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Hard Lessons

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I live with a chronic complex health condition, and have done for many years now. When the worst of it hit me, I lost my life as I knew it. I could no longer work as a paralegal, continue my athletic lifestyle, or socialize regularly. At one point, I was unable to even live on my own and was so ill I could only lie on the couch or in bed for months on end.

Over the years, I’ve found several effective treatments and am now able to work very part time and socialize a few times a month. I have learned how to pace myself and manage my condition so that I have four to five usable hours per day.

In the past year I’ve managed to cram a lot into those four or five hours – seeing counselling and coaching clients two afternoons per week, writing a book, promoting the book, blogging, creating and maintaining a social media presence, socializing with friends, acting as executor for an estate, travelling and renovating my investment property (not myself, mind you!). And if I'm being totally honest, I've probably stretched those few hours in to six or seven at times.

This must be why many of my friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances think I am "so busy", and that I am “better.” I'm not busy. Not like I used to be. And I’m not better. I’m just efficient (when I don't have brain fog). My health situation has not changed. I think most people would be surprised to know how many hours a day I still spend lying down. I can do a lot from my little command centre on my sofa. But lately it’s been harder and harder to get things done.

After less than a year of stuffing as much as I could into my four to five hours, my body started to revolt. I saw it coming, but I ignored it. I kept saying “yes” to opportunities. I started putting taking care of myself on the back-burner. I raised my expectations of what I could reasonably manage. What can I say? I’m driven, motivated and I get excited when my work is well received and I’m able to help others. But as a result I now find myself in a flare-up. My worst symptoms, crippling pain and crushing fatigue, have increased. In addition, I have developed a brand new symptom, which is not a good sign.

I recently had a few frank conversations with my medical team and a fellow spoonie, and after writing last week’s post titled 12 Signs Your Relationship With Yourself Needs Work, I finally admitted to myself that I had to make some big changes in my life so that my health doesn’t continue to decline. I was faced with the choice between cutting back on my practice, or cutting back on blogging/social media/ book promotion. After much agonizing, I decided to continue with my counselling and coaching practice, and slow down on everything else. As difficult as this decision has been, it's one that I had to make for the sake of my well-being.

What does this mean? It means I’m going on a blogging hiatus. I will still be posting on social media, but not as frequently. I will keep my book signing and talk commitments for the next two months, and after that I will cut back. Because as much as I have good weeks and months, I still have bad ones. I work and work on pacing, keeping my mood up, meditating, and doing everything "right," and it helps, but after many months of what feels like progress, I still find myself in the exact same place, with the same illnesses. Such is the burden of having a chronic condition. It’s chronic. It doesn’t stop, it doesn't end. And while there can be good days, weeks or months, it doesn’t get "better" in the traditional sense. There is no cure, there is only management.

I know that if I don’t slow down now, I will reach a crisis point in the not too distant future. Slowing down now, when I still feel like I have a little oomph in me is a loving act I am choosing to do for myself. Pushing myself to the brink is not respectful of my body or soul.

Thank you for your support and for reading my blog over the past year. I have so enjoyed sharing my thoughts and ideas with you. When I do start to write again, I will make sure you know. And remember, take good care of yourself!

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