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The Good Stuff
The Benefits of Positivity
by Rebekah Lyell
Length:  826 words 

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The Benefits of Positivity

I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a lovely disease (not) that affects every aspect of your life. It causes, obviously, extreme fatigue, (I was sleeping 32 hours at a time then being awake 15 minutes only to fall back asleep), skin infections, stomach ulcers, loss of appetite, irritable bowel, muscle pain, joint pain, muscle wasting, loss of hair, lack of concentration, dizziness, migraines, just to name a few.

I lost so much weight the doctors were going to admit me to hospital with an eating disorder, every time I ate it would come straight back up. I lost all my strength from the combination of no food and no exercise. I slept for hours on end and couldnít walk to the letterbox without feeling like I'd run a marathon. But the thing that affected me the most was the loss of friends. They couldnít understand it, and a lot of them didnít have the time to sit with me and help me through it. But I also found a whole other side to some, who showed just how much they respected and cared for me.

Iíve had Chronic Fatigue for 5 years now; generally it disappears after 2 to 3. Itís an every day battle to live my life and I hate the feeling of being controlled by something I canít control. On my worst days I used to tell Mum to leave me, donít check on me, I wanted to die in peace. It felt like my body and mind were waging war on my spirit. 

Luckily I realised that life is worth hanging around for, as horrible as it seemed then. I began reading and watching stories of people who had overcome far worse things, and listened to my friends as they recalled the old times where I could get out of bed and lived life to the full. So I began listening to my body.

I started by reading positive thoughts, getting friends and family to write down or tell me about the past, about what their hopes and dreams were. I started to remember mine again. I stopped taking the medication I was prescribed. I slept in the sun instead of in my room. I got friends to take me on car trips even if it meant I slept the whole way.

I bought a magnetic underlay, and my aches and pains almost vanished overnight. I went to an iridologist and explored other ways of getting help than in smelly hospitals. I got my hair done, and bought funky scarves and hats to hide the thin patches. I began swimming, half a lap at a time, building my muscles up. It also did wonders to my self esteem. With my new wasted away body it was hard to go out in public but I survived. My muscles came back. 

I began going out, just small to start with. I pushed the trolley for Mum, lasting 10 minutes before having to go to sleep in the car. I went to school for half the day. I went on total detox, no sugar, fat, white flour products, dairy, red meat, nothing, to make sure my system was in its best condition for the hard times ahead. On my birthday I had 10 friends over and stayed up past 7:30 pm for the first time in over a year. 

As time went, I got better and better. I now swim a kilometre every two days, I can stay up till midnight once a week as long as I donít push my self for the rest of the week, and Iím a full time university student. I have muscles and have put on weight. Iím starting to look normal again. My hair has thickened and my skin is infection free. I still live with the struggle every day but now I know how to manage it and how to control it. I know my limits, but Iím determined to push them further and further away.

For those of you who know someone with a debilitating disease like this, donít judge. Be there to support and listen and encourage, to share the good times and the bad, and to offer the sufferer, with wide arms, some sort of reality. To those of you who suffer, hang in there. It may seem hard now, but it will come right. Grey skies will clear and the sun will shine through. Itís taken me half a decade to get here, and probably another half until I am back to where I am, but slowly and surely I will make it.

Life is too short to feel sorry for yourself, too short to watch the world pass you by. It may hurt like hell but the pain subsides and life continues. Grieve and remember where you were, but make dreams, hopes and goals for a bright future ahead. Live by the mantra that life is too short, and nothing is impossible. 

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