How Rediscovering Joy Helped Me Heal From Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
I’ve experienced real passion in my life — relentless running around, being everyone to everybody, the sheer thrill of being alive — but, in the blink of an eye, I lost it. Choosing to turn away from my life’s calling in favor of a safer, more secure direction, I put my own flames out.
Cue years of sheer exhaustion in the form of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E, or more commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). When my flames went out, so did my enthusiasm for life. Hiding and channeling all this passion through my body in the form of pain and gut-wrenching negativity became my way of coping with what I’d lost. This grieving took over, and I’m sad to say that, for a while, I let it.
I suddenly realized one morning how empty my life was without my passion, without my spark and my love. When had I pushed it away and why? I remember crying for days once I realized how I’d betrayed myself, but how could I get this fire back? The concept of passion was intimidating and almost threatening — was I really ready to make the leap all in one go?
Learning to redefine "passion" on my own terms was one of the things that helped me heal. Knowing I already had this knowledge and joy made me feel reassured and instantly peaceful. It doesn’t have to be all-consuming and exhausting, as I’d always perceived it was. It's more like a gentle friend and guide. It looks like different things to different people, and I’ve found that the more you look outside yourself for it, the further away you’ll get from it.
Here are a few tips to help you find rediscover your passion and incorporate it into your healing:
1. Look at what you read, watch, spend money on and what is important to you.
If you read MindBodyGreen, get high on pigeon pose and have a regular pass with a yoga studio, chances are there’s an inkling of passion that you’ve found in your yoga practice. How can you extend it? Ask you teachers for help; that’s what they’re there for. Could you start a home practice? How can your yogic principles help you off the mat?
2. Look at what you loved doing as a child.
Until recently, I’d completely forgotten about all the things I loved to do as a child, and I’ve only recently started giving myself permission to incorporate these activities into my life. It doesn’t have to be daily — you’re allowed to dabble! Making jewelry, drawing, yoga inversions, singing and writing were always part of my me-time growing up.
3. Accept that passion looks like different things to different people.
The woman who makes a living walking dogs in your neighborhood and skipping along the road with them, the guy serving you your green juice with a smile, the banker in his element crunching numbers, the yoga instructor guiding you into downward dog — all are examples of people who live their passions in a delicate, authentic way. You don’t have to take on a huge new project or open a massive business on your own to follow your passion.
4. Invite your passion into your life in a way that works for YOU.
You can spend 30 minutes scanning recipes on the internet and saving them for the week’s meals, 10 minutes meditating on a Monday, grab a green juice on the way home from yoga on a Thursday, start a blog or join that knitting club. It doesn’t have to feel huge. Little and often works just as well.
5. Allow yourself to feel joyful and free as you step into your passion.
Drop the guilt right now. This held me back for so long and delayed my healing. Witness how being present with your passion feels in your body and in your mind. This is your body in healing mode — go back to that feeling regularly, and you’ll soon feel lighter in your body and soul.
Where can you call on your passion in your life?