Over the years I have had an issue with self esteem and self belief. I think when you are chronically ill you can get into the mindset of being a non believer. Thinking that nothing is possible. Even trips down to the local shop to get some milk and bread are a big task! A once very confident person can have their self-esteem knocked massively when you are dealing with daily symptoms and having to battle through days of anxiety and dips of emotions.
Getting involved in certain activities never used to phase me, I would jump straight in without a thought. But now everything I do I have to give pre thought, I have to plan, dip in and out of activities, not risk doing things that might tip my symptoms over the edge or trigger them off and put me in bed for weeks.
At the beginning of my conditions, I would struggle to do anything, I found it extremely hard to leave my house and the comfort of my four walls. Over the years I have learnt to try and put more effort into getting myself out and about. Holidays also became a very daunting task, the build up and apprehension of what might happen would engulf me that I would think about not going at all. It is so easy to sit at home and have a pity party but I have found that it does not get me anywhere. In fact all it does is make me worse, as I am then in the centre of four walls feeling my symptoms even more, with no distractions to keep my mind off them, it becomes all consuming!
I have found distractions are good, they keep your mind occupied so you do not focus on your symptoms quite so much. It is easy to loose yourself to your conditions, become a walking symptoms tornado. Although you have to find the right distractions that will not make things worse!
We are currently on holiday with a large group of friends. The whatiffs, apprehension, worry etc I had before the holiday was intense. I did consider not coming quite a few times, crazy as I love holidaying but sometimes its easier to stay in your comfort zone. However I needed a holiday, I knew I was mentally and physically exhausted after our house move which was a lengthy stressful process to say the least.
I am not at all good on long car journeys, trains, planes, boats are a definite no no and other ways to get about. I did get good at the bike before having a big relapse in May so that is one mode of transport I do enjoy when I am feeling not too bad. I love walking but again its been hard to do that since May also. So when I learned that we were off to Holland on a cycling and active holiday that sent shivers down my spine. How the hell am I going to cope with the journey to get there and how am I going to cope with my symptoms if they flare up.
I came here with an open mind, “I will just do the best I can do” I said to myself. If I cannot do something that is fine, If I can do something then great I will feel proud. My main mission was just to try my best. Since being here I have really pushed myself, after the journey I was not too bad! That is a first! I then got on a bike within hours of being here as the main mode of transport is cycling. I have even been cycling back and forth to the main complex by myself which is a big thing for me to do. They are all not without their wobbles and little blips of vertigo and rockiness but I did them.
The other day I even shocked myself and joined in on the Total Wipe Out inflatable raft activity! It was a very last minute decision after someone had dropped out. I said Yes before I could even think about it. The day before I had seen my girls conquering heights and I was super proud of them. So I think it spurred me on to do my own goal, their self belief and determination and courage spurred me on. It was infectious, I was invigorated by their persistence, so I gave it my best shot. My goodness it was harder then it looked! Getting my heavy body around that activity was tiring! All I could think of was “This is not going to be good tomorrow!” I was worried how it was going to affect me the next day with my symptoms.
I also pushed myself to do stuff as I want to show other sufferers of these debilitating conditions, that you can do things if you put your mind to it. You might be petrified, yes you might suffer a bit the next day but life is too short, I have a bucket list in life and I will be damned if these conditions are going to stop me from ticking those off! I have always wanted to do a Wipe Out activity since watching the ones on TV, always thought they looked so much fun. I am so proud I did it and so glad I did! I had so much fun, I was also with friends who understand what I have within reason and they were so proud of me, it was lovely of them to be so supportive and egg me on to do it, although they knew I might suffer after, they knew I wanted to do it for myself and my fellow sufferers to give them hope and inspiration. I just kept affirming to myself “You can do it” “You will be fine” “You can get off it at any time” “Have a rest day tomorrow!”
Yesterday came (the day after the Total Wipe Out acitivity) and I thought I would wake up feeling pretty rubbish, but it was not as bad as I thought. Yes I had a very foggy, hungover dizzy head in the morning and felt totally wiped out! But not as bad as I thought. My arms also hurt from pulling my big body up onto the platforms and over obstacles! But despite these I am SO pleased I did it.
Also being on the bike again feels great, I love cycling. I am also joining in more in the evenings (apart from tonight and last night when I felt I best rest). But I have been joining in with my friends whilst they drink and be merry and listen to music which has felt great. I have missed socialising, I hardly ever do it anymore at home. So its now given me the confidence to do more when I get home. The good thing about being over here on holiday is everything is ‘outdoors’ so lighting is not an issue for me, we are not going to bright restaurants with annoying filament bulbs, we are sitting outside in natural light which helps me so much.
My self belief and self esteem is gaining traction, I can feel myself growing in confidence. The main thing to remember is to take things so slowly though, as its so easy to let this new found confidence run away with you and before you know it a relapse hits you. So I am listening to my body, I am taking rests and resisting temptation. I am looking forward to getting back to my pilates and yoga and clean eating when I return home.
So next time someone asks you to do something or you have an opportunity to do something you have not experienced before or used to do before you got it, maybe say yes this time. Obviously if its something that will really trigger off your symptoms then do not do it but have the confidence to try something new or give something a go. Do not listen to the whatiffs in your head, doubt, negativity etc think of the positives.
Is there anything you have done recently that you are super proud of? I would love to hear about it.