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I’m Learning to Be Kinder to Myself Because of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Last week I quit my job of six years — a job that I studied for years to get. A job I made great sacrifices to succeed in. I’d say it was gone in an instant, but in reality it was a slow decline that was years in the making.

In January 2014, I gave birth to my sweet little boy. The pregnancy was uneventful. I worked up until the day I went into labor. I was a busy fourth-year associate attorney at a large-ish law firm. The law firm graciously gave me six months to stay home with my little one.

But after my little guy arrived, things started to take a turn. He had colic and I spent days, weeks, months on end with sleepless nights. I returned to work at the end of my leave, but something was not right. In the fall, our whole house got an enterovirus called hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Then I got mononucleosis. I never recovered from it. I have since been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

From that point forward, I spent countless hours searching for answers. I remained hopeful a miracle cure was just around the corner. I kept working, which led me to an endless cycle of pushing myself as hard as possible, then crashing to the point of being unable to get out of bed.

Then this spring, after battling the constant fatigue, the aches and pains, the headaches and brain fog for well over a year, it was just too much. A few busy days at work left me bedridden. Simple legal problems became overwhelming obstacles. Words became just out of reach. I took a leave of absence.

Twelve weeks later, I resigned. But this is not the end. If anything, I carry with me more resolve today than I did at the beginning of my illness. Resolve to pick myself up again. I’m learning to be kinder to myself. To not equate quitting with failure. To experiencing gratitude for all that I do have and for the many gifts I have been given.

My illness has forced me to slow way down. To close one chapter in my life. But I am bent, not broken. I will turn the page and start anew. I will craft a future that is uniquely mine — limitations and all. I will carry with me into this next chapter a new sense of empathy, of gratitude and of patience — with myself and with others.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: August 1, 2016
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