Four years ago, I woke up sick and haven't been the same since. I couldn't stand up, I was spinning and I had no energy. I also had no appetite, which, if you know me at all, is crazy first thing in the morning. I gave this feeling a few days before I became concerned that something was really wrong. To oversimplify, I was dizzy and couldn't really put thoughts together. I couldn't walk well, I couldn't see well enough to read let alone drive, I couldn't fill out forms (of which there are plenty when you have a mysterious illness) and I couldn't see beyond my own suffering. My life stopped. I saw a doctor the next week and continued to see doctors and specialists weekly for the next year and then monthly ever since. I was poked, scanned, drained, injected, told it was really serious, told I was fine, made to feel like I was dying, made to feel like things like this just happen. I was broken and desperate for answers.
Other than taking care of our household and my husband, my job at the time had been project managing a massive renovation of our home. That project was hell for me in a lot of ways, producing debilitating amounts of stress and a feeling of hopelessness as I lived in the space day and night. I was not only trying to keep us on schedule and budget but also processing lawsuits (yes, more than one) and robberies (yes, more than one). A lot of this work was wrapping up when I woke up sick, which I understand doesn't sound like a coincidence.
In an effort to feel resilient, I tried to continue parts of life as normal. My days became easier once renovation construction ended but I didn't really change my evening or weekend plans. I think this was out of hope to not affect Greg's life too much. I didn't want his to stop in the way mine had, I didn't want him to suffer for my failing health. Our finances got messed up as I was no longer able to manage them. I was "socializing" in the evenings but spending the days unable to get out of bed. I was entertaining family and then crashing for weeks after they left. Despite every part of my body telling me I needed to change, I didn't know how. I didn't know how to prioritize myself or my health. I knew how to be a victim but I didn't know how to be empowered.
After about eight months of not getting better, I decided to shift my approach to life. I think it was a gradual awakening to how unsustainable my choices were. I no longer had the energy to run our lives. During this gradual awakening, I started to feel like my body was giving up, and I was also hearing possibly life-threatening diagnoses. I remember being okay with that in a lot of ways but one thing that I was not okay with was leaving Greg with such a mess of stuff and obligations that I didn't even care about. The idea of leaving him with a life that was so convoluted and broken felt like the worst thing I could do. Changing that story became my mission.
With a new desire to clean up and slow down our lives, I read books and blogs and articles on minimalism and simplifying. I found Leo and Courtney and Bea and rediscovered the word "essential". I decided to figure out what was truly important to me, to us and learn to let go of everything else. Greg eventually got on board with this process and we started living and practicing what we called "essentialism". We have since found out that it is an actual thing!
So, there is a happy ending to this story but not the one I was hoping for. I still don't know what's wrong with me other than inflammation in my brain but, yay, I am not dying and I am more and more functioning. I have been living for a year now in a place of peace and security. While I finally found a way to surrender the control over my illness and its diagnosis, I also found a way to take back control over my priorities and my life.