“Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.” – Wayne Dyer
The previous quote is one that I know well. I spend my mornings reminding myself of this. Often I tell myself, “Take a look at your life right now. It is pretty wonderful isn’t it?” It is certainly not perfect, but I have so much to be grateful for. I don’t know if it is because I live with a chronic condition or if it is just my personality, but especially this time of year, I find it so hard to remember this by the end of the day.
Due to the changing season, we live with fewer daylight hours than we did a few months ago. In spite of that, fall is always a busy season for most people. Kids go back to school, committees and groups begin again and there is clean up to do in the yard and getting the house ready for the upcoming holiday season. I always find this time of year overwhelming. I start out September by taking out my light therapy machine and increasing my vitamin D level. This usually helps me to feel pretty good throughout my day. I go to meetings, clean the house, do some art and manage to function quite well. What I have been finding the past few weeks though, is that by the time evening comes around, I forget about how wonderful my present moment is and start to catastrophize everything under the sun.
The other day, I left early in the morning to do a bunch of errands, ran a meeting for 20 people, did some banking and drove through insane traffic on the way home. What normally would be a 30 minute drive, took my an hour and a half. I finally got home and walked in the house. My brain instantly started telling me that the house was messy, I needed to do laundry, I forgot to pick up coffee cream and on and on. I became so upset with myself because I felt I was dropping the ball. And because it had been such a long day, I did not have any energy to do any of those things. So I started to think about what I would do tomorrow when I had more energy. I then became really anxious because my tomorrow was already daunting with all of the tasks I had assigned to it. I then spiraled into thinking my MS is getting worse because I am anxious and so tired. That is when I required an intervention. Luckily, my husband came in and spoke to me about all of the things that I had done that day. Of course I was tired. He told me that I needed to think about how my life was in the present moment. I was tired but look how much I had accomplished. Also, he pointed out that he was exhausted just hearing about my plans for the next day. We came up with a plan that I would assess how I felt in the morning and accomplish what I could. And that was enough. I am also going to tell myself after a long day on the way home that the house will have things in it that need to be done. But I am tired and have to live with it until a future time. I often feel guilty that my husband and other people have to help me through these times. I am also going to let go of that guilt if I can as it is just something that is needed at these times for me.
The next day I did some research into MS and fatigue and anxiety. Statistics show that 2/3 of people living with MS suffer from anxiety and fatigue. I found a good analogy that was relevant for me seeing as it related to the traffic nightmare I had dealt with the day before. It explained that as MS progresses, people develop more and more lesions or roadblocks in their nervous system. Pathways become damaged so the messages need to keep being rerouted to get the result you are searching for. It is just like how exhausted I was after the long drive home. That is how my body feels after having to reroute messages all day long. It causes my symptoms to be exacerbated by late in the day. Unfortunately, two of my symptoms are fatigue and anxiety. Hopefully this knowledge will allow me to be kinder to myself when I get into that spiral. Another thing I will do is talk to my psychologist about this trend with me next week. Perhaps she can provide me with some insight into possible ways to deal with this situation.
The bottom line is, all of this takes work. It takes work to identify trends that are happening with yourself. And it also takes self-compassion to not beat yourself up about these changes in your energy and anxiety. I know I will get through this. That is something I have gained over the years. The knowledge that this will pass. I will spend my evenings looking at how great my life is. Even with crippling anxiety at times. I have a support system to help me through it. The future has no guarantees. The only moment is the now and the now is pretty amazing.