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Friday, February 27, 2015

Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang.

An ancient Chinese philosophy describing the opposing forces in life. Good and bad, black and white, happiness and despair. These opposites are necessary, and actually complementary according to this philosophy.

When I stop to think about my life, I can see this concept repeating itself over and over through the years. I have had plenty of wonderful moments, happy times, and fun. I have also had a myriad of negative experiences, sadness, grief, and loss. The theme that stands out in my memory is one of contrast. How can we possibly experience the full range of happiness if we don't have something to compare it to?

With an illness like MS, we have our share of good days and bad days. I have found that I experience periods of extreme energy and motivation, followed by periods of fatigue and total demotivation. It is a frustrating phenomenon, to say the least. I wish I could determine the cause of my periods of demotivation, and I wish I could make those energetic, happy periods last forever. Alas, I have found no success with my attempts to control this phenomenon. I always think to myself, "Is this MS? Is my illness the cause of these contrasting emotions?" I am not sure.....it may just be a "human thing," but MS is my main suspect.

How to cope, then? How do we manage our conflicting feelings from day to day? I find myself waking up in the morning, and wondering what sort of mood will strike me today. Will I find the motivation and energy to complete the things on my to-do list? I never know until I get out of bed and give it a try. I have learned to accept this fluctuation of energy. I have been reassured by my experience, and I now understand that these periods of low energy don't last forever. We need to learn to accept that this is a part of our illness, and we can manage it.

When I start to believe that my negative feelings and low energy may last forever, I begin to feel very depressed. The thought of carrying on like this for the rest of my life is daunting, to say the least. What I have learned to do is not to fight these periods, but to use them to rest. To recover. To regain my strength, because I understand that soon enough it will be over. My belief is that these low-energy moments are the result of a brain under attack, needing a period of recovery. Instead of seeing these times as negative, see them as a chance to heal.

When we experience periods of energy, happiness, and strength, we should seize the opportunity! Get out there and complete the tasks you need to finish. Socialize, exercise, and have fun. Experience life, participate in the activities you love, and take advantage of the good times. Don't waste a moment of these high-energy periods, because they are precious and fleeting at times. Life is about contrast. We would never understand pure joy if we had not experienced sorrow. Nothing lasts forever, especially the bad times. Everything changes, and if we just exercise a bit of patience, the good times are just around the corner.....

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