I just joined Goodreads Author Program and was asked what inspired me to write my book which had me looking back at the summer of 2016 when I got ill, recalling how awful I felt physically and emotionally.
The only good thing about it is how it made me put pen to paper. I felt an acute calling to express myself, to explore certain themes and inner workings.
Although my novel is fictitious, Maria’s inner turmoil and occasional despair is familiar. I know her anxious alertness well and that feeling of never being enough, falling short or my HSP traits being wrong, flawed or inferior; often felt I had to bend over backward to prove myself worthy. Even if I know in my heart that it isn’t so, maybe there’ll always be a melancholic note lingering inside, around this.
I’ve made my peace with it, now. Every emotion is embraced and allowed to be expressed, also the “negative” ones. Then they’ll slowly lose their grip on you. Being psychologically whole that way is what the little “rainbow-girl” on my imprint is symbolizing. The gold lies in your wholeness.
How does Chronic Fatigue tie into this? Well, I pondered a lot about this 3 years ago and wrote a post which I’m re-posting almost in full-length: it’s a message which bears repeating. Here it is from July of 2016:
I went to the doctor’s office this week and it was an unsettling experience. Over the last couple of years, my energy level plummeted drastically and a variety of different and diffuse symptoms has arrived, including weight loss. At first, I thought it was because my digestive system was out of whack: I got it checked thoroughly + had blood tests taken in Fall 2015. They didn’t show anything wrong. I have on my own inclination been making some big changes to my diet all along, which has helped: now at least I don’t have stomach aches anymore. Great relief! Then other symptoms showed up, the most persistent one is still feeling very easily drained and fatigued, but now if I physically push myself beyond my limits, I am getting bad muscle pains and tensions, sleeping poorly, feeling flu-like sick and weakened. Then I thought it might be my thyroid or metabolism being overactive; the symptoms seemed to match. I was so certain it was that and I just had to get the right medication. But now a new possible diagnosis was brought up by my doctor: Chronic fatigue syndrome.
The doctor was new at the clinic; a bit of a peculiar old man with a dry sense of humor. Not displaying much empathy (“well, there certainly isn’t much meat-juice in you!”), but in retrospect, he actually said some pretty spot-on things, like: “No need for getting more test done because it will just repeat your feeling of not being seen. You must focus on building yourself back up again”.
The doctor’s secretary who afterward kindly comforted me stated that I looked like something the cat had dragged in. And while I could’ve taken it as a depressing statement, it felt more like: finally, someone acknowledges how I feel and takes my anguish seriously.
My body is a (strict) teacher for me right now, speaking in capital letters if I don’t treat it exactly how it needs. Trying to use willpower to make it do something too taxing, simply won’t work. I can’t do it anymore. I have a sneaking suspicion that my current state of being is linked to forcefully pushing myself too much/often in the past (while secretly feeling resentment) in an attempt to live up to norms and ideals of society. Well, there are of course multiple factors. Others are more specific to my personal history, like feeling trapped between “opposing forces” (internally and externally) and having absorbed limiting family beliefs, crisis and stresses. It is a complex mixture, I guess.
This situation resembles taking good care of an infant: I have to listen carefully and be completely in tune with what I need from moment to moment and day to day, and then choose to make appropriate decisions based on my body’s (warning) signals. If I don’t, then I “reap” some painful consequences almost immediately. By now I am down to feeling physically sick even if it is “just” my mind that gets into a negative, cynical or hopeless loop or “stresses itself out”. I don’t seem to be able to cope with pressure; neither from outside nor inside! And of course, you wouldn’t be speaking so cruelly to a small child, now would you? In that respect, it definitely makes perfect sense. Still, I don’t know quite how to view this diagnosis, yet – assuming it is correct. I suppose I must accept it and become a responsible and loving caretaker of my body, now; give it sufficient rest and sleep, plenty, correct nourishment and attempt to live a life as free from stress as possible. To do (or no longer do..) Whatever is necessary for me to recover.
I wish all children, particularly sensitive ones who sense and feel everything so intensely, were taught to understand and truly respect the language of their body and emotions from an early age on. It is crucial.
The Lesson or what I would like to get across to you dear fellow HSP, is this: Please don’t ignore or downplay your body’s signals, symptoms or emotions: its particular language. Even if nobody seems to understand or see good reason for them. It will only speak louder and louder, desperate to get your attention. So listen carefully to it, respect it and make all possible and proper adjustments you can. Your body really is your wisest teacher. After all, it is YOUR body and YOU are the only one who knows exactly how you feel!