A wee vulnerable one from me this week as I continue to navigate the path that is chronic illness. I know so many of you can relate, whether formally diagnosed or not.
I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis less than a year ago but I've been on the hunt for what was going on with me for years (and years). It's new but it's not, you know? It has a name at least which I know for many folks, women in particular, isn't the case (thanks to a medical system that has historically and criminally ignored or dismissed women's unique medical things).
It's defo not the only thing going on with me but it's certainly coming to a head a bit and, for right now, is debilitating (discomfort, soreness, stiffness and non existent energy levels...big thumbs down). The first medication pathway isn't working (my kidneys aren't happy) so we stop and we assess and we wait.
It’s becoming obvious that the quality of my relationship to myself is both hugely important and also so, so challenging. I’m having to be the most patient I’ve ever been (so not my favourite thing) and also I’m having to really back myself and advocate for myself (yuck, so cringe). I recognise now that the journey towards a treatment plan isn’t straightforward and working with my limited and unpredictable energy levels is not fun. The basics seem mountainous.
My healthy-for-me habits have been reduced to the simplest of things and even that is a stretch on some days and even then, they don't always feel good in the way that I would like or expect them to. Taking care of myself feels like a full time job what with appointments and doctors calls and last minute blood checks and then just trying to do those basic habits and basic life stuff. I'm not going to lie, it feels shite.
And also, it is what it is (boooooooo, thumbs down, throws rotten fruit).
The decision to leave teaching 2 years ago now seems to have been a wonderful decisions for a totally different reason. There is no way I could be teaching in the way that role deserves going through what I'm going through now. Maybe my body knew something I didn't back when I had to take time away for burnout that then started the whole consideration to leave teaching after 20 years. The burnout was more likely a huge arthritis flare up as I now know.
You know what can happen when your life becomes quite small and focussed on your health? You may get really clear on the most important of things, you value yourself so much more, you identify your best supports and pull them in closer and you identify how crucial loving boundaries are. It's a blessing in many ways (a bullshit one but still). I'm learning to enjoy a slower pace to things (I don't really have a choice to be fair). I love reading and pulling cards and checking in with my dear ones and going on long (or short), slow walks and floating in water and sips of coffee (or tea or bone broth) and puppy cuddles and laughs (especially inappropriate ones) and working with the most wonderful of humans (like the most wonderful) and conspiring with my well council and beauty hunting in nature and taking breaks with animal crossing (at least my avatar seems to have boundless energy) and early bedtimes (cause I'll be awake for periods of the night) and music and learning to be shitty at something new and scheming to re-wild my garden and brilliant TV series and fireplace fires and big old bear hugs from my boys.
I'm both learning to enjoy the slower things and also I'm becoming much more radicalised to the systems and bullshit capitalist narratives that are so harmful to us all. Isn't that an interesting one? When things are simplified it's easier to see the bullshit (I've been working with the Judgement card A LOT recently).
Working with the 2 of Swords the other week allowed me to connect with some knowings around this that I thought could be helpful for others too.
The 2 of Swords is a sacred truth bubble. It's about being lovingly yet radically honest with oursleves. It's the moment I realised that I hadn't fully excepted that I am living with a chronic illness and that it will have repercussions for all aspects of my life. I had never given my reality the respect of that.
These are the things I recognised that I needed to face and befriend. Maybe they will mean something for you as well.
What I am learning to be true is that I am dealing and living with chronic illness and I’m still trying to figure it out. I might always be trying to figure it out. What else is true is that it’s not my fault (and it’s not yours either)
Fighting the ingrained, societal and familial narratives around being lazy and that I’m ‘inflicting this disease on myself’ is exhausting and also the fight is vital. It's bullshit.
I was never taught how to be with my body in a co-creative and aligned way. This is a whole new world for me and not an easy one. I can’t be at war with my body anymore.
Not everyone will try to understand what it’s like and that’s okay. I can choose and create my own support systems. This journey is my own, but I’m not alone.
There’s a lot I don’t have control over, but the things I can control are things that work for me. Basic healthy-for-me behaviours and habits are crucial.
Both/and are magic spells for the chronically ill.
Sometimes the hardest thing is naming and claiming a hard truth. Sometimes it's the most loving (and courageous) thing we can do for ourselves. We can only move forward with our 'right things' when we can identify and know what's true for us. What's more of a homecoming than that?
I happen to work with quite a few folks facing their hard truths and discovering their homecoming paths from there. It is an honour to support, journey with and hold space for folks doing this for themselves. If you feel like this is a thing you'd like support with, I would be honoured to be your trail buddy and cheerleader (in a totally introverted way).
Lots of love and solidarity from me to you.