by Elephant Journal
This article is shared with permission from our friends at elephantjournal.com.
I was born a wild spirit—full of vitality and boundless energy.
I had a strong constitution, and an overwhelming curiosity and enthusiasm for life.
As I wasn’t used to getting sick, I took no stock when I caught severe, recurring bronchitis at age 15, 16 and 17.
Within a few years, lung issues and antibiotics evolved into gut and hormonal issues. I didn’t know then what I know now. That these are the root of many chronic medical conditions which are interrelated and can have life-altering effects on our entire mental and physical well-being.
I began experiencing regular black-outs and dizzy spells. I found this more amusing than troubling. In retrospect, I can’t believe I was so cavalier. I was just ignorant. I felt indestructible. I got a kick out of getting a head rush every time I stood up.
Then the anxiety began. Slowly, like a creeping creature, it took over my body and mind. I remember watching myself and thinking… “hang on a second…this isn’t me. Something isn’t right.” My previously grounded, articulate, cheerful manner turned to brain fog, confusion and insecurity. I couldn’t form thoughts or sentences, my memory turned to slush in my head. My whole world was turning upside down and inside out—caving in beneath my feet.
The change was sudden and exponential. My strong sense of identity unraveled swiftly. Before I knew it, I was a shadow of my former self.
I used to excel at sport. Now I couldn’t get up a flight of stairs. I couldn’t get out of bed. I’m not talking a few days of feeling run down. I was exhausted for years. So much so that every inch of me screamed with unbearable sensitivity. It felt like hell on Earth.
Light seared my brain. Sounds made me want to throw up. My cells felt weighed down by millions of tiny black holes. Trying to communicate was like calling across two distant turrets of a castle, surrounded by thick swarms of buzzing flies. Most things got lost in translation.
Despite my exhaustion, I could hardly sleep. I was at my wits end. I focused on trying to be positive, inspired, and my best self. In the beginning, it was like walking through tar. Perhaps even the dry kind. When no one was around, I would sob for hours in self-pity.
I developed fibromyalgia—a physical pain that burns every muscle in your being, incessantly, frying your brain, your body and your wits, simultaneously.
Luckily, I had had some vivid spiritual experiences around the same time. I was set on becoming a better person through it all. I wanted to be kinder, wiser, more masterful, more myself—healthier in every way. Progress was often two steps forward, one step back. If that. Some days were better than others.
Here’s how mindfulness eventually brought me back to life. Continue…