To celebrate the launch of my new Healing Plan, I’m doing a mini-series of blog posts to introduce you to it. The book is chock-full of info I hope will truly help release you from the grip of chronic illness and get you back on the path to better wellness. It’s the path I used myself to get MUCH better.
Over the next few days, I’ll give you a flavour of what each step entails. I’ve adapted this from the first part of the book. The second part goes into a lot of detail about how exactly you work each step.
Here we go with Step Seven (catch up with all the steps here if you need to). What do we do when we start feeling better – and, yes, it WILL happen?:
Find Out Who You Are Now and Re-join the World
Eventually, hopefully, you will start to feel like all your hard work is paying off and begin to feel much better. This comes on gradually or can be quite a sudden realisation that you no longer feel like an ill person. That means it’s time to find a way to step back into the world gently.
Rather unexpectedly, this turned out to be the most difficult period of my own healing journey and also the most difficult section of this plan to write: possibly because I may still be evolving into the post-illness me. For example, just two days ago I had a sudden realisation that I am now a normal person. I have a couple of health issues to deal with in my life still, and am working on them, but what 50-year-old woman doesn’t? That doesn’t make me an ill person; it makes me normal. I am no longer driven by trying to solve my health problems. Sure, I get down when I have days and weeks when I feel unwell, but I am not defined by it anymore, nor does it dominate my life.
This is so far from the days when I felt I was going to die. I am no longer ruled by fear: fear of the symptoms; of food; of having a restricted, joyless life; of going into hospital and having my needs ignored; of a future full of illness; of getting worse; of losing even more weight; of people getting fed up with me and leaving; of being a burden and dragging people along with me. I’m sure you’ll recognise a lot of these, which is why I share them; we’ve all been there.
Even though I felt so much better, I found this aspect of healing very disorientating and upsetting. I’d spent so long being defined by an illness, moving on from that felt like losing my identity. It was like a great big hole opened up inside me; I felt hollow. While I felt ecstatic that I could eat more again and released from the fear and illness that I hadn’t even known had ‘made’ me, I simultaneously felt sad, full of loss and undefined; it was disconcerting. This may not happen for you at all but, if it does, you hopefully won’t be as thrown by it as I was.
A lot of the books in this field suggest that you can’t go back to being the same person as you were before. I agree that you fundamentally shift at a very deep level, after this kind of work, and so you are really not the same person as before; certainly, you look at things differently in life and hopefully from a much stronger inner-you standpoint. However, I disagree with the experts who say that you can’t go back to your old life.
I missed plenty of things from my old life; I wanted to go to the pub and have a glass of wine like I used to, I wanted to eat in a restaurant, I wanted to keep doing my job the same as before. And I don’t think there is anything wrong in that if your life before was a nourishing, positive, supportive one. Maybe they mean if your life was essentially making you ill before, you wouldn’t want to go back to that?
Anyway, you don’t have to be a crystal-wearing, spiritual yoga maniac after this process—although you can if you want to be! You can go back to doing what you enjoyed and what nourished your soul before; whether that’s a glass of wine or going to music festivals to dance or something else, then that’s surely all to the good. All the ‘you have changed and won’t want to go back to your old life’ messages threw me and actually made it harder; if you do want to reclaim your old life, you can!
Essentially, this phase is a coping place; a time of building a much fuller and meaningful, enjoyable life again even within the constraints of any illness you still have. And there will probably still be some constraints because everyone has some; that is normal. And whenever people asked me what I wanted, I always said: “I just want to be normal”.
The final post coming up – Step 8 tomorrow….If you’d like to read more, see the Preview on Amazon here and get the book. If you do buy it, it looks a tad lonely and unloved at the moment, so do please leave me a review. Thank you. Let’s get well!