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Carrie Armstrong Headshot

The Missing Piece to the Puzzle

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There once was a girl who was great at being not-so-well. She wished and hoped very hard to become good at being very-well-indeed. Luckily for her it turns out wishes do come true...it's just sometimes even the best wishes need a helping hand...so with that in mind...here's a bit of a helping hand I made earlier...

Jigsaws eh? Remember those buggers? How many hours of your little life did you spend stuck at the dining room table as a weeny one. Tiny 5 year old fists hammering ill-fitting pieces together...daring to look Postman Pat straight in the eye and tell him he is supposed to have 3 nostrils...and a lamppost growing out of his head...firmly maligning the relative who got you this rubbish excuse for a present...an educational piece of apparatus thinly disguised as a toy...judging them with tiny primary school sized eyes...

There would always be a method to it though wouldn't there? So you start with the sky and fill that in, a tree or two etc work your way around the outside then start filling in the trickier bits...

Wellness is just like that. there will be so many parts of your Life After, (your new life, the one you have to make for yourself after the years of chronic illness are finally over) that you've already sorted, stuff you are still busy sorting.. but then there's this one bit. One nagging part. The bit that doesn't fit the other pieces, no matter how you try to hammer it into place. The gaping hole it leaves in the middle of your picture. That part you just get stuck on and can't move past. It's difficult to spot for two reasons:

1) It's something you do constantly, chronically. So much so you wont know you re doing it all the time. Nightmare eh?

2) You will put it in many different guises, dress it up in various scenarios, give it different names. It will have the same feeling attached to it though, every time. It will be the feeling you instinctively want to avoid more than anything in the world. It will make you feel the very worst you are capable of feeling. It's your biggest fear, it comes from what made you ill in the first place..and its the thing to get past to get you to where you want to be. Whole again. Normal. Firing on all cylinders. Recovered. Whatever you want to label it. I just like to call it getting you THERE.

I can tell you what mine was; that I'd break wherever I was, instantly. That I'd get ill again and I'd be powerless to stop it. Not even that it would kill me this time. Just that I'd ever have to live through feeling that powerlessness all over again. That I'd be in public and I'd be left totally useless with no one to help me. It took many forms, this sense of never feeling reassured by anything. At first I thought it was just that the world seemed like a dangerous place-but that never quite sat right with me. I wasn't afraid of other people, I was afraid of my own body. that it would just break. Again. With no warning. That's what the root cause was. I never felt vulnerable to other people hurting me, but if I couldn't trust my own body then I was not safe with anyone, anywhere. I couldn't sustain friendships. Couldn't for the life of me go near a relationship. How can you when you distrust yourself so much? You can't give of yourself to anyone, anyhow. You cannot receive reassurance from a soul with a mindset like that. You're just not wired to receive anything in that state. And so the distrust and uncertainty become the lenses you wear to view the world, it becomes the norm.

It took me years before I realised what I was actually missing. I'd existed in a world without any certainty, never feeling safe for a moment, not feeling reassured or supported by anything. Literally it was gone in the moment I lay on my bathroom floor waiting to die just minutes after feeling fine. All the certainty I'd ever known left in that moment and I'd never felt it from that point on. I go so used to life feeling this way that I didn't event notice it was missing. I did know something was missing, because the anxiety never left me, this gaping black hole that led to sheer panic. That constant reminder that at any moment all this could be snatched away all over again.

When I did figure it out suddenly everything fell into place. Instantly I was better. I was okay. I was whole again. All I had to do was find that reassurance. BE that reassurance. Now every day of my life I make sure that I know I'm okay. That I know my body is certain. That all is well. That I am safe now. It's a belief structure I have achieve before I walk out the door or the day doesn't get very far, trust me. And if I lost that piece of the puzzle again then I know the shadowy uncertain place I existed in for so long would be just around the corner, waiting for me...

If I hadn't felt all these worrying, niggling negative emotions I never would have found my missing jigsaw piece. I would have stumbled around frightened in the dark forever. My bad feeling that made life so hard was what saved me. It became my beacon lighting the path for me so I could finally stumble upon that which I did not even know I was looking for.

What's your missing piece? Which aspect of your life is troubling you right now in ways you can't even fully put words to? What's holding you back from being whole again? Which bit doesn't quite fit where you think it should? Because that's your missing piece to the wellness puzzle. And if you leave yourself open to finding it, even if the thought of doing so is scary as hell-then that final bit of recovery is yours for the taking. Just remember...it's always in the last place you look...

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