Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Life of Contentment, with Pockets of Despair

I have always loved my life. Perhaps that sounds like hyperbole, but it's not. At every stage of my life, I have thought that my life was pretty much perfect. I have always felt fortunate and blessed. Oh, sure, I had problems, just like anyone - the usual high school angst, nasty break-ups with boyfriends, overwhelming times at work, difficult colleagues - but these always seemed like minor detours in an otherwise happy journey.

There have been times throughout my life when I have felt so utterly content that it almost scared me. I felt so fortunate, so blessed by my perfect life that I would occasionally think that it couldn't last. A person couldn't possibly have such a happy life without some kind of major challenge cropping up. I mostly felt content and satisifed, but there was a tiny part of me that was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And then, of course, it did. On March 2, 2002, I suddenly became ill with the "flu" that never goes away. It would be a full year before I was diagnosed and understood that I now had a truly chronic illness, with no known cure. Like so many other people with CFIDS, my life now seemed neatly divided into "before" and "after." I dealt with some serious depression in those first two years, something that stunned me. I had rarely even felt unhappy before, so I was completely unprepared for the dark curtain of despair that seemed to be taking over my life.

Those days are thankfully behind me, but I am still sometimes ambushed by small pockets of despair. I am mostly still content with my life, perhaps even more aware of and grateful for my blessings. I often tell my husband that, despite the challenges we're now living with, I still love my life. I still feel blessed by him and our boys and still find joy in every day.

Sometimes, though, like last night, my symptoms worsen and my contentment is drowned by a wave of despair. I think that I can't live with this illness any longer, that I can't possibly go on coping with the battle inherent in every moment of every day, that it's just too much. I sob for all that I've lost and for the unfairness of it all.

That overwhelming darkness always passes, usually fairly quickly, but those feelings remain as a black spot on my otherwise happy life, never far from my consciousness. I've come to realize that my life has never really been perfect. My contentment is more the result of my outlook rather than some unusually good fortune. I can still carry that optimism and joy with me now, even in the shadow of this never-ending disease. The battle is not only in my body, but in my mind, as I struggle against feelings of self-pity and helplessness and try to hold tight to my life of joy and contentment.

1 comment:

Ciara said...

Hi Sue,

you wrote - 'I have always loved my life.' What a brilliant opening line to a book that would be - fact or fiction.

I share the ups and downs of emotion that CFIDS brings. Hope and despair. Anger and resignation.

Glad you got your togas on in the next post :-)