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    In reply to: Resilience

    In 2014 I had to make a big decision. I had planned to retire in several years at the social security retirement age of 66+. But I began struggling with constant fatigue and an intermittent acute lower abdominal pain with an undetermined cause.
     
    I learned that I could use my bank of sick leave to take a partial medical leave from work. I thought that by working fewer hours I would be more rested and revived. When that proved not to be true, I knew I needed a chunk of time without working to try to find the cause of the randomly recurring sharp pain and regain my energy. I came to the conclusion that I would be better off retiring earlier than later.
     
    At the end of six months of part-time medical leave I retired from my employer and moved to another city with a lower cost of living. I figured I would take a month to set up my new household and recover from the stress of the transition, and take another month of rest to fully recuperate and figure out how to earn a living. It sounded like a plan.
     
    I did not recuperate in two months. I stayed close to home, spending most days in the bed or on the bed. Another month went by. And another. After five months I was still struggling to get out of bed each day and the pain had become more frequent. I could see that taking a job to bring in needed income would not be an option.
     
    One day I happened upon the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s website and found that they had an artist’s open studio. I knew that art was a way for me to express myself and tune into both my emotional and physical intuition, and I had dreamed of finding a space where I could create large, messy work. I got myself together and went to see if this place could work for me. While I was there I was asked to submit a proposal for a course on expressive and intuitive art for the fall semester. I submitted the course proposal and it was accepted. I helped the students express themselves through art, and as the weeks went by I could see the impact that having a safe space to make this kind of art was having on them.
     
    But the person who benefited most was me! It gave me “a new lease on life”. I understand now that this is my purpose, this is why I am here. I call myself the “Art Doula”, and I create expressive art experiences for freeing the artist within. I assist people in the gestation and birthing of their artist selves, and in bringing their creative genius into the world.
     
    The expressive artmaking experiences I create just seem like something fun to do; but done over time and on a regular basis, they have helped some of my students in their healing process. Something is happening on a deeper level. Making art gives voice to ideas and emotions that we would otherwise not be able to articulate.
     
    Best of all, when I am sharing the experience of art I am quickened with a spirit that feels like a fire that starts in me and envelops the room. Spontaneously, I dance and sing (and so do the students). At those moments I do not feel the fatigue or the pain. It is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. This is something I can do for the rest of my life! And I love it. :-)
     
    #resilience #stillstanding #freeingtheartistwithin
     


    Gail Moser
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    In reply to: Perspective

    Looking Back to Gain Perspective – My Journey from 2011 to 2016
     
    I had been having all-over pain for quite a few years, but never mentioned anything about it because I attributed it to getting older. I was way beyond fatigued – it had become really difficult to get out of bed, go to work, prepare my meals, and even bathe. Every day everything hurt, all the time. I was exhausted and couldn’t get my energy level back up no matter what I tried. When I went to my follow-up appointment after knee surgery, my doctor asked if there were any other health issues I needed to talk to her about. As usual I said, “Nothing but the usual aches and pains.” We said our goodbyes and I was on my way. On the 45-minute drive home I could not stop thinking about how bad my body felt. Why hadn’t I mentioned this to my doctor?
     
    I took me more than a year to finally tell my doctor about the all-over, 24/7 pain. She asked what seemed like a million questions, poked and prodded, and then referred me for some lab tests. She said her preliminary diagnosis was fibromyalgia, but we would wait for the test results to see what they said. A few days later she called me: I had a positive anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) titer, which when coupled with some of my other symptoms and physical traits was an early biomarker for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). I needed further testing and evaluation and she referred me to a neurologist. This was early September, 2012 and unfortunately the first available appointment with the neurologist would be after Thanksgiving. I couldn’t do anything but wait. Or could I?
     
    I googled and tried to absorb everything I could about lupus. I downloaded research papers. I read the blogs of people with the disease. I devoured books about auto-immune disorders and leaky gut syndrome. What I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to be on medication that I had to take daily, for the rest of my life – so I watched YouTube videos about alternative and complementary treatments.
     
    I asked myself what I would do if in three months, I was diagnosed with lupus. I decided I would completely overhaul my diet to better support my immune system; I would employ more mindfulness techniques, more regularly and frequently; I would search and experiment until I found an exercise regimen that would accommodate my pain and lack of energy without derailing me; I would reduce my stress by taking breaks, and by taking a long, mindful walk around our beautiful university campus during every workday; and I would negotiate with other administrators to balance the workload. I thought I would get everything figured out and planned in advance, so that if I got the diagnosis I could “hit the ground” (forget about the running!) with my new diet, work, and lifestyle changes. Then I thought – what is the point of waiting until I get a diagnosis? Why shouldn’t I start implementing these changes now? So I did.
     
    I was not diagnosed with lupus, but the diet, work, and behavioral changes I made brought my life back to me. It wasn’t the same as my old life pre-pain and pre-exhaustion, but it quickly became my “new normal”. I have continued living in this way to this day, and have no intention of reverting. That would mean returning to a diminished existence, and I sure don’t want to go back there again!
     
    When I look back to September 2012, I almost cannot believe the transformation. It has been quite a process, but the 3.5 years would have passed whether I had made these efforts or not. Yes, I still have some pain, but ever since the sixth day on my elimination diet it is no longer the 24/7, all-over kind. After extinguishing that constant all-over pain, I was able to begin the slow process of identifying each muscle and joint that had its own issues and receive physical therapy and alternative pain management techniques to eliminate or manage them. Using mind-body and subtle energy modalities I have experienced healing, and received illuminating insights into my life’s issues and my life’s purpose. I have also learned or developed coping skills for both physical and emotional pain. Important relationships in my life have been strengthened and deepened as I have progressed in my own personal development.
     
    In September, 2012 I didn’t know how long I would be able to continue tolerating the quality of life I had. It was difficult to see the point of pushing myself to get through every day. My life since then hasn’t been a cakewalk – along the way there have been some very large hills, and some really deep valleys. This is life, after all. But looking back now I can attest that today I have greater wellness, resilience, self-knowledge, peace of mind, and the feeling of freedom that comes from living my life authentically. It has definitely been worth all of the work.
     
    #eliminationdiet #mindfulness #subtleenergy #stressbreak #balancedworkload #whatalongstrangetripitsbeen
     


    Gail Moser
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    In reply to: Introduction to Week 1

    I notice that on a yearly cycle I become very moody in the late spring and in the late fall. It usually starts with a decreased appetite and increased fatigue and irritability. This is usually my trigger to change my diet and start exercising more frequently. #HappinessHabits


    orozcoj13

    When I am fatigued, I can power through whatever it is that I need to get done and I can fall asleep without much trouble.  Fatigue is my normal day-to-day modus operandi.  When I am exhausted with heavy, stumbling legs and a numb can’t-smile-no-matter-what face, I can’t fall asleep very easily and, guaranteed, I will wake up a couple times during the night.  I remember being a kid and having no problems falling asleep/staying asleep… waking up to a full body stretch… how I would love to sleep like that again.  I find that mental exertion pushes me to exhaustion while normal physical exertion results in me simply being fatigued.  I can slow down physical exertion if I feel myself tipping into exhaustion; mental exertion means needing a time out and a chance to recover because the exhaustion is just overwhelming.  #fatigue  #extremelytired  #fatiguevsexhaustion  #sotiredIcantsleep


    MyndiR

    I am fatigued. I am exhausted.

    When I am fatigued,  I clean, I rest, I clean, I rest. I reestablish a rhythm to move through the day. When I am fatigued, my legs feel like a ton of bricks. That’s my signal. So the cleaning draws my energy from the core and redisperses it throughout the body so that I am doing yoga to re-energize, by cleaning!

    When I am exhausted, I stop. I stare out the window. I crack a beer, to keep me sedated on the bench, on the porch so I won’t push any longer. I go blank.

    Why do I enter these phases? My mind whirls me into fatigue. I find myself fighting for freedom. Actually, I am just spinning my wheels in anger, which sends me to fatigue. So I use that anger to move on out …. at least, I can collapse from successful physical activity rather than from clunky mind games.

    Exhaustion means I give in, I surrender. I rather like exhaustion, better than fatigue, since I can more easily release muscle tension and not care about the external pressures that my mind creates. Of course my responsibilities don’t end and are serious in many regards. Yet I have backup, I have respite and I’m old enough now to declare my health comes first.

    #surrenderthebodybooty


    celestewaters

    Dymond, I hope you feel more energized soon — though not necessarily if it leads to crashing later.:)
    For me, there is a clear difference between fatigue and exhaustion. Fatigue may lead to exhaustion, but for me there are times when there is another type of exhaustion that is infinitely more definite — it is being drained, and the sensation is both physical and emotional.
    #exhaustion #drained


    annie

    Been away – not as much energy – back at work after two months away for health issues and #fatigue is something I am familiar with. I have never paused to note the difference between fatigue and exhaustion. I tend to lump them together in that my unhealthy rhythms have been to energize and manifest, then crash afterwards. Fatigue, since the fall, has been a constant companion and I think I live in the land of exhaustion and fatigue and I am getting to know its many shades and hues, colors, and textures.


    dymond
    permalink

    Are there other topics relating to movement, energy and fatigue that you think we should have asked about?


    annie

    I really struggle with fatigue, as well as tiredness, acknowledging they are two different things. I realized they were different things about a year ago when I got the Glow app for my phone – I’m nearing menopausal age and wanted to start tracking my cycles to get a sense of how long/short they were so I could pay attention to avoid scheduling things at times when I know I won’t have energy for them. In this app, they have lists of physical symptoms, where fatigue is listed, whereas “tired” is listed under mood/emotional (honestly I don’t know who makes this stuff up). With another app I have been tracking my sleep, thinking that my tiredness and fatigue could be remedied if only I got enough sleep, but despite my best efforts of getting a reasonable amount of sleep (8 hours for me), I still feel tired and fatigued all day every day.

    And yes, to Gail’s post above, absolutely – I have laid down to sleep or nap and then, sure enough, my mind won’t shut off or my muscles will feel restless and sleep evades me. It’s so annoying how we can be tired and/or fatigued all day and then when it finally comes time to go to bed or take a nap, the body says nope.

    I don’t push myself to exhaustion as much as I used to. I have been hopeful that by the exercise I am doing that my energy levels would improve  but alas, there has been no change. I still have to give myself a big pep talk before putting on my running shoes, “ok let’s do this, I’ll feel much better after for having done it”. In fact, because of the intensity of my workouts I find I have even less energy. It makes me wonder, what is wrong with me?

    What signals fatigue for me is that everything feels like I’m walking through a fog. I feel like if I were to curl up on comfy furniture that I would probably fall asleep (though that seldom happens). Mostly I push through because I have to, work must be done. I’ve noticed lately though that I don’t have time to keep my house as clean as I would like – a combination of being really busy with school/work but also just not having energy to do everything and something must give.

    I would love to know what it would take to improve my energy levels. I would like to know what it’s like to not feel #tiredallthetime. Do I need to spend more time outside? Move to a place that has more natural light and brighter walls/floors? Change my diet to a more plant-based, whole-foods, raw diet? All of these things? I would love to stop clicking #fatigue on my Glow app.


    AppleStrudel

    I don’t know about you, but I make a distinction between fatigue and exhaustion. Fatigue for me means being very tired. Exhaustion – well that’s a topic for different day. It feels like a whole nother thing, and we will cover it tomorrow.
     
    I remember when my obstetrician called my labor pains in preparation for the birth of my son “discomfort”. Really? I thought discomfort was more of a nuisance or inconvenience. I am in some serious life-and-death pain here! I feel like I am being drawn and quartered! Okay, sometimes I can get a little dramatic, but that is how I experience it: fatigue is more akin to discomfort, and exhaustion is at the other end of the spectrum, like painful childbirth. Fatigue is something that I have to live with daily and work with, or work around. And don’t even get me started on the relationship of fatigue to sleep (or the lack thereof).
     
    Doesn’t it seem that if you are very tired and your body is crying out for sleep, you would be out like a light as soon as your head hits the pillow? Has your body ever craved sleep and then pushed it away, like a baby who is ravenously hungry but refuses to eat the strained peas?
     

    What signals does your body give that it is fatigued? Is there anything you do to keep it going in spite of fatigue? What happens when you do this? Have you tuned into your body to be able to anticipate the transition from fatigue to exhaustion, and avoided it?
     
    #fatigue #extremelytired #fatiguevsexhaustion #sotiredIcantsleep


    Gail Moser
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