A series of complicated external and internal events have perfectly led me into my first slump of the year. A few weeks of where everything seems impossible, where I am anything but adequate, and my problems slithered up together and morphed to form a volcanic mountain of doom. I did not mean for this to happen--definitely not one of my goals. It was not a fast nor gradual transition; I just did not see it coming. It was such a steady slope that I could hardly sense the change. But I changed.
I am back on the path to being my optimistic, strong, happy self. It may take a while to fully recover though. The one downside of being optimistic/happy in a situation, is that, once achieved, you can easily forget how hard it can be to maintain base of contentedness. Without building buffers for sudden adversity or keeping up the routines that got you there initially, it can be deceivingly easy to slip back to prior conditions. I certainly was surprised when I really looked up and saw where I was. Or, more so, a person who cared enough to slap me around, pointed out to me where I had fallen.
I wasn't keeping up. I was not chasing my demons down and beating the tar out of them before they could get to me. And I've paid for it. I have been so tired, in so much pain, feeling so defeated and frustrated, and negative, all because I slipped out of giving my routine ass-kicking to my disease and struggles. Yes, I used a bad word. I'm sorry. It seems to be the only word that accurately describes my daily brawls with this disease's efforts to torture or kill me slowly. I can not let my guard down and let one thing slide pass--otherwise, I'm back at its mercy.
The pain, the withdrawal, the inability to move, it cycles upon itself, making greater and greater impressions with each successful pass. For example, I had gotten to a point of pain where I felt unable to exercise. The pain was largely because of stress, medication changes, and mood changes. Exercise would help, but I "couldn't" do it because it hurt too much. It all makes sense in your slipped mind, why you "can't" challenge your conditions, and that's how these facets of disease win.
Well, when I realized where I was, my first reaction was to of course blame the disease, blame others, withdraw, cry, wallow in self pity, etc. etc. etc.. But, I had a stronger, slightly delayed reaction. To go to the gym and beat my pain to a pulp. It killed and it hurt, and that night I thought, "it really might win". But the next day, I got up, felt a little better, and started tackling the other demons. I kicked my feeling of inadequacy in the teeth and started sending emails to set up possible opportunities/rejections. I sucker punched my depressed mood by trying to be more considerate of the moods of others and trying to lift moods with humor and laughter. I squashed my self centered wallowing by helping care for others around me. Of course these aren't uniform victories, and I could be doing better, but it's a starting point back to the condition I was in before.
It is so easy to rationalize the importance of not facing these demons that can keep a chronically ill person in a dark and painful place. But what is really important is recognizing that 'being easy on yourself' can ultimately lead to defeat. Laying down most of the day may feel like it's helping your pain. But getting your blood flowing, moving those painful muscles, bringing fresh nutrients and energy, will help more. Not to mention, the psychological effects.
I am an individual who is especially prone to depression if I am not exercising. I don't know why. Exercise is a great depression prevention tool for anyone, but it seems to be especially important in me. Because I can turn from this irrational, hopeless case, to a rational, hopeful, and spirited fighter, in a matter of days. At least an hour a day. That's all I need. Hormones and pain drag me down and I fight that off with biking and running and swimming and dancing... I get my body to move, my brain and moods fall in line. Because apparently, that's a routine I need.
My routines help me build steps and walls to keep me in a positive, healthy, content space. A launching pad to furthering my goals and growing past what drags me down. Discover what your routines are. Sick or healthy. Figure out what can keep you in the condition you desire. Routines are you bricks that can help you build that life. They don't guarantee what you'll do with that content condition or how you'll use it to improve other facets of your world, but they will give you the stable ground and protection you need.