Finding A Light Through Illness: Karen's Story

My name is Karen and I've been on my journey of living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for over 15 years. 

Suffering from this, or any illness can leave you traveling down dark roads. But it can also be a positive life changing experience if you choose to turn your journey into one of lessons and gratitude. 

There were many days, once upon a time, where I was stuck in bed feeling lost and alone. My days were consumed with pain, exhaustion and frustration - never knowing what the next day would bring. 

Instead of pursuing my dreams and passions, I was living life one day at a time, never knowing what the future held. 

But I knew I wanted more. I knew I deserved and was capable of more. I was determined to not let this disease bring me or my dreams down.

With the support of my parents and husband, I worked on finding and gaining the strength to pursue my passions. Fifteen years into my battle and I am living out my dreams of running my own jewellery business. 

Something that I never thought was possible.

Living with any debilitating disease can create a painful and exhausting road. It can make you feel like anything you ever want will never be possible. 

But with the right support team and determination, anything is possible.

It is my hope that I can now take my experience and help lift anyone who might be going through a life changing illness

With my following tips, my goal is to inspire and encourage any woman out there facing an exhausting, painful or isolating battle that has left them searching for hope.

The life you want awaits you…

Make yourself feel human 

For me doing my hair, having a shower and getting dressed are the 'never ever miss doing' stuff. Yes a lot of the days it takes me quite awhile to achieve these things but it makes a world of difference to how I feel about myself. Even if I have to sit on the shower floor to wash myself then that's what I have to do. 

Do some sort of movement each day 

Getting out of bed every day was a huge turning point for me to getting my strength back. Even if it's standing for a few minutes and lifting/bending your legs then walking to the lounge and back and then progressing out to the mailbox, each small movement will eventually build up strength. 

Tell people what you need 

Our family and friends are not mind readers (although that would be pretty cool to get inside their heads, hmmmm....now that I think about it, perhaps not.)

Anyway, where was I? 

Our loved ones can't feel what our bodies are going through so telling them helps them understand what's going on with us. It you're having a bad day and need time alone, tell them in a loving and gentle way. 

Got a doctors appointment and need a ride? Ask if they could take you. 

If you need help doing daily chores ask if they wouldn’t mind assisting you. 

You know what? Even if you need a hug because it's been a downright crappy day and you're losing hope….then ask. They don't know unless you tell them. 

Explain 

You need to explain things to people for them to get it. For example, if you get an invitation to go somewhere, explain that you won't be able to reply until the last minute or the day of the event. Let them know that your symptoms are unpredictable and until you get up that morning you don't know whether you'll be well enough to attend. 

Ask your family and friends not to stop asking you to go places because you still want be included but to please understand that if you cancel at the last minute. 

Assure them that it's not because of them

Listen to your body

Try and tune in with what your body needs from you. Rest when it needs to and do not feel guilty about doing nothing. 

Feed yourself good food so it can help you be strong both physically and mentally. 

Have a support system

Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on and when you have a debilitating disease that extra support can be the difference to getting through your day. Find that person or people that just get you and will be there for you in your rough days (and good ones) without any judgement. 

Show gratitude 

Whether it's your husband, wife, partner, parents, siblings or friends, those closest to us are also on this journey. They experience our ups and downs with us. They need and deserve to be shown appreciation for being our rock. A simple thank you can go a long way to making someone feel loved and appreciated. 

Caretakers need support too 

Caretakers take on a tough task when caring for someone. Not knowing what each day will bring and never knowing what will be required from them. It's an exhausting journey and your caretaker needs time out for them to relax, clear their mind and reenergize. Make sure they know that it's alright to have time for themselves and that they actually do do it. 

Everyone’s journey is unique to them, and every day can be different. But with a little determination, self love and support team, you too can live your life to the fullest. 


{About This Story}

This story was written and shared by Karen Meyer, the creator and owner of Heartfelt Jewellery. You can find her beautiful creations here: www.heartfeltjewellery.com.au