Whenever I talk to healthy people about my experiences with ME & POTS, one response always remains the same: “But you seem so happy?!”
And I am. But why is that?
Back when my conditions were Severe, they stripped me of my independence and identity. The meltdowns I used to have over this were soul destroying: the despair, sadness, uncertainty, feelings of loss, inadequacy and of being a massive dependent burden on others was brutal. I know I wasn’t alone and many others with Severe ME/POTS feel the same.
However … they say to know true happiness, is also to know true suffering. In other words, our suffering makes us appreciate how precious life is. It forces us to quit overlooking small joys in our pursuit of bigger ones, and recognise the beauty in our everyday.
My health has improved dramatically in recent years, affording me something I thought I’d lost forever: quality of life. Despite the many limitations my ME and POTS continue to impose on me, I nonetheless feel like I’ve been given a second chance at living. My gratitude for this knows no bounds. Which is probably why I’m so unusually happy in the most mundane situations.
For example, I’m probably the cheeriest customer at the supermarket checkout (human interaction – yes please!). Just being out of the house and part of the world is such a blessing that I will never take for granted again. Fresh air and nature – amazing. A catch up with a friend or a passing smile from a stranger – lovely. Rain or shine, warm or cold – it’s all good. I never used to stop and smell the flowers when I was well. Now I do.
Obviously I still get stressed, just like anyone else. I don’t like running late, running out of petrol, bickering with my partner or continually bargaining with my four-year-old to get him to do as I’ve asked. And I fucking hate it when someone leaves an empty box of snacks in the cupboard or dirty dishes on the side.
But what I DO like, is that I’m now well enough for those things to finally be an option and/or problem for me again. I’m grateful for everything – good and bad. And gratitude breeds joy.
In other words, I’m not just basking in the sunlight; I’m appreciating the rain too.
And that is why … I am happy.