Devil’s Punch Bowl

We skipped the actual hike down to the Devil’s Punch Bowl because it would’ve been just too much for my body. I’m glad I made it till the top of the bowl and was able to walk around a fair amount. I don’t remember the last time I did something like this. It’s definitely a big deal. A few years back I couldn’t have imagined being able to visit such places.

While I’m not big in traveling due to the pain that comes along with it (it doesn’t even make me sad and nor do I feel like I’m missing out because I’d rather be in less pain, suffer less and have manageable symptoms rather than travel, not be able to enjoy much and deal with unpleasant consequences later), I do love the nature and believe that it has a powerful, healing effect on me. Sometimes, I need that more than anything so I make a conscious choice to push myself a little bit in order to let me experience nature to some extent.

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#ProjectCanada

💗 Proud moment 💗

This was literally the main objective of my trip to Canada.

I was in tears during the ceremony as I recollected bits and pieces of our past and the very fact that I could make it to Canada to celebrate my brother’s big day.

If you had asked me four years back about traveling to Canada (for that matter, traveling anywhere), I’d have told you it was a dream that might not come true. It fills my heart with immense gratitude thinking about everything that has gone behind making this trip possible for me.

M

The secret life

While I’m very open and honest about my personal experience with EDS Hypermobility, there is also a ‘secret life’, what I call the back end management which not only is something we (the chronically ill) often choose to not share but also something we often can’t share due to the complexity and implications of actually dealing with the illness 24/7.

Most people I know in the community of the ‘chronically ill’ live as authentically as possible and try very hard to share their stories, both to create awareness and for their personal healing and I find that truly inspiring and amazing.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that it is NOT the whole story. It can’t be, unless you know us personally. No matter how much we try to put our experience out there, it is not the same as living with us and seeing us live — which is something only our near and dear ones get to see.

On my instagram, I try to share both the good and the bad. Whenever possible, it is as raw as it gets. But the truth is, for the number of times my shoulder (or other joints) clicks in and out, for the hours I spend in bed with ice packs and hot packs and the number of times i get palpitations, brainfogs etc., it is practically impossible to be both having the actual experience and sharing it.

I think that’s the reason why so many people who don’t know me well enough, whether biologically related or not, are under the impression that if I smile I am pain-free or I’m not struggling. And sometime, instead of asking, it is assumed that I am fine. Or better.

Similarly when I am bedridden, it is quite commonly assumed that I am sad to the core. Which again, is an assumption.

The truth is, the ‘chronically ill’ have figured a way to be smiling and struggling at the same time. I know it can get extremely confusing for the rest, but if you ever wonder how we’re doing, I suggest you ask instead of assume.

How do you define work?

https://themighty.com/2018/02/unable-to-work-because-of-illness/

Every bit of this resonates with me.

It’s a constant struggle for people like me to remember our worth when there is so much stigma around being sick (especially young and sick) and not being able to work.

It often makes me wonder, how do you define work anyway?

Does work = I bring money to the table every single time? does my voluntary work with kids with troubled childhood which doesn’t earn me anything but makes me feel valuable and like I’m making some difference count as work? Does me trying to help an individual who is newly chronically ill/struggling with their health mean anything in the society at all?

What about the times I teach classes hoping they help those who participate — does that count as work even if it’s not always sustainable? What about the job I did as a receptionist at a pilates studio hoping I’d be able to stick with it and then got bedridden — does that count at all? Is that seen?

Does it matter that people like myself at one point had great aspirations and goals too and had to leave those behind, grieve our old selves and learn to accept what we’re presented with? Does anyone ever see the pain and the courage behind having to leave what brings most of us financial stability and freedom in order to prioritise health?

What about the work you put in day in day out to look after a faulty body? Imagine having to look after an extremely mischievous and sick child who doesn’t listen to you for twenty four seven. No break whatsoever. Not even when you sleep.

It’s easy for people to ask, “what do you do?” because it’s the most common way to start a conversation. It’s also very understandable and I have a standard answer ready. But you won’t believe the number of people I’ve come across up till now with the mindset that if you’re not working, traveling and or working out, you’re probably doing nothing. Or not doing enough of something. Or aren’t ambitious enough. Have no goals. Have nothing figured out.

What makes so many people think that those who’re sick are lazy or not ambitious enough? Couldn’t our ambitions and priorities have changed? Can we not bring empathy, compassion and kindness to the table instead of money? Is it not possible for us to do our part in some other way? Can we not be the people you turn to when things aren’t going right? Can we not support the family and household in other ways?

Or how about this: is it not possible that by us doing our self-work and learning to accept and tend to our illness allows us to manage the illness a little better and hence take some load and burden off those who are trying to support us? Isn’t that work too?

20 degrees and sunny and loving it. Yes, yes, I know. There will be snow, my joints will hurt, winter gets depressing blah and blah and blah. Sure, but what matters right now is that I’m here today and that at one point, I didn’t think it was possible.

This place is making me dig deeper, unravel yet another level and is sort of making me feel lost in a guided way. It’s not the kind of lost that makes you feel afraid. It’s quite the opposite. I’ve been waking up every morning to a renewed sense of curiosity which is nice and refreshing.

I’m looking at things around me, some familiar some not. But I’m seeing them differently. Maybe I needed this. A break, an opportunity to put other things aside for once and be, even if it’s for a while.

I’m not talking about a break from being sick. No, that doesn’t happen. I’m referring to a shift in focus. Not distraction. But to zoom out and see the bigger picture one more time. From constantly *having* to figure out and find solutions quickly (this year is my 10th year of being sick, 6th since diagnosis) to allowing myself some grace.

From being bedridden for 6 months last year to starting to teach again to having to stop again to moving to India to figuring out a million and one things in a new environment (new societal and cultural norms) to adrenaline fatigue and flares of different symptoms, I just haven’t gotten a chance to truly take a long enough pause and realign myself.

And for this reason, it’s quite likely that Canada will hold a special place in my heart. ❤️

#thankyou #canada #2018 #chronicillness

A mandatory selfie to capture the memory of being out in 9 degrees (felt like 6?), under the sun, on my own, at 7:30am, in my gym pants, with a strange sense of comfort, no sensory overload, and of finally… FINALLY being in my own body, focused on every step because nothing else around me requires too much of my attention.

I walked around 1.2km, got us coffee, sat on a bench in peace, listening to the birds and felt a sense of calm in my heart. It was the feeling you get when you feel at home, a sense of safety and comfort, even though a place is new. And then my eyes filled up at the thought of how much I missed this.

A sense of quiet and stillness makes me feel at home… and lately it’s been far from that.

Thankful to be here today despite all the not so nice things in life.