I have cried at least once every day for the last 16 days. No, I am not going mad (I promise), it is Olympic fever. So this month I thought I would write a follow-up ode to exercise to follow-up my love letter to gym days gone by from September 2015.
As I said before, exercise was a HUGE migraine trigger for me and I also suffered exercise intolerance. When I was finally diagnosed my consultant advised me to stay away from physical exertion until I felt much improved - which is now, hurrah!
It was very daunting to pull on a pair of shorts, dust off the trainers and commit myself to an exercise regime; up until one month ago, I had not exercised in any real way for over a year, and I am not going to lie, it was hard. But it wasn't limb-drainingly hard. I didn't want to throw up, I didn't want to sleep for 6 hours, and i didn't feel cold and shake.
Those endorphins people talked about do actually exist. Who'd have thought it?!
In all seriousness, this realisation led me to want to write this post. I want to tell the friends and family, the co-workers, the school friends, the gym instructors and, whilst we are at it, dietitians of people with a chronic illness - be it diagnosed or undiagnosed, in their heads or in their legs - that sometimes exercise is not good for you.
I spent a lot of my life pushing through pain and fatigue to last as long in the gym as those around me. Even when writing the previous post almost a year ago, I always had the sneaking suspicion I was just weak and making excuses. But I realise now that is not true. I am lucky enough to have my symptoms relatively controlled a lot of the time now and so I can see this from both sides. I have felt 'the burn' whilst well and ill and I can assure you it is not the same. If it means you go home and cry, if you cannot move for days afterwards or if it simply makes whatever symptoms you have worse, then stop.
So if somebody in your life is unwell and you hurry to tell them that the gym will cure all their problems, please bear this in mind. If they say they are in pain or they are tired then consider the very real possibility that they don't mean 'a bit' they might mean 'a lot'. I have sat and heard medical professionals debate the amount of pain a person is in because they appear to be coping, doubt their fatigue because they appear 'normal' in a 15 minute appointment. People who have illnesses far worse then mine are far better at pretending they are fine. And I am pretty damn good.
I am thankful now that I can start improving my fitness, but I wish I had listened to my body when is was telling me quietly to stop, instead of listening to those around me telling me loudly to go.
Tokyo 2020, watch out....