Finding your way to be chronically optimal…

Jade Ormiston

However it creeps into your life, chronic health conditions can cause a seismic shift in every part of your world

You may have felt healthy or looked at chronic illness as something that affected other people: the people that smoked or made poor lifestyle choices; that’s often the rhetoric that’s pushed upon us by the media and yet here you are, bitterly pushing against the tide. How can this be happening to me?

My first experience of chronic health conditions came into my sphere at 8 years old, and I have such cognitive dissonance, what I have considered a more optimal time in my health, others would have considered a nightmare. So, when my nightmares slowly creep in and I can’t manage my health conditions at home, it hits me like a freight train. 

This has happened more times than I care to admit, the younger me would spiral into black holes and I would be left in a state of loneliness, terror and feel the dark loom of death around every corner. The more experienced me is exhausted with picking myself back up but knows that is what has to be done and that I am the only one capable of doing it. I recognise that I am on a tightrope between purpose and despair, and it’s only me that holds the keys to changing that mindset. 

I don’t say that lightly, some days I wish to scream and shout, and I am angry at the world. I don’t suppress this, and I don’t discount these feelings, it’s important to hear them. On other days I feel like I may drown in a well of my own tears, but again it’s a natural process of getting through this, and the important part is to not sit in sadness for too long. 

It’s looking for the glimmers, the microscopic joys in the everyday – at my worst in critical care, this was the feel of a damp sponge on a brittle and desolate mouth and today it’s where I can hold my son and husband, hear bird song, the trees and feel laughter in my soul.

It’s not easy to move forward, and even during the calmer stages it can feel safer to stick in the zone we know, taking tiny steps can feel exhausting for little benefit and chronic conditions are not linear, they don’t follow a neat recovery. Even remission periods from illnesses like cancer, IBD and arthritis can cause an unease, it may feel like they are lurking, like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. They change the very fabric of your being, but just like a caterpillar, you can come out of your cocoon of chaos, transformed. You can’t control being chronically ill but you can control the direction you steer that transformation.

I have the option of which direction my transformation takes. On one hand I lost the ability to work the job I loved, I lost the ability to run around with my child and I lost my independence but on the other hand I have gained an insight into what is truly, truly important. Connection, nature, slowness and not being drawn into the rat race. I know I can’t move at the celebrated pace in western society, filling every moment with something is seen as the way to go, and I am not sad about that, it’s a privilege to understand that I deserve a slower pace of life, I deserve time connecting with nature and I deserve to know what it’s like to feel peace. 

That’s what Anna’s WanderWomen experiences can bring for you and you deserve that time too, even if you are riddled with chronic health conditions, you deserve to reach your chronically optimal and making those micro changes like time in nature, if you enjoyed reading this then please feel free to follow my up and downs on Instagram @morethanmyhealth.

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