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  • Efrat abramson

How I Stopped Being the Resilient Cliff of my life

Updated: Nov 23, 2023


August 2014 was the hardest month of my life. I was a mother to a soldier during the Gaza operation, the worry covered me and turned my world upside down. I was worried for my son, for his friends and for my friends' children.

It wasn't just another war you hear about on the news. It invaded the walls of my home, my bod, and my soul. Days and nights were engulfed in a cloud of anxiety and fear, like monsters dwelling inside my belly, which was clenched most of the time. I was waiting for nightmare to end. That's all I wanted, for it to be over.



And one day, after a month, it truly did end. My soldier returned home, and life continued, but not quite the same. In September, I caught a fever that lasted for a 6 weeks. After it subsided,I experienced extreme fatigue and strong pains throughout my hands, in the wrists, along my arms and shoulder blades, and down to my fingertips.

Days passed, and more days, and more days, and the pain didn't disappear. The fatigue didn't leave either. I began visiting the family doctor, whom I hadn't really known until then. She sent me for various tests and I visited different specialists. eventually, I ended up with a rheumatologist who gave me the diagnosis: fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

There was something calming in the diagnosis, but also not. Many questions arose. Does this mean I have to live with it from now? What's is life going to look like? I had no answers. Nobody could give me any answers.

I tried to hold onto my previous life, which included a busy schedule and a stressful routine, but it didn't work. I collapsed within myself.

There were days when I could barely get out of bed, days when I felt like a heavy iron blanket was covering me. Slowly, the realization that something else, something new, was required of me began to sink in. I felt it was time for a deep and fundamental change, but what was that change? Nobody could provide me with an answer.

In December 2014, I embarked on a journey of self-healing.

I didn't have a fixed plan, but looking back, I can summarize the significant points of the journey:




Approach

The first thing I did was to talk with my doctor about postponing the upload of my diagnosis into my medical file. I felt I didn't want to label myself with a disease. I was afraid that doing so would make me accept as a given fact that I live with a chronic illness. Most importantly, I didn't want it to define myself as an ill person. I wanted to maintain an open approach with the possibility of change.

Responsibility

I took responsibility for my own healing. I decided that I would do what I could each day, according to my condition and ability. If I woke up feeling weak, I adjusted the day accordingly. If I woke up with more energy, I extended my activities a bit. I reduced working hours, organized my schedule to allow for rest during the afternoon (the advantage of being an independent worker), and in general, I lightened my load, let go of ideas for new projects, and allowed my mind, which is always filled with ideas and thoughts, to rest a bit. My strategy was to take each day as it came, to do what I could based on how I felt each day. There were tough days with pain and severe fatigue, days when despair and frustration settled within me, and there were good days when I woke up energetically and with a positive mood. I understood that if there were good days, it meant that the situation was dynamic, that I had the potential to increase the number of good days.

Listening

I learned to listen to myself, to my needs, desires and dreams. I was very skilled from a young age at identifying and listening to the needs of those around me. Now I was learning how to prioritize myself and it wasn't easy. It demanded profound change of old patterns and I took small steps, gradually but persistently to train my mind and adopt new ways of thinking and of experiencing life.

I taught myself how to turn weakness into strength, not to be ashamed of being weak. I was used to demand a lot from myself, with a constant aspiration to improve and do everything better. It wasn't easy for me to let go of effort, of perfectionism. This process involved learning not to be ashamed of my weakness sharing it with my environment, in order to receive the support I needed, to envelop myself in the loving presence of those dear to me, and to replace the heavy iron blanket with acceptance and embrace.

Physical Activity

Walking and Yoga

In September, we adopted a dog and I took the mission of walking her every morning. I had a few walking routes that I tailored to my condition and ability each morning. If I got up with difficulty, the route was short; if I had more energy, the route was a bit longer. I did the same with my yoga practice: on better days, I followed my regular routine, including sitting, breathing exercises, and asanas. On tougher days, I only did sitting and breathing exercises. There were days when I practiced meditation lying down because that's what I could manage. I deepened my research of the "Vayus," a vital yoga practice. This practice gave me about 50% extra energy. Who needs caffeine or medications when you have a good yoga practice?

Nutrition

For many years, I ate a vegetarian and vegan diet and It is still my preferred diet. But in my condition, I had to reassess. It was clear to me that I needed to strengthen myself, and it was time to try and eat some animal protein. I did it sporadically, from time to time, in moderation that suited me. I also learned to adapt my meals to my condition. I learned to eat not only what I liked, but also what my body needed and could tolerate. It was part of learning to listen to my inner self. Since then, I don't define myself as a vegan or a vegetarian. I simply eat what my body needs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Yes, with a touch of irony, I avoided it for a long time. Not anymore. I established regular treatments with a practitioner colleague and for many years now, acupuncture has been an integral part of my health routine.

Emotional Therapy

I began a psychotherapy treatment that lasted for two years and was very profound and deep. With the gentle and sensitive guidance of my therapist, I learned to identify old, early patterns that no longer served me. Gradually, I learned to change them and create new patterns that were more suitable for me.

Focusing- Oriented Psychotherapy

I enrolled in a focusing training with Liora Bar Natan. I learned to listen to my body, to its physical sensations and their meanings to me. It was a significant part of my healing process.

Today

Nine years after I began my healing journey, I am free from the heavy iron blanket that covered me. During this time, I have learned to listen to the fatigue and pain as sign of my body asking for a pause and I respect those signs with gratitude as they guard my well being.




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