Relaxing into the journey of recovery

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If you knew you were going to recover, how would that affect you?

Perhaps you could relax a bit more and enjoy some of the everyday moments, because this whole situation is temporary.

You’d still have to do all the things needed to recover, but that stressful worry that it wasn’t working or that you were stuck here forever would be lifted.

That would make it easier to appreciate some of the good things that are happening, and there are some, even though they may be overshadowed by the continual challenges.

Maybe you get to spend more time with family, perhaps because they are caring for you. Or perhaps you can have an occasional call with a friend during the day, which previously wasn’t possible when working full time.

I’ve had more chats with my siblings than I used to, which I really value. I’ve also found I get to spend a bit more time in nature, and am learning to appreciate it more than I ever did when rushing around. I’ve also met some lovely people who have ME/CFS as well, who I wouldn’t otherwise have encountered.

This is not to suggest that this situation is in any way preferable to being healthy; it’s clearly not. But if this situation is temporary - and it is, even though it’s taking its damn time! - then there can be moments of magic that we might never have experienced otherwise, and they are worth appreciating. Even if it’s not temporary, there are still many joys that can be found in our lives, even if they are different to what they were before.

The worry that we won’t ever recover is a real source of stress and despair. As months turn to years, hope can easily turn to ash, becoming an invisible burden.

How can we know that we will recover? We can’t really.

But thousands of people have recovered already, from all levels of ME/CFS and many after very significant amounts of time. So we know it’s possible.

We can get some of the benefits of the more relaxed approach by adopting a mindset of recovery, even if it’s only a halfway house. And by going towards the challenging feelings around illness and recovery, we can process our emotions to let our body rest. We’re not trying to pretend that we’re not ill, instead we’re trying to accept where we are at the moment and go from there.

We can also tell ourselves regularly that we will recover and that we’re doing really well, and over time it starts to go in. I keep a gratitude journal (I was sceptical but I’ve found it very helpful) and every day I write down ‘I am healthy and making a full recovery’.

We’re already on the journey of recovery. We don’t know how long it will take, so if we can be mindful where possible, we can reduce the extra stress burden of worry about our destination, and just enjoy the journey itself.