I’m honored to share this from poet, writer, author Mary Jane Gonzales’s new blog: MyInvisibleLife.net
Once upon a time, in my real life, I had lots and lots of friends. Despite being handicapped, life was full. Even when handicaps grew to the point of disabilities and everything was more of a challenge, there was still an abundance of events to attend and activities to do.
But over the years, an alternate life set in. And, strange as it seems, there were levels leading up to that point. Starting off normal, becoming handicapped, becoming disabled, becoming homebound, then becoming bedbound. Though I’m very grateful this alternate life occurred over time, rather than all at once, the fact remains it takes a lot of adjusting. And, in that journey, you’re very much alone. No-one is walking in your shoes – and, even those walking alongside you, who likewise grieve your loss, cannot relate to what you experience. And, sadly, the not understanding often leads to abandonment. Not that it’s intentional, but we live in a microwave society that expects quick results. They can’t comprehend (or tolerate) unresolved issues. Chronic pain or lingering illness is unfathomable to most; and would be to us if we weren’t living it. And loss of health is not the only reason for them (or us) to retreat.
Other reasons could be depression that accompanies chronic illness, maybe making us less positive, not seeing the glass half full as much as we had before. Or us not calling them as much as before because there’s nothing new or good to report. Unfortunately, that can be translated to them as a loss of interest. And them not calling us anymore feels like rejection or abandonment. So, for me and countless others, the new reality is lacking someone to visit us or someone to call for a favor. Instead, there’s a host of virtual friends who truly understand what you’re going through and may become treasured friends. Yet, the loss of longtime friendships is painful and the loss of visitors is lonely. I know that everyone’s at a different place in life, and some may not be here yet, just as I was not here yet.
But, though it’s taken much time for me to get to this point, I have arrived! Thankfully, I’m very blessed in so many ways. I have my family, my faith and a couple of friends who, though not nearby, love and support me. I keep myself busy with various projects and enjoy life as much as possible considering the circumstance. I can’t deny that an invisible life is a lonely life. Lonely being a relative term, you could be at the beginning stage where you can no longer work and are no longer in the mainstream of life. Or, you could be acclimated to being at home and still be receiving visitors.
Whatever point each of us is at, we need to be able to entertain or occupy ourselves, rather than expecting others to meet that need. So much is learned from chronic illness, with self-discovery being one of them. Though I would not have chosen this life of illness, neither could I have known that good could come from it. Despite the hardship or trauma of disease, in the end, I suspect that most of us have been made better by what we’ve been through.
Find her books here available on BarnesandNoble
A young woman I met during my freshman year of college told me about her recent struggle with Leukemia. She said that she had just finished her second round of chemotherapy; earlier that day her cancer-free results had come in! She was back on campus full time and took a seat beside me in class. My expression of shock and concern must have been obvious as she introduced herself. I stumbled over my words… “Um..wow…I’m sorry….I mean, congratulations…or…well….YOU LOOK AMAZING!” I blurted. She rescued me explaining that she had been trained in Biofeedback. Because of deep breathing and self-hypnosis exercises, she didn’t lose her hair, she never became ill from treatments, and she believed Biofeedback was helped put her stage 4 cancer into remission.
Biofeedback is a therapeutic training method used to help people learn to gain better control over their Autonomic nervous system functions. Our Autonomic systems function automatically, without any guidance from us. In Biofeedback and Neurofeedback therapy, patients learn how to do the impossible, and influence the automatic systems of the body.
It’s the ultimate in mind over matter.
Heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, skin temperature, circulation, digestion, and muscle tension are a few of the ways we can learn to take some control over our bodies.
For those who suffer from neuropathic pain, diabetes, phantom limb pain, or post-cancer pain, learning how to increase blood flow to the legs, feet, and hands can decrease freezing or burning pain sensations. Increasing blood flow to the extremities can also stimulate healing in the bones, muscles and nerves where there is atrophy.
Those who suffer with Anxiety and Depressive Disorders can benefit from Biofeedback or Neurofeedback by tracking progress through relaxation, muscle release exercises, sleep training, and fight or flight therapies.
Some of the tools used along with the EMG Biofeedback device are counseling, CBT, meditation, breath exercises, guided imagery, visualization techniques, music therapy, self hypnotism training, muscle relaxation techniques, focus exercises, etc.
Some people describe Biofeedback like playing a video game on the screen, but the remotes are your vitals, and you control them with your mind. Each program is different based on the patient, their specialized needs, and the Biofeedback trainer. Some therapists use counting, some use visualizations, others use music; everyone is different.
Biofeedback has been utilized by Physicians, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Counselors for many years and is an evolving method. Biofeedback is used to help those with neurological disorders, chronic illness, terminal illness, learning disabilities, stress, mental illness, chronic pain, sports injuries, sleep disorders, migraine conditions, brain injuries, fainting disorders, pregnancy training, Autism, and Neurofeedback has even more applications.
It is a non-invasive therapy. Like any physical therapy, it is not a shot, a pill, a surgery or quick fix, and it does require patience and commitment from both the patient and the trainer. Once these skills are learned, they are a part of you and your “tool belt” forever.
Just 10 years ago, around the time I did my Biofeedback training, it was a rare therapy. Now, it is becoming more widely available as a non-invasive option.
I am a believer in Biofeedback as a coping mechanism for reducing the emotional and stressful toll that illness and pain cause. It’s not a cure or a quick fix I’m sorry to say. I wish it was… Biofeedback has helped me daily for the past 10 years to keep going, to manage the inevitable stress and spiraling thoughts that come with high impact intractable pain, and it has taught me how the brain and body can work together holistically to grab hold of the “pain cycle” pattern. If you can physically manipulate it, they can teach you how. We have so much more influence over our bodies than we realize. It’s an incredible science!
When I first met my Biofeedback therapist, I didn’t believe a word she said. Shortly, she became my Yoda, and I was her Han Solo willing to soak up all of the mind bending, wisdom she had to offer.
If I can answer any of your questions, I invite you to share them below in comments.
Thank you Cindy Howe from Ragtop Designs for allowing her awesome Yoga Zentangle Girl artwork to be featured today. She has so many magical pieces in her shop Artworks Eclectic on Etsy. Please go purchase something special for your home or a gift for the holidays!
This is a coping mechanism I have myself been using daily for almost 9 of my 10 years with chronic pain and CRPS/RSD. I along with so many other pain warriors use relaxation tools to help live with ongoing pain. Please read below how this young fighter with CRPS is learning breathing and relaxation techniques:
[This article was featured on The Biofeedback Daily E-Magazine!]
I have been lucky enough that the pain clinic in my hometown have paid for me to have one-on-one yoga sessions. The yoga teacher is so amazing and she has traveled all around the world learning and teaching! She knows lots of different techniques from lots of different countries. One of them was an Indian breathing technique that she showed me, it was called and I find that it does a great job. Whenever I am stressed or I bump my CRPS foot I do it, and it helps calm me down.It slows down my breathing because when I am in a lot of pain I find it hard to control. The pain doesn’t go away when I do it, it just relaxes my muscles and my mind. I think it could really help anyone when they are stressed or hurt.
I found a really interesting website that…
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