This is my first writing prompt for the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. The first post was technically due yesterday, but as some of my readers may have realized, I’ve been rather absent these last six to eight weeks. So, I’m jumping in with Prompt #2 as my Prompt #1. (And, as has been the case so often of late, using one of my very limited “get out of post free” cards for yesterday.)
Today’s prompt asked us to write about a quote that inspires us. Mine is from Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
This always feels exceptionally relevant to me. I have written before about feeling less than able to accomplish my goals and dreams because of my migraines. When I get to feeling down and thinking about all of the things I cannot do, it is easy to forget that there are so many things I can do – especially if I figure out how to adapt in order to accomplish more of what I want to accomplish.
When I first became very ill, back in 2008, I was worried I would have to quit my full-time, high-pressure position as a Controller for a group of health clinics. Most days, I could barely stand to get out of bed. How, I thought, was I supposed to work 8 to 10 hours a day at the office?
The answer: I adapted.
I switched offices so that I could be far away from everyone else, and I began shutting my office door, in order to keep out any noise. I brought in a small lamp for my desk, and turned off my overhead lights. I also spoke to my boss, informed her of my situation, and began taking work home with me, so that if I really couldn’t get out of bed the next day, I could work from home. Eventually, I began working two to three days from home, where I could lay down while I worked. It wasn’t easy, and it did have its drawbacks, but it was better than it could have been.
Over time, I realized that the high-pressure world of accounting and finance management wasn’t where I wanted to be. And, with my ever-increasing migraines, it wasn’t what was best for me either. I had always been a writer, and had even worked as a part-time freelancer for about five years, so finally I decided to make the break and go full-time. I knew I would have control over my hours, my working environment, and the projects I accepted. The pay would be less – especially at first – and would also be sporadic, but it would give me what I needed and seemed to have so little of – control over my life.
It has now been almost three-and-a-half years since I made the switch, and I couldn’t be happier with the situation. There are trade-offs, of course, (feeling isolated, for instance) but overall I’m very happy with my decision. Not only do I have more power over my health, I also am able to do what I love every single day. By adapting in the face of tough odds, I feel I actually improved the quality of my life, despite the toll the disease has taken.
For those of you out there who are struggling with migraines or any other chronic illness, I encourage you to review your own situation for places where you may be able to introduce some change to bring about an improved quality of life. Change is always hard, and a little scary, at first, but it really does work. I wish you all the best.