Feeling fed–up and disheartened by ME/CFS

Today I woke up feeling fed-up and disheartened. This is a very common problem when you suffer from a chronic illness, even when you have come to terms with the fact that you will have to live your life in a very different way to how you imagined it. It’s natural to hope to see improvements; it’s natural to want to have more of your good days. And when you’ve gone too long without a good day, or without having enough energy to have fun, feeling fed-up and disheartened is a very human response.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you’ll recognise that my approach to the difficult emotions surrounding this illness is to recognise them, accept them and allow them to be. I aim to avoid feeding them with negative thoughts about the past or worries about the future and try to stay with the here and now of ‘today I’m understandably feeling fed up and disheartened’. My experience is that by allowing feelings to be, they flow and change and before long I realise I’m feeling different. I have confidence that if I wait patiently for this process to flow I’ll soon be able to look at the world through more positive eyes again.

But today I’ve been struggling with something else. I’ve been thinking a lot about the mind/body/spirit connection recently. I truly believe that by believing that I can get better, I give my body a better chance to heal. When we are relaxed and happy our bodies’ chemistry is more conducive to healing. When we a tense, stressed and unhappy the resulting chemical changes in our body impede our immune function. What’s more, I also believe that by having the intention to heal, I can influence my body’s intelligence, helping it to find its way back to health. So when I’m feeling fed up and disheartened aren’t I risking that healing?  It would be impossible (and quite unnatural) to feel positive all the time though so how does that fit?

I’ve decided to work on the theory that it’s not our feelings that put the biggest strain on our body chemistry but our resistance to them. In the great scheme of things having a day when I’m struggling to feel positive about my progress isn’t going to ruin my chances of finding health. Especially if I give up the struggle and allow myself to be. If I resist that feeling, try to look on the bright side when I’m really not in the mood, then the tension and stress of not being true to myself is likely to have a more negative impact on my chemistry. I’m not advocating wallowing, the more energy we invest in negative thoughts about not being able to do what we used to be able to do, or will we ever get better, the more we feed tension and stress. And if like me you believe that you can influence your body’s intelligence with your thoughts, then by focusing on ill health you risk giving your body the message that that’s the way to go. However, I really don’t believe there is any harm in compassionately accepting yourself for feeling low, when the illness is really getting to you. The key is to recognise it’s a temporary feeling and allow it to flow.

In fact whilst writing this my feelings have already moved a little. Right now, although I’m still fed-up by my lack of progress, I’m already finding it easier to connect with the part of me that trusts that the universe is as it should be: it will all work out in the end and I’ll soon find it within me to contribute in a more positive way…. just not right now thanks.

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