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'I choose happy; it's so much better than the alternative' one writer on how a devastating illness changed her outlook forever

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My name is Lucy Robinson and I am happy.

Not happy-as-long-as-I-meditate-for-six-hours-per-day-and-live-in-a-remote-forest-community-that-rejects-western-values, but truly, not-contingent-on-anything happy.

This time last year I was not happy. My health was on a downward spiral and one morning in Mid-May my legs, once strong and fast, buckled underneath me like balsa wood. I went to bed without any idea what was wrong with me but a frightening certainty that it was bad.

‘It’ was M.E. and it devastated me for months. In the three preceding years I had travelled the world, fallen in love, celebrated the publication of my first two novels and moved to Bristol with my boyfriend. I was ready for everything! For life! Only my body had other ideas.

It’s hard to put into words the darkness that I felt during that time. The stunning weight of exhaustion, the bleakness of my isolation, the swirling panic that I would never recover. I became a shell of a person. My boyfriend must have felt bereaved; where once was Lucy Robinson sat a void.

Someone told me about a ‘cure’ called The Lightning Process. I thought it sounded like a load of balls.

Nonetheless, I’d run out of options, so I read the Lightning Process book. It made great sense. I got myself accepted on to a training seminar and after three days I was completely well. I haven’t had a day’s fatigue since.

Before falling ill, while travelling the world

It’s beyond the scope of this article to explain how the Lightning Process works but the basic fact is this: it taught me how to influence physical problems over which I thought I was powerless. It taught me, quite literally, how to heal myself.

After the training seminar I called my partner, George. ‘I’m completely cured,’ I shouted. ‘Let’s go and have some FUN!’ We went on a day trip to Devon and at the end of the day, when I found myself happy and relaxed, rather than grey and exhausted, I cried with joy.

People often assume that I’m so happy because I’m no longer ill. This is true, to a certain extent, but the real reason is that I learned not just how to influence physical problems but mental ones too. Anxiety, a very good old friend, suddenly became a choice. As did bleakness, bitterness, fear and anger.

Now, this may sound quite flippant. ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve learned how to control what happens in my head. Just like that.’ Is that really possible? Actually, yes. But why, if I learned how to do it in a mere three days, wasn’t I able to do it before? I’m an intelligent woman; surely I should have worked it out long ago? Surely, if there was an easy way of influencing mind and body, everyone should have worked it out long ago?

That’s the interesting bit. Some of us can influence our mental and physical states naturally, and others simply can’t. I was one of the latter. But all I needed to become someone who can were some simple yet powerful tools, and those were exactly what I got. Equipped thus, I flew. I haven’t looked back.

The ability to influence my mood brings with it a raft of benefits. Courage, for example: recently I made myself write to a leading spinal expert to ask if he’d sort out my bad back at half price . . . And he said yes!

I’d never have done that before! Since getting well I’ve also marched out into empty dance floors because I want to throw some moves, I’ve written to some very famous people asking if they’d review my forthcoming novel and I’ve started getting into lifts after years of refusing to go near them due to claustrophobia.

With my partner George

Similarly, I seem to have sprouted all this wonderful self-confidence. I’ve brazenly told friends and writer colleagues that my new novel is excellent. And it bloody well is!

Only I wouldn’t have been able to see that before, let alone say it. I’ve also started to like what I see when I look in the mirror and I’ve lost that feeling of inadequacy when meeting new people. I just march in as myself – lovely, funny, stupid, flawed and brilliant, and people like me. Just as I am. Who knew?

The only problem with my new modus operandi is that I sometimes find myself wanting to cure everyone. It’s odd when people write to me via my website or social media, telling me about how they’ve struggled with ME for fifteen years but don’t think that my recovery would work for them.

While they of course have my deepest, most genuine sympathy – I know how life-sappingly awful ME is – I sometimes want to say, what part of ‘I got completely well in three days’ doesn’t appeal to you? Why are you not biting off my hand for more information?

But we all have our different paths. I am not here to judge. As I said before, I thought it sounded like a load of bunkum until I got desperate enough to try it.

And of course there’s been the realisation that people don’t always like happiness. Someone commented on an article I wrote recently, saying that she hoped my stupid fake little bubble would burst soon. Others wrote that I sounded like a ‘smug tw*t.’

I let it sting me for a few minutes and then I remembered I had a choice.

I chose happy. And I’m going to keep on choosing happy, every day, because it’s so much better than any of the alternatives. I learned the hard way how precious my life is and I don’t intend to squander that gift one single day more.

Words: Lucy Robinson

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