Not too long ago I promised to come back to the Irrepressibly Vital Facebook group with a new set of conversations with people with stories to tell. The theme of this project is 'Life Beyond Limits', looking at the experiences of people living with limitations that have impacted their lives in significant ways.
One of the things I was confronted by very early on after I found out I have cardiomyopathy was how quickly and easily my life became all about what I 'couldn't' do. Knowing I might face heart failure one day soon translated into becoming anxious about bringing that date forward by doing anything which might stress my body in the wrong way. Thinking about the impact on my family, or the dramas of EveryMan having to suddenly replace me if I dropped dead in the street (or at my stand-up desk!), it was all fuel to a fire which added nothing of value to managing my circumstances, and itself just served to make my life smaller. I was starting to live my life inside of my limitation.
Worse, the part of me which rails against responsibility and yearns to just lie about and do nothing suddenly found itself with a first class excuse. Despite my occasional rallies and promises to myself that I wouldn't take this lying down (ha ha), I could hear the little voice inside saying 'Go on, tell them it's your heart condition...' and see where I was already starting to pretend.
I realised that what I was doing wasn't what I am committed to in my life, for myself, my family, or for EveryMan. I quickly understood that what I needed was to return to the bigger life I had been living, one where I was challenged to learn and develop, in order to become who I need to be to acheive the goals that I've set, to fulfil on the aspirations and the plans.
To do this, I needed to get really clear about how to manage my illness effectively, to understand the signs that I was at the effect of symptoms and get really good at looking after myself in those moments, and get on with the grand scheme as soon as I was ready to pick it up. To put my limitation inside of my life. To deal with it, and not be dominated by it.
The posts which will follow are from other people I've met in recent years and months who have found their own particular pathways to challenging their limitations. Some may still be struggling, but finding ways that work from day to day. Please read their stories and engage with them. This is a conversation for us all.