a little help

jean julien - stillmovingblog.comAsking for help isn’t my strongest suit. I’m much better at suffering through something then passive-aggressively complaining after. But when I stopped taking my prescriptions I quickly learned that had to change.

In the world of holistic health, nothing happens quickly. You restrict your diet and might not see the positive impact for months. You clean the heavy metals out of your system, religiously practice your physical therapy regimen, and meditate multiple times a day and likely won’t notice a difference for weeks on end. When you take pharmaceuticals, however, you can get relief [even if it’s just slight] practically instantly.

So, when I do something that pushes me into a pain flare, there’s not much to do besides wait it out. I can be extra strict about what I eat, get lots of rest, and spend as much time as possible practicing pain management techniques, but it’s a true test of patience. Needless to say, my goal is to limit these occurrences as much as possible. I could simply avoid activities that I think are going to push me over my limit [and sometimes I do], but part of my healing process is to live a life that is not dictated by chronic illness, and if I isolate too much for the sake of pain control than I need to reconsider my habits. Sometimes asking for help is the difference in my being able to do something rather than missing out, or keeping my symptoms at bay instead of being swept into a multi-day flare. And the earlier I ask for help, the better the results.

Lucky for me I have a handful of wonderful people in my life who truly want to step up whenever possible. Still, while they are fantastic at offering their assistance, they cannot read my mind and don’t have a clear picture of what’s going on unless I actually tell them. Dropping hints, no matter how obvious I think I’m being, is insufficient. And usually, when I start peppering these little remarks into the conversation I create conflict, either upsetting myself for not getting the reaction I want, or between the two of us as they feel they aren’t living up to my unrealistic expectations. It’s just a really bad situation all around.

While chronic illness has a way of making us feel like we exist in this world that is completely separate from everyone else, that isn’t true. My body definitely imposes limits on what I can or cannot do, but so does my mind. The responsibility to fight that inclination to say “no” falls on my shoulders, but when I allow myself to accept help from another I can lighten the load a little.

 


 

Image courtesy of Jean Jullien.

what is positivity, anyway?

[I apologize for my absence over the last few weeks and provide an excuse at the end of this post.]

 

Picture this: You run into a friend who is in the throes of cancer treatment. You strike up a conversation, ask how they are, and they respond, “Pretty good!” while smiling and asking you about your life. What’s your gut reaction? Mine might be admiration; I mean, after all, they’re just so positive!

Take the same person on a different day. You meet them for coffee and it’s clear that they’ve been crying. You ask what’s going on and, through tears, they confess that things are tough, that they’re tired of being sick, and they’re frustrated. You might not walk away from the conversation thinking that person was positive…at least I don’t think I would.

But is feeling and allowing yourself to experience the difficult things in life a sign that you’re not a positive person? Are you simply not being positive in that moment, but you overall are? Can you be reasonably upset and positive at the same time?

While admitted to the Chronic Pain Recovery Center at Silver Hill Hospital I learned that we can’t numb ourselves to physical pain without ignoring our emotions, as well. It makes sense that we can’t pick and choose what we’re going to feel [or not feel] and that it’s more of an all-or-nothing situation. When I stopped taking opioids all the feelings I cast aside for years started popping up, demanding I finally confront them. Sometimes that looks like me cracking up over dinner with friends, and other times it’s a panic attack in the middle of a wedding reception. Both feel like victories, though, and a sign that I’m continuing to get better, but I’m not sure that everyone views these circumstances in the same light.

My goal used to be to maintain positivity whenever possible, especially in public. Anything less felt like a failure. Letting my guard down in front of even a close friend or family member was a sign of weakness, and not letting people know the truth of how I was actually feeling was a victory. That’s not my goal anymore. I don’t want to harp on the tough stuff, but I’m done with burying it.

My new goal is to be genuine. I have no desire to be unpredictable and a victim to mood swings, but I think hope that as I accept feelings that arise I’ll eventually find my balance.

Positivity is overrated.

 


 

* I know, I’ve been quiet for a while. My dog, Celie, is nearing the end of her life. The last few weeks I’ve focused on her and soaked up all her wonderfulness, hating the idea of neglecting her while I pursued my own thing. For now, though, she is sleeping peacefully at my feet, so I seized the opportunity to write something down.

you know nothing, jon snow

 

anigif_enhanced-23497-1459773333-2

 

I recently had an appointment with a doctor who is known for thinking outside the box and getting to the root of an issue rather than simply addressing an individual’s symptoms. After I spoke with the nurse he came in – or rather, was visible on the screen, as this was a Skype appointment. One of the first questions he asked was if I drink Spring Water. Yes…all the time…constantly. “Your joints,” he explained, “are loaded with minerals. We need to pull them out of your body.”

I was kind of incredulous. First, okay this is easy and I am fully on board. Second, are you kidding me right now? I drink this water because I thought it was good for me, even though it’s a bit expensive and even inconvenient. Are you telling me that my actions are not only unhelpful but also damaging?

Healing is a humbling practice. You are constantly growing and evolving and learning and begin to get the I-think-I’ve-figured-this-out feeling, only to realize that you don’t. Well,  maybe that’s not entirely true. Perhaps what you were doing was exactly what your body required at that time, but no longer fits your needs. What may feel like hitting roadblocks might be no more than changes in direction.

Part of this [this = healing] is not viewing these shifts negatively, and actually anticipating them. As we change and our bodies change our needs have to adapt. Maybe today I need to sit at my kitchen table and write for hours, but maybe tomorrow I need to be outside in the sunshine surrounded by friends. The trick lies in finding that level of self-awareness that allows you to constantly gauge where you are and what your body, mind, and soul require. If anyone figures out how to do this, please let me know!

Until then, I’m going to try to find comfort in my ever-changing quest for healing, and not view anything I’ve done in pursuit of this goal as a failure…or as me knowing nothing.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Meme courtesy of Buzzfeed.