So, it did seem that my "MS relapse" had passed, leaving me with only very severe and prolonged fatigue. Or so I thought...
Q: When is a relapse not a relapse?
A: When it's a whole new problem....
Yup, that's right. It seems I have a whole new set of medical labels and theories to juggle with, or soon will have. I say "seems" because I'm still waiting on the results of a lab-full of tests.
The main problem is this "new improved" fatigue, which I'd previously put down to MS, but now seems to be a whole new animal. It is utterly disabling all day, then suddenly lifts in the early evening, after which I feel fairly wired for a few hours and then find it hard to sleep. Added to that mood swings that would make Godzilla blush and very strange goings-on in my monthly cycle and it's clear that, whatever's up, it's not MS. I suppose I ought to be glad of the change, but right now the old addage that "a change is as good as a rest" feels like a nasty joke. I am sooo tired (I'm writing this at 10am, but it would be a different story at 10pm) that I'd take a rest over a change every time!
According to my own amateur sleuthing and some early DIY tests it looks like, at the very least, I'm dealing with what is sometimes called "adrenal fatigue", or hypoadrenia. The really swell thing about Mr Hypoadrenia is that he usually steps out with his pals Ms Hypoglycaemia and Mr Hypotension - that's low blood sugar and low blood pressure to you and me. Either of these could explain why I often feel like I'm going to faint for no apparent reason. Now I'm no dainty little thing and there's nothing wrong with my appetite, so feeling faint is something that doesn't seem right to me. Inwardly I feel more like an Amazonian warrior than a willowy princess type, but right now my body begs to differ. And I DON'T like it.
I don't like asking for help all the time. I hate going back and forth to the medics like a hypochondriac. But most of all, I loathe not being master of my own ship, getting on with my life and being the super-efficient, go-getting, productive member of society that I feel I "should" be.
And it's exactly that sort of thinking that's got me into this mess. For all my healthy living, all the knowledge I've gained and all the addictions I've dropped, the one thing I never learned was how to release my addiction to stress. Can one really be "addicted to stress"? Well, in a sense, yes. It must be possible, because, psychologically speaking, I have been addicted to stress my whole life. It all comes of making the desires of my ego - "do more, achieve more, be more, get more ..." - more important than the desires of my wiser self, which are always to love, to give and to let it be.
My addiction to the stress of needing to control my entire existence and to continually "get more done" has led to the one thing that an unemployed, healthy-eating, would-be yogi like me would never expect: "burnout". Because that's what we used to call it in the '80s, isn't it? It brings to mind visions of overworked, overstressed executives, up to their necks in meetings, targets and impossible conflicting responsibilities. Or harrassed Mums-of-four swimming in dirty nappies, housework, demanding children and unfeeling partners. Not me, quietly sitting at home rebuilding my health through sensible eating, country walks and occasional writing. I have apparently achieved the impossible: I have got "burnt out" while doing virtually nothing, having no real responsibilities, no job or children and nothing of substance to worry about!
It's an object lesson in what addiction really is. An addict can find a way to get their fix in ANY situation. Somehow, despite leaving work and eschewing any kind of commitments, I have continued to indulge my egoic need to feel important by getting stressed. And now I am, once again, paying with my health. Indeed, I am virtually disabled by it.
I am recognising that the one thing I need to let go of is the one thing that has always mattered most to me: my puffed-up sense of my own importance. My ego. Call it what you will, but I now understand how much I need to chill the f**k out and get some perspective. Right now. And for good.
I am recognising that if I am willing to surrender my ego, or at least some of its more unreasonable demands, this could open up space for true healing.
I am recognising that with all my cleverness I didn't leave room for miracles. I didn't leave room to allow That which created and animates this body to return it to wholeness. I didn't leave room for anything that wasn't my born of my own beloved ego.
Finally I am ready to surrender.
As I embark on this utterly new and alien approach to life, I am so grateful to have as my route map Tosha Silver's new book: "Change Me Prayers: the hidden power of spiritual surrender" ...
... and my wisely open-minded and ever-adventurous husband as my travelling companion.
The fact that he's up for all this wacky "spiritual surrender" stuff makes it even more thrilling.
If that's not too egoic a word.