There Will Never Be a Better Time to Get Better
Denial is my go to move. It’s kind of my thing. Eventually I get past it, but at first, it’s always denial.
I’ve denied adversities, big and small, with the best of them, but my confrontation with Meniere’s disease is one for the history books.
I was diagnosed by a terrible doctor. He was right, and it felt so good to finally put a label on my suffering, but that didn’t make him any less terrible.
I was scared, and I asked him a million questions. I just wanted to understand. But he didn’t see it that way. He didn’t see the terrified young man in front of him whose world had just been turned upside down.
My doctor said, “You don’t believe me? Are you questioning my expertise? You have Meniere’s disease. Are you a doctor now?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I left his office that day beaten, scared, and hopeless. I started into a slow spiral of depression. It was one of the lowest points of my life.
Naturally, I did what I do best; nothing at all!
In a fierce effort of denial, I decided my doctor was wrong. I spent a lot of time in bed, waiting for my symptoms to magically go away.
But of course they didn’t, and I got worse, much worse. Eventually I started taking action, but I learned something valuable from this experience.
Things may seem bad, and they probably are, but there will never be a better time to start taking the steps necessary to heal. The only good time to start is now.
Healing takes time, especially with a complicated vestibular disorder like Meniere’s disease. There is no magic pill to make it all go away. It requires finding the right doctor, significant lifestyle changes, discovering your unique triggers, and so much more. It’s a slow and painful process that will ask so much of you. But the sooner you start, the closer you are to success. The worse your symptoms get, the longer it will take to find relief.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.” – Confucious
You also don’t have to change everything all at once. In fact that would probably backfire. The new habits wouldn’t stick. Instead, start taking baby steps. Even the smallest steps will get you there if you take enough of them.
No matter how bad your symptoms are, there is always some small step you can take. Maybe it’s the decision to get out of bed. Maybe you can get the smallest bit of exercise. Maybe you can try a new approach or treatment strategy. Or maybe it’s just making the decision to keep fighting; to not give up hope.
Strive to push yourself 1% harder each day. If it seems too small a goal, believe me, it’s not. Your efforts will compound. The payoff is huge.
As you go forward, make sure to keep track of your progress in a journal. Aside from helping you find your triggers, a journal can be a powerful tool for motivation.
Keep track of your progress, your efforts, and most importantly, your wins. Each small win will motivate the next. You will undoubtedly face setbacks along the way, but reviewing your successes will give you hope and the will to persevere.
It will also help you to build and develop a routine that works for you. A good routine will automate many of the decisions you have to make each day for your health.
Living with a chronic illness like Meniere’s disease requires constant vigilance and a high level of discipline. But a daily routine can make it that much easier. It eliminates the need to constantly make difficult decisions.
Take exercise for example. When I’m not consistent, I usually end up having a conversation with myself about the merits of getting exercise when I’m perfectly content to stay on the couch and watch Netflix. Netflix usually wins that argument. But when exercise is part of my daily routine, I don’t decide to work out, I just do it. It becomes a normal part of my day.
By slowly increasing your efforts (remember 1% more every day) you will build a stable routine and develop new habits that stick. When trying to make meaningful changes, slow and steady wins the race.
It took a long time, and endless trial and error, but eventually I found strategies that worked for me. My symptoms started to improve. It didn’t happen all at once. I got better slowly, little by little.
But it all started with a single decision. The decision to let go of the denial and face the challenge head on. To take small steps towards health.
What small step can you take today?
9 thoughts on “There Will Never Be a Better Time to Get Better”
Wow. How timely this post is for me. On the drive home from my OTO appointment today, I finally accepted that this “disease” is a part of my life and that I need to confront it. You nailed it.
Hi Claudia, I’m glad to hear you say that and thanks for the kind words. I can clearly remember the moment I finally accepted it as well. Nothing started to change until after that point. I can also clearly remember the moment when I realized there was hope, that my life might not be over like I thought it was. These 2 moments were the most important in my recovery by far.
Thanks for your story! I have battled this insidious disease for 11 years now, but it has not gotten the better of me. I will not stop living life, enjoying my grandchildren, traveling, going to football games, driving…for me exercise is the best strategy for me. I do jazzercise 5 or 6 days a week…I have learned to power through the dizzy spells, the bouts of nausea, the balance issues…but I don’t give up on my exercise. Yes, I do have flare ups, and I get frustrated, but I will not let this disease get the best of me. This is my life for however the long the good Lord decides to keep me here…
Hi Carolyn thanks for your response, and I must say that you have a great attitude! I try to take the same approach. I have setbacks, but I power through and keep living my life.
Glenn…good for you…so many people just give in to Menierres…setbacks are a part of this disease…but I am not ready for a walker yet!!!!!
I love ur attitude Carolyn but I struggle to be so positive. After a recent cluster of vertigo attacks I’m now scared to leave the house. I’m having frequent panic attacks too which has created a viscous circle. My life has just stopped. How do u get to be so positive? How are u not scared that if u go out u will end up on the floor unable to get up? I do admire ur attitude. I wish I was like u x
I just go…I have tumbled in stores, had to be helped from football games, gotten sick while teaching…but I just won’t let this disease get the upper hand. The more I move and exercise, and do things that frighten me, the better…I do get scared…especially if I go somewhere that is very crowded…but I do deep breathing exercises…I love this blog as well! Feel free to comment me anytime…we are all in this together! Take care and be well!
I am so glad to have found your blog. I’ve lived with Menieres 25 years but I still have such a negative attitude and I need to change it. I’ve just had a wonderful 2 years of symptom free but now it’s all back. It came back in Feb and I’m struggling. Just 5 months ago I was happy, carefree & living a social life. Now I’m scared to leave my house for fear of another attack. I can cope with the raging tinnitus and the pressure and ear pain. But the vertigo scares the hell out of me. And now it’s taking over my life. My life has stopped. I don’t go out. I don’t see anyone. I’m too scared to walk the dog. I love your blogs and ur positivity and I hope it helps me through this dark patch I’m going through.
Sue Fisher Seeger
I have chronic viral labyrinthitis, first cousin to Meniere’s. I got hit 26 years ago in June.One of the major things I learned was to show myself compassion, to commiserate over what I’d lost and would not regain — eg, major hearing loss. And then move on. I reminded myself of the parts of me that still “worked” — eg, my sense of humor. I was careful with how I defined myself: “I am not disabled; I have a disability.” A big difference from my point of view. Yes, parts of me were broken, but I was also cracked open to new ways of being in the world. Don’t get me wrong: Life is still rough and I’m definitely frustrated at my limited capacity — and aging doesn’t help. But I’m connected both in real and cyber time with new people. The importance of community is vital, as I see it. Thank you all for being there, and sharing. Take very good care of yourselves.