Consider the term “chronic.” Often, it causes a tailspin. Why? The chronicity of anything, whether it be illness, pain, or injury implies longevity, and that can often lead of feelings of hopelessness or depression. Pelvic pain is often a chronic illness. Understanding and developing mechanisms for coping is essential to seeing improvement.
If you are feeling down, tired, and overall “over it” these tips can be helpful to RESET. Resetting if often the key to REGAINING (whether that is, your sanity, your health, your life).
1. Take a step back: We are often so consumed in the moment that we forget that the first step in processing is actually taking a moment… to take it all in. Chronic illness is just THAT. It’s chronic. It can become cumbersome and frustrating. Often triggering unhealthy behaviors such as “catastrophizing” where one becomes consumed with their illness and begins “cycling.”
It often reminds me of the Buddhist fable of the three blind men and the elephant. In order to conceptualize the elephant, they touch it. The first man touched his trunk, “it is a thick snake” he proclaimed. The second reached for his ear, “it is a fan,” he said. The third touched his leg “it is a tree trunk,” he exclaimed.
The moral of the story, is that none of these men (or women in this day and age) could take a step back to see the entire animal. They each made dogmatic assumptions based on a limited perspective. DON’T BE A BLIND MAN. TAKE a STEP BACK.
2. Communicate: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Family members, friends, physicians, can only provide support if you voice your concerns, frustrations, and wins. Often, especially true when facing a chronic illness, we forget that we are not surrounded by “mind readers.” That in order to move forward, we must communicate our needs to have them met.
Maybe, just maybe, you are unsure of your needs. Because, well, truth be told you’ve never had to verbalize them. In fact you don’t feel the need to verbalize it, because well, shouldn’t those around you understand your needs? They don’t. They won’t. Until you sit down and understand the feelings you are going through, you won’t be able to verbalize or connect with those around you.
Often, this is the hardest pearl. Because let’s be honest, most people who are bad communicators, don’t know they are bad communicators. Chronic illness and pain can often lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Those suffering can sometimes spiral into isolation making effective communication even harder. Understanding this parallel is crucial and the first step to regaining control, in order to take a step back to process. TRY THIS. You will breathe a sigh of relief, TRUST ME.
3. Celebrate the “wins”. “Wins” don’t have to be life altering. They sure don’t have to be gigantic moments that feel earth shattering. The piece to this puzzle is understanding that the real “wins” are often in the subtle nuances. These “wins” often exist in the everyday life. Although at times these small seem small. Maybe you got 4 hours of sleep. Maybe you didn’t think about your illness for an entire 15 minutes. What may seem small to you, may be LARGE in hindsight. Studies show, that those who believe they will get better, DO!! You owe it to yourself. Improvement or changes in your health and pain take time. Progress is SLOW. But celebrate the “baby steps” because while progress can be slow, quitting will not speed it up. Every step you take on your journey, will perpetuate further steps. You will notice yourself vastly different if you celebrate your own wins. It will allow you to break the cycle and climb higher. I can tell you anecdotally, the patients that do the best are the patients who are able practice this approach.
4. LOVE YOURSELF: Really love yourself. Understanding that illness, injury, pain, your battles are a part of YOU. And despite what you are currently feeling, YOU deserve love. The society we live in today, we are often comparing ourselves. The advent of social media, albeit amazing in its own right, often causes people to compare themselves to others. Even with the understanding that social media tends to highlight “highs” without often depicting the complete story which for everyone includes moments of what feels like personal failures. Remembering that real growth actually occurs during these times. Everyone who got where they are, had to begin where they were. Let this set in for a moment.
Your illness, your pain, whatever battle you are currently facing, is part of who YOU are. Start by accepting your struggles and your hardships. Some of you may have been battling illness or pain for years. It becomes frustrating and grueling. So I’m going to ask you to do an exercise with me right now.
1. STOP. Right here, right now. Pause. 2. Underneath all this pressure, this pain. Is YOU. Take a moment to acknowledge yourself. Then think about one aspect of yourself you love. Every single one of you right now has something about yourself that’s deserving of love. Acknowledge it and be the first to give it to yourself. 3. Say the words. I love you. That means YOU. The Inner You.
Love yourself. Honoring yourself, your struggles, your past, YOUR illness, YOUR pain, will give you the tools to overcome it.