The thing that gets to you about living with Chronic Fatigue is not that every day is acutely bad, but rather that every day is the same. Each day I wake up exhausted, I battle through the day, to then go to bed with my head and body aching from the weight of fatigue. You can get overwhelmed when the days seem to stretch before you without end.
It’s like I’m swimming across the ocean, every day forcing my muscles to inch forward against the currents. But after so many days you become disorientated. What’s one more stroke against the vastness of the ocean? How do you know the shore is even still there when you can’t see it? What if this ocean never ends?
I think in the early months of this year I lost my sense of direction. I have been so consumed by the struggle of persevering that I didn’t notice how much of myself I was loosing along the way. Somewhere along the line, feeling unable to cope with my illness became feeling unable to cope with life. I didn’t want to swim any more.
My mind was having a hard time coping with the pressure of all those days swimming. I couldn’t see the horizon, all I could see was water. I didn’t know what I was swimming towards, or if I would ever reach it.
Where is the line between exhaustion and depression? I think sometimes when the weight of the days, months and years has become too much. Too much for a tired mind, one can slip into the other. I didn’t want to have to keep coping. I was frustrated with a body that I couldn’t control and a brain that was always full of fog. The gulf between who I was and who I wanted to be seemed ever wider. The storm was making the waves come up over my head, threatening to engulf me.
And it’s hard. It’s hard to keep trusting in a God who can do the miraculous but doesn’t always. It’s hard to sit in Christian settings and hear stories of amazing transformation and wonder if maybe God doesn’t love you as much as them.
I think the reality is that as I try and let go of some of the guilt I have been carrying there may first be anger that takes it’s place. If it isn’t my fault, than why me? If God is for me then why has life been so hard?
I know that God can calm the storms I come up against, like he did for the disciples all those years ago. But sometimes he asks us to trust that it’s enough that he’s simply in the boat. And that doesn’t always feel like enough.
April and May have been brighter so far. I have increased my medication for the first time in years. And whilst it has hurt my pride, it has brightened my world. Some more colour has come back into my life. I only realised how much had drained away once it had come back.
I am realising how important it will be for me to fix my eyes on the horizon. Especially on the days where the ocean, I am swimming in, seems endless.
My horizon has to be who God is and who I am in him. It is the truth of his promises, the enormity of his love and grace, the freedom that is mine in him. The vastness of his faithfulness stretches across as far as the eye can see.
And as I watch the horizon, I know that breakthrough will come. One day I will see land rising out of the skyline, rising up like freedom, magnificent and longed for. I won’t be swimming for ever. There will come a day when I will feel sand beneath my feet and my tired muscles will awaken with strength again.
Maybe I will find there was purpose in my swimming. Maybe I will have my own transformation tale to tell. Maybe you will too.