A lot of you won’t be reading this until after I will have already accomplished another “I think I can” milestone. There are not many things as exciting as doing something you were afraid to do or weren’t even sure you could do. The sense of satisfaction that comes from that kind of achievement is almost indescribable. But I’m going to try…
Tomorrow morning I will be getting up at 6am, a difficult task for me on almost any day! I will be going with my parents and my kids to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I will be walking the entire day and resting for some of it. It will be warm, maybe even hot at times. It will be exhausting but it will be so worth it! How do I know? Because I have pushed myself to do things that sometimes seem un-doable and then I am always glad I did them, even if it requires some recovery time. It’s likely with the knee pain I have been having, a slightly injured foot and the overall fatigue of a recent fibromyalgia flare, it’s going to be a challenge; but I’m up for it! Why am I up for it? It’s not because I’m in great physical shape. It’s because the smiles on my children’s faces, the joy we will all experience, the “oohs and ahhs” and giggles of delight will bring me all the pain relief I need.
I don’t practice this kind of push through the pain kind of mentality on a daily basis, well, just not at the extreme level of spending an entire day and evening at an amusement park. I only do this on really special occasions. One such occasion, that I still love to talk about, is when I walked in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk for Suicide Prevention in the Summer of 2009. This is an 18 mile walk, that I was not prepared for, but I felt deep in my heart and soul that I must participate. It was also part of the deal to raise a minimum of $1000 in a fundraising effort, something I had never done before and could not foresee how it would be possible! The fundraising and mental preparation for the walk was difficult. I experienced many times of thinking I was not going to get there, what was I going to do once I did get there, and how on earth was I going to raise the money to go?
About a week or two before I was to go to Chicago for the walk I experienced the worst fibromyalgia flare that I have experienced to date. My entire back and neck went into a state of tortuous and ongoing muscle spasms. I was in terrible pain. I could hardly move and I could hardly imagine life off of my couch. My determination to go to the walk and represent those who deal with mental health issues, those who have attempted to take their own lives, and those who have died by suicide was so strong, that I made changes and took action in ways I never had before.
I kicked my diet soda habit. I was blessed with the gift of really good chiropractic service (thanks Mom!) and I spent some money on massage. By the time my day of departure came around, I was good enough to go.
Long story short, I raised the money I needed (with amazing and kind contributions by huge hearted individuals) and I walked. I was only able to complete 10 miles of the walk, but WOW… 10 miles is a lot of walking. Anyone that has fibromyalgia and is not in great physical shape can tell you that is a long walk. It even rained, but I kept going. I stopped at what was the designated “mid-way” point and I was not defeated. As a person who had been afraid to even move a week before, I was absolutely ecstatic. I wanted to complete the walk, I wanted to with all of my heart, but one thing that living with fibro has taught me is to respect my limits. I had already pushed mine and if I had gone farther, I’m just not sure what my body’s response would have been. I know now, that with better preparation I will be able to complete the walk the next time I am able to participate. I know now that I can do it and that feels amazing!
Knowing your own power and strength despite the limitations of our illness is integral to our sense of self. When we feel completely beat down by an illness, it’s just no good. Every now and then, we have to do things that feel too difficult or too challenging. Every now and then we have to push our own envelope to remind ourselves of what we are made of…because every day we fight a battle that goes unseen, so seeing our own accomplishments just reaffirms what we already knew inside. We are strong, we are amazing and worthwhile human beings. Life doesn’t have to be filled with amazing feats. Little challenges too can be quite big, depending on our illness or state of health. Reward yourself with self-love when you accomplish things, because sometimes, just getting out of our jammies is a really tough job!