Pain Can Be Something More and Better Than Just Pain

English: Vladimir Bystrov. 2006 Russian Premie...

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Self-Care Tip #181 – Look for help if your pain never becomes something more than pain.  Be a friend to yourself.

Glee is back!  I’m so glad because it makes great work-out distraction.  Good music, drama, beautiful people, and wonderful ah-ha concepts like,

Use your pain and loneliness to inspire you to make something beautiful.

Can’t remember it verbatim though and I noticed after an hour surfing the web for Mercedes quotes (and getting detoured to all sorts of other fun stuff for grazing) that whoever writes these quotes up didn’t find this one worth it.

Joni Eareckson Tada on the Larry King Show said that when she thanked God for her paralysis, she began to be productive through what paralysis offered.

It is however sometimes impossible to take what hurts and let it fuel our fires.  Sometimes it’s just a cold lump of coal.  Sometimes, we aren’t adaptable.

Luckily we aren’t sitting in a cave during the ice-age and can trust that a bear won’t come and eat us when we are wounded.  But there are other predators.  In my line of work, I could call disease process a preying force.  It takes over more and more cells, space, grey matter, consuming bits of our identity and changing our ability to cope with stress.

It’s easy for people to say, “Turn your pain into energy for creativity,” as if it were a volitional option for you like it was a choice for them.  Or we call it bits of morality; maybe a fourth of an inch on the rim of our gold crown we get in heaven.  Those of us who care about that crown look at our shoes, apologize and promise to try harder.

It is not easy to explain these apologies and inactivity to someone who has never been immobilized by mental illness.  Even those of us who have experienced it first hand have a hard time remembering the real texture of what we went through once it is passed.  Illness can be so awful that even our subconscious shudders when turned back to remember.  It is no wonder that we find it difficult to explain.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way.  If we aren’t able to adapt, aren’t elastic and sit stunned in the presence of pain, immobile to the newness that it can offer – recognize this as a flag to turn towards medical help.

Question:  What was/is your story when you weren’t able to adapt well to stress?  When you didn’t adapt well, what helped/helps you hope for more?  How did you find it?  Please tell me your story.

Live And Live Despite The Ongoing Loss

Red slipper

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Self-Care Tip #141- Live and live despite the loss.  Be a friend to yourself.

The other day, my hair was barely pinned back in a knotty mass, when I arrived at clinic late with my house slippers still on.  I didn’t realize this of course until I heard this flapping sound echoing behind me as I hooned down the hall.  Distracted by myself, I seemed to suddenly come upon an old man.  He was lovely really, wrinkled, clearly handsome in his day, shuffling my same direction, and also in his house slippers.  It was less than a second when I took this all in and I suddenly felt very self-conscious.  Not awkward for the normal reasons that I should have been, like my nappy appearance, but I’ve never really thought I was “normal.”  No, I felt rude.  I’m much more sensitive to rude than ugly.

Do the younger seem rude to the older?  There with their supple joints, perky bodies and minds, hope, and shorter medication lists?  I felt rude.  Rude combined with awkward is not something most people are comfortable looking at, which is what I unfortunately offered up to this innocent man.  Walking fast felt wrong.  Not sure what to do, I sort of slowed, yet my tardiness to clinic didn’t let my gait relax.  Giving an uncertain smile, I managed not to make eye contact when I said “Hi there,” lest the eye contact lead to further tardiness.  Then off I galloped, luckily for both of us, only 3 doors down.

I didn’t spend more than a few seconds with that stranger, yet remember well what he symbolized for me.  I remember him when I get grumpy about not being able to eat as much as I did 10-years ago.  When I get resentful with my feet, (a size and a half HUGER since I had my first kid,) I see his lordosis (hunched back often from a collapsed spine.)  I wonder how he is doing with his losses.

There’s not much romance in growing old.  What is romantic is a beautiful person, who has been real with their losses and with the joys of life that are still available to them.  There’s no point in my denying that I can’t have cereal and pasta every day any more.  There’s no point in being angry about it.  I’ll just eat slower and force, er, I mean find more pleasure out of what I do eat.

I like to think that the old man in the hall made his and makes his peace with losses and is more glad than not for his life.  If so, maybe he was ok with my fast pace when he couldn’t.  Maybe it makes him more comfortable in a world in which he is becoming more and more of a stranger.  That is something to admire.  That is something that is worthy of life’s privilege.

After yesterday’s blog-post, a reader said it quite fine,

I did not know depression was progressive.  That’s depressing.  As is the realization that aging is progressive.  …On the other hand I can say I’ve had 61 more Christmas times than a new-born and perhaps that makes it worth it!

Question:  What losses are you struggling with?  How do you come to terms with your losses?  Please tell me your story.