If you’re a Dysautonomia patient, you have probably heard the term “October slide” before. It’s the idea that as we enter October, many patients experience an increase in symptoms. This “slide” affects everyone differently, but for me I feel my symptoms a little bit more and experience greater fatigue than usual; my insomnia keeps me up a little bit later, my stomach digests a little bit slower, and my heart beats a little bit faster.
Before my diagnosis, I thought fatigue was simply “being extra tired”. I have realized I could not be more wrong. Fatigue may be missing out on social activities with friends, but it is also sleeping hours upon hours. Fatigue is trying to find the energy in yourself to get in the shower, or questioning if getting up for a drink of water and to use the bathroom is worth it. Fatigue is so much more than “tired”.
It can be so hard to make progress just to be pushed back a few notches during a certain time of year. Yet this “slide” isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and the nature of “chronic” illness means Dysautonomia will stay with me in some capacity forever. While some may look at the nature of a life-long illness as something detrimental and sad, I choose to look at it as an opportunity to change my perspective. If I knew I could be “cured”, I may choose to look at challenging times as simply bad days that will eventually end. I would probably choose to sulk, and lay in bed as a frustrated upset human being, knowing that there must be “better” days ahead. But this is not the case and the nature of chronic has allowed me the chance to have a unique perspective.
These are not just “challenging times”, this is my life and if I made the decision to let my health control my happiness, I would simply be sad. Instead, I readjust my expectations; I make an effort to celebrate small successes, and I use facetime and social media for the days when getting out to see friends isn’t an option. Don’t be fooled, I wasn’t always this way and I still have to work to make sure my health does not significantly control my emotions. I make a conscious choice to live in the moment, fill my heart will love, and be content with where I am. I stay thankful for everything I can do and brush off the things I cannot. How to be happy in this rollercoaster of a sick life is something everyone has to work on. Yet, this is something we must continue to strive for. I take so much pride in the fact that I work to see happiness as a choice and perspective, as an unrelated feature of my health.
Please don’t think I am telling you I haven’t cried after a bad appointment, yelled to the sky about why this has happened to me, or stayed sad for days because of a major set back. Telling you that your health will never affect your state of happiness would be a lie, but what I hope to share is that it is truly a choice to lead a happy life. There will always be someone worse off than you and there will always be someone better off than you. Be thankful to be here, in this moment, with the ability to do all that you can. Keep your head up warriors; in this life our rain doesn’t stop, so we might as well choose to dance!