real purpose was making me sick. There was no time for today, for just enjoying now. 'Now' no longer existed, only tomorrow, but 'tomorrow' never comes....it's always tomorrow.
Hence, I pulled all my circuits back. I stopped creating deadlines and goals for myself ("accomplish x, y and z today, before lunch"). I brought my thoughts back into real time - now....."What am I doing now? Why am I wanting to focus on the future? The future never comes, it's always in the future. All that matters , all that IS, is now."
This was not easy, but it was imperative. I constantly brought my thoughts back to the now. What was happening now was all that mattered....."I'm standing in kitchen chopping vegetables (a very common activity for me) and this is my life, right now." I was pulling my thoughts back, out of future possibilities and scenarios to what was actually happening, no matter how mundane.
Did it help? Absolutely!
The chaotic cries in my head to "DO and DO MORE, NOW", quieted down. The drive inside me to accomplish "everything right now" morphed into "if it's actually important I'll do it soon; if not, it will wait (or fall off the list entirely)."
My mind, my body, my life are now calmer, more at peace with how life IS for me. I have come to terms with so many feelings, mostly of inadequacy, that I used to fight so hard against. I was striving to have THINGS of my own - a house, a car, a this, a that. Today I don't have anything really (except a large collection of cookbooks - an obsession I'll deal with later). I don't own a home, I don't own a car, I don't own anything that wouldn't fit in a box.
I de-cluttered my life to the extreme....and I am so thankful I did. None of that stuff matters, none of it! All the striving to achieve more, have more, more, more, more....never brought happiness or peacefulness or allowed me to know myself any better or helped me enjoy my children. Letting go of it all - the ideas in my mind, the stuff in my house, the feeling I'm supposed to be or live a certain way - has created the space in my life for me to be able to enjoy life itself.
My mind is no longer burdened by the cacophony of future thoughts and plans that drown out the pleasure of the here and now.
Don't get me wrong, sometimes I feel the stress/anxiety/worry creep in, but I can now recognise it early and set it aside. Yes, I just mentally take the thought(s) and move them out of my way - they take a back seat.
Usually I find I take a few deep breaths when I do this, then I re-focus on the task at hand. If the thought I had is something I need to address I allow it to sit there (in the back seat) until I have space and time to bring it forward and properly deal with it, calmly.
I know this is a very detached way of dealing with my fears/stress/worries/anxieties, but it makes sense to my scientific mind. And it works. For me.
Why did I write this?
To let you know healing is not easy and it may not be quick, but it is possible. It requires daily practice. Healing has to happen within your 'Self'- in your emotional/mental/spiritual self - first, before it shows up in your physical self. And, you're not alone, many are walking this path, not with you but parallel to you, alongside you.
Yours in Wellness-