Once a dancer always a dancer

So I was busy decluttering my to-be home office, discarding the old and making space for the new. It’s a ritual that I take seriously because it allows me to work with my feelings about the things I own, my past, present and future.

Determined to pull an all-nighter according to Canadian time so that I can peacefully fall asleep at night, I decided to play a list of fast Bollywood songs which is specifically created to lift my spirit up from time to time. I thought it was helping me stay up and get work done.

Just then, this one song plays and I’m like nahhhh, everything can wait. Everything must wait. I need to do this.

Think about it for a moment:

With the dark cloud of chronic illness constantly hovering above us, what can we do to lift our spirits?

What sparks true joy within us?

Could we be letting our disability confine us more than it needs to?

Can we not find ways to work within our limits and still experience similar feelings of passion?

I think we can.

We’re all different, with different illnesses, different degrees of severity, different scale of limitations, different support systems, different biographies which could very well translate into a drastically different experience altogether — there’s absolutely no reason for us to even make that comparison. All said and done, each of us is doing our best to work with the cards we’ve been dealt.

BUT. In the midst of the pain and suffering, I think it’s possible to find ways to work with or around things we truly enjoy. I can’t dance like before, nor can I move with as much energy, but I do know for a fact that when I’m on my roller chair and if symptoms are manageable for the day, I might be able to move a little and FEEL that same feeling I experienced when I danced in the past. I do have to be careful though but I’ve reached a conclusion that you can’t take dance out of me.

It makes me feel alive and so I do it very often :) I hope you enjoy my crazy and find something that makes you feel a tad bit crazy too.

Lots of love,

Manasi

#onceadanceralwaysadancer #bollywood #dance #passion #love #joy #wholehearted #chronicillness #pain #fatigue #suffering #smile #invisibleillness #ehlersdanlossyndrome

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#butyoudontlooksick #butidontcare

Please tell me what ‘sick’ looks like✌🏼favourite spot in my new apartment: my lovely B E D ❤️ Also, till sometime last year, I couldn’t even sleep/lie-down on my tummy because my shoulders, elbows and wrists couldn’t weight bear without sublaxing or dislocating. I still can’t spend too long like that but hey, something is better than nothing!

“Do you ever get tired of looking after your body?”

A question I often get is whether I ever get tired of looking after my body. Yes. All the time. It’s a lot of work, much like looking after a hyper active kid who wouldn’t let you rest and requires all your attention because you never know what he might knock over or set fire to. Of course it’s tiring!

Over the last few years I realised that sometimes it’s almost impossible to find a direct link between what you do and what happens to you. The right thing to do then is to do your best based on the info you have. Can you imagine the kind of questions we’d have answered by now, in the realms of chronic illnesses and life if it all worked on a very distinct cause and effect basis?

I’ve personally noticed that there could (not always) be a cumulative factor to it instead. Ten different things added together may lead to a particular favourable or unfavourable result.

For example, sticking to my daily routine in terms of self care and rest, my nightly routine, my weekly physio and pilates, all my strengthening exercises, medications, spending time in my safe and healing environment, following my specific diet, all my doctors’ appointments, not signing up for any societal obligations and exercising the power of saying NO, usually allows me to manage my health symptoms better and sometimes even do more.

Similarly, not being able to do any of the above causes my body to start de-conditioning and overtime I start to lose my day to day strength. Now, add that with significant movement from traveling and a few days of too much activity and my health starts to deteriorate. Hence why I speak of sticking to a daily routine, setting flexible goals and drawing boundaries for yourself. It can become the difference between me fighting a chronic illness versus managing one — and that’s a big deal.

Over the last ten weeks, i was somehow managing my symptoms but not doing a very good job of it. Sooner or later, my body was going to begin to de-condition. It’s happening now. After a horrific night of painsomnia and lack of sleep, I just spent the entire day curled up in bed.

I think I’ve hit my limit and all I want to do is rest. #chronicillness

#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?

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.