I couldn’t help giggling a little to myself when I wrote this title – those who know me well are probably aware that I’m not much of a runner either of sprints OR marathons. And certainly not at the moment! But the beauty of the phrase – however over used – is that it immediately conveys exactly what it is that I’m having to come to terms with day after day. Moving towards more vibrant health and energy from a diagnosis of ME/CFS is a long and slow process which simply can’t be rushed.
The past month has brought this home to me very clearly. My wonderful trip to New Zealand really helped to recharge my batteries. I returned to the UK in January this year with a renewed energy and zest for living. It was wonderful to reconnect with friends and family and to begin to look towards the future and make plans. When I last updated my blog a month ago I talked about what was ready to come out of hibernation in my life, what was blossoming and what parts were staying tightly furled and saying ‘too soon’. I recognised that social activity was still really exhausting for me and that I needed to spend more time quietly and on my own. And by and large I have followed my own advice – limiting my interactions with people when energy levels are low, and planning carefully for the times when I know that I’ll be in social settings. I’ve even begun to learn how to sit quietly and allow others to do more of the talking – a very new concept for me!
But even with these changes in activity and behaviours I’m still not quite back to the energy levels I had when I first returned. And that is where I really have to understand that moving towards recovery from ME/CFS is a slow process which doesn’t follow a straight line of progression.
Thankfully I have something other than running to help me understand this more clearly (!). At the end of February I decided to join a slimming club to help me to lose weight. I have for years been a little curvier than I felt comfortable with, but more importantly I recognised that my fatigue could only be improved by not having a lot of unnecessary extra weight to move around. Anyone who has ever managed a sustained weight loss will recognise that it will really only succeed if you keep making choices that support the weight loss goal. It’s the small decisions that you make day after day to opt for eating something healthy that begin to add up. Little by little these choices begin to be seen as weight loss.
And I have begun to understand that the road towards increased energy and vitality is just like weight loss. I can’t just do a few big resting sessions and hope that I’ll bound back to full health. It is the choices that I make day after day that will make the big difference. It is the commitment to myself and my health that ensure that every single day, without fail, I spend time in meditation, I take a gentle walk in nature, I find settings that interest me to photograph, and I find things to be grateful for in my life. It’s the choices I make day after day to take time to rest, to go to bed at a reasonable hour, to limit my time on the computer, to pace myself so that I don’t do too much in a day, and to limit the amount of time that I spend in social situations that will eventually show themselves as renewed energy and vitality. And just like when losing weight there will be a time when an optimal food choice isn’t available – or you simply decide to eat that pudding and enjoy it, there are times when I push myself a little harder than might be wise so that I can enjoy a much awaited event. And in the same way that the food choices might show themselves on the scale temporarily, but in the long term the balance of healthy decisions shows itself in healthy, sustainable weight loss, I am sure that the daily disciplines I work with will, in the long term show themselves in improved health and vitality.
It’s not always been easy – and I have had times when I’ve felt real frustration and sadness that once again I’m feeling fatigued. But I’m staying hopeful and still making plans to slowly be able to return back to teaching specialised One to One and small group yoga sessions from my home yoga studio. Next month I’m doing 4 days intensive training in Restorative Yoga to add to my skills and to prepare for a new way of teaching. It will be tiring for me at this stage of my recovery, and I’ll have to plan rests carefully around it, but I’m led to believe running a marathon is a bit hard too!