Reflections

IMG_1609Well it is the 4th of January and I have been trying to get on board with the whole ‘new year, new me‘ thing that happens every year.

The frenzy of new year’s resolutions (I never make them by the way) that lead to the majority of people setting themselves up for failure.

Why on earth do we do it?

You would think that after last year’s failures, and the year before that’s, and the year before that’s… well I’m sure you get the picture, we would all learn a simple lesson – they don’t work. They work even less when you have Graves!

I don’t know about anyone else out there but for me to get by I have to make resolutions every single day. Sometimes as simple as I have to resolve to get out of bed, or not give in to some or other craving because it’ll hurt me in the end, or on the opposite end of the scale when I am having a really good day I have to resolve to slow down or I will run out of energy and guess what, that’ll hurt me too.

So I have decided that I would prefer to look back at the past year – a huge year for me – and take stock of the things I have had to come to terms with as someone with Graves, and how I am going to use those experiences going forward in my life (please note I didn’t say in 2016, I intend to be around for a lot longer than that!).

I survived!

I guess this has to be number one. It is pretty amazing how almost dying puts life into perspective and shows you what the really important things are.

What did I learn?

Well first and foremost I learned that my health is THE most important thing I have. It is not to be overlooked, toyed with and pushed to the limits of its tolerance.

I spent too many years listening to my body and then blatantly ignoring what it was telling me. I also learned that my health is very much influenced by my thoughts and emotions. More about that in a bit though…

How am I taking this forward?

I listen to my body and I react accordingly; I rest when I am tired, I eat to sustain my health and I try to include exercise into my daily life and although these things are not always easy I will persevere and know that they will become easier the more I practice.

I have an incurable disease.

This was a huge one for me – I don’t do being sick on any level (which is why I got sick in the first place) so it took a long time for me to come to terms with the reality of the situation.

I spent the first two months after being diagnosed being angry and insisting I was not going to be on medication, I don’t even take headache tablets so imagine my horror when I was told I had to take pills every single day.

What did I learn?

Over time, and with a lot of research, I learned that Graves is an autoimmune disease and autoimmune diseases, whilst being incurable are manageable and can be put into remission.

I also learned that this takes a lot of hard work and dedication and that there is a lot of support out there in the form of websites, forums and blogs but, sadly, not so much if you are looking for support from the medical profession.

How am I taking this forward?

Practice, practice, practice! I will continue my dietary journey and maintain simplicity and ease in everything I do. I had set my intention to be off my medication and managing my disease wholly through my diet and lifestyle by December but I was not able to do that; I don’t beat myself up about it I just keep working at it, keeping the faith that I can, and will, get off them when the time is right.

What happens in my head affects my condition.

I mentioned earlier that my health is influenced by my thoughts and emotions; this was a bit of a problem for me as I am fiery and passionate and I am a fairly emotional being.

As I am sure you can imagine there were a whole host of emotions going on, not to mention the massive over-analysis of the situation. I was so angry at not being properly diagnosed in the first place, I was terrified that I was going to be sick and dependent (on people and medication) for the rest of my days, I felt terribly guilty for putting my family and friends through a dreadful ordeal and all of these things only served to keep me sick.

What did I learn? 

As part of the healing process I needed to calm my mind; it was as inflamed as my body!

mindfulness colouring

I went back to reading insightful books, magazines and any other words of wisdom I could find, I rediscovered my love for music and found it very soothing and I discovered that the new craze for adult colouring was a great way to calm my mind.

 

I have a monkey mind of epic proportions and I have never been able to meditate but colouring helps me calm the chatter in my head. I also found that writing helps me to put things into perspective and it supports my belief that I can, in some small way, help other people by sharing my experiences, thoughts and discoveries.

How am I taking this forward?

I will continue to write and I am setting up a support group for people who have, like so many of us, had to make huge changes in their lives due to their diagnoses.

I am still trying to meditate and I think I am getting better – as they say, “slowly, slowly, catchy monkey”, or in this case calm the monkeys. Reading and music will always be a part of my life and I am eternally grateful for the Internet with its endless sources of information (although I much prefer real books).

You never know what life has in store for you.

I think we all say this at various times in our lives but I have really come to believe this to be true, you have to be open to receive whatever comes your way and treat each challenge and each obstacle as an opportunity to learn.

Treat each success as a step in the right direction, just don’t have concrete ideas about what the destination is, you never know what’s round the corner.

What have I learned?

That although I had my own plans, life had others plans in store for me. All the things I have done in my life thus far have served me well and continue to do so, just maybe not it the way I envisioned.

How will I take this forward?

With and open mind and an open heart. I have new ideas, a new direction to follow and all of my previous experiences continue to serve me well, in fact it is as if they were all intentionally set so that I could reach the place I now find myself in.


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Today I find myself at a crossroads in my life and coincidentally it is the beginning of a new year.

Whichever direction I choose will be the right one for me at this time, of that I am certain, but no matter which direction I choose my one resolution – a resolution for life – is to embrace the experience and enjoy every step of the journey.

I wish you all the very best of health, peace of mind and strength of resolve for 2016 and all the years that follow.

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