Things we need

Coming to the surface of my mind, lately, has been a list of core things I need as someone dealing with chronic conditions though, really, I suspect they are things we all need to thrive. Without any more ado, I will cut to the chase and list them out with just a few words:


This, perhaps more than most, has driven its message home to me lately and yet it is so often underestimated (though generally not by those who are chronically depleted of energy). Its rule of thumb applies to all of us: without proper rejuvnenation and rest, all else falls apart. Also, what we tend to think of as enough rest and rejuvenation is usually pretty wide off the mark. We have to look at quality, consistency and regularity, amongst other things. The importance of rest also tends to increase with age and infirmity and this need sneaks up on us, conflicting with “the way things used to be”, meaning that we often try to ignore the fact that we now need more of it because it reminds us too much of our mortality. Instead, we do better looking at our need for rest as an opportunity for self-care and to reap the kind of rewards that pass us by us when we spend all our time rushing around in a blur and feeling under pressure. Any borrowing from the need for rest will only require paying back, with dividends, later.


Similarly, I have come to prize this, not so much as an ideal but a necessity and that takes into account the fact that movement is very often compromised and painful for me. For all of this, I have learned that it is absolutely necessary for health and wellbeing and, without it, more problems stash up further down the line. Here are some other things that it has taught me: Ideally movement should be varied and, if possible, joyful (never forced) and it has nothing to do with impressing or competing with others, so it can be clumsy, silly, whatever we can manage to do (in private if preferred). Whatever form it takes, we should still strive to do it, not just every day but every few minutes. Our culture has laid claim to what movement is supposed to look like but anything that shifts the body and causes blood to flow faster and closer to the surface, feeding the organs and the soul, is a valid contribution. Remaining static is one of the most harmful things a living being can subject themselves to whereas movement feeds life back to the most struggling of organisms because it sucks life-force back into the system. There have been times when I have desperately underestimated the consequences of not moving, acting almost as though to not move was a way of caring for myself (wrong)…and still other times when I have been amazed at the positive differences made by just the smallest of efforts to do it!


Almost single-handedly, a sense of purpose can carry you through almost anything. Conversely, a lack of purpose will undo you faster than almost anything else, especially when things go wrong. To find your purpose you have to dig deep…not ask your friends…and it may take years, or a whole lifetime, to evolve but when you are on the constantly lookout for purpose, you will find it in the most unexpected places and it will unfold the true meaning of your life so much that you can even begin to see the point of some of your biggest challenges. You don’t have to share it with anyone, and may not even be able to find the words, but you feel it on the inside and you certainly know when it is not there. I suspect the day I lose purpose is the day my body will start to shut down for good.


We picture someone climbing a mountain…but, when you are dealing with physical challenges every day, it can take great determination to get up and continue every morning. We often don’t see it in ourselves and it may even take someone else to point out just how determined we can be. Value such friends because they are holding up the mirror to something you needed to know about yourself. Some people may even try to criticise it, as though to be determined is to be pushy or rude, perhaps even unrealistic, but don’t ever let them persuade you to turn on your own determination because it is what makes you into a tour de force, come what may. It can really bolster us to be reminded that we have it, to see the track record of it in our lives, most especially if life has been hard, and this can fuel further determination in an exponential way, like a self-replenishing supply of life-force to get us through.


This is one I have got to know, most especially, of late because the near absence of hope is as though all the lights start to go out and then despair is very quick to flood in where it once stood. These two are like opposite ends of the same see-saw and its only in the tipping from one end to the other that you truly realise how much you relied on hope to fuel all the other things above. Without hope, we cease to try and, worst of all, we cease to believe. Along with belief goes the power to visualise a better outcome and its then that our creative powers reach the end of their road….hard to impossible to bounce back from that. So keeping hope alive, like an eternal flame, should be the centre point of our life, regardless of our circumstances. On days when I feel on the brink of no hope, I will do almost anything to pull myself from that edge but this takes diligence and watchfulness. Doing whatever it takes to stoke images and dreams of a better future, however tenuous, should be the goal, not only of ourselves but all those around us, news and medical services included. When others around you project no hope, consider moving to the side of them and focusing your attention elsewhere.


We all need the ability to release whatever gets locked up inside of us because stuck energy, of any kind, will conflict with the possibility of moving towards anything different. Old energies hold onto old states of being and, when locked-up inside of us, cause bitterness, inflammation, constriction and conflict. Whether we are holding an emotion, an idea, a substance, a position (all forms of energy) we need to be able to let go when the time is right. Sometimes, our bodies (and belief systems) don’t make this very easy for us but we must try to find ways, to find outlets where we can. Movement, crying, purging of all kinds, these are all valid and should be encouraged whenever, and however, they need to occur, no matter how socially inappropriate (within reason) because a body that is forced to hold onto something that is no longer helpful to it will start to contort on the inside and then turn in on itself, which is a very unhealthy state indeed.


Similar to the last point, but so much more than a tool of release, we all need to have a voice, to be able to express ourselves fully, just as we are, and to be heard. Far harder to achieve than most of us think, especially when we are different to the majority, we need to go after this nonetheless. Finding alternate ways of expressing ourselves, without necessarily using words, can be a way forwards for those who find it harder to express in conventional ways. Accepting all different kinds of audience, not just limiting ourselves to those in proximity us (for instance), and finding others who share neurotype or interests are other ways of developing our ability and freedom to express. At times when I have felt that I have no means of expression nor anyone prepared to hear me out, I have languished more completely than at any other time. No matter how hard things are, being heard makes us feel validated, valued, received and accepted, without having to pretend we are somebody else. When we have this sense of selfhood intact, we can cope with so much more than when we are made to feel as though we have to withdraw, hide ourselves or have nothing of value to offer. We all have something to give and, if we are not currently feeling that, it’s time to change where we choose to expend our effort being who we really are. It is only when we fully express who we really are that we start to gain that sense of coming home to ourselves and this inner homecoming is what makes us feel attached to the earth, to other people and life itself. It is the absolute birthright of everyone alive to express and, through expression, feel connected to others.


This is a heading that I have not always felt so comfortable with because connecting with people has not always come so easily to me. However, I have finally learned that it comes in many forms and there are no right or wrong ways, only typical and less typical ways. All are valid. If we do not connect so much to people, we may connect to animals, to plants, to music, to the earth. We may feel connected to the very artists who produce art or music that we love to engage with, though we have never met them. We may feel connected to a cause or a vision of the future. Whatever forms of connection we finally work out are our preferred way, we should never underestimate their power to rejuvenate us when all else feels precarious. Placing our bare feet on the ground or hugging a tree might be as powerful to us, today, as someone else’s coffee shop meet-up. Feeling connected to the past might make us feel more grounded when the future seems uncertain. When we look for it, connection is literally everywhere, like a gossamer web of a zillion strands and it helps to hold us together. The point is to stand by the ways that works for you, but don’t underestimate how much all these minor forms of connection do to make us feel connected to ourselves and our own life source, which is the very fuel of life.

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