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Whilst wrestling with one of many relapses a few months ago, I knew I had to change my way of thinking & also my way of interpreting how I felt to others as I was fed up of constantly moaning & felt sure people were fed up hearing it too. Instead of saying the usual "like death warmed up," "absolutely crap," "I'm really struggling" "completely exhausted" "zapped" "can't walk, can't talk" etc... or i tried to explain a few of the symptoms. I got frustrated & fed up hearing myself moaning & started saying things like “I'm running low on fuel” or “the tank is empty” or “the Brakes are on & I’m sitting at the red light” “not quite firing on all cylinders”... It got me thinking - our bodies are rather like the engine of a car...
It kind of put a lighter feel on it for me (& others I think) & maybe added a little touch of humour. Although having cfs/me is no fun matter - humour is something we can all lack at times. It helped to lessen the stress & anxiety - for me anyway.
I used to drive an engine similar to that of a Ferrari but I drove it way to hard & fast till eventually it hit a brick wall & crashed, now the engine is more like that of a Nissan micra with a dodgy battery & a very small leaky fuel tank.
I came up with the traffic lights system to help listen to our engines (our bodies) more effectively.
Red light (Stop!)
This is when you’ve pushed way too hard & bang there’s the red light right in front of you. Time to apply the brakes fast & screech to a holt! Who knows how long you'll be sitting at the red light, so may aswell take your feet off the pedals, put the hand brake on & just relax & wait. It's no good sitting at the red light revving the engine when your brakes are on. (unessasarily beating your self up, over thinking & resistance, trying to fight it) it literally gets you nowhere, only a risk of the engine seizing up. If we try to drive off while the red light is on we risk a big crash, then the engine would be out of use for a whole lot longer. It may take a while for the engine to cool down as it’s been overheating, so no pressure - or you'll blow a gasket! Allow it to cool.
( I see this as a pit stop for the mind, body & soul.)
Amber light (the warning light) this is when you know you should be pulling into the pit stop, so when the engines not performing at its usual, the battery is running low & your nearly out of fuel, it’s time to take note of the amber light, see the warning signs & slow down or pull in! At times you may feel that you need to set off in amber as the green light never seems to be available or working, but you will have to go very careful when setting off on amber as the red will flash at any time - you may not be charged enough. You can try sneaking off if you feel the green light is coming up but be very weary & watch out for the signs.
Green light (you’re ready to go) once you’re sure the batteries been charged enough & you have enough fuel for the journey. Don’t be too hasty - it’s not a race . To begin with you may be looking for the warning signs - so make sure the foots not to the floor at 100 mph or you’ll brake down or hit that brick wall again. So just casually cruising along in 1st gear, noticing the beauty on your way, respecting this beautiful retuned engine. If the engines feeling good you may change up into 2nd, or 3rd gear but watch your speed now, as there’s a speed limit! If your speeding you won’t have time to see a red light ahead & could crash into it. If you take it easy the next set of lights could also be on green or on amber so you have time to adjust. It may take a little longer to get there but you’ve enjoyed the journey & got there in one piece, no sign of any crashes or red traffic lights or jams & the engine is still in fairly good condition. (Less likely of a physical crash, a lot calmer, less stress & a lot less anxiety too)
Just because you may have sat at a red light last time or times before for a day, a week, a month or longer, it does not mean that this red light is the same, so sit back chill & relax, respect the signs & wait while the battery charges.
Living with a condition like cfs/me or similar is like going from one set of traffic lights to the next, sometimes in quite close proximity but as long as we stick to the rules & listen to our engines the traffic lights could be a longer distance apart & we get to enjoy the journey a little more. & you never know we may well begin to experience driving along that motorway once again!
Basically.... Listen to your engine!
we can't always change the way things are but we can change the way we react to them. Our reaction IS our choice & makes a massive difference & can in turn make the journey a little more tolerable.
If like me you see doing nothing as giving up, it could serve you well to change your thoughts - doing nothing can be hard for someone who has always been a doer & a go getter in life, but remember - for now doing nothing is everything to gaining more. Take the time to nurture yourself to improve, otherwise It’s much like saying you don’t have time to stop for petrol as your too busy driving! Eventually it will catch up with you. Taking that much needed pit stop when it’s needed will allow the engine to cool down. (Helping to turn off the fight or flight mode) It is the most important thing you can do & will improve the overall outcome.
Putting up a fight, resentment & resistance is something I’ve battled with every day for over 10 years. This theory has helped me immensely with patience & acceptance - which I always classed as giving up before but now I realise it's about being in the neutral position for as long as it takes for the lights to change before gently pulling off in 1 st gear. Enjoy your journey & good look with your new outlook.
I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.
I have a few ideas on methods to use whilst your in the pit stop - which I will post in a few days.
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