8 Signs I’m Having a Good Day With My Illness
Do you know that feeling that comes with having a “good day?” For me, it falls somewhere between slightly buzzed and totally euphoric. Since the onset of my condition six years ago, I can count my total number of good days on two hands. I almost forget that they do happen from time to time, without warning or explanation. But when they come, how I embrace them, savor them and pray desperately that they will stretch from hours to days to weeks to the full monty – remission! Here’s what a good day means to me:
1. I’m 100 percent clear in my mind.
The brain fog has finally lifted, and I’m firing on all cylinders. Decisions are made swiftly and with confidence. I can find my words easily and have a conversation with friends and family where I’m truly present and engaged. If there was a pill I could stomach to sustain this level of clarity, I’d surely consider it. For now, I must make do with coffee and rookie attempts at meditation.
2. I genuinely smile and laugh.
On “meh days” (which are most days), I do a lot of fake smiling. I call it the “grin and bear it method,” a coping mechanism to smooth over social situations and generally hide my illness from the world. Yes, it feels dishonest but smiling apparently tricks you into feeling a bit better. On good days, I smile easily and laugh often without a second thought. The laughing feels like the best kind of workout after a long hiatus. I appreciate this feeling so much, realizing it was once my default setting.
3. I revel in the stillness.
So this may seem like a weird one, but my condition makes me feel like I’m rocking constantly. It’s the kind of imbalance you might experience straight off a boat when you are just getting your land legs back. Only, I never get my land legs back. I’m trapped on that boat except for those glorious and rare good days. No tugging, pulling, bouncing this way and that. Just a blissful stretch of time where I stand firmly on the ground and soak in the stillness that has eluded me for so long.
4. I make plans for the future.
I temporarily reject the limitations of my illness and start planning big, ambitious things while my mind is clear and confidence is high. Trips, careers, families, house do it yourself projects – I try to tackle it all during this short window against my better judgment and the advice of my doctors. In some areas, I make meaningful progress, though it will be slow to see these plans through to the end. The rest falls on the back-burner indefinitely and eats away at me a little when I’m feeling low and useless.
5. I get my mojo back.
Oh yeah, I’ve got swagger on a good day. I remember how pulled together I once was and I think, “Girl, you’ve totally got this.” I’m undaunted by little things like answering the front door, big things like public speaking and monumental things like starting a family. I’ve got my mojo back and nothing really seems impossible with a little planning, work and the right attitude.
6. I tick things off my to do lists.
When I have this burst of energy and focus, I will ride this high to the bitter end. And tick, tick, tick things off my to do lists. From the mundane (clean grout in the bathroom) to the important and long overdue (call grandparents), I sit there and crank. In the back of my head, my doctor counsels, “Pace yourself. Too much and your good day will evaporate.” Yes, I take breaks here and there but I’m on a roll. I push it more than I should. (I never actually clean the grout because for all my failings, I do know better and wiser ways to spend my good days.)
7. I confuse my husband into thinking I’m well.
Hey, look at good day me! Full of plans and mojo and smiles! My husband cannot reconcile this with the moody, bed-ridden mess I’ve become. Then, for a brief moment, he sees the woman he fell in love with and forgets all the tests, hospitals, meds, drudgery, care-taking and limitations. Certain I’m “cured,” he makes plans for us that I’ll eventually have to break.
8. I remember my old self and forget my new normal.
Good days are bittersweet. I get to enjoy my former body, mind and personality, trying to hold on to that life and those dreams for just a little longer. Now look, I know this isn’t the healthiest way to handle my good days. It goes against all the traditional wisdom on acceptance and resilience, but I’m human. I have to keep reinforcing these lessons over and over again, on good days and bad. But you’ll forgive me if I sometimes forget hard truths on good days because I’m high on life and I never want it to end.
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