It doesn’t have to be that way!
When you have a chronic illness like ME/CFS there are many mornings when you wake up and just know that you’re not doing as well as your normal. Or sometimes your very important morning routine gets interrupted and you just know that it’s going to affect your carefully rationed energy for the rest of the day. In those moments there is a sinking feeling. Almost a fresh sense of grieving. The knowing that you’re not even going to be able to have the limited life that you’ve tried to adapt to. The knowing that there is going to be more suffering today. And we tend to tell ourselves ‘Today is going to be bad day’. In some ways that’s adaptive, we have to plan how to manage with less energy and more pain, but in other ways it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy that doesn’t even give us a chance to not have a miserable day.
I’d like to invite you all to rewrite the script. I now try and tell myself ‘Today is going to be a day of rest and self-care’. This may still be disappointing; I may still feel frustrated about what I might not be able to do today. And it’s really important to allow myself to have those feeling, to acknowledge them with self-compassion, but then I let them flow and let them go. I’ve learned that it really isn’t helpful to let my thoughts keep me hooked into those feelings. If I approach the day with a mind-set of ‘it’s going to be a bad day’, I get stuck having one. I’ve learned that there is a better way.
As well as telling myself that today is going to be a day of rest and self-care, I set myself a couple of challenges. I challenge myself to practise self-compassion all day and I challenge myself to wait and see. I also choose to trust that I am now very skilled at making the best of things. I trust that with really good self-care and careful pacing I might just be able to do a little more than I think I’ll be able to do. I also trust that if I stay relaxed and open, there will still be lots of little moments that I can enjoy.
If my original ‘bad day’ thought comes before my morning practices I tell myself that I might feel better after doing them, as I usually do. I remind myself not to assess my wellbeing until after my morning practices. Sometimes I can wake up feeling groggy and unwell when I sleep a little too long, or get woken in the wrong stage of my sleep cycle and it’s easy to jump to conclusions that it’s a bad ME day when it isn’t. My morning practices normally put this right.
I also make sure that I do my gratitude practice or listen to an uplifting guided meditation.
Sometimes though, I really am having a bad day. If I’m crashing, my brain chemistry gets affected, which brings me to a kind of joyless state. That’s where my self-compassion challenge comes into its own. Gratitude or uplifting meditations may not touch me when I’m feeling like this, but I know that I don’t need to add to my misery with any unhelpful mental commentary so I just choose to be really kind to myself and wait for the worst to pass.
How do you deal with those thoughts of ‘it’s going to be a bad day’? Do you have any more tips to share?
Image courtesy of anankkml at Yayimages.com