Sometimes I question myself when I’m writing at the time of when bad or negative things happen. And it’s a mental note to myself to be more mindful and write, record and share happy things too!
But it often makes sense, because you go deep within , start reflecting like a maniac and are in complete exasperation when things majorly fuck up.Then you just want to meditate, journal, shift and write the negative energy away, so that’s what I’m doing!
And it’s not that chronic sufferers (ahem, warriors) should get special VIP treatment when bad things happen, because bad things happen to everyone, not just us. But sometimes you’re thinking- GOD DAMN it, this is just NOT FUCKING FAIR.
All summer, I had been struggling with a couple of common cold/flu infections due to COPD making my system more vulnerable to bugs. But there was one secret lurking demon, and that came in the form of ‘psuedomonas’. It’s a superbug known to affect vulnerable immune systems such as CF, COPD/Bronchiectasis and elderly patients who are already ill. Having picked it up in May 2018, it was treated with oral antibiotics over a week. Or at least I thought so.
I had kept myself busy and was deliberately trying to, so I could circumvent the loneliness I was feeling from being a remote worker. I was trying to create social opportunities for myself, spend time with quality friends, had two weddings, a weekend hen party abroad and another wedding abroad in Greece. And a holiday yoga retreat booked to Bali. I was excited to have a busy, full-on summer filled with fun, good company, lots of new things to explore and doing things I love with people I love. Normality was all I wanted. Interaction, human connection and good health. And it was the first year I’ve planned a lot and been ambitious since being diagnosed with COPD.
Despite feeling breathless and struggling most mornings and nights, I put it down to a mini-blip and tried to crack on anyway. Plus I had ‘obligations’, I didn’t want to let my condition get in the way of me doing things or trying to live normally. But since May, I was finding that from time-to-time, even doing my yoga or going for a short walk was pretty tiring to me. Or without getting out of bed, I was struggling already and the day hadn’t even started.
So imagine, at the end of a busy summer, I fly all the way to Greece and do 3 excursions in a row, with lots of walking, climbing a mini acropolis’ in Corinth and then I climb the acropolis in Athens; plus about what felt like 1000 steps to get to top of Mount Lycabettus. All in the space of 4 days with little sleep and have 2 plane journeys, crammed 2- hour journey trains and lots or germ-crammed airports to stay in each way. And forget to remind myself that I only have pretty much 23-26% lung function. Yes that’s what I did. So OF COURSE, I ended up in hospital 2 days upon return, because I hadn’t been listening to my body. But I was being stubborn because I was so desperate to be normal, to do and see things.
And then I was told that it was likely to be the Psuedomonas, having not fully gone away. That I would need to be kept in for an intensive two-week IV treatment , because my lung function had dropped to 19%, I would be on more nebulisers, steroids and whatever else. So having already had a long-hospitalisation last April in 2017 for severe hymoptysis (coughing up blood), I kept thinking to myself, WHY the F do these bad, almost unheard-of-things keep happening to me?
I was burning from the inside out, pulling my hair out trying to understand it all, because in all my efforts, and as all my readers know, I try to live the healthiest lifestyle that incorporates meditation, good diet, exercise, yoga, holistic treatment, salt caves, reiki, massages, you name it. So all of these are preventative measures or should at least be keeping my immune system strong right? I felt myself becoming bitter, angry, sad, disappointed, hurt, frustrated. Why wasn’t it working, should I just give up trying to be healthy? And even feeling hate for feeling the way I did, that I was being ungrateful and not counting my blessings enough. It was even harder, because I had to cancel my trip to Bali. A trip ironically booked for my own healing after everything I had already been through in the last year. It was a gift to myself. So you can only imagine how I felt upon that realisation that it should be cancelled (by my own decision). I wanted to do the yoga, be taught by experts, see the beautiful temples, play with the monkeys in the monkey forest, and be in awe of this beautiful country. I’d also lose £2.5k. GREAT.
And it was even-more maddening, because it fucked up my weekend plans post-Greece, to see friends for a last dinner with them as they were moving cities, to get back into my fitness routine, and a few other nice things I had lined up…
Everything inside me and the signs were telling me to cancel it. All summer I had been suffering and struggling (but not many people know this because it’s an ‘invisible illness’ – a whole other subject society needs to talk about and address more). And by being in hospital, it meant I missed my holiday vaccination with the GP. It wouldn’t make sense for me to only just recover after 2 weeks intensive treatment, and fly to Bali on a delayed vaccination, with a 17 hour flight and intensive exercise on the itinerary (yoga, climbs and hikes included again). The likelihood of me picking something up is high and there was no sense in putting myself at risk or ending up in hospital post-Bali. Plus I was spiritually inclined enough to know just how important signs and signals are. This was a big one for me. It was the universe saying, DON’T FUCKING GO Kim. Just don’t. Listen to your body, your heart and your inner voice.
Ok rant almost over, sorry guys… This is meant to be a get to the point of what we should do when things fuck up?!
But the point of that story was to demonstrate that:
- NO 1. Process the feelings. rant, vent, scream, cry, talk, punch pillows, do whatever to let it all out…I did all of them and wrote about it 😉
Then you can get to the point where you can rationally (and calmly) pep-talk yourself. Many of my good friends reminded me once again that it’s okay not to be positive all the time. It’s human and it takes time to process things when bad shit happens. Just don’t suppress the feelings. Worst thing to do is ignore them as they can come back with a vengeance or cause more illness in body. No one has to fight anything alone, you can talk to people.
- No 2. Be balanced.
There’s a wave of self-help/new-age philosophies that encourage you to always think positively so you can manifest unicorns out of your ass, that just by thinking well, you’ll be well. ‘Fake it til you make it’ kind of thing. And whilst this a good thing, it can be misinterpreted or over-used. Again, everything is about balance. It’s not saying ignore the negative feelings- that would be dangerous. It saying acknowledge them, address them, process them, let them out and then you can make room for positive space. Light needs dark and dark needs light. The Sun needs the Moon and the Moon needs the Sun. And erm, batteries have both positive and negative signs for a reason. And batteries are what? Fucking energy! So just like your human battery self, you need a bit of both. And there’s only space for positive thinking once you’ve acknowledged the negative feelings.
- No 3. Truly counting your blessings.
Despite my rant and admitting how hard it can be to feel grateful at the time of turmoil, it’s kind of like when problems come into you life like non-stop rain, your attitude will be your umbrella. You can always come back to your heart-centre (god I sound like a total Yogi now ;)…) and tap into it. Having taken the signs, and this is before the journey has mapped itself out, I already know that I’m meant to be where I am right now. Because if my hand wasn’t forced and put into hospital, it may very well have ended up far more serious or something would have happened in Bali. AND I have THE BEST medical team here in Aberdeen. My specialist consultant, Dr Miller, visited me first thing on Monday as soon as he knew I was admitted, despite not being the ward doctor at the time. In fact all the doctors, nurses, dietician, physio, counsellor- they’ve all been by my side in the 6 days I’ve been here. With care, with a smile, with warmth and always looking after me very well. Plus the negotiated for me to go home each day between 2-9pm every day in between my IV treatment, which has maintained my sanity.
Again, it’s everything else too- I realised there’s people in here for months, too unwell to even move from their beds :(. And in reading Cosmo, stories about cancer survivors, a woman in a near-fatal car crash having broken 28 bones, hospital-bound for two years… I can’t even imagine. It’s not just about looking at worst-off scenarios either. It’s looking at the positive side of what you already have- somewhat good health, the ability to even walk and get up. My parents. My sister.My dog. My friends. Good company. Getting outside for a bit each day. My work being the most understanding. My colleagues flooding me with hugs, love and support. Surrounded by lovely people :).
And I did actually have an awesome summer, filled with many many memories. I got to go on holiday twice. Do a reading for one of my best friend’s wedding. Witness her marry the love of her life. Swim the Greek seas, see my cousin all the way from Hong-Kong, visit ancient structures built thousands of years ago, dance with the Greek and Irish at the 2nd wedding. I got to spend time with some amazing, uplifting, inspiring women with incredible personalities on a fun-filled hen-weekend. And this was despite my condition. So it’s not nothing.
- No 4 Unwavering Trust
Steady trust is SO important. In spite of it all seeming to come crashing down, the feelings can be very intense at the time. But that’s why the processing of feelings is important. Because it has to be released somehow, somewhere. The universe, they say, is self-correcting, it does things in divine timing or order so that longer-term, it works out better for you. You just have to see it that way and try to take the misfortune, turning it into a lesson, opportunity or gift. This may not happen in an instant, it can take some time, days, months, weeks, years, but you’ll get there. There shouldn’t be a timeline anyway on someone learning and healing, it’s just effort you have to put in, to have that perspective and to try see it that way. Mind muscles can be a bit harder to work with than physical muscles, but it’s not impossible once you start.
Anyway it has taken me years of experience and inner work to realise these things and I’ve explored lots of different ways of thinking, rationalising and being, but each time, at least it’s evolution regardless. And everyone is on their own little (or BIG) journey, so no way is the right or wrong way. You just have to find what works for you.