Redefining “Wellness”

I stopped posting to this blog in late 2008 because I was tired of perceiving myself as “sick.” I wanted to be a “well person,” someone who doesn’t spend hours of each day worrying about how to save up enough energy to make it to bed at a reasonably adult hour (rather than 6 or 7 p.m.) and still get everything done that needs doing. Someone who doesn’t have to think about what she drinks, when she eats, or how a late Saturday night might translate into a sick Sunday afternoon. Posting to this blog only served as a reminder that I was not (am not) that person.

So, here it is more than two years later. For a while there, I thought I could forget about this whole “migraine business.” It’s not that I was better per se, I just got tired of thinking about it. I learned to power through, grit my teeth, and pretend things weren’t so bad. It helped that I made some lifestyle changes: I quit my job and went back to full-time self-employment. I left a toxic relationship, and moved back to a city where I have a number of very close friends. I met, moved in with, and became engaged to my soul mate.

Now, in early 2011, my headaches are less extreme than they were several years ago, but they’re still pretty constant. The doctors still can’t fix me, and I’ve pretty much given up on medication because nothing I tried seemed to work. My auras have intensified and, though I find them scary at times, they do, at least, keep things interesting. Perhaps, most importantly, I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that “wellness” for me is never going to amount to my definition of a “well person.”

I do have to watch what and when I eat. I do have to make the time for relaxation and exercise. I absolutely must keep my schedule relatively stress-free. This last one is the hardest for me. As a full-time freelance writer and editor (not to mention my roles as fiance and mother), my schedule stays full. I feel like I am constantly researching, writing, editing and handling clients, and there is never enough time to sit and quietly read or take a walk. But, too much work means more migraines. Which means even less time to check off the multitude of tasks on my calendar. Which means more stress. And so, the cycle continues, until I make the effort to break it.

I’m slowly learning to turn down the assignments that I don’t need and don’t want and to take time for myself, but it’s hard. And, I’m not quite where I need to be yet. I still look at my calendar first when a client calls to see if I can “squeeze in” a new assignment rather than at the assignment details to see if I want to take it or at my bottom line to see if I actually need to do so. Perhaps redefining my idea of “wellness” to include the active acknowledgment and management of my illness will help. Perhaps I’ll learn that my “me-time” is not something that can be moved around to appease a client, but is actually something important – something medically necessary even. We’ll see.

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