As part of my attempts to cope better with living with ME/CFS, I practice mindfulness meditation. I use Headspace, which is a course of guided meditations. I seem to remember it was recommended by someone on Twitter. I don’t get anything for recommending them, in case you’re wondering, and there are many other mindfulness resources available. This is a good website for introducing mindfulness and finding courses near you. This University of California website also introduces the topic and outlines Jon Kabat-Zin’s work.
Anyway, I’ve come to a challenging part of the Headspace programme which is designed to help people accept change in their lives. As part of the meditation, the question is asked, “How would you feel if you knew that today was definitely your very last day?” Yes, cheerful stuff. I asked myself the question and got quite upset. Now, as it is, I’m not someone who deals well with the concept of death . When I asked myself this question, I felt really angry. A string of expletives shot through my head and my eyes pricked with tears as I thought of all the things that I want to do but have not yet done as I have felt too unwell. I’m not talking about climbing Kilimanjaro or swimming with dolphins but things that really matter to me, like being able to do fun, active things with my daughter, like having a successful relationship, like making the most of my talents. So if today was my very last day, to be quite honest, I would feel angry, cheated, extremely sad and as though I had generally failed.
Are you ok? Are you feeling utterly miserable? Or are you just annoyed with me because I’m moaning and feeling sorry for myself? Well, I’m getting to the good bit. Having a chronic condition forces one to make changes in order to adapt. This is frustrating, difficult, stressful, all those negative things but it allows us to discover what we are capable of, to discover new things that we may never have otherwise considered. My illness has been the impetus for starting to blog and for sharing my drawings online. Previously, I would have been too afraid of producing something of poor quality and inviting criticism to even bother at all. Now, my priority is looking after myself as best I can so that I can get well. Consequently, the fear of failure, rejection and criticism has dwindled as the reaction of others has become much less important than the satisfaction I get from creating something. I’m not going to lie – it’s still there, but it matters so much less.
I’d really welcome your thoughts so feel free to comment or to tweet or email me. The next post will talk more about creativity, fear and how to have fun when you are ill.