Creating confidence through chronic illness is an up and down process. We often cannot do as much as we used to be able to do, across many facets of our lives. Once we’ve built ourselves up, something else may come along and throw us back down again. However, this seems to be just the way life is, it is a roller-coaster. We can make a choice to stay strong, to look for the silver lining. When I catch myself being afraid of the future, I remind myself that I should instead focus on my next step.
In order to get through difficult times, I pay attention to things that I can look forward to each day. For example, my morning coffee, writing for my blog, having the time to read or paint when my mind and body permits. I practice mindfulness. I look for little bits of inspiration, Pinterest is a great one for that. I really enjoy reading various blogs on WordPress. I admire the stories and posts; the various topics people write about; the insightful discussions that ensue; and love the supportive community.
Symbols are a strong motivator and coping mechanism for me. When I was going through different struggles in the past, I bought myself an arrow necklace. For me, the arrow symbolizes strength, focus and determination. When I wore it, the necklace gave me confidence to keep trying – that no matter what difficulties I faced, I had to just keep aiming forward. It worked. Another symbol is the Phoenix, the mythical creature whose core is in line with Maya Angelou’s great poem, “Still I Rise”. An anchor reminds me to stay focused on the present, to be mindful, and just do what I can for now. The wildflower, the symbol of persistence and independence from which I named my blog, are flowers that grow and flourish no matter what environments or situations they face.
I’m not going to pretend that it isn’t difficult. Some days, I am forced to lay there and do nothing because the brain fog is too much. There are days where I cannot seem to read, write or watch television. It is scary when it gradually becomes more and more difficult to use my right hand. It hinders tasks that should require little effort, such as writing, eating, holding items. At least I am able to use my left hand though. I am teaching myself to use my left hand more and more. I have an appointment with an ME/CFS specialist soon, which may give me the means to partake in a hospital program with rehabilitation rates up to 80% improvement. I am in a very supportive group on Facebook, where people with ME talk about what they are going through, or share various applicable memes. It is a confusing illness, so it’s nice to know that we have each others’ understanding and empathy through similar situations.
“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
At the end of the day, everybody is facing their own battles. Ones that we may or may not know about, whether internal or external. To put it into perspective, there are always going to be people who are better off than you, but there are always going to be people who are worse off than you too. It’s imperative that we encourage support – whether this means being happy for others when good things happen to them, or being there for others when they need it. Also imperative, is to find coping mechanisms that work for you. Pay attention to things that give you strength, help make you happy, or that build up your confidence from within.