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All Things Must Pass

ME/CFS is a constantly evolving disease for most of us, with short term ups and downs as well. The ups are wonderful by comparison but we all need to come up with coping mechanisms for getting through the lows. I will be writing a number of posts about how to get through the darkness. And I’ll try to keep each once short enough for all of you to read easily.

A core teaching in Buddhism is impermanence. This means that nothing is static or forever, everything is constantly changing. Even at a molecular level science can prove this to be true. Nothing is permanent, the universe is in constant a state of change. When you’re lying there feeling like you’re suck in the darkest hole and it just keeps going for endless days, the reality is that you are constantly changing. And in time or with a change of circumstances or medications, you will come out of that dark hole. I was in a hole as dark as death for 3 long years but it eventually ended unexpectedly when I took Ativan for the first time. That first time had a reset affect on my system and I improved dramatically overnight. No one expected this. I didn’t expect it. No one understands why it had this reset effect the first time I took it. But it happened, and my whole world changed for the better.

So too will your darkest moments pass and so too will they be unexpeted. This is the most important thing to remember. Humans have what is called "state dependent memory: where you tend to remember moments similar to the state you’re currently in. It really feeds depression because when you’re depressed your memories are delusional about the past. You tend to remember the past being the same as you feel at the moment. Which means you remember the past feeling just as bad as you do now. And you have trouble remembering all the times in between that were much better. It’s important to understand that this is happening to you all the time. If you know it’s happening and acknowledge it, you take its power away. Even if you still have trouble remembering the happier moments between the lows, you can know that they are there, and know that you will be back up in the future. This gives you something to look forward to and a reason to fight to keep going.

We also tend to be fixated on the moment and how we feel right now. It can be all encompassing and feel like our whole world is defined by the current moment. But it is not. One moment comes and passes, and a new one replaces it. And no moment is the same. If you can internalize and really accept impermanence, it can help you remove yourself from fixation on the current moment and let it go. You can see a bigger picture of your ups and downs and the constant change happening all around you. You can learn to let go of your current moment of suffering and darkness.

George Harrison of the Beatles once wrote "All things must pass. All things must pass away"

When you feel stuck in a deep dark hole, tell yourself "this will pass, nothing is forever". Keep telling yourself that. "This will pass, nothing is forever." There is great power in these words. When I am having a terrible day I just wait it out. I curl up in my bed and I remind myself that it will pass and I let go of my current moment of suffering. I let the day be a bad one. You can decide to let your day/week/month and even year just be a bad one too. And it will always pass.

So remember that from the tiniest molecule to the planets and universe and galaxies, the universe is constantly changing. Remember that this current moment is not forever. It will change. It will pass. Let it go and breath in the unexpected changes ahead of you.


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