Gratitude has been an important coping mechanism for me. Focusing on all the good things in my life, rather than how awful being ill was, helped my emotional state. I started a journal in June 2012; I think I got the idea from the Optimum Health Clinic’s Secret’s to Recovery website, which I highly recommend.
I just dug my journal out. At the beginning I wrote:
I am starting this journal to aid my recovery from ME/CFS. I intend to use it to reflect on the day and also note significant achievements or changes in my symptoms.
I want to think about things I’m thankful for, things I’m sorry for and things I wish for in the future.
I also want to use it to record my emotions.
I found writing in my journal a really helpful way to end my day. My entries are not long, and are structured at the beginning with a brief paragraph about the day, then headings Things I’m thankful for, Things I’m sorry for and Things I wish for/looking forward to. The journal becomes less structured as it progresses, but I often wrote lists of what I was thankful for. I aimed to list 5 things every day. On bad days this was challenging, but changing my focus to the positive was extremely beneficial.
Here’s an entry from June 2012:
Another good day, feeling great at bed time despite going shopping this morning and feeling like I was really pushing my walking ability. Apart from that a lovely restful day.
- My lovely family
- Our garden – it’s lovely to lie in
- Feeling a bit better
- Nice relaxed chat in bed with my husband
- Chat with Dad*
- My husband having to work so hard
- The kids behaviour
Looking forward to: family outing next weekend to local nature reserve.
I wrote in the journal consistently throughout June-August 2012. Then I got a bit sporadic in Septemeber 2012. There’s also lots of posts in December 2012 – February 2013 when I went through a relapse.
Since that point I’ve written in the journal a few times to record particularly significant days, when I’ve been impressed by what I’ve managed, and I’ve wanted to record my success, but I haven’t kept it up regularly. If I go through a particularly low period I know it’s there and I will dust it off and start writing regularly again.
If you’re struggling to adjust to life with ME/CFS or are feeling low I highly recommend journalling. You don’t have to follow my structure, although a focus on things you are grateful for is beneficial. Just do what feels right for you.
* it was father’s day.