I can go back and pinpoint what triggered me first getting ill. I can analyze the years, months, and moments that led up to it. I can reflect on what perpetuated me being ill that should have been “caught” much earlier than it was.
The more I researched about ME/CFS, I could see how many risk factors, lifestyle conditions, environmental threats, and initial missteps had all come to a tipping point to create my Perfect Storm.
I was also hard on my initial doctors for lack of early intervention. There are few feedback loops in medicine, so I stewed for hundreds of hours in my own head as the weeks turned into seasons.
I was ten times harder on myself for pushing myself too hard when I should have rested, not pushing harder for the right answers (though I sure did push), and all my other “wrong” choices. I was able to let go of my grief directed towards my initial doctors’ misjudgements a while ago (not before going through the full range of emotions), but it is a proactive process for me to stop pressing “rewind” on my own past actions.
The path to healing isn’t by going back — it’s forward.
It is a conscious choice to look forward at each healthy step I can take every day to continue my recovery.
So much went wrong for my body to enter a hypometabolic state and the conditions that perpetuated it for multiple years. But the spiral that got my body into this wasn’t the way out, it’s the way down.
Literally. ME/CFS is hypothesized to be a block in the healing cycle exacerbated by an overactive fight-or-flight system on the hunt for the environmental threat that initially harmed us, the stimuli that perpetuated things, and anything remotely associated with these along the way — keeping our mitochondria (our cells’ energy plants) and immune system in survival mode. Here’s a nice summary of the paradigm-shifting research behind the “cell danger response.”
Nature’s way of ending a storm isn’t by analyzing the weather patterns. It’s by making a rainbow.
My friend Marcella took this picture this morning from her window, on St. Patty’s day, of the double rainbow shining after the storm in Santa Monica, California.
Just like our healthy bodies got their way into ME/CFS, health is waiting for us on the other side of our recovery rainbows.
With each recovery behavior, we can envision a pot of gold filled with our dreams awaiting us on the other side.