My story is about 2½ years of my life where I lived with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and low mobility. After taking my recovery into my own hands, I was able to heal, to stand up physically, emotionally and financially for my family.
What challenge does this story focus on?
My challenge was from experiencing relentless fatigue and migraines. So much so on some days I couldn't sit up in bed and brush my hair. When I was able to leave the house for an event I had to use a wheelchair as walking to the car would send me back to bed. During this period I had two young children to care for and little support. I was challenged to my core and fearful of letting my children down.
How has this challenge affected you?
This challenge has been a dark gift. I have learnt so much and developed a deep inner resilience. The skills I learnt became a way to help others. I am fearless around my future.
What has or is helping you to move forward with this challenge?
I tried different therapies with no lasting improvement. I tried all of the pacing advice and balancing activities. The simple thing that made all the difference was how I spoke to myself and my mindset. Before I got ill I regularly moaned, was harsh and critical of myself. I saw life as hard and challenging. When I flipped this around and started being nurturing to myself I felt happier and more supported. I found that by telling myself "it is hard right now but will get easier" was enough to plant hope. I began to notice small improvements and celebrate them. I began to love my body.
What have you learnt as a result of this challenge?
I have learnt that nothing is permanent and true joy can be found in the most challenging of days. By focusing on what works or feels good, no matter how small, brings us more of this. I've learnt that my maternal drive to nurture and protect my children is the most powerful force in the world. This was my priority when I didn't love myself enough to be the priority. I believe deep to my core that as humans we are resilient and adaptable and can cope with anything when we use the right mindset.
How do you use this learning in your life now?
I use this learning everyday. I no longer blame, shame or criticise myself. I am my own inner coach, best friend and inner mother. As a result I am positive, capable, happy and purposeful. As a parent I help my children to develop this awareness and learn these skills too. This has a ripple effect with their friends and we have created a nurturing and uplifting extended family. When I returned to work I was juggling my career, family and my health and I was bottom of the pile. I chose to never put myself last or risk burning out so I retrained so I could share all of my lessons with others in my community who desired some support. I've currently supported almost 200 adults and children with similar challenges.
What positive message would you like the reader to go away with?
No matter where you are right now or what challenges you are facing, it will get easier. I found the following helpful and suggest we can become our own best friends, accept and love all parts of ourselves, even the bossy or perfectionist parts; they all have a role in our lives. When we are challenged, we can nurture ourselves like we would a small child. We can make self-care a priority, not a "nice to do if we have time"! We can change our language and our expectations of ourselves and we can break out of negative habits. I believe we are healthy and whole and have all of the answers inside ourselves.