I don’t know if I would have considered myself tough before 2008. I received my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, a chronic condition, in May of 2008. Chronic, as in forever, or atlas a very long time. Now, I feel I really don’t have the choice. I have to be tough, I have to be persistent, I have to keep going. A favorite word for this would be resilient (to which I wrote about on my personal blog at the beginning of the year.)
I haven’t written in a little while and that has been frustrating for me. There are so many things I want to be doing. There has been this level of pain that just hums underneath everything that I do. I can manage the pain and life feels pretty good. However, it takes a little more effort and a little more time to get even the smallest tasks done.
So although I did not drop out of life completely I did have to put some things aside for a time. Remember, adjust accordingly. During this time away from my computer I have accomplished plenty. I crocheted a hat in the colors of the Cleveland Browns as a gift for a friend, I worked on pages for a mandala coloring book that I am creating, and most importantly I’ve rested so that my body can deal with the daily pain.
What does it mean to be tough or resilient? dictionary.com gives the word resilient, with tough being a synonym, three definitions and I find them all applicable: 1. springing back; rebounding, 2. returning to the original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched, 3. recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant. Tough is also defined as strong or durable, not easily broken or cut.
We often think of tough as physically strong, the muscle bound people we encounter at the gym. But to me being tough or resilient is more a state of mind. Everyone can be tough. All you have to do is keep going. Being tough also means being smart. In order to keep going we have to take the best care of ourselves.
Obviously self care is a big part of life for those with physical and mental illnesses. But everyday I also see examples of people who could really benefit from slowing down. There are so many pressures on a person today. Be the best at your job, be the best parent, keep up on your social media accounts, and make sure you home is Pinterest worthy (author does not subscribe to these beliefs.)
Whatever your goals or aspirations, in order to keep going, in order to over come adversity, you MUST take care of yourself. There are a lot of ways to accomplish self care, and I have a post in the works on that (including merit badges). But, without much thought I am sure you can come up with an example. What is the one thing you could use right now? Maybe an extra hour off of work, or a walk during lunch time. If you are unable to take a walk, how about a few minutes of fresh air?
Once we have considered our personal needs we can once again keep going. When I say keep going I am not saying “Go all the time.” That is almost the opposite of what I mean. Being tough means that no matter what is in our way we “just keep swimming”. I mean when encountering an obstacle we don’t stop or go back the way we came, but we look for ways to overcome the obstacle.
When I learned I may not ever be the healthy and active person I was before 2008 I could have declared “life over”. There has been moments when I have felt that way. Instead I sought out ways to become healthier. I also looked to enrich my life no matter what. I learned new skills, I developed new friendships, and I learned new ways of doing things (like peeing potatoes in the recliner.) Those years of being mostly housebound could have been terrible (and sometimes things were), but on the other side of that I see it for what it was, what I had to do to keep going.
I can only speak from my experience of chronic illness, and I want to acknowledge that not everyone is able to re-acquire health after an illness or diagnosis. However, if you are reading this you are tough. You are tough because you are here and you are engaging in life in the ways that you are able. That’s awesome!
There are so many ways that people are tough everyday; learning to love yourself again after the end of a relationship, revising your resume and going to countless interviews to find the right job, even getting out of bed in the morning when it would be so easy just to stay under the covers (which can occasionally be a valid choice, see self care).
I encourage you my friends, when the going gets tough, keep going. But take care of yourself and take care of each other.