A dear friend just wrote to me about her illness. She said that she doesn’t know how treatment will progress, or how long it will take. She said. “The not knowing is hard.”
It is hard when some part of our lives is out of our control. When our health is involved, it is a situation we can’t push through. We have to wait and take care. We have to listen to doctors and our bodies. We often have no idea of how long it will go on until we are back to our normal lives.
I contracted Fibromyalgia in 1996 and was diagnosed in 1997. I thought for sure I’d be back to normal in six months. I had always been very strong and active.
For the first three years I was mostly in bed. Over time I have learned to deal with the physical changes in my body and I do okay now. I had to restructure my entire life and I figured it out.
The most important time in my illness occurred during the first 12 months. I had to sit with the reality that my life was on hold. There were weeks at a time I could barely get out of bed. I had to find a way to adapt to a much smaller world.
But I still had a plan for every day. I would meditate. I would read. I would shower (when I could). The plan might change from day to day. But I could still make a plan, it was just very different from what I used to be able to do.
Meditation was essential. Some days I meditated eight hours. Not eight hours straight, but pretty consistently for about eight hours total a day. I meditated as much as I could. It helped.
When I had the strength to hold a book, I began to read trilogies. Nothing taxing, nothing upsetting. This was before the time of the iPad or frequent use of a laptop. But I distracted myself as much as I could. Crosswords, soduko, solitaire. It’s not stupid. You are working your mind so you don’t get negative. You’re allowed. Distract yourself. Put it in your plan.
What I was doing was surrendering as much as I could. I kept to my daily plan. Acceptance and surrender are key, but they are not to be confused with giving up. I did everything I could, then I let go of what I could not do. It was trial and error.
So, if you don’t know how your treatment will go, how long you will be sick, or when you will get back to your life, let go. You can’t know until you can. You can discipline your mind. You can make a smaller plan. You still have control over your thoughts and your inner state.
It takes practice. Whatever your job was before (that you can’t do now), this is now your job. Discipline your mind. Your inner state can be pleasant and uplifted. I promise.