Picking up my phone to check the time – 7am – I resign myself to the fact as I’ve been up three times since 5am, I probably am not going to get any more sleep.
A deep sigh fills my lungs and roll myself out of bed. What to do? Stretching, I decide that instead of going for a swim in the afternoon, I am going to go for my first run since god knows when.
In Melbourne I used to cycle everywhere and run around the botanical gardens. Since coming back to the UK I managed to run until the early new year but became so exhausted that any exercise outside of work was just impossible.
Putting my gear on, I head out into the early day and smile as I slowly start to break into a gentle jog. It feels good to have my feet hitting the pavement once more. A few months ago I couldn’t even walk up the stairs without feeling sick, out of breath and having to rest at the top of the stairs. It’s crazy to think how far I’ve come and only looking back can I see how sick I was.
Unfortunately this is a cycle that I have grown quite accustomed to. Periods of health, periods of just getting through the days and periods of debilitating illness. It’s a horrid cycle.
This morning was the first for a long time where I felt alive. It has been a horrid, turbulent few months. Months so dark I was unsure that I would make it. Shit. I am aware of how dark and twisty that sounds, but I have to be honest because no one talks about how hard it can be. We all show the brave face, how much fight we have in us, no one tends to talk about the dark and twisty hole you can end up in.
It’s not fair, you’d hear me say to my step dad. I just don’t get how I can go through and get a grip on one chronic disease to only be dealt with another one. Why me?
There isn’t an answer for this. It’s just the way it is, but boy did I feel sorry for myself. 27, a bowel disease, no large intestine and now a liver disease? Come on universe. Stop taking the piss.
Do I wish things were different? Of course I do. But I can’t do anything about the way the cards have been dealt. I have to make the most of the situation. There were times that I would lie in bed having not had any food for 2 days because in my mind I just could not see the point. Why try? I’m just going to get sick again. Why go through the cycle of trying to get better when I’ll just end up here once more. What have I honestly got to get out of bed?
Well, for starters, my beautiful family and friends who have been an immense source of support and encouragement. But really truly? Me. I needed to get out of that funk for me. I could let this darkness consume me, I could let it engulf me or I could at least try to fight it. Slowly I started to do things. I’d get out and go for a walk around the park, no matter how exhausted I was, persuading myself that if I still felt awful I could sleep when I came home.
I went for coffee with friends, I started to go to exhibitions and I was finally able to concentrate long enough to read.
I told my doctor how low I was feeling and she put me onto a counsellor and I started taking Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions.
I started to swim – I say swim – attempts to not drown.
I brought things from Lush because they smelt good, I brought flowers because they made me happy. I made tea. Lots and lots of tea.
There is no formula to try and get yourself out from that dark, twisty hole. There is no guarantee that it will work. I’m still trying, there are days where my anxiety comes and smacks me in the face, a cruel reminder that I’m still fragile but I’ve come so far from where I was.
To anyone that is going through this at the moment I have this to say to you.
You have to believe in yourself, no matter how hard it is. Your life matters. You have to fight for it, it’s not fair and it’s not easy but the world would not be the same without you. Hang in there beautiful. It’s going to be okay. I promise.