I pretty much disconnected this past week because I was on steroids. Medications like that affect me strongly in a negative way, but everyone is different. My pain level had gotten high enough that I was willing to go through the week-long regimen. I had been talking about doing it for a few months, but because of how it affects me so powerfully, I dreaded it. I guess I should be thankful that it is still an option sometimes instead of having no options at all.
With these types of medicines, for me, my logical brain goes on vacation, and my emotional brain goes to high-stepping workaholic wonderland. Except there is nothing wonderful about it. Significant anxiety and wide mood swings of depression and despair are what I experience intensely along with the physical side effects.
My poor hubby. He has been through many steroid hell weeks because of the many steroid shots and pills for the chronic back and leg pain I have needed over the past ten years. Usually, I become a mean ogre with a short fuse, but this time there was crying– lots of crying. I cried about everything.
My hubby may not always understand what crazy emotional or physical side effects that some medicines cause in me, but I can say he tries to get it if I will explain to him what is going on in my head. This week, he just rode the wave with me.
He could have quickly gotten relief from my medication-induced distress when I started saying I was going to stop taking the pills after the initial injection and only one day of pills. I was just so miserable. He helped me through the thought process, which I know should have been obvious, and thankfully, I am on the other side of this experience.
Although I have a choice on how I view my chronic pain, I don’t have an option to not go through pain every day, so I just do what I have to do. My hubby did not sign up for this, but just as he helped me stay committed to the steroids, he commits to me every day regardless of my circumstances with pain.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some issues while adjusting to my new normal, but we are stronger because of the struggle. Our bond is tighter due to me having chronic pain because it has made us both look beyond ourselves and find out what commitment literally means. It is an effort that we make every day for each other.
So every day, when the sun comes up, hubby and I get a fresh start if we failed each other yesterday. We get to try again with each day building on the next. That’s how we have made it this far. That’s what unconditional love means to me.
Tonight, my friend and I were discussing accounting strategies, and I was trying very hard to understand a specific way she processed something. I had to play “21 questions” to finally understand.
I could not see things from her perspective. It sounded like, to me, she did a lot of extra work, but she was certain her way was easier and maybe even quicker. We had the same end results but, we didn’t see the process the same. The differences in our lives created our unique perspectives. Obviously, no one has been through exactly everything you have been through; maybe similar, but not the same.
The questions I asked my friend led me to a mutual understanding eventually, but it was difficult. At first, I had a blank picture in my head of what she was talking about, but with each answered question I was provided a puzzle piece. Slowly, the picture emerged, and I began seeing through her eyes — her perspective.
The problem is that we always listen to respond and do not listen to understand. I wanted to hurry up and tell my friend my process, but when I started trying to see things her way and ask more questions to clarify, it became easier. James 1:19 offers some valuable insight and wisdom to help us:
How often do we find ourselves quick to listen and slow to speak? I know that’s not my first thought. I want to explain my point of view immediately. But when I listen with curiosity, the questions come easy, and the picture in my head quickly starts lining up with the picture in their head. Once I understand their perspective only then can I give them the information they are missing to see things from my perspective. This works both ways.
We must first try to understand others so that we can help add our puzzle pieces to their thoughts. If someone doesn’t see things the way you do, they may need more information that only you can give them from your life experiences.
Why is this important to people with chronic illnesses and chronic pain?
It creates empathy. Right now, the chronic pain community needs a tremendous amount of compassion because we now have our own epidemic along with the opioid addiction epidemic- an epidemic of untreated painful conditions that could lead to suicides because the pain is unbearable without proper medications. That’s why I am always saying, share your stories! No one can understand if we don’t get our voices out there. Write emails to your elected officials, track what different government agencies are making decisions on and make your opinion known. The U.S. Pain Foundation has an advocacy page that is a great place to start learning how to get your voice heard.
I love this quote that has been attributed to Roy T. Bennett: “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
Begin by trying to understand others, then ask yourself, “How would I feel?” If every person did that, imagine what it could do to the world we live in!
Something I did not think about when I began this blog is how sending my words out in the universe will affect those around me and even people I do not know. I mean, I was hopeful, but I am amazed by the responses from all over the world that I have received. There is a healthy side of being vulnerable and telling your story: other people see they are not alone. It has been worth being out of my comfort zone. I thank you for this opportunity to get to know you.
Everyone deals with stress differently. I like to write out my feelings so someone might be a witness to my life and help me find the right perspective. While others choose silence, I find that impossible, but I will honor their choice.
Helping other people makes you feel connected, and you may find something about your situation to help you feel grateful.
I have had some beautiful people share their very personal journeys with their chronic illnesses. Yes, it takes time to write out your feelings, but the payback is tremendous. You help another person by showing them your struggles and your triumphs. As you write, you might begin to see a different picture of yourself: a fighter and a survivor!
If you haven’t shared your journey, please email me on the contact page. I do not publish any information you send unless granted permission to do so.
Don’t look up to the top of your mountain and say you cannot make it.
Look up and around, and you will see others on similar journeys. It is hard to do alone; sometimes, it is impossible, so it is a must to reach out to those around you and find out ways you can help and how they can help you.
Your offer could be as simple as offering a listening ear. Most people just want to be heard and believed.
You might find your struggle to the top of your daily mountain just might become a little lighter with a few burdens lifted from kindness endorphins and a little friendship sharing the yoke.
It can be an exhausting routine to go through every day until I hit my “sweet spot” which is usually around 1 pm until 4:30 pm. The rest of the time I am distracted with brain fog and pain. But I have to keep doing this to survive just like you.
Everyone has their particular mountain to climb in this life. Most are not a fun waterslide that’s worth the climb. I want people to see the odds we rise above every day with our chronic illnesses and show the unbelievers just how strong we can be. That’s why I encourage everyone to share their stories.
And I want people that are struggling to remember to look up and around so they can recognize that each mountain they are scaling has other climbers all around them. Each with varying degrees of knowledge. Through our chronic pain networking, we can find some vital information along the way and change our perception and quality of life.
I didn’t start this blog for a business or fame. I just wanted to be real about chronic illnesses, and bring awareness to chronic pain and how I live and survive them and maybe I can help one person improve their quality of life.
Try spending one day this week by being encouraging to everyone that your path takes you to.
The month of February is all things pink and lovely, isn’t it? Either you love all the valentine day hoopla, or you don’t.
I think it is all a bit negative. All the buzz leaves us to believe we must be partnered with another person for our life to mean something.
If you are not married or if you haven’t found “the one,” you might focus on the fact that you are single at this time of year.
I know I felt that way when February rolled around, and I was a single person. I especially became down when I was a single mom of three small boys, and the pink banners, cards, and candies began popping up in the stores in January. I thought no one would ever want me because I had apparently failed the first time. Valentine’s Day was a reminder of my failures with a one-two punch; I was single, and I had failed the first time. My perception of myself was low at that time, and it wasn’t healthy to feel that way about myself. I’ve changed some of those thoughts, but I find it is a daily struggle fighting off the negative feelings.
What can we do to change this negative perception that we have in our head about ourselves?
Let’s start by learning to love yourself. Make this time about taking care of you. This means spending the amount of time you need to recharge your batteries, instead of running them all way down until you fall over entirely. If you take time for yourself, you have more to offer other people.
SOME WAYS TO LOVE YOURSELF:
1. Stop the inner critic from speaking in your ear. This one is a big one and hard to do because you cannot get away from your inner voice. You have to retrain that voice. There are many ways to do that, and here are just a few:
Develop an awareness of your thoughts. You can’t change what you don’t notice yourself doing so start being mindful of what your inner critic is saying to you. Most of the time, it is entirely out of proportion so challenge the thought if it is negative.
Stop beating yourself up.When you make a mistake, admit it and move on. Worrying about it will never change it. This has helped me tremendously. I know that my intentions are good but sometimes, the things we say or the things we do, go wrong. Talk to people and explain, apologize, or do whatever you need to do to move on. Then, move on.
Treat yourself with compassion.With our chronic illnesses, we need to be very diligent about our health. I believe that it is essential to have a caring and an empathetic view of ourselves. This includes forgiving yourself and your body.
2. Learn to say “no.” Another way to show yourself some love is to learn to tell other people no. Have you ever been asked to do something and inside you are screaming no, but your lips have the nerve to say the word, yes?! I have trouble with this one also, but I have been doing better. I never want people to think I am lazy so I always feel judged by the “lazy” compass if I say no when I am in pain.
Conflict causes pain, especially, in couples. Here’s the link to an interesting pain study from Rush University, Chicago, about how conflict and criticism from your spouse could be leading to increased pain. I will be doing more posts about cortisol in the future because I believe it has a significant impact on chronic pain.
Learning to say no without guilt is hard. It is something that I am learning to do. If you find yourself angry when you are doing something for someone else, and you are not doing it in love, you have probably guilted yourself into doing it. That’s people pleasing. Know your limits and speak honestly. We do better physically when we are tactfully honest.
The other side is if you tell the other person no, and they try to manipulate you with guilt, then you need to look at that relationship and determine how it is helping you or if that connection is hurting you more during your chronic pain journey.
3. Surround yourself with lots of positive people. If you feel alone, even if you are with people, and struggle to face the day, then you have some work to do. YOU need to seek out and find encouraging people to be in your everyday life.
You know that laughter is good medicine so use it every day. I know you have valid issues that might hold you back from leaving your house. There are so many groups online where you can find encouragement. The beauty of it is that you can do it from your bed if you are disabled. I have met some beautiful people from doing this blog and chronic pain advocacy. I have had courageous people send me their chronic pain journeys, and I am finding real hope in their words.
Another benefit of surrounding yourself with people is that you can learn new coping techniques from others. Nobody has perfect days every day. That’s why we lean on others and learn from them. You can help others when you share your story by being the inspiration someone else might need.
4. Spend time resting with Jesus.You are not alone in this world. God wants a relationship with us. It’s what He created us for. In this verse, Jesus understands how tired you are, and He invites us “to get some rest” in Mark 6:31. I encourage spending time reading and meditating on God’s word and praying to recharge your batteries.
31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,(A) he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Sometimes, we all need reminders about the importance of self-care and February is a great month to examine your relationship with yourself.
The Mighty is doing a self-love campaign during February to help you. Here’s the link to the campaign and the article explaining The Mighty’s challenge. Download and print the self-love planner here. Download and print the self-love cheat sheet here. These freebies will guide you in the beginning. The key to lasting change is repetition.
I hope taking these baby steps this February will lead you down the path of self-acceptance and self-love the rest of the year.
If there is any way I can help with encouragement or information about resources, please comment below or go here.
And, as for my current upcoming Valentine’s Day, I will be spending it with my hubby going out to one of our favorite restaurants on the weekend to celebrate. I did eventually find my prince that would stick with me through thick and thin.
Begin loving yourself, and you will attract the right people in your life. Self-love sets the stage for every relationship you have with others; whether it is a platonic or a romantic relationship.When you respect and love yourself, other people notice and know that you expect nothing less from them.
I have been unable to sleep tonight due to the burning pain in my back and the vice grip feeling in my leg. I just pushed myself too hard last week, and I am still feeling it and regretting it. There is always a give and take when you live with chronic pain. To continue living, you need to accept that some of your “reward” for trying to continue living full lives will be pain and that may come in the form of physical or emotional suffering. They are tied together, but how do you reconcile the “reward” of earthly pain and still feel blessed?
I came across this commentary about feeling blessed even when your world feels upside down and out of control. Read Matthew 5:1-11 aloud.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(B) 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.(C) 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.(D) 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.(E) 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.(F) 8 Blessed are the pure in heart,(G) for they will see God.(H) 9 Blessed are the peacemakers,(I) for they will be called children of God.(J) 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,(K) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(L)
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you,(M) persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.(N)
Really? I am supposed to feel blessed right now at 3 a.m. while I am unable to sleep due to the burning shooting pains in my back and the vice grip on my leg and foot? I am also worried about how bad tomorrow is going to be and when will I get a break from the relentless pain. It has taken a while to digest the reality of these verses, but here is a commentary to help put it in a higher perspective.
“Blessed” translates the Greek word makarios. It could be rendered as “happy” or “fortunate” if those words aren’t taken in a shallow, emotional way. Makarios is a state of existence in relationship to God in which a person is “blessed” from God’s perspective even when he or she doesn’t feel happy or isn’t presently experiencing good fortune. Negative feelings, absence of feeling, or adverse conditions cannot take away the blessedness of those who exist in relationship with God.” (Emphasis is mine.)
Michael J. Wilkins. The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 204.
In this sermon, Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded — but perhaps not in this life. I am so thankful for this hope I have that one day I will put on a new infallible body in heaven. There will be no pain, no night, and no crying. That’s my reward for being faithful. Everything I am feeling tonight will be gone. I feel like I can’t wait for that day, but I must.
In the meantime, I have to hold time to Jesus’ teachings. There is still work to do, and that will include daily pain. When I get to heaven, I hope God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
So, yes, I feel very blessed by God that I have chronic pain. That may sound crazy, but it all has contributed to who I am today. God is refining me for something special — the day I return home.
Much Love and Many Prayers,
Follow on Facebook @ChronicPainWithAHigherPerspective
Someone that is very close to me was shocked that I said it was a long walk from the car to the door of the building. It really wasn’t very far…if you are not disabled! All the handicapped spots were taken, and my hubby offered to drop me off at the door, but I did not want to be singled out like that. I should have accepted the offer. Instead, I chose to keep looking at my feet just focusing on one painful step and then the next one.
We were headed to something fun, but I was dreading it. I have been in so much pain this past week and a half. Just over the top pain that it hurts to breathe. But I would have been in pain no matter what so I decided to go anyway. It was just one of those times that you know that you are going to pay for it, but you do it anyway. I needed to get out of the house to clear my head and be around other people, so I pushed myself to go.
I was so hurt by the statement. I was humiliated. I cringed at the truth of what they said. The statement taunted me that I had a hard time walking such a short distance. The statement made me very mad at my body for letting me down.
I could have said something in my defense and enlightened her, but I didn’t. I just didn’t have the mental energy because the pain always depletes it. Thankfully, my brain did work enough, and I remembered quickly what mama always said: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I am hoping that the awkward silence was enough to make a loud statement. I doubt it did though.
I do not want to be internalizing this, so I want to post it and let it go. I’ve always had anxiety, but the chronic pain has increased it because of so many factors are out of my control every day because of the pain. I talked some about my struggle with anxiety in a previous post.
As I type this, the doubts about myself are starting to kick in. I have only begun to understand my anxiety after a year and a half working with my psychologist. But situations like these set off the emotions. I just wish I could get people to understand what having chronic pain is really like. They say they know how we feel, but they don’t. They never will, unless they experience it for themselves. Even the ones closest to you.
The thought process has been laborious, but I am trying to choose to be positive. That’s why I called the blog Chronic Pain With A Higher Perception because I’m deciding to change my perception. I can’t change others, but I can improve myself.This is the best thing I can do for my health.
I am going to find some other positive blogs to help my resolve, and I will pray that the person will never experience pain as I have.
How would have you handled this situation? Has anything like this happened to you, and how did you remain positive?
Get our voices out there! Answer the questionnaire and let them know people with pain matter and that we are not all drug addicts buying off the street causing this “opioid epidemic.” Let’s give them some facts and be NICE!
I’m just going to be honest. I’m struggling really bad this week. So many factors are affecting me at one time, and it’s adding anxiety and depression to my chronic pain. Maybe you are experiencing similar feelings:
The let down after all the Christmas excitement goes away. The miserable cold, dreary weather that has left me unable to get out of the house for days. The increasing physical pain due to the cold weather. The frightening news that unfolds every day seemingly getting unbelievably worse all the time creating fear about the future. Family illnesses and elderly parents. And as I round the corner to turning 50, I’m feeling a lot of regrets and other personal struggles…
I’ll stop listing things, so I don’t increase your anxiety and make you depressed, but all of the things have one thing in common: fear. Some type of fear factors into each one of the events I mentioned, mostly about the future.
The Psalms address David’s fear through his poetry or songs. I had a hard time understanding how the Psalms could be applied to me since it seemed that David was being attacked by Saul physically; he had earthly enemies. I don’t think I have any human enemies. I don’t have anyone that wishes to do me bodily harm as David did. But it dawned on me that my enemy is the devil. So when I read the Psalms, I will substitute “enemies” with “the devil” because fear comes from the devil. He increases the alarm bells to get your focus off of God. The devil is trying to keep you busy with worrying so you will not have peace. Worrying is useless for us, only causing emotional and physical pain but very productive for the devil. He is trying to stop the spread of God’s kingdom.
If you have a relationship with God, then the devil does not have your soul or your eternity, but the devil will do anything to misguide you off the correct path — a little fear, mixed up with anxiety can swell into depression. He can renderer us helpless if we let him. We just have to keep fighting the fear with the Holy Spirit leading us.
Psalm 37 has many powerful verses full of God’s promises proclaiming that if we trust (trust that His plan is better than what we can see) in the Lord, we will find peace: a release of fearful anxiety and depression. But there are things that we must do. God very plainly says do “this,” and you will endure. It’s hard work sometimes so surround yourself with people that will help you back up.
Verse 1: Do not fret. Bottom line: God commands us not to worry.
Verse 3: Trust in the Lord and do good. Ask God to help you with your unbelief and trust Him.
Verse 4: Take delight in the Lord. Find joy in knowing who God is and what He has done for you.
Verse 5: Commit your way to the Lord. Determine to do good.
Verse 7: Be still before the Lord. Pray and read scripture and listen to God to speak – not audibly but through the Bible. Everything you need to know is in the Bible.
Verse 7: Wait patiently for Him. Sometimes we think God should move faster. Trust me; He knows what your timeline should be like better than you do.
Verse 8: Refrain from anger and turn from wrath. Do not become bitter. Constant disappointments or physical pain can make you lose hope and become angry. Pray about this if you are mad at God for your situation.
Verse 27: Turn from evil and do good. Again, determine to do good.
Verse 34: Hope in the Lord and keep His way. Lay your burdens at His feet.
Each of these commands from God requires us to analyze our immediate surroundings. When I feel anxiety coming on, I try to ask myself a few questions like, Am I safe right at this moment? What can I do right now to address the fear/anxiety immediately? If there is nothing I can do, then I tell myself over and over that I have done everything in my power that I can do about the situation and lay the worries at the foot of the Cross. If I don’t “Let go and Let God,” I feel it emotionally with anxiety and depression and physically with increased chronic pain.
I believe there is a direct correlation between emotional pain and physical pain. High anxiety or a bout of depression can increase your pain for many reasons. I know for me it is because when I’m worried or depressed, I tense up every muscle in my body. It is a never-ending cycle. Stress increases pain, and then pain increases stress and so on. Our lives are just so complicated which gives way to more emotions than we can handle and we go in to fight or flight mode. I become completely overwhelmed.
This is when I use scripture to help me with the devil’s schemes. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t read scripture and BOOM! I have peace, and my pain is gone. It is a daily, sometimes, hourly struggle. Today, I’m in a minute by minute mode. So, I know how you feel. Just keep picking yourself back up by surrounding yourself with positivity and scripture is the best place to start. I also encourage you to write down thoughts. Whether you share it or not doesn’t matter. Either way, writing or journaling can create meaning and purpose and hope just for yourself, but if you share it, you can reach others helping them at the same time. We need to be there for each other. You don’t have to go through this alone.
I want to end with a devotion prayer I read for today. The book is called “Daily Gratitude” with contributing writer, Joanne Mattern. It was given to me last year by a dear friend. I could not find a link to share with you, but Amazon has many others to choose from. Just search “daily gratitude in Books.”
This prayer reminds me while my body is in pain, and maybe even my mind is too, I still need to find something to be grateful for because God dwells in me. There is something extraordinary about acknowledging God’s spirit living in you through the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 New International Version (NIV)
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
Thank you for this body. Thank you for the gift of movement, the gift of touch, the gift of laughter. When I ‘m at odds with my body, please help me focus my thoughts to what my body can do and the ways it can serve you. Thank you for the nerves and synapses, arteries and brain cells, that make me who I am, Your Creation. Amen