I remember the times when I could go into a trial room with a basket full of clothes and super quickly, try on everything + reach a final decision and leave. It was easy and fun and barely required any extra thinking.
Then as I got more ill, I couldn't walk around and pick clothes as quickly, reaching for things kept higher up the shelf or lower below my knees became a challenge and even though shopping was still rather fun, it started becoming more of a task. As more joints kicked in, I had more and more things to consider.
If I managed to somehow pick out a few clothes I wish to try, I'd find myself half exhausted to actually try them on. Sometimes trying would hurt my joints, even if I was as careful as I could possibly be. I would need to take breaks and go slow, one thing at a time until I'm either bloody exhausted that I can't try any more or feel accomplished for managing to try every piece I picked. I can't count on my hands the number of times I've had a sudden brain fog, palpitations or over-worked a joint while trying on clothes.
After an arduous process of having tried a bunch of clothes, I often find myself thinking if it's even practical to buy things I really liked, based on my experience in the trial room. Is it worth trying to wear something gorgeous that I'd probably be able to carry off but might find hard to get in and out of, or could possibly land me up in the ER if I accidentally over-did anything or perhaps cause a sublaxation that might take months to heal?
My instinct says no (of course, I do ignore it sometimes. Being sick doesn't mean you deprive yourself of pretty things, right?) mainly because I'm so used to thinking through the lens of my body and I believe that in many situations, my body seems more wise than my mind.
Sometimes this process of weighing things out takes me about an hour but I still go through it. At times I'm lucky and I find enough "perfect" clothes and want to the whole bunch because who's going to keep doing this all the time right? But no, then there are more questions that pop up for me — am I going to be able to carry it all home? Do I have any energy left in me to do it?
There are times when I can which is great. And other times I can't so I decide to leave a few things behind for next time. By the way, next time can be at any given point in the near or far future, you never really know. There have been several times when I was in such a bad state after trying a few clothes that I just chucked them away and left the shop empty handed.
Times have changed.
From shopping turning into a plan (or journey!) to so many stages of decision making through the process, to noticing shifts in my physical body, to the love and acceptance I've developed for it – things are no longer the same and they become extra apparent under some situations.
Often, for me at least, this message comes as a subtle note, a deeper thought with a sense of peace + relief, "You are a newer version of who you used to be." but every once in a while, it stands right in my face, yelling at me, causing a bit of fear about where things might be heading. For a while that's okay, and perhaps needed, but after a point I have to move away from that space and become more present.
Little things in your daily life are capable of reminding you of how much things have changed for the worse but I've learned that it's crucial to work on putting those things aside and really look at every little progress you've made. Every. Little. Progress.Counts.
If something reminded you today that times have changed and you found yourself struggling, remember to focus your thoughts on how far you've come, rather than where you used to be or where you're heading. Make a list of things. Write a journal entry. Look through photos that celebrate your journey up till now. Talk to your friends and perhaps ask them to remind you of your progress. Most importantly, keep in mind that you're not alone. Most often than not, we're all struggling with similar emotions and thoughts but our approaches might differ.