One woman's journey and dawning realization of the slow destruction of her spirit while trapped in the jaws of disability.

Disability is at first an affliction of the body, then a state of mind and finally a shackle upon the spirit.

Lydia M N Crabtree, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Unshackling Your Spirit

          So I have been quiet on this blog for sometime. Today I was reflecting why that is. I decided it was because of a few things and by the time I finished running them through my mind I realized I had the keys to unshackling my spirit.

 Do Something

        It is really difficult to sit in your pain and pity yourself, your life and your situation is you are doing something. You just don't have time. I have been playing an iPhone game that lets me grow and send flowers via Facebook. Sounds silly, but the flowers have to be watered on a regular basis. Some will re-grow and others won't. I unlock new seeds and then have to rearrange my virtual garden to plant these new plants. I am giving to my community, in some very small way, and I am keeping myself busy.

        It is also the beginning of a new year. So I am working a little everyday to switch out my filing. I am putting up last years medical expenses in envelopes to make them easy to refer to but allow me to box them up just the same. I am going through our one draw filing and making a list of new files to print and pulling paper work to put away in storage. When I get tired, I put everything away and don't worry about it. I have done what I could do and at least for a little while I have done something productive.

 Resolve Your Past or Set Up a Way to Deal with the Past

         I am putting my past in order. I recently have looked at my past emotional and mental issues and sought to rectify them. This has meant a lot of "I am sorry's" and listening to, as one person put it, "how crappy you (I) are." However, with every phone call and letter, I have slowly let a bunch of crap go. In letting go of my past confusions, I have slowly reduced my stress. The number one preventative thing you can do to stay healthy, is reduce your stress. Stress causes our body to prepare for an impending situation that requires a “flight or fight” response. This releases hormones that prepare the body for a fight or to run. It increases the heart rate and puts energy and blood into our muscles. However, when there is no resolution to this stress induced response, the consequences to the body can be extremely detrimental.

        I have been blown off by lots of doctors regarding my illness because of my past. As a survivor of incest, physical, mental and emotional abuse, I spent the first 21 years of my life in a heightened state of Fight or Flight. I do blame my current ailments on the wear and tear my body took by that constant life of stress. I do not think that my physical ailments are being manufactured by my mind, I think my abused body is coping with years of stress and the damage that type of life can cause you.

        I can’t do much about the damage that has already been done to my body. However, I can do something about whether or not I choose to continue with a stressful life. Moving closer to one of my sister’s was one step in the right direction. My husband getting a less stressful job was another. My son being in a school and surrounding he is happy in is another step. Now I need to take a good look at the things I stress over. As I have, I have faced those and addressed them. Did I find a resolution every time I did this? NOPE! I did find a place of letting go. 

        I have learned that I do not like everybody and, guess what, not everyone likes me! So what? Isn’t that just the way of life? If we were all meant to like each other then we would live in Utopia or a Dr. Seuss’s book. We can find peace with ourselves and the world we live in. Liking everyone isn’t a pre-requisite to a healthy lifestyle, being able to successfully deal with as many situations as possible is. By letting our past go, we find a map toward acceptance and with acceptance comes a releasing of stress.

Talk to Someone

        I talk to my sisters, my husband and a therapist. However, I have found TALKING is necessary. If you’re in a bad mood, you are adding to the stress factor, so talk it out. Find out why you are in a bad mood. Maybe you’re sick of being sick, which is completely acceptable. Talking this over, however, allows that release. Don’t keep it pent up.

        Do this talking thing on a regular basis. Not just once in a while. Do this every day. Every day find someone willing to listen to you bitch a little and spread the bitch around. Don’t bitch at the same person every day, bitch at different people. In this way you don’t worry about wearing out a relationship with negativity.

Focus on Something Else

         When you’re done bitching, ask yourself if any of your friends could use an encouraging word, a note, a friendly ear, a phone call that isn’t about you?

        In doing this you are reminding yourself that you are not the center of the universe no matter how sick, frustrated you are.

You are reminded that other people around you have concerns, illnesses, troubles and that you can help ease them in a small way by listening, offering support or sending a little note.

 Take Charge of Your Health Care

        No I don’t mean getting exercise or watching your diet, although both of those are important. I mean, start demanding copies of your own blood results. Keep them in a spread sheet, look for trends. If you know you have a condition that needs to be watched over, and then make sure you ask for that blood test on a regular basis.

        Keep a daily medical journal. Identify when you have bad days and when you have good. Does the barometric pressure cause you to have a bad day? Is rain a factor? When it is too hot are you especially susceptible to feeling poorly?

        Go to every doctor appointment prepared with questions. If you get an unresponsive doctor, seek another opinion. You get your doctorate whether you made Cs or As in medical school. Never forget that!!!!

        Open all the blinds and curtains in your house and let in the sun. Do not stay shut up in a dank, dark room meditating on your continued illness. Let in the sun to heal you. Whenever the weather permits, let in some fresh air to chase out the energy and smell of sick.

 Plan for Your Future

         It has occurred to me that life continues whether you are sick or not. Continuing to put something off to “when you feel better,” may become an excuse to keep you from doing anything. If you have a chronic illness, “better” may just mean, having less pain or a little more energy. Take advantage of these moments and move, do something, work toward something of importance to you.

        I just recently told someone that a job doesn’t define a person. I am here to tell you your sickness doesn’t define you. However, it will if you let it.


         This is a hard one for me because getting out and about is very taxing. However, I find that being around other people is very therapeutic. My husband tracks how many days I have been shut up in the house and limits it to four days in a row. If I haven’t been out in four days, he will drag me out. We might ride around. Go sit at the mall. Window shop or go get coffee at a coffee shop. Our outings can last as little as 30 to 40 minutes, and they often restore my attitude which impacts how I feel.

 You Know You Should
        Have a set sleep/wake/eat schedule.



        Watch your diet.

       In not doing these things you are simply prolonging your illness. Now, I know this and I am struggling to do the above three. No worries if you can’t do it all in one day. Start with one of the above and work up to the others. Every step on this latter is a step closer to better and more consistent health days.

I don’t have this all figured out yet. I really don’t. I am trying though and hope that sharing some of what is helping me will help you.

On another front, Immanion Press is looking for submissions from people who have dealt with disability and spirituality. They are eager to hear from men who have struggled with disabilities and will take the view of any. It is hoped to bring some awareness to the struggle of those who are disabled or dealing with chronic illness. Please consider journaling your journey in disability or chronic illness and submitting it. Sometimes this type of release can be more therapeutic than any other.

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