Day 85: Relapse

Being grateful for the lovely Katie Manning’s words on relapses:

Relapse, crash, setback, flare up, blip. Whatever I’ve called them in the past, there’s no sugar-coating this one.

It’s a biggie.

The biggest one I’ve had for months and months.

One where I can barely get out of bed. Where behind my eyes hurts so much I can’t have the big light on once it gets dark at 4pm, I can’t read or watch TV for very long, I can barely look at my phone or laptop screen. Where I can’t tolerate noise, the neighbourhood’s barking dogs and car alarms go right through me, I have to ask my parents to speak quietly, and when I can watch a bit of telly the volume is barely audible.

Where my brain is so foggy I can’t think straight, I can’t remember anything, and I can’t cope with any conversation. Where I can’t make the simplest of decisions, like when mum asks me what kind of tea I’d like, or what I fancy for dinner. Where the slightest thing makes me cry, a hug from my nephews, a supportive text from a friend, a kind comment on my blog.

And as a friend and fellow CFS sufferer tells me, when we’re feeling wiped out our body struggles to produce natural energy, and our fight or flight mode kicks in. Which means that any slight stress, worry or concern is blown up to epic proportions, and wipes me out even more.

It’s no wonder my spirits have spiralled downwards and feelings of frustration, disappointment, panic and fear start to show up.

I’ve been kindly reminded by a dear friend that it’s ok to let my world stop for a while. And this is what I’ve been doing for a few days now.

As I slowly start to build up a little energy, I reached into my healing tool kit and pulled out the lovely Katie Manning. Not literally of course, but the tools I’ve gathered from her fabulous website Conquering Fear Spiritually.

Having fully recovered from CFS, Katie has created a positive and inspiring place for sufferers to dip into: blog posts, vlogs, e:books, and she’s even recently published a book on her story.

LIttle Book of relapse

As I reread her wonderfully helpful The Little CFS Book of Relapse e:book and watched her vlog Can Relapsing Really Be A Good Thing?, Katie gently and lovingly reminded me of the following:

1. To understand that this relapse is what I needed for my body to tell me to slow down, that I was going a little too fast, pushing myself a little too much – and this is very true with the build up of all the kindness activity I’ve been doing recently, especially with my Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar and my fun but exhausting afternoon with BBC Radio Nottingham.

2. To remember I have two choices: I can let myself be sucked under or I can accept that it’s happened and use this relapse as a lesson to optimise my wellbeing. I need to be careful not to dwell on it or fight it or beat myself up about it, but to gently accept it and let it be. Much easier said than done, but I get there in the end! And I keep this fabulous cartoon by my bed to remind me of this:


3. To accept that this is just a small setback on my road to recovery. While it feels like I’ve taken two steps forward and one step back, it’s the two steps forward that count. That it’s actually a measure of progress and is here to teach me something. To now look back with curiousity at what I did before the relapse and learn from it. And to keep moving forward.

My short time spent refamiliarising myself with lovely Katie’s words was like a injection of positivity directly in my bloodstream.

My spirits are instantly lifted, my hope is restored, and I have renewed faith that I am making progress, be it teeny weeny baby step style progress but it’s progress and I’ll take it thank you very much.

Thankfully my symptoms are slowly easing little by little, day by day. I’m now managing to read a little bit more, sit through a film in one sitting, and write this post, even though it’s taken me a few days.

I have a couple of fun things planned for this week, that I have been really looking forward to and am reluctant to cancel. But if I don’t feel well enough to go, then I have to accept it and let go of the disappointment, anger and frustration. It’s not going to be easy, but I have to be gentle and kind to myself and take the necessary time and space to heal and recover.

As I continue to gently ride this wave, I am in complete trust that this too shall pass. I accept that getting back to where I was before this relapse may take a while. But I’ll get there. I  know I will.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for the lovely Katie Manning’s words on relapses.