It’s amazing how quickly we forget just how bad something was and get frustrated with not improving as quickly as we’d like.
A number of people have asked me recently about my progress at respiratory rehab. and with my transitional return to work. Instead of focusing on how much I have improved and the positive aspects of being back at work I have found myself expressing my frustration instead.
How quickly I forget that just a few months ago I couldn’t breathe moment by moment. I couldn’t walk to my own bathroom without getting totally out of breath. I fought for every breath day after day.
Yet, just three weeks into a ten week rehab program I’m frustrated that I still can’t walk on an incline at all. I don’t really account for the fact that I was able to go for a walk outside to begin with which is how I found out that while I’m doing pretty well on the flat, an incline is still too much for me.
I’m actually now able to walk for 20 minutes at a time, on an indoor track slowly, without getting totally out of breath and my recovery time is night and day to when I first started.
Likewise, rather than focusing on what I have achieved in my one day a week, working from home, I found myself thinking of what I hadn’t been able to do.
It’s time for some radical acceptance. For those of you have taken Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) the concept will be familiar. Radical acceptance is about not judging, accepting what is without necessarily supporting or condoning it and just enjoy the moment for what it is.
So I am accepting the facts that:
- I can’t do as much as I want to be able to, but I’m doing far more than I could have even imagined not too long ago
- I have achieved an enormous amount, both in rehab and in work, very quickly
- It will take time to recover, and I may never make it back to where I was, and that’s OK
I can’t say that accepting what is and letting go of what was is easy. I do know that my life is easier when I do it though.
As for believing in what will be; there I still struggle. Some days I feel pretty hopeless when I’m ‘grounded’ by something as simple as walking past somebody wearing perfume on my way back to my car from rehab. Or when a late night wipes me out for days and days.
Then I have the moments where I do walk for 20 minutes at rehab. and can see a future where I’ll be able to get out and walk again for an hour or more. Those are the moments that I need to hold on to more often. The positive and the hopeful.
To believe in what will be is to accept that what will be is unlikely to be what was and that’s OK. The future is unknown and for somebody who likes control and structure that’s pretty terrifying.
The answer is to really practice mindfulness, and to live in this moment. In this moment I’m doing OK. I’m breathing, I’m able to walk, I’m able to rest, I’m able to work even in a limited fashion. Life is a lot better than it was a few short months ago and it will get better still.
I’m not quite at the point of saying that life is good but it is OK, and there are definitely good moments. That in itself is a huge step forwards and one I need to remind myself of!