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You are Never Too Messy to Matter

You Are EnoughOver the last 10 years of chronic illness, people have told me that I will be healed if my faith is strong enough, that I am being prepared for something greater in my future, that all of this pain, loss, and disability will be given a special meaning some day. But, I believe that our lives are meaningful even in the midst of the darkest struggles. We don’t have to wait until life becomes perfect to attain purpose and perspective.

In the first couple years after I was diagnosed, college friends told me praying harder would heal me, one suggested the sins of my parents or grandparents may be expressed through my illness, family members sent me books about focusing on God’s healing promises, and I was prayed over for healing at church more times than I can count.

I was so angry and frustrated at everyone! God wasn’t healing me, I was getting worse! Why didn’t they understand? But no one did… I felt all alone to face this new monster eating away at my body and taking down my dreams and abilities one by one. I had such a strong confidence in my purpose, in my “calling,” and I didn’t know why those passions would be given to me, if only to be ripped away.

I do believe God has the power to heal my body. I also believe that healing can come in other forms as well. I used to pray and pray for my body to be healed, for the horrible pain to go away, and for my life to go back to the way it was. Of course I did. Of course I want my pain to go away and for life to be easier. Everyone in pain wants that! As life became a one-day-at-a-time struggle for survival, talking to God changed also. My heart desired to be of service to others (on support groups, online, in my relationships, etc.). Over time, I realized those prayers overtook the ones begging for physical healing. I believe there are different kinds of healing beyond physical wholeness that I hadn’t thought about before chronic illness, or during my first years living with it.

In each of the instances with my friends and family, they were showing up in the only way they knew how to offer hope and support. I’ve since learned that the people who show up are the ones to hold onto- sometimes they take some time and guidance to figure it out though.

During the storms in life, it is so common to be told that when the storm lifts, we will use what we’ve learned to help someone else, or we will have a greater sense of clarity. Well, when the rain doesn’t let up, when your body is constantly beating you up, if you are terminally ill, there is no waiting for healing to make use of your life today. Loss of health forces us each to look at our mortality and time in a new way. The desire to make a difference in the world doesn’t stop just because one’s legs, nervous system, or liver is failing. For so many remarkable individuals I have met over the years, illness can even inspire a new-found purpose, passion for growing in new ways, and redefining success based on what they hold most precious vs. what society has told them is of importance.

If you feel as though your purpose has been lost, and you don’t know why your life has taken this sudden detour, please know that you are not alone, and you are still on a path that is your own. You have not been forgotten. Your life still has meaning, even now- even in the mess you feel you are going through. You don’t have to wait for the perfect body and perfect life to be useful. If I had waited for that kind of moment, I think I would be waiting for eternity! Even in the middle of your struggle, your story matters. What you are going through matters.

A Positive Message for your Lying Brain

Original art by Jezabel Rodrigo Yusta: "Negative self talk and making room for your true beauty" article #spoonie #depression #inspiration

Original art by Jezabel Rodrigo Yusta

“You are going to feel this way forever,” “you are only going to get worse,” ” you will never be able to do that,” “you are a burden.”
Who would say such horrible things to you? I’m guessing you do.

They begin as whispers in the back of our minds and they fester and shout for so long, we begin to accept them as our self-truths. But they are NOT truths, they are only our fears and our doubts. ONLY? Yes, they are not reality.

Depression, chronic pain, chronic illness, trauma, long periods of high stress: Leech out the positive chemicals from your brain and body. Those chemicals are responsible for the good thoughts and feelings which help balance our problems and our negative thoughts. Remember feeling like you used to be such a positive, upbeat person? It isn’t your fault that your mind is different. Your body chemistry and brain wiring is altered by your changing health. Your brain is no longer combating destructive whispers and banishing horrible images of yourself. It means you are filled with LIES. Your brain is sneaky lying liar who deceives you more than ever…so don’t believe her sales pitches!

After a while, the whispers turn to shouts and we begin to believe these negative messages like: No one cares, I am weak, I’m not good enough, etc. You would never say these things to a suffering loved one in pain, so why do you replay these messages over and over to yourself? It becomes habit. These lies take on a life of their own and before we know it, they make us feel powerless, hopeless, ashamed, guilty, and alone.

But we are not powerless! We can take control over our thoughts and change the tape that has been endlessly running. You can help restore balance to the stream of lies that have been on blast.

Replace the negative messages with positive mantras that are TRUE! No one deserves to be bullied constantly. Why not try showing yourself the same compassion you show others?  You could really use it right about now…

Become self-aware. Scout out the lies. Take them down!

When you realize you are tossing yourself a negative message, say “STOP” like snapping a rubber band on your wrist. Replace those lies with something positive and true, such as: “My life is a gift,” “I will do my best today,” “I am thankful for the love in my life.” 

Just as you now believe the negative self–talk which were once only tiny whispers, new positives can become your reality instead. Sometimes people say, “I choose happiness.” But it isn’t actually that easy. Seeking out gratitude is possible, however. And gratitude ushers more and more joy into our lives

My mantra for today: “I am a child of the Creator. Forgiven all things by His son. I am perfectly and wonderfully made, and there is no room in here for my negative noise while the Holy Spirit is trying to speak!”

Please share your positive mantras in comments. Blessings on your journey.

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“We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson 

Original art by Jezabel Rodrigo Yusta: "Negative self talk and making room for your true beauty" article #spoonie #depression #inspiration

Inspirational artwork by Jezabel Rodrigo Yusta. See more original images of the artist’s here.

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