So we bought some IKEA furniture a couple of weeks ago. A chest of drawers and a couple of lockers for the bedroom. The boxes were sitting at the end of our bed, in their daunting self assembly way, bringing up feelings of fear about putting them together that only IKEA can do!
So we decided over the weekend to start this mammoth task. Begin with the chest of drawers. 3 separate boxes for one piece of furniture. 3 separate bags of nuts and bolts and screws for one piece of furniture. A (what felt like) 6,000 page instruction manual with no written instructions, just pictures. How in the name of Jesus were we going to even start this? But then we just did. We started with step one and then just took it step by step and before we knew it we were onto the final couple of drawers. We had gotten there without killing each other! Success!
And this made me think. Isn’t everything in life just like building IKEA furniture? Here I am – August 17th 2020. 3 years ago today, I finished my last chemo session. 3 years ago today, like I tell you guys every year on this date, I raced to Eddie Rockets in Blackrock with Julie and Jonny to celebrate my last chemo session with a tasty bowl of garlic cheese chips before the wave of nausea hit. This was short lived, I think I made it halfway through – but still, better than no chips at all! Once the first initial days of sickness passed it was all about looking forward. How I am going to get my life back together. How am I going to put this awful experience behind me. How am I going to go back to pre-cancer Niamh? The realisation that this was not going to happen hit me like a ton of bricks and that is where I started seeing this mammoth task in front of me – How am I going to get through the aftermath of this? How am I going to get through these emotions I am feeling? How am I going to get through this fog of fatigue? All of these thoughts and feelings wrapped up together felt like too big a mountain to climb. I couldn’t do it. Or so I thought.
The last 3 years for me have been like assembling that IKEA chest of drawers. An immense task from the outset but when you break it down into smaller pieces, it becomes manageable and you can see yourself getting somewhere. You can see light at the end of the tunnel. For me this started with opening up to Jonny and my nearest and dearest about how I was feeling. After that it was all little steps, taken one by one to help me to get to where I am today. Counselling, finding the work life balance, finding the Niamh life balance, putting myself at the centre. Taking supplements to try help me get better quality of sleep so I can feel less fatigued through the day. Going to the gym. Pulling back on nights out (to a certain extent!) Getting outside for more walks with the pup. Most recently, meditation and journaling. Practicing gratitude daily. This has been huge for me, it is something that I have added onto my morning and bedtime routine and it is just another step, another drawer assembled, so to speak, in my chest of drawers. And it is with all of these little steps, all realised at different stages through the last 3 years that I have come to a place today where I feel that I am right where I am supposed to be, living the life I am meant to live, the way I’m supposed to live it. It’s amazing to look back at where I was 3 years ago and see how far I have come myself. And all it took was my own personal version of an IKEA manual!