Again, we have just bared witness as tour diaries turned the page over into a brand new year. And as such, we begin to reflect on the previous year and make plans for the next. With the best intentions, people make resolutions only to break them before the end of January.
When living with a chronic illness, however, life becomes unpredictable. Every day we wake up, never knowing how our bodies are going to behave that minute, hour or day. We never know how we are going to feel one minute to the next.
As a result, making resolutions to us seems to be futile. How can we make realistic and achievable resolutions when our lives are so uncertain, and our bodies unreliable? By doing so, are we setting ourselves up for possible failure by making unrealistic expectations?
Last year, therefore, instead of making such demands on my life, which due to my fragile body I may not be able to accomplish, I come up with a ‘theme’ for the year ahead. One word that reflects how I wish to live my life and be a reflection of the type of person I want to become. The chosen word is said to be a compass to help direct us to make smart decisions as well as a guide to the best way to live life day-to-day.
I had been having a hard time, however, of choosing a word to help direct how I wanted me and my life to become. Inspiration came this morning when the weakness in the legs consumed me and was unable to get out of bed. It is unfortunately not an uncommon experience for me, and such ‘attacks’ have even known to last all day. The strength and function of my legs returned a couple of hours later and was able to get out of bed. Then Eureka, the word came to me – resilience.
Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” It is a quality in which a person rather than letting failure or obstacles defeat them, they find a way to overcome such stumbling blocks and rise from the ashes. When living with a chronic illness, resilience is also about learning to recognise and accept that life with an illness is much like riding a rollercoaster, with many ups and downs. Secondly, it is about learning coping strategies to acquire the strength and ability to take the ride. Then, an action plan can be put in place to help ourselves better cope with the challenges caused by chronic illness.
Some say that resilience is a quality that I possess in great supply. These people see a person who despite everything a neurological condition throws at her, she still manages to get up and get on with life. But, then again I don’t have much choice.
But emotionally when dealing with setbacks and the upheaval of coping when the symptoms are at its worse, then I somewhat of a mess! The negativity and upset that it causes impacts on my internal dialogue, my behaviours and my self-worth, and leaves me feeling depleted and flat. So, resilience is my word for the year as I want to learn to be more conscious of how life with this neurological condition is impacting me and to decide how I want to react.
Emotionally, I want to be able to bounce back quickly after confronting such debilitating symptoms. To not dwell on the negative and instead more productive ways to cope when these do occur.
I am starting my journey to resilience by keeping a ‘joy jar.’
Every day it is going to be my mission to write something that gave me joy, or that something that I managed to accomplish despite the limitations that the neurological condition places on my everyday life. I can look back on these little notes of joy, positivity and encouragement on the awful days and allow myself to remember everything that I able to do instead of focusing on what I cannot or no longer able to do.
Wish me luck on my journey of discovering resilience!
What is going to be your ‘one word’ of the year?