Two lessons for a bad day

by Claire

Today was a bad day. I have been doing better since starting the sleeping tablets, but I still haven’t recovered properly from the last collapse. I’m still not able to walk any further than the car park next door, and I am still locked in the push/crash cycle because of all the doctor’s appointments I’ve had lately. I am either conserving my energy to go to the doctor that day, or recovering from an appointment the day before. I just can’t get ahead. This setback and lack of progress is upsetting, and I’m increasingly socially isolated as I further restrict my activities and sympathy fatigue sets in among my friends. Generally I accept all this and am pragmatic about my situation. I focus on what I can do and the small steps I am taking towards recovery. Today I couldn’t. This sucks and it isn’t fair. I am lonely and restricted and frustrated and I want more than this.

John Cheese at Cracked has written an article for times like this – 5 things to remember when your life goes to hell. There are two lessons from this article that I want to share with you.

It could be worse is a bullsh*t phrase”

I personally can’t stand this statement, as it is so dismissive of what you are going through. Things can always be worse, but just because x is worse off does not mean that I shouldn’t feel upset at what is happening to me. There was a lovely picture that came across my facebook feed  with words to the effect that saying ‘you shouldn’t feel upset because it could be worse’ is as useless as saying ‘you shouldn’t be happy because it could be better’. The lesson behind this is that grief and frustration are legitimate and healthy. No matter what your loss/crisis is, it is important to acknowledge how it affects you, and how that makes you feel. Not engaging with the reality of what you are going through and adopting a ‘false Pollyanna’ mentality can repress and distort your emotions and is just as unhealthy as wallowing in anger and sadness and letting these feelings take over your life. This is usually where a good psychologist comes in handy!

“This is temporary, even if the problem isn’t”

Humans are incredibly resilient. We are built to notice change and settle in quite quickly to ongoing circumstances. We adapt our behaviours and expectations to deal with the current situation – much like the lottery winners who after a period of happiness and excitement gradually revert back to their ordinary way of being (just in a much larger house).

It’s the period of transition and turmoil that is the hardest part (emotionally) as life takes a knife to the picture in our head of the way life ‘should be’, or what we think is ‘fair’. Once we have fully experienced and processed the feelings that accompany this upheaval we can come to a state of acceptance. Fully acknowledging these feelings is important (see above) but they won’t last forever. Slowly we can let go of them to make room for other things, like getting on with life. Of course this process is not a once-done thing and new challenges will spark a new onslaught of emotions and sometimes (like today) they will just bubble up for no apparent reason.

In my case I am mostly content and have moments of joy and happiness, just like I did before CFS. Now that my brain fog has cleared I am rarely bored – when I am not resting or sleeping I can read or connect with people online – I am finding fulfilment in putting out articles and comments into the blogosphere. I sometimes deeply resent having to nap, and I still have days like today where it is all too much and too unfair, but I know that going through these emotions is normal and that after I have cried (grumped) it out I will be ok and return to myself.

I highly recommend this article to anyone who has had a bad day: