Chronically Quiet

70. never aloneMany of us are lonely and alone…and it’s sad.

But let’s look at some of the great revelations and benefits found in silence and solitude that other people (smartphone users check their device every 6.5 minutes, which works out to mean around 150 times a day) miss out on. Silence has been replaced with a cacophony of communication, and solitude with social media.

Here are ten (as described by Thai Nguyen):

1.       Bypassing Burnout:

Too often our culture parallels self-worth with productivity levels. Whether it’s asking what our country can do for us, or what we can do for our country, the question remains—what is left to be done? It’s a one-way ticket to burnout.

Solitude allows for a break from the tyrant of productivity. What’s more is that doing nothing helps with doing much rather than being in opposition. Promega is a company with on-the-job “third spaces” where employees are able to take solitude breaks and meditate in natural light. This has resulted in numerous health benefits as well as improved productivity levels for the company.

2.       Heightened Sensitivity (ok, maybe we don’t want this one):

For many, attempting ten days of silence would be akin to walking on water. Vipassana silent retreats are exactly that; participants are instructed to refrain from reading, writing, or eye contact.

One hundred scientists went on a retreat for research and noted that shutting off the faculty of speech heightens awareness in other areas. Beginning with breathing, that focus and sensitivity is then transferred to sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, intentions and emotions.

3.       Dissolving Tomorrow’s Troubles:

Alan Watts argues that our frustration and anxiety is rooted in feeling and being disconnected—living in the future or the past is nothing but an illusion.

Silence brings our awareness back to the present. This is where concrete happiness is experienced. Watts makes the distinction between our basic and ingenious consciousness; the latter makes predictions based on our memories, which seem so real to the mind that we’re caught in a hypothetical abstraction. It plans out our lives with an abstract happiness, but an abstract happiness can also be a very real disappointment.

The future falls short of what the present can deliver. Silence and solitude can help immerses us back in the present moment.

2014 1. nature4.      Improves Memory (fibro what?):

Combining solitude with a walk in nature causes brain growth in the hippocampus region, resulting in better memory.

Evolutionists explain that being in nature sparks our spatial memory as it did when our ancestors went hunting—remembering where the food and predators were was essential for survival. Taking a walk alone gives the brain uninterrupted focus and helps with memory consolidation.

5.       Strengthens Intention and Action:

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal says during silence, the mind is best able to cultivate a form of mindful intention that later motivates us to take action.

Intentional silence puts us in a state of mental reflection and disengages our intellectual mind. At that point McGonigal says to ask yourself three questions:

“If anything were possible, what would I welcome or create in my life?”

“When I’m feeling most courageous and inspired, what do I want to offer the world?”

“When I’m honest about how I suffer, what do I want to make peace with?”

Removing our critical minds allows the imagination and positive emotions to build a subconscious intention and add fuel to our goals.

McGonigal explains, “When you approach the practice of figuring this stuff out in that way, you start to get images and memories and ideas that are different than if you tried to answer those questions intellectually.”

6.       Increases Self-Awareness:

In silence, we make room for the self-awareness that allows us to be in control of our actions, rather than under their control. The break from external voices puts us in tune to our inner voices—and it’s those inner voices that drive our actions. Awareness leads to control.

We must practice becoming an observer of our thoughts. The human will is strengthened whenever we choose not to respond to every actionable thought.

7.       Grow Your Brain (oh, another one that really couldn’t hurt any of us!):

The brain is the most complex and powerful organ, and like muscles, benefits from rest. UCLA research showed that regular times set aside to disengage, sit in silence, and mentally rest, improves the “folding” of the cortex and boosts our ability to process information.

Carving out as little as 10 minutes to sit in our car and visualize peaceful scenery (rainforest, snow-falling, beach) will thicken grey matter in our brains.

8.       “A-Ha” Moments:

The creative process includes a crucial stage called incubation, where all the ideas we’ve been exposed to get to meet, mingle, marinate – then produce an “A-ha” moment. The secret to incubation? Nothing. Literally. Disengage from the work at hand, and take a rest. It’s also the elixir for mental blocks. What’s typically seen as useless daydreaming is now being seen as an essential experience.

9.       Mastering Discomfort:

Just when we’ve found a quiet place to sit alone and reflect, an itch will beckon to be scratched. But many meditation teachers will encourage us to refrain and breathe into the experience until it passes (Remember Eat, Pray, Love?).

Along with bringing our minds back from distracting thoughts and to our breathing, these practices work to build greater self-discipline.

10.     Emotional Cleansing

Our fight/flight mechanism causes us to flee not only from physical difficulties, but also emotional difficulties. Ignoring and burying negative emotions, however, only causes them to manifest in the form of stress, anxiety, anger and insomnia.

Strategies to release emotional turbulence include sitting in silence and thinking in detail about what triggered the negative emotion. The key is to do so as an observer—stepping outside of ourselves as if we’re reporting for a newspaper. It’s a visualization technique used by psychotherapists to detach a person from their emotions, which allows them to process an experience objectively and rationally.

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Defeating the Purpose

Alisha - Invisible FI don’t know how many of you think about your PURPOSE. I try not to – it depresses me. In fact, the thought of it depressed me for 3 years so now I avoid it. One of our fabulous FCK bloggers, Alisha Nurse from The Invisible F, has been thinking “a lot of things about it.”

Your Life is Worth More than you Know

As always I am thinking about purpose. A lot of things about it.

I don’t know if the same is true for anyone else who has walked in my shoes, but every time I have seriously considered suicide or acted towards it, I always wondered what the world would be like without me. I say world, but I mean what would it be like for the people in my world to not have me anymore.

I always felt my existence had been meaningless.

And while I still struggle with this to a great degree, I’ve realised something imperative.

I’d always thought without me life would just go on. The people who love me would mourn but eventually life would carry on as it does. I don’t think I’ve made any significant contributions to the world to not be forgotten. Not yet anyway.

Years ago, I visited my home country from which I’d migrated. When it was time to leave, I was surprised at how my little sister wept. She went to school inconsolable. I left and later found that she had cried herself so sick, the school telephoned to ask for a relative to pick her up. I was moved to tears and overwhelmed. This was an important moment for me.

The power of love

When my half-sister was born I was indifferent to her due to no fault of her own. That’s actually putting it mildly. She had been welcomed into the world with loving arms, whereas I’d been told I was an unwanted child. As I grappled with trying to survive a childhood riddled with fear and numerous problems, I showed my sister little love and expected none in return.

But my God, she loved me. And she loved me so much that I couldn’t understand. She loved me even when I didn’t love her back.

I didn’t deserve it. But such is the power of love, it turned my cold heart inside-out, and shook me up. I couldn’t not love her back, my little sweet potato muffin.

Now she loves me and I love her.

When I almost went to my death my sister didn’t know. When she found out again she wept again. And I understood how I had hurt her. I know that had I been successful, it would have hurt many loved ones. But I felt that if I did pass on it would have impacted on my sister’s life in some great way. I am actually convinced it would have altered her life. People close to my sister have before told me of how she dotes on me and is influenced by me. I didn’t know.

I say all of that to say no matter how insignificant we think we are and our existences may be, to someone we are so special, that a world without us would break them.

We struggle, yes we do. But if ever we venture down to the path of death we must know it’s not only our lives we take. We are likely taking someone else’s.

Be encouraged.

If you feel suicidal, please know that you are not alone and you do not have to walk that road alone. Reach out. There are some numbers below that you can ring to get help.

Need help?

In Australia, call 13 11 14 Lifeline Australia
In the USA, call 1 800 SUICIDE or 1 800 273 TALK
In the UK, call 0800 068 4141
In New Zealand, call 0800 543 354

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Loneliness is the Most Terrible Poverty

I’ve  been feeling so lonely and isolated recently – so much so that I am having trouble writing and even connecting with you.

That’s why Tracy’s (from Oh! What a Pain in the…) blog post has rung so true with me…and I have to share it with you.

Why Pain is So Lonely

Accredited Member

From Oh! What a Pain in the…, an accredited member of FCK – THE blog directory for people about & with Fibromyalgia

Many people in Chronic Pain feel very alone sometimes, myself included. There is a big reason for that loneliness, mainly the fact that YOU are the one in pain. Despite how much we wish our doctors or loved ones could feel our physical pain in order to understand and validate how we feel, there is no device that will allow us to hook our pain receptors up to another person (but we can all hope for that one day). No one else can feel YOUR pain.

70. never aloneWe may not be alone in our journeys, but we are, essentially, alone in our pain. Additional factors that contribute to loneliness for those living in chronic pain include:

  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Inability to do activities outside of the house
  • Inability to work
  • Marital problems resulting from emotional issues connected with chronic pain
  • Strained relationships with family and friends

Loneliness is often not our choice. I did not choose to have back problems and other health issues. I did not choose for my pain to change me. I did not choose to have relationships lost as a result of what this life has done to me. But loneliness is very common for people in chronic pain. And it has a lot to do with the factors listed above. Chronic pain makes many people depressed, feeling hopeless, and therefore many isolate, choosing to stay home and not socialize.

For some it is difficult to get out of the house. I am able to leave the house and go to the gym for physical therapy, I can spend time with friends and family, but like most, my time is limited. My back has a time limit for standing, sitting, walking, so things like travel, or long event are difficult. But, going out for a little while doesn’t always help the loneliness, especially if pain increases when returning. Sometimes being with others is wonderful but then the recovery is painful and can perpetuate the cycle of depression, isolation and loneliness.

I try to fight loneliness where I can though. I can’t do anything about the marriage issues that have arisen as a result, but I can use my support system. I actually find that since my separation I do a lot more. I have a weekly dinner date with my niece and nephew, I see my best friend most weeks, go to my classes, spend time with my family. I didn’t realize how much I had isolated until all of this happened. I am very lucky to have a supportive system, but at the same time, sometimes you can be with 10 people and still feel alone because people don’t understand what you are going through. As I have said, the bottom line is YOU are the one in pain and you can explain it, give examples, try to make others understand, but it is still YOUR pain.

How do you deal with loneliness?

Loneliness is the Most Terrible Poverty

lonelyI’m lonely.

I can’t even describe my loneliness

Mommy is stuck in bed: she can’t move (and Mommy, don’t feel guilty – you are entitled to rest and get better)…Thais is now in India (and Thais, no feeling bad – you keep having fun and sending back photos...the boy that I may have been interested in(and who I had hoped may help me escape this total solitude) is out-of-bounds…and I can’t confide in my cousin/friend (who ‘called’ the boy out of bounds) because I am still angry that she has imprisoned me in my isolation (whether the boy and I worked out or not)…

The last few days I have stayed in the same pyjamas, not leaving the house – swimming in my seclusion. Is there a record for how long some-one can stay in one pair of pyjamas non-stop?

I’m looking forward to the hospital because I’m hoping the higher dose of ketamine will let me sleep for the whole week – that’s a week less loneliness! (And I’ve organised extra posts for this blog, just in case I am unable to string two words together.)

I’m realising that I have nothing to do – no work, no friends, no life – and I’m hitting the ‘now what?’ time. I can’t be bothered with anything – it’s just sad. Despondency is the only word I can think of.

loneliness_working_from_homeI tried to distract myself by starting a new website – it’ll be called fibromodem.com – and putting everything in the one place. All I got was brain frazzled (and couldn’t do anything for 2 days – good thing that I save some extra research posts for such occasions)! The website will be up soon…it just seems that I need a little more time than I originally thought. I HATE that I can’t have what I want immediately (especially when I’m using it to hide from myself!)

I have no idea how to fix this problem. I have no idea how to meet any new people. I have no idea why all my old friends are gone.

I know that all of you (whether you’re married, attached or single) understand this without me having to find the right words, and I realise that many of you look to me for some answers; but this time, I have no solutions.

Chronic Comic 260

And (drum roll please!)…Introducing FibroMale:

260. Depression

I apologise for introducing him on such a downer but I’m a little depressed at the moment.