Everything to Everyone

In January I did 2 things – I was referred to a rehab clinic for a comprehensive review of MS, how the relapses have affected my ability to function and to get some assistance in coping with the disease. I also, as a result of feeling completely overwhelmed, started seeing a therapist.

Make no mistake, both of these things are wise, valuable and useful things to do.

The net result of both of them has been good, but a bit overwhelming. Everyone has emphasized to me that my days of being a brain, trapped in a body that I ignore are over. MS is, in a grand sort of joke, is the Universe’s way of telling me that I need to be present in my body as well as in my brain. I need to put myself first.

The challenge is how.

I feel like I need a sign – since March I have gotten so much better about eating, about drinking water, about resting. I have cut back at work. Putting in breaks for food, for water, to rest have become part of my life, a habit as it were. I say all of this, because I see that there are fewer days when I forget to eat, many mornings I wake up a few minutes before my alarm clock which tells me I am getting enough sleep.

Everyone – the therapist, the OT, the PT, my doctor, my neurologist, my MS Nurse has an opinion of what I should be doing.

Do yoga! Walk more! Practice motions with your eyes closed! Work on your balance! Eat more protein! Slow down! Have your bath earlier in the evening! Set a reminder on your phone to stand up and stretch! Take your vitamins! Do body scans to be mindful of where you hold tension and then release it! Get a better chair for your office! Plan your schedule!

Listen to your body! Listen to your body! Listen to your body!

Some people in my shoes might have been able to encompass all of these things in a few weeks – but I was starting from ground zero.

Possibly I was starting from 20 feet under ground.

Do you know what happens when I listen to my body?

When I do a body scan, looking for tension, I don’t know if I have found it. I have been clenching my jaw for so long that I don’t know what relaxed feels like. I don’t know what feeling thirsty feels like. I am always a bit tired. I don’t know the language my body speaks and it’s a bit overwhelming trying to talk to it, because in addition to feeling moronic, it turns out that after being ignored for most of 36 years, my body is has a lot to say, and none of it is nice. My body is grumpy, and now that it gets a voice, it is using that voice. Loudly.

Most of the things the professionals are suggesting are not once and done suggestions. They are life style changes. Taking my vitamins requires that I remember to do so, and that means forming a habit. It’s not just forming the habit either. It’s about changing my attitude. I am notorious for looking at things like my lunch sitting on my desk, my vitamins sitting on the counter and thinking “I’ll just do this first”. Then I forget.

It’s not just the habit, it’s the thought pattern. I have to start putting on my own oxygen mask first. I have been conditioned to not do this. To work, to take care of others, to do things around the house. I am geared to judging value by deliverable – what have I got to show for my day?

This is a huge change – massive. It doesn’t come easily. Given that I went to see a therapist because I was overwhelmed, adding in more things to do doesn’t help because I can see how I fail to deliver on them. It’s one more thing to beat myself up over.

I’ve had to start pushing back. Telling people that I am working on it, and I’m seeing progress. It’s not empty words.  I’ve had to start telling people I’m getting there. And it won’t be fast. But it will happen. It will be habit, and it will continue to happen because it’s habit.

In the interim, I took my my vitamin today. I ate my breakfast before 10 am, and my water bottle beside my computer is half empty, so I have had 16 ounces of water.

That’s enough for today.

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4 Responses to Everything to Everyone

  1. Carrie says:

    Maybe look at all these expectations of others as a whole. Really they are all saying the same thing. Be good to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Live the day with intention. If it does not bring you joy or gladden your heart, shed it and move on. The product of such a day is a relaxed rested body and time to Reflect on those things that bring satisfaction to your soul. A body that aches from time spent in the garden is far better off than the body that aches from being bent over a key board pushing to meet someone else’s deadline.

    Good luck with building new habits…. Maybe try for one more.. Contentment, gratitude. Journaling will help you to remember the brightness of the day and the sun on your back. Not unlike this blog but more along the lines of a few words about the good things in your day… For today it could be….”I took my vitamens! The fresh cold tapwater with a twist of lemon was really refreshing.” Sending hugs.

  2. Chris says:

    You inspire me. For a variety of reasons, but your words resonate with me. I too have a lifetime of not listening to my body. To the point that it’s a longstanding joke with my husband who will ask me if I’m hungry right after my stomach has growled. On a good day I might have noticed (Key word there is *might*) on a normal day I’ll likely answer “no” as I too measure my day in what I’ve crossed off my list, not in taking care of myself. I suffer from a different nerve disease, but it would behoove me to take better care of myself. And um, well…..I doubt my body has anything pleasant to say to me either.

    I am most impressed at the strides you are making.

  3. I shall go and make and eat my breakfast now. If I’ve time enough to quickly read your blog while I wait for something to load, I’ve time enough to get my stomach to stop grumbling.

  4. sharah says:

    I’m saying this coming from a place where I have had to do similarly, so I hope it doesn’t come off as “something else you need to do” – one thing I don’t see in your post, is where you are saying “no” to some of your other obligations. If you are already overwhelmed, it’s going to be difficult adding all of these new habits and activities into your life unless you start letting other things go to make room. I hope that you ARE doing that and just forgot to mention it 🙂

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