Sunday, May 4, 2014
Fellow spoonie (see "Moving into the Month of Spoonie Awareness"), Clarissa Shepherd, has a unique talent for engaging "Fellow Travelers" with fibromyalgia and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome through her support group on Facebook. She encourages others to speak about their concerns through ongoing weekly topics of "Sharing, Caring, Grateful, and Did Wells." Following is a note she has written to those who walk this path together.
I thank my friend for allowing me to share her intimate thoughts, words of encouragement, and recognition of all our Fellow Travelers.
For those of us who face chronic illness each day, thinking positive is not an easy task. We don't seek negativity; it finds us. Despite its efforts to interfere, we can still find ways to deal with the up's and down's imposed by chronic illness. I [Clarissa] feel we do a grand job enduring and surviving in spite of the long list of daunting symptoms.
Our journey may be very difficult, long, and tiresome, yet each of you does it with such grace, grace as I've never seen before. Learning to live within our limitations and think creatively is a positive thing. Despite your symptoms, you find ways to rearrange your life in order to live it. I find each of you amazing for embracing change, for finding ways to accomplish daily tasks and entertain yourself. You uncover your hidden talents and discover new ways to embrace change. You're learning an entirely new way of living, a new way of thinking, you've learned how to rethink what productive means to you as individuals and redefine healing, and you are doing it soulfully. With forward momentum, you find ways to accept challenge. You are courageous.
You are a vital human being. This illness is not of your own making. It does not define you. You show your strength and courage with each breath you take every obstacle you overcome; you are fearless, even in your pain.
Now, I want you to take this truth into each day. Allow it to cover your entire being. There will be those in your life that don't, or won't, understand what you face each day. Chronic illness has taught me one very important thing: some people will fill you up, while others will drain you, so choose wisely.
Know the reality that you are wonderful just as you are. You have a type of bravery that's seldom seen. I see it - I know it's there. Now, believe it for yourself. The strength you show is who you are; it is in you, beside you, and in front of you. Know this and allow the light that's shining guide you, hold you, and sustain you. I applaud the person you are, for you are the description of courage.
Clarissa Shepherd is founder of the Facebook group Fellow Travelers. She provides support to people living with FM and ME/CFS and she is author of Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.