Have you found yourself waiting for the perfect moment for life to begin? Are you putting off the things that truly matter to you for the day you lose 10 lbs, you get that new job, you meet the perfect partner? Here’s the secret: we only have this moment.
I learned this over twenty years ago when I was diagnosed with the not-so-well understood illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I had a sore throat, low-grade fever, muscle aches and fatigue like nothing I had ever known before. A walk across a room became an exercise in exhaustion. Yet, the illness turned out to be one of the greatest gifts I was ever given.
Let me be clear. This was not the type of gift that you ask for, for Christmas or your birthday. It’s not the type of gift you excitingly rip the wrapping paper off of thrilled that somehow your life – a least for the moment – is complete. It’s not tickets to the theatre or a night out on the town. It’s the type of gift you curse for ever having been given to you. All the same, chronic fatigue syndrome changed my life for the better, in ways I still can’t completely comprehend.
My journey began when an acquaintance suggested that I try acupuncture. I went for treatments and was blown away by this ancient, healing tradition. While it wasn’t a cure, I could feel energy moving in my body. I became more interested in Oriental Medicine and went back to school to get my Masters Degree. At the same time, I tried every treatment that I could get my hands on: herbs, homeopathy, nitroglycerin, shots of vitamin B12, intravenous vitamin C, special diets and nutritional supplements. The illness waxed and waned. Finally, I noticed that the illness had a seasonal component to it. It was worse during the winter. I invested in a 10,000 lux bright light and started taking a supplement called NADH. After using these for several months, the illness subsided and has never returned.
Even before this happy ending, my life had changed. I learned the following lessons, which I want to share with you:
• set limits on your time and energy
• rest when you need to rest
• listen to your body – it is always speaking to you
• ask for and accept help
• eat foods that sustain you
• get an appropriate amount of exercise
• choose the things in life that are important to you
• set simple, achievable goals
The most important lesson is to start living the life you want now. This doesn’t mean running a marathon, traveling to a Greek island or finding your dream job. It means being creative in bringing positive experiences and people into your life. It means finding joy in life. I love to cook and I love to ice-skate. So when all I had the energy to do was to lie on the couch I was sure be watching PBS’s cooking shows and figure skating competitions. The tools that I learned while I was dealing with chronic illness are the tools that I share with my patients and those I meet who are on the path to a healthier life.
Let me know about your positive experiences — the ways that you’ve made this day better for yourself. Be inspired to live the life you want now!
Bonnie Diamond, Licensed Acupuncturist