In the fall of 2005 I went to India feeling healthy and strong, returning 2 months later with an undiagnosable illness. Whether I got this virus in India or brought it from the States is irrelevant. It manifested as fatigue, dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, and a band of pressure that surrounded my head. I went to several doctors, had numerous tests, but nothing in western science could pin point what was going on.
I was scared. I had weekly melt-downs, scared I would feel like this for the rest of my life, that it would get worse, not better, and some nights I wasn’t sure I’d wake up in the morning. I pushed through it, believing I would feel fine soon, I worked as I was able, and tried to keep up with my friends on a ski day, shedding tears in the back of the line as I could barely put one foot in front of the other. But my ego would have it no other way. I had to keep going. This is how I defined myself – strong, capable, physically fit, and “charging up the hill.” Who was I if I couldn’t do these things…
So I continued to push, I continued to have melt-downs. And finally in the spring of 2006, I went to a neurologist. She told me, “My best guess is that you have a virus in your head. It will take 1 to 2 years for your body to learn how to fight it. What you need is to rest, and take care of yourself.” My eyes became really big – “1 to 2 YEARS, you said?” “Yes” she replied, with compassion in her eyes. I let this sink in…gulping for air.
I returned home, and in many ways felt extreme relief, as I had a name to the illness – a virus in my head. It helped my mind wrap itself around it, and give it a time frame. But really, 1 to 2 years – really?? The next 6 months was spent sleeping – lots of it. I slept 10 hours a night, and took 1 to 2 hour naps each day. I took baths, I read, and watched movies. Compassion and kindness for myself took over the self-pity, and I began to see a new piece of me emerge.
Starting in the fall of 2006, I began to feel better, one day here, another day there. Then two days in a row, and gradually, through the following year, progressively better. I chose carefully to gradually increase my activity, and rest when my body said to rest. And slept when my body said to sleep. This is how I healed. And most of all, I let go of life needing to be a certain way, and that my body be a certain way. I surrendered to how life was presenting itself to me. I didn’t give up, but opened up to seeing myself in a new light, softening my ego of “toughness” to “softness,” from wanting control to letting go of control and trusting in life.
There was relief, peace, and contentment with this release. And this is what life has to offer you each day. Whether you are healthy or sick with a cold, or whatever physical ailment. It is a part of the human experience, and the moment you open your mind and heart to this is the moment the struggle stops. It’s the moment you experience peace and contentment. OPEN yourself to the ISNESS in your life – the situations you cannot change; this will lead you to what you are seeking: contentment and happiness.
Illness is an opportunity for this, and being sick for 2 years was one of the greatest gifts of my life (although at the time I could not see this!). The next time you have a cold or flu, open to life in that moment. Enjoy the down time and the opportunity to “be” with what is. It’s a choice – pain/illness is a part of life, the suffering is optional.
Categories: Health & Happiness