Part 2: The fear cycle of illness

I had done everything I could think of – eating clean, keeping my stress levels low, getting out into nature and resting but my chronic fatigue wasn’t created overnight and it wouldn’t be fixed overnight.

As weeks passed a slight fear began building that I didn’t notice until it more aggressively took hold.

In some situations kid gloves were absolutely required when dealing with my fears. We should be kind to ourselves in our mind, especially when we don’t feel strong physically or emotionally.

In others, however, I was becoming over precious.

I was starting to fear that if I pushed even the slightest bit too hard I’d become trapped again.

I began to believe that this cycle of illness, recovery then relapsing again would never end.

This was not a powerful thought cycle and one that I am thankful life gave me a very hard shove to realise had no place in my life or my mind.

It was nasty and confronting to delve into but I needed to. I was looking at a base level fear that sits very deep within each of us. Survival.

Ironically, not being fearful was the exact conversation I’d had weeks before with my friend.

We chatted about the reality of good days and bad days, physical requirements and the need to listen to our bodies.

These things are important for anyone wanting to lead a full life and still be healthy, but are a bit more top of mind for anyone with a health blip, condition or recurring illness.

In addition to this we need to be mindful not to turn ourselves into a victim of illness in our minds or our actions.

We must not become fearful. Otherwise we’re at the mercy of our illness and it wins.

In her case we were talking about her being scared to do a dance class which she had recently discovered and loved.

She was fearful of the effect the fun and physical exertion would have on her adrenals and energy stores.

She was worried having fun would hurt her! Scoff as some may, it’s a very common thought.

As we sat there we discussed how far she had come.

In the past it had been necessary to avoid stimulants of any kind but at the stage she was at a little stimulation was something she’d probably be able to handle. It might even help.

Our conversation wasn’t about encouraging her to run a marathon, or push her body to the extreme. It was about not denying herself an activity she loved because of fear.

As long as she listened to and respected her body’s needs at each moment she didn’t need to miss out. Luckily for her, this is something she’d been focusing on and is now quite good at.

I encouraged her to plan to go to the class each week, and to see how she felt right before. If she wasn’t up to it, then she had the choice not to go.

She could powerfully make a choice.

Alternatively she might surprise herself and do the whole class, planning to head to bed early that night if she needed to.

She also may go some weeks and find that after part of the class she needs to sit out and rest for a little bit. That’s okay too.

There are so many ways that we can all still experience life and joy without being fearful.

Through listening to and respecting our bodies, there is no need to let fear rule us. There is no need to deny ourselves all of the amazing fun and pleasures of being alive.

We may still need to be somewhat responsible and kind to ourselves, but don’t stop living.

This is how we can break the fear cycle of illness.

Much love,

C

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