Next week, I’m starting a Pilates class at my physio. Spending a few years sat down doesn’t do much for your posture, and apparently, hardly any of my core muscles are working any more, with my neck/shoulders and lumbar region working double hard to keep me upright, rather than the muscles that actually should be doing so. Hooray.
Pilates should gently help my muscles to remember what they should be doing, and eventually I might be able to sit up properly and straighten myself out, rather than relying on soft furnishings to keep me upright.
It’s such a little thing, but for me there are a lot of connotations attached to this simple act of movement. I’ve been fighting my CFS diagnosis in my mind for the last few years, alternating between trying to convince myself that everything is fine, and feeling some sort of acceptance, followed by a wave of fear as I try and comprehend what that means. There’s a type of grief, which makes sense if I look back at the person I was before all this happened.
A rat-race manager, always on the go. Then a personal trainer, relishing movement, strength and freedom. And then, that crash: CFS, depression, anxiety, flashbacks, panic. And then – stillness. It was as though I was tumbling, free-falling, then coming to a shuddering halt, somewhere at the bottom of a chasm. Waiting for the dust to settle.
In an instant, I lost the person I was. Some aspects of her I was happy to lose – the short fuse, the materialism, the reactionary tendencies… but the parts of me I loved, I grieve for deeply. In hindsight, I can see myself moving through those stages of grief everybody talks about, but at differing speeds. I spent time mourning the ‘manager’ self, but replaced stress with peace, targets with fulfillment, corporate with air and trees and winds. I managed to accept the change that had taken place in me, moving from manager to someone else. But movement, training, fitness… now that is a difficult joy to let go of.
I still argue with myself in my mind. Is it CFS? Is it depression? If I just pushed myself, could I get back into a routine?
I used to be obese, in my twenties. I managed to lose the weight and in that journey, found a love for fitness and training that I managed to turn into a job I really enjoyed. The day I was diagnosed with CFS a few years ago, everything changed. I haven’t exercised since then. I’ve put on 8 stone and am obese once again. I went from muscular and full of energy, to a complete stop. Giving myself some slack, of course I’m still grieving.
I’ve managed to begin walking, but anything further fills me with dread. My absolute dream is to go for a jog, to lift a weight or two, to feel that joy of movement like a human again. But when I even think about exercise, that image of ‘old me’ rises in my mind again. I feel so unhealthy, and now, at at least 7 stone overweight, everything hurts when I move. I remember running and climbing and swimming, but my body aches and screams and creaks just standing up. I feel angry at ‘letting’ myself get to this point – but then remember the journey of the last few years, and begin to let myself off. A little.
The truth is, I don’t want to push myself because of what might happen if I do. I might find that actually, I can continue building up my fitness, a little at a time. But I might find that I can’t. And knowing that, for certain, is something I’m trying so hard to avoid.
Anyway, this entire post is just trying to say – I’m starting Pilates next week, and I’m a little bit scared.