Great Expectations

I could not get into my groove last week: I wanted to hide from the world, just stop (and never start again if possible). I was running a permanent fantasy in my head of climbing back under the duvet and staying there until, well until I could be bothered with life again. But I forced myself to ‘show up’ for everything, in an attempt to jump-start my sparkle. I did my usual feel good tactics: exercise, best friend therapy, writing, reading inspirational stories, a lovely weekend with friends and Hubby. I even threw in some Daniel Craig and Green and Black’s for good measure. But none of it was enough to shift the grey mood. (And I definitely don’t suit grey, my mood is normally red or pink or purple.)

As I spoke to other friends, I soon realised I was not alone. Whether it was going back to work, the weather (which was stormy and blustery here) or the post-Christmas sugar comedown (or maybe it is the post-Christmas bulge that makes looking in the mirror an act of bravery), it seemed like everyone was feeling off their game.

But that I was not alone in my grumpiness did not comfort me – I after all should know better; as part of my recovery I also – obviously – became superhuman.

When I was poorly, plastered to the bed or sofa, unable to take part in normal activities, I would promise myself that once I was well I would make the most of every second of life; that I would appreciate life in a new way; that I would be grateful for everything I would be able to do. So imagine my disappointment in finding out that my bubble of ‘isn’t life amazing’ happiness was well and truly burst and that I was, dare I say it, actually moping around; that I still have ‘bad’ days; that I still feel low sometimes; that I am human.

I was so angry with myself too, angry that I couldn’t snap out of it. There was plenty of internal ‘get a grip woman’ moments.There was after all nothing wrong, nothing ‘bad’ had happened, I was simply out of synch with my inner zest.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting wellness to transform my life into a perfect life, for life to be suddenly free of challenges or problems. But I was expecting that I would handle everything differently; that nothing would phase me now; that I now have the secret to life and happiness. Because (and here is my rather excellent logic) once you have had your life taken away from you in some capacity, you damn well appreciate it when you get it back. And you have a greater sense of what is important, knowing not to get upset over the small stuff (or at least you’re supposed to). Now I am well I expect myself to be making the most of my life every second of every day. Yes, oh wise ones, this is exhausting!

And not only have I discovered that I am not superhuman, it turns out I am exactly the same person as I was before all of this. Well, maybe not exactly the same, I mean presumably I have learnt something along the way. But I am still me: I am still a drama queen, I still worry about stuff not worthy of worrying about, I still have insecurities, I still have off days – I am still bloody human.

I can’t tell you how disappointing this is! I was so convinced that I would come out of this journey new and improved, permanently floating round in that bubble of happiness; that nothing would pierce the sheer joy of just feeling strong and healthy. And of course, this ‘grey’ week is a small challenge compared to what has gone before, a better quality of worry if you like. But still.

Maybe I can find a way of turning off my high expectation button, or at least turn it down slightly, and utilise my appreciation of wellness in a less demanding way. And maybe remembering the range of emotions that comes with ‘normal’ life is just another stage of moving forward. Having feelings – good and bad – about a whole variety of things, and not just recovery, is, I guess, normal.

And I have used a lot of the techniques I have learnt on my recovery journey to help pick myself up (which I am glad to report have started to get me grooving again) techniques that I didn’t have at my disposal seven years ago. So maybe, just maybe I am slightly improved after all! Or as my friend sweetly said to me at the weekend, maybe you didn’t need improving anyway…

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17 thoughts on “Great Expectations

  1. Hi, Karen,

    Super blog!…….Should I copy & paste EVERY word of the above? No, that would be stupid! or should I write my own thoughts? No, because I wouldn’t construct, write or compose it half that well!. So I’ll just say I AGREE 100%. and yes this week I feel the same! Jolly Roger ain’t jolly this week! Why god knows! I should be for all the above reasons.

    I might have said how similar we seem to been in the illness/recovery stakes before, I truely mean that. I am coming out of it older & different, but not different if you know what I mean! Small stuff is annoying me like it did & i’m angry at me for it! I’ve survived (so far) haven’t I? I should be ecstatic, but the “wonderful” new world I was going to inhabit is still just the old world with its many faults and the same people there in.

    I don’t pretend to be fully fit & well as previously because I still get occasional minor (to what they were) symptoms. I suppose I am still very scared deep down that the illness might return in its old form. Not knowing, what was going to happen back then helped in some crazy way. If I could live though that again I don’t know. I left its scars some physical, some mental none visible.

    I’ll be back to Tweeting & FB ing as soon as I can be more inventive again.

    Speak soon x

    • Hey Rog

      I think it was ‘National Mojo Free Week’ last week, but this week, well this week I reckon Jolly Rog will be back!

      It’s interesting that you worry about the illness coming back in its worse form as I don’t worry about that at all – not sure why. It’s like I have a chip inside me that says ‘there is no going back’. Because I am, of course, in control of everything – everything!

      It’s great your health is still good and I hope the matching mojo comes back very soon…xx

  2. Hi Karen, I had problems commenting on your blog from my ipad earlier today – it looked quite different too.

    I think it is well worth exploring what those expectations do for you. I suspect there is an upside as well as a downside.

    • Hi Evan

      Not sure if there was a problem with the blog – it’s fine on my iPad. When you say it looked different, do you mean it looked like there was something wrong? (You can view it in an iPad format and in a standard format.)

      Yes, I am sure you are right that the expectations are a doubled edged sword – they were certainly motivating when I was poorly!

      Hope things are good with you…x

  3. YESSSSSSS!

    This is just what i’ve been thinking through this week; and how well you’ve put it (once again). I imagine you walking around feather in hand and leather bound journal, maybe the odd pair of Harry Potter glasses?.

    I’ve been labouring under the impression that because of this fateful dip in my life, when normal business has resumed I shall be HAPPY! Yes, godamnit happy and full of bubbles and not even the worse thing in the world shall remove my cheshire cat type grin. How wrong is it, and why is it that, as human beings we convince ourselves that only happiness is to be experienced when a grateful return to normality has been resumed. We should feel and ride every emotion as we see fit even if we have clawed our way back from the brink of darkness. I love that we think we can find a higher plane on which to look down on those of us who have not touched desperation, and wave from that joyous cloud because, YES, ME, I, WE have struggled and we are slightly higher than you emotional lot so, nyaaaaaaaaa!

    We’re human, we’re emotional and we’re more often than not doomed to repeat almost the same patterns. I love that you manage to put everything into words and I sit here and go “OH YEAH”.

    I think we find ways of dealing with our emotions and our crisis but I still have days (most recently all over christmas) where I wanted people to go away: “Hello Society, I’m not around right now but if you’d like to leave your name and number, i’ll get back to you”……

    Keep writing the good write 🙂 I had a corker of a first session at the CFS management clinic today (pls tell me you’ve been); I’m certain I could write a sitcom about this.. So maybe good things do come out of this!!

    • Hey Jo

      I think you express yourself very well actually! And yes, now you point it out it does seem rather self righteous doesn’t it, to think we have achieved a greater level of emotional clarity – but not to worry eh, because as it turns out we haven’t! 😉

      It’s great to hear you had a ‘corker’ of a session – are you referring to Chrysalis, or is this something else? Keep the PMA going Jo, and maybe even if we can’t live on cloud smug permanently, we can visit more often.

      And thank you, as ever, for taking the time to share…xx

      • Not Chrysalis no. I went to one of the NHS run sessions in the local hospital. It’s at Frenchay in Bristol and is one of the very few around the country I think. An interesting blend of people to say the least. Did you ever have the option of an NHS run CFS/ME service? xx

  4. The amount of time I take thinking about luxury problems. And the amount of time in the day it takes before I realise that I’m doing it *again*. Doh!

  5. I understand this post to an extent – going back to work gives everyone the January blues, though I don’t think many people want to go back to bed for a week and never come out (if they are feeling physically well), or put themselves under quite so much pressure as you do, which are both quite extreme reactions though I appreciate there may be an element of hyperbole!!

    Bearing in mind your initial diagnosis was depression and that you still need such a lot of sleep (one of depression’s main symptoms is tiredness that is resolutely very physical), and that you have a tendency to be hard on yourself which is quite normal for depressives, is this something you could consider looking at as part of your overall treatment plan? Of course I am not saying you don’t have ME (as I think we have discussed having this said to us!), and I know you have suffered in the past but feel this is different, but I think different episodes of depression can be quite different too; it comes to mind particularly as you find exercise so helpful which can be quite a big dividing line between CFS and depression.

    I think I was suffering to some degree from anxiety and I am so glad I had a course of therapy (and not CFS-related therapy, either, just good old therapy) as I had been that way for so long I needed my hand held to be myself again, I think. To be honest, I think everybody could do with a bit of therapy and I have long said it’s like admin for the mind. Mine reared its head, bizarrely, in the form of health anxiety after a friend of mine very unexpectedly died from cancer. I wasn’t worried about CFS, but about other conditions which I didn’t have!

    Anyway I’m sure you appreciate not an easy comment to write, both writing about my own mental health and very tactfully trying to talk about yours, I have drafted and redrafted and now I shall send…!

    Bx

    • Hi BG

      Yes, you got me, there is an element of hyperbole! Bloggers eh! But the sentiment is true.

      Although, I think the sleep thing is a little misleading, I have always been a sleep junkie. Yes, I need more now, but not that much more (I used to have 9 hours before all of this and now I am on 10).

      But you are right that I have experienced depression in my past (from about the age of 18 every now and then) and maybe to some degree will always be vulnerable to those feelings. However, last week was really unusual for me these days – in fact I can’t remember the last time I felt like that (and I am glad to report I am back in the groove!) And in terms of taking any specific action, I am not sure I need to do anything over and above what I am doing to stay well; and I am also not sure I separate the physical and psychological in that way. I believe to stay well I need to care care of myself on all levels: physical, psychological and emotional. And as you know, I do a whole variety of things to make sure I am looking after myself.

      Yes, I agree with your perspective on therapy. Your friend dying unexpectedly of cancer must have been a really tough thing to deal with and it sounds like therapy was exactly what you needed.

      Maybe if last week had turned into something else I would need to take different action. But for now, for all my craziness, I think I’m okay!

      Take care BG

      Karen…x

  6. I really love this blog. So inspiring!

    I have finally embarked on sharing my own inspirations with the world via photos — one a day!

    I think you and your readers would enjoy the easy daily read. I’ve already gained quite the community, and I’d love to have you in it!

    http://www.aphotoaday2012.com

    ~Claire

    • Hi Claire

      Thank you for the compliment – this girl loves compliments!

      I had a look at your blog, what a wonderful project; the pictures are great, and I also loved that each one has a story with it. My favourite was ‘Don’t wait ’til someday’. My husband and I are keen travellers and this story is so inspiring.

      Good luck with your new venture.

      Xx

  7. Pingback: Into The Groove | The Reinvention Tour

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