It has been one of those days (or is it weeks, months...even a year perhaps) when the mind has been restless while body has been at rest. The New Year dawned and before I could even blink a month had passed by. All the New Year resolutions remained (so far, at least) simply as resolutions...showing no inclination to move into action. The mind kept trying to mentally shake the body out of its lethargy, but to no avail. Surprisingly, when asked, the body kept insisting that the mind was not co-operating!! And in this tug-of-war of the mind and body, days turned into weeks and months into a whole year. Am I leading somewhere with this? Rest assured, I am.
One would wonder what this tussle between mind and body is all about... it’s about recovery, convalescence, recuperation, rejuvenation...or whatever else you may wish to call it. While we spend a lot of time, effort and money on curing the illness, we seem to forget to factor in the time required for convalescence which is the time it takes for the mind and body to work in tandem once more. Something the family and friends and often even the patients themselves seem to forget. Any serious illness, takes a toll on the mind, body and spirit...leaves behind self-doubt and fear...can I do this? Should I do this? What if... and similar such ridiculous concerns seem to surface in the mind, giving the body all the reasons it needs to stay put and not make any effort.
I remember one of my nurse friends in Sweden telling me that the female brain works only at 70% its normal capacity post-delivery. As many of us have experienced, post-delivery there is a feeling of a brain fog and its impossible to remember the simplest of things...and yet, very few mothers forget to feed/clean their babies in time, or miss its cry. It appears that nature has somehow ensured that a new mother focuses essentially on the needs of her baby and renders all else into the background of her mind. So think about it...even nature felt the need to give a mother’s mind a little time to catch up with the her body after the trauma of childbirth, which is such a natural, normal and frequent occurrence. Yet, we, forget to do so when our own bodies or those of our loved ones undergoes the unnatural trauma of a serious illness/surgery etc.
Any recovery process is not merely a physical phenomenon... the physical recovery, or lack of it is still visible and measurable...it’s the emotional and mental recovery that most people struggle to come to terms with and often tend to neglect...leading to depression or stress of varied kinds. The effort it takes to fight the ailment, to remain in a positive frame of mind and to try to be cheerful all deplete the emotional reserve an individual has. Emotional reactions and breakdowns happen after the worst is over...almost similar to weeping in relief. A patient who has borne the pain stoically suddenly seems to become impatient and irritable once the worst is over.
Add to this the basic expectation of people around, that, now that he/she is physically fit, they should run around as they did before and behave exactly as if nothing had happened. “Put it behind you” is the simple adage that is often thrown around...is it so easy?