Episode 17. Moving Forward: Building Momentum in Chronic Illness.

May 01, 2024
Wellbeing Interrupted Podcast



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Hey there, Teisha here and welcome to episode seventeen of Wellbeing Interrupted. This is going to be a bit of a shorter episode because it's been busy. We've just moved out of our house and are about to start our new life, I guess, at our beautiful block. So, in between packing, I still wanted to do this episode.


Today, I want to talk about a Chinese proverb that has been really important to me over the years, and it is:

"Be not afraid of going slowly, be only afraid of standing still."


In this episode, I'll talk about how in living with chronic illness we can often find ourselves feeling really stagnant. Then I’ll discuss how it can become really powerful if we slowly create momentum in our lives. Finally, I'll talk about some ideas of how to build momentum in your life with your illness.


Do You Ever Feel Stuck Living with Chronic Illness?


When I look back on my life with MS, for those of you who haven't listened to Wellbeing Interrupted before, I was diagnosed with MS at twenty-two, and I'm forty-nine now, so that was over twenty-five years ago. When I think about some of the really dark periods, some of the periods where I felt so overwhelmed and unsure what to do, I realised those periods were when I felt stagnant. I had no idea what to do or how to move forward.


So, back in 2003, I had a massive relapse. A relapse is a period of inflammation on your nervous system, so the nerve signals don't go through. In 2003, not only was I back in a wheelchair, unable to walk—my legs, I couldn't move them—but I also had for the first time upper body impairment. I couldn't use my hands, couldn't feel my hands, couldn't even lift up a cup to drink from. This level of dependence was something I had never experienced before, and it was terrifying. I was scared about getting through that time, and I was also petrified about what that level of dependency would mean for life moving forward.


And I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Just think about the periods where you face new symptoms, and you come to a standstill because you think, "How can I possibly deal with this now?" You might be exhausted because you've been living with your illness for a long time, and you think, "I just don't have the energy for dealing with something new.” Or you might be just newly diagnosed, your life has changed in a big way, and you're petrified about how your future looks. You've got no idea what to do; you feel like you don't have the tools to cope with the now or try and make sense of or build a future with this new reality.


Feeling stagnant, that's when you can feel really down. That's when you feel, "I don't want to get out of bed. I don't want to face the day. I don't know what my life will become." This is when sometimes I think depression really hits because you can't see a way out of the darkness, and you just don't know how you're possibly going to move forward. And unfortunately, this can become such a reality of living with chronic illness. It's not a good place to be.

Hopefully, by listening to this episode, if you can start moving forward out of this energy and space, then this ten or fifteen minutes will be worth your while.


Creating Momentum Through a Major Health Challenge


So let's go back to the actual proverb: "Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still." And as I've said, standing still is when you feel stagnant, when you feel overwhelmed, when you are at a loss as to how to move forward. From this proverb, I interpret that we need to somehow move forward, we need to create momentum. And that is really difficult to do, but it can be done. So when I go back to 2003, when I was dealing with this massive relapse, when I was feeling at a loss and really disempowered by what was happening, when I thought I was at the mercy of MS and couldn't have an impact on my situation then or in the future, it wasn't until I slowly started creating momentum that the dynamic changed.


I'll give you an example. When I was stuck in a rehab facility, after finishing my treatment at the hospital, there was nothing more medically, in terms of treatment, that could be done. I’d had my steroids, which hadn’t really worked. Then I needed intensive physio. I had physiotherapy every day, a couple of sessions a day, and occupational therapy a couple of times a day. This started me realizing that I could have an impact on this; I could hopefully regain my functioning.


But what also happened, which was different from previous relapses, was that at this rehab facility, I was allowed out, which meant twice a week I had either acupuncture or Feldenkrais. I’ll put a link to what Feldenkrais is in the show notes, but the Feldenkrais practitioner worked on restoring my awareness of body movement. And what I loved about these sessions was that I would lie there and she moved my body in different ways. But what was great was at the end of the session, she did a guided meditation. That’s the first time I really experienced the power of guided meditations.


Because I realized that even though I felt so stuck in my body, even though I could hardly move, the guided meditation created freedom in my mind. And it sounds really cliché, but even at the end of the sessions, talking about walking on the beach, smelling the air, hearing the waves, and feeling the sand under my feet, when you can’t move, that was so freeing and so powerful. I felt like in those moments, it wasn't about MS, it wasn't about my symptoms; it was about healing and opening myself to new ways of experiencing this time.


And just starting to create momentum really helped in making me feel less disempowered during this time. And it’s funny how these small changes lead to bigger things. After this massive relapse in 2003, I went back to university, finished my social work degree, and then started thinking about what was next. That’s when I went over to Romania and volunteered with children with special needs for a few months. I had all of these amazing experiences. It was such a great lesson for me that the next time I feel overwhelmed, when life just feels too hard, not sure how to move forward, just to start moving forward with your mind. And for me, that was with guided meditation during that time. But over the years, I've discovered other ways of moving forward, even if that is going slowly.


Practical Steps to Overcome Stagnation in Chronic Illness


Okay, so as always, I don't want this podcast episode to be just about me and my experiences years ago with MS when I was feeling stuck, because I'm sure this experience is not unique to myself. Often, in living with an illness, we do feel stuck and overwhelmed, unsure how to move forward.


But, as they say, easier said than done. Sometimes it is really difficult, and you do just want to stay in bed and not move forward. However, I want to give you a few suggestions just to get you started thinking about different ways to create that momentum. Remember the quote: "Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid of standing still." Slowly, you can, I don't know, listen to an inspiring podcast. There are so many podcasts out there, not just mine, that you can listen to, to challenge your thinking. I'll also put a link in the show notes to this podcast episode, because I chatted to Krystal Profitt on this very topic last week on The Profitt Podcast.


Krystal is actually the person whom I listened to and did her course to learn how to create podcasts. And this whole concept we chatted about is even when in your business you come to a stop, you come to a standstill, like I did. I was going to do a podcast but then lost my voice with muscle tension dysphonia. You can listen to the "Introducing Teisha" episode in relation to that; again, I'll put a link in the show notes. But when I lost my voice, I thought either I stop and don't even contemplate doing podcasting, or I somehow create the momentum. I talked to Krystal about it; well, I couldn't talk, I couldn't hit record. So, I did her course, learned more about podcasting, wrote a blog, got my ideas onto paper, and started thinking about what I'd talk about. I listened to other people's podcasts. There are all these things I could do to create the momentum. And that then helped me to start moving forward, to eventually be able to create Wellbeing Interrupted.


So, sorry I went on a bit of a tangent, but listening to podcasts is a good way of creating momentum.


You could also read a book. If you're feeling really stuck and overwhelmed and think, "How do I ever get out of this dark period?", start reading about other people's stories. Another one I'm really big on is starting to explore holistic health options. You know, what you're doing is not working; again, not saying don't go medical—I see my oncologist, I see my neurologist—but start exploring things like I did. I had no idea what Feldenkrais was about, but I was open to the suggestion, and I found a practitioner, and that helped me so much in creating that momentum. So be open to different ways of treating your illness.


Or try meditation. It can't hurt. It's not difficult to do, but just finding that stillness when you are feeling overwhelmed can be so beneficial because then, once you quiet your mind, you're more aware of the signs around you, you're more aware of the opportunities that will help you to move forward.


Also, if you're feeling stuck, don't isolate yourself. Make sure you get in contact with friends, or support groups if you find them helpful, or the Hurdle2Hope community. You know, there are so many things you can do to just start slowly moving forward. And always remember, being stagnant is not going to help.


Final Thoughts Creating Momentum In Chronic Illness


Okay, so another quick episode, but I really want you to remember this Chinese proverb: "Be not afraid of going slowly, be only afraid of standing still." And this is so important because if we're stagnant, if we feel stuck and overwhelmed and unsure how to possibly move forward in our life with our illness, that will create such darkness in our life.


That will make you feel really powerless and at the mercy of your condition, and we don't want that. And if trying to make changes just seems too difficult, start slowly, start making little changes in your life, start experiencing new things. Whether that is meditation, whether that is reading a book, watching a television series, listening to a great podcast—whatever it is, make some small changes, create momentum, and then, who knows what that will lead to.


So, thank you for listening. In the show notes, I'll link to the episode where I talk about losing my voice. I'll also link to the Profitt Podcast episode, "Turning Adversity Into Hope: The story of a podcast born from resilience and optimism—I love the title, that's the interview with me.


And also, remember to follow me on Instagram Also, visit my website, Hurdle2Hope.com, for different resources including the healing journey quiz. Quite a few people have been signing up to it and I'm so pleased because this is a way of building momentum. With this quiz, I'll give you different resources as to how you can move forward from whatever stage of the healing journey you're on.




Are You Ready to Reclaim Your Life?

If you are living with a health challenge or supporting a loved one who is the good news is...

You can start your own Hurde2Hope® journey today by accessing this FREE on-demand MindsetMasterclass.

In it, you'll discover the exact three mindset shifts that have empowered me in my life with MS and now stage 4 breast cancer.

I'm so excited to share these insights with you! ❤️🧡💚