One kilometer at a time

Sophie Jacob
Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac (Québec)

Hi, my name is Sophie Jacob, a 34 year old happy and young woman, truck driver and social network media facilitator. I am also the author of the book Un kilomètre à la fois (One kilometer at a time). I received a diagnostic of cystic fibrosis at the age of 6 months, and have succeeded to overcome the prognosis to enjoy my presence in this wonderful universe. However, the path wasn’t always clear…

After incredible teenage years, I became an agitated woman. I had many dreams to fulfill, but as a victim of cystic fibrosis, I couldn’t find means to achieve them or to develop myself. I could not live like other women my age. I was single, unstable and without a job. I was also angry, infuriated from many failures and from spending too much time in the hospital. I didn’t accept being born under a bad star.

In 2006, my depressive state and my behaviour brought me to consult doctor for other reasons besides CF. After meeting for a few minutes with a psychiatrist, I was diagnosed as bipolar. The reason was very simple! It had been years that I had been living ups and downs, moments of exhilaration interrupted by moments of depression. Life wasn’t easy, especially with CF.

From this moment, a new fight was added, to understand the meaning of my pain and to adjust my new medication so as to not live as a vegetable. Each meeting with my psychiatrist made me more depressive, bringing me back to the past and to bad memories. My soul was dying inside a sicker and sicker body.

One beautiful morning, as I was watching my life pass before me while twiddling my thumbs, a thought infiltrated my head without welcome. It constantly repeated: “You are a victim of your misfortune”. It was long, however I ended up understanding its meaning… The only reason that I was dead inside a sick body was because I was convinced that my life summarized to this.

This revelation brought me something new, conscience, then ambition. I was now decided to change my way of conceiving my life, and to further fulfill my dreams. I was to stop being scared of being sick before being sick, and I was to live. It was no easy thing, but facing each obstacle I told myself “one step at a time” regardless of the step’s height. When I fell, I took a breath and rose back up. When others held me back, I fled… right ahead! My decision was taken, I was going to respect the commitment I had taken from the bottom of my heart. I was to become a truck driver. However, this long path forced me to do great introspection…

I realized in my progression that, because of the many bereavements that we must regularly face with CF, I had accumulated much sadness and sorrow. Because of failures, and sometimes rejection, I had accumulated frustration and deception. Because I was sick, I saw myself as an imperfect human being. But heck! Are there any perfect humans? My perception of life was wrong and it wasn’t because I was bipolar. It is because I was emotional and I didn’t know how to channel my emotions.

I also realized one thing in my healing process, it is that emotions don’t result from situations but from our interpretations and experiences. When a person compares to me and say: “Oh, I should stop complaining, what you live with CF is far worse”, it is completely false! The emotion that results from their obstacle is the same as mine. If that person is not able to channel that emotion adequately, their pain can make them suffer far more than I suffer from CF!

What is different is not CS or the obstacle, it is our capacity to interpret adequately and to rise again! The fight is not physical… The fight is inside and is lived everyday, by everyone.

By being conscious of that, I had no choice but to cease seeing me as a victim of CF. I also changed my perception of others. If I, when I am emotional and about to erupt, consciously or unconsciously, can change my perception of people and situations by changing my behaviour to protect myself… then it is the same for others! We are all human. Our reactions to situations do not depend on whether we are good or bad! They result from our experiences and also from our interpretation.

From that moment, I started forgiving to those who didn’t have a harmonious behaviour with me (without nevertheless keeping them in my life). I forgave to those who hurt me, and I forgave myself for the hurt I caused. We all want to be happy, but it a complex endeavour that can become confusing if our emotions mix into it.

Today, I am much more calm and serene. I do not take things in a personal manner. I also give myself the right to express myself clearly, because I am not perfect, I am human. I succeeded in ridding myself of my heavy negative emotions, and my arms are now free to welcome happiness. Above all, it is now easier to take decisions, and to race to do the things I love, even with CF

I take moments one at a time, minute after minute, whatever they are. I do not anticipate tomorrow’s hurdles, because life is lived today and is full of surprises, opportunities and twists. I allow myself to put a knee down when I am out of breath, but always to rise back up. My head is full of projects, and my heart is ambitious to succeed and to give. I have not achieved that with better physical health, but rather with a more positive mental flow.

No matter the obstacles or the disease to fight, victory comes from within. Love and happiness come from the heart, not from your feet or from your neighbours…

On the eve of 2016, I realize all the things I have accomplished in the last 10 years. I have fulfilled my dream of becoming a truck driver, I have crossed almost all American states and Canadians provinces, I have travelled, I have written a book, I have an understanding and outstanding employer, and extraordinary friends and family. This was unthinkable in 2006, nevertheless it was possible, as I have done it.

If I was able to do it, soc an you. We are all human, imperfect, and looking for happiness. Be happy, health will follow. It is a great gift to make for yourself in this upcoming new year.

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