Is it Giving Up or Acceptance?

imagesA couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I haven’t reached the acceptance stage on the ‘grief scale’ so I don’t think I am qualified (am I ever?) to write about the topic of ACCEPTANCE however I read the following post by Jen Reynolds of FibroTV:

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FibrotvartworkI think one of the most difficult issues to deal with when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness is acceptance. For the first couple years I was angry, in denial, and did everything I wanted to and paid big time every time I did.  I was very young (18) when I was diagnosed and I just wanted to do everything my friends were doing. It was almost like I had to prove to them and myself I was not going to change and would even push harder than a healthy person. I was working full-time  taking care of my boyfriend’s 2 kids 3 to 4 days out of the week, keeping up a 3 bedroom house,  and keeping a very hectic social calendar. This is when I started taking a lot of medication to cover up the symptoms of the poor choices I made that affected my health and began to decline rapidly.

There is almost a mourning process when you get diagnosed. On one hand I was happy they figured out what was wrong but on the other, all I wanted was to be normal again. I held on to a lot of anger because I wanted my life back the way it was. I would try to stay busy every second of the day because once I stopped the pain would be unrelenting and I would think about it more if I did not keep busy. I felt that accepting I was ill was giving in or giving up. What I later realized is that acceptance was key to begin my journey to wellness.

Giving up means that you feel hopeless and that nothing that you do can change the situation so you let yourself go. I ended up doing this for about 12 years. At one point I was on 12 medications and went from 97 pounds to almost 200 pounds in a year. I ate what I wanted because I had the attitude that if I was going to be like this for the rest of my life I should at least be able to enjoy what I eat. I did not know that the food I was eating was making me have more pain and more fatigue. I just did not connect food to pain because it made me feel good to eat it!  I ate fast food at least once a day and I loved having a donut for breakfast because it was cheap and fast before I went to work. My breakfast consisted of a donut or two, a Dr Pepper, two Vicodin  and a Soma. No wonder why I felt so bad! Everything I put into my body when I first woke up had 0 nutrition value and was toxic. I was basically in denial about my health and denied any personal responsibility for taking charge of it and taking care of my body. I would tell myself, ”I did not ask to be sick it is not my fault!” It was not my fault I got sick that is true, but it was my fault for treated my body the way I was and I continued to decline health wise because of it!

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

~Lao Tzu

I eventually accepted that I had fibromyalgia and started to work on my health. It was actually very empowering to accept that I had fibromyalgia and that I needed to take care of myself physically/mentally/and spiritually. I felt like I had at least some control of my body again.  I started not “overdoing it.” I dropped the process foods with the exception of going out to eat once a week and I started working on my mind and spirit. Once I started doing these things I started seeing small improvements in my health. At times it was very frustrating because the results were so small and they were slow but every small success adds up! It was much easier popping a pill and having that little relief for a short period of time! I saw quick results that way but I developed rebound pain that was even worse than the fibromyalgia and it just was a vicious cycle for me so I made the very personal decision (with the help of my doctor) to go off the medications. Once I got off all the meds (which took about a year) I could not believe the difference in my pain levels.

No matter how sick you are and what stage you are with your acceptance of your chronic condition there are things you can do to improve your health that will decrease pain and help you live a more full and productive life. For each person it will be different depending on what they have and what the underlying cause is for their condition. There is always an underlying cause of a health condition and unfortunately Western medicine never tries to figure it out and gives medications to cover up symptoms. It is just the way Doctors are trained here. They are trained to diagnose and prescribe medications accordingly. We can see with the rapid increase of chronic illness this is not working.  We are in a Nation that supports sick care – there is no “health” in healthcare right now. It is going to be up to YOU to find the underlying cause. The best way to do that is to look back to when you first became ill and what happened during that time. Good Nutrition is always a positive for the body and will make you feel better. Also many conditions are caused from food intolerance’s to ether wheat, dairy, and chemicals in foods that are not supposed to be in the body. If you do have a intolerance to one of these things it is a good thing because that can be resolved! I highly recommend that everyone get tested for food allergies and intolerance’s because it is such an easy fix. BUT we are not just physical beings, so if there are any unresolved issues from your past that cause unresolved anger and resentment that is something that must be dealt with in order to see your symptoms decrease.

Life is a journey and the choices you make every day affect the quality of your life. No one can make positive changes for you, that is something you have to do for yourself. You may always have some symptoms but you can live well-being chronically ill. It will take some lifestyle changes and change is very hard. Us humans are stubborn and resist change, but without change everything will stay the same. If something is not working move forward to the next thing until you find what works best for you. Don’t give up! Accept and move forward making positive healthy choices for yourself. You deserve it!

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Hope(less) Springs Eternal

Feeling quite hopeless right now.

Crisis occurs when our theories about ourselves in relation to the outside world go fundamentally wrong.

Carol Osborne, The Art of Resilience: 100 Paths to Wisdom and Strength in an Uncertain World

I’ve just spent about 6 hours sending out personalised emails, looking for some advertisers for LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA; after spending a couple of hours doing the same yesterday. I haven’t heard anything back yet – you all know me now: I need everything to happen NOW!

So I’ve decided to stop, not least because my head and shoulders REALLY hurt, but, when I stop I feel hopeless and helpless. I don’t like just stopping. It means I am just waiting. I don’t like waiting, especially when I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I don’t have anything planned for tomorrow…or the next day…or the day after that. In fact, I don’t have anything planned until next Tuesday.

It’s not like I don’t have things I need to do (empty dishwasher, laundry, put the shopping away, clean my bathroom), it’s just that I can’t get motivated to do those things. and tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day – and I want to do something, but not really. I am lacking in motivation. What do you do to maintain motivation?

I even submitted ‘maintaining motivation,’ ‘disability,’ and ‘illness.’ Mostly, this search led to sites dealing with depression; although I did find some helpful tips for increasing motivation:

  1. Test out the assumption that you can’t do something. Break it into small parts and try a piece of it. Self-efficacy, the belief that you can have impact on or change your world, leads to greater accomplishment than a negative “can’t” attitude, which stops you before you have begun. Many “can’ts” are actually “won’t try’s.”
  2. Focus on what can be gained from effort rather than on total victory. Not everyone succeeds one hundred percent of the time, and valuable lessons can be learned even if the objective is not totally achieved. Human nature seems to dictate that as a project’s chances for success appear to decrease, effort also decreases. Often this decision is based on extreme thinking: if you are not going to be totally successful, why try? Looking at the world as all black or all white will prevent a lot of positive growth by promoting fear of failure and restricting those activities you will be willing to engage in. History is replete with famous “failures.” Columbus failed to discover a new route to India; Edison failed hundreds of times before creating a filament for the light bulb. It is almost impossible to think of anyone who has succeeded quickly or totally at what he or she set out to do. Life is not a winner-take-all contest. Motivation can be increased by focusing on growth and effort instead of winners and losers.
  3. Shorten feedback loops. When you feel unmotivated, tackle a few projects that can bring pleasure and satisfaction quickly, such as writing a letter, exercising, or helping someone else with a small project. This establishes a connection between action and positive results, thereby increasing motivation.
  4. Remember that variety is the spice of life and a boon to motivation. Sometimes shuttling between projects that require different skills provides a needed break. For example, employees whose jobs allow greater diversity report higher job satisfaction and are more productive than are workers whose jobs are more monotonous. Organize your time to provide diversity when possible.
  5. Keep a “have done” list. It is common for us to say, “I haven’t done anything all day.” This type of extreme thinking can be corrected by making a brief list of things to do and using it to organize time and reinforce what is accomplished. At the end of the day it becomes a “have done” list and helps provide solid, positive feedback. Collecting this evidence over a period of a week is even more convincing. If you tend to get carried away with lists, start with only five things to do and don’t add anything else until you have finished one of them. The number of items remains constant at five, thus offering variety and a chance for you to set priorities without becoming overwhelmed.
  6. Avoid the workaholic syndrome. Some people who worry about flagging motivation are actually workaholics. Sooner or later, their bodies cry out for a rest, and pushing even harder only makes matters worse. All of us need vacations from working from time to time. The workaholic is annoyed by these interruptions or becomes anxious that he will never have the energy to return to the work. What could be a recreational respite turns into a downward spiral of negative and self-condemning thoughts. Try taking a few days out for a real rest. Resolve to use one hundred percent of the time enjoying the feelings of relaxation. Like a good night’s rest, a vacation can restore your ability to concentrate and increase your energy.
  7. Use positive mental imagery to increase motivation. This is done by creating a mental picture of what you would feel like if you accomplished your goal. The power of imagery seems to increase as the mental image is elaborated upon and anticipated.  
  8. Make a balance sheet for the task you’re procrastinating. Listing the advantages and disadvantages of inaction can help clarify the reasons you may be avoiding something and offer a more positive perspective. Putting the ideas on paper often makes it more feasible to contend with them rationally, too.

Helping anyone?