1 Week of Thankfulness

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It’s been a whole week of finding two things each day to write down that I am thankful for. Have you been participating? I am surprised that even when people are upset about something I automatically am turning it around. This week we saw Notre Dame burn down and a relative posted a picture of my nephew (not more than 4 years old in the picture) in front of the building, not more than four. So many people gave a crying emoji reaction – but I guess I thought how much I would have loved to bring the children to have seen it – and thought how lovely that my nephew had the experience and picture to prove he had seen the gorgeous building before it burnt down. I can never say that. Now normally I would have sat there feeling sorry for us that I never got a chance to take my children to France and see the beautiful building (how many people get to do that?), but instead just felt happy for all the pictures that my friends were posting of their experiences.

I know I would not have been in that place a week ago. A week ago I would have thought about how we cannot ever afford to go to France and focusing on all my friends who got to go there and we didn’t. I also would have focused on how the world is getting worse and how it may not even be worth going forward with crazy things like Notre Dame and such catching on fire. Even as I write this I think this type of thinking is absolutely extreme and yet I cannot stress enough that when you are depressed – the littlest of things like a building that you have never seen burning in another country can feel overwhelming. That’s the problem with depression. I am seeing though that when people have commented on the radio and articles I have read that if you think of two positive things a day (and write them down) that it has better results than anti-depressants because it can truly change the way your mind things. I have to say I am amazed myself. I have tried many things but nothing that gave me results such as cleaning out closets I haven’t done in 15 years and my husband has even been inspired by me by throwing out things he has never done and we have almost a completely different bedroom. I am able to think clearer and organise better. It seems like such a simple thing to do each day and yet has made such a difference so here we go – here are two things I’m thankful for.

  1. My knee. My left knee has been given me trouble for almost 2 years now since I was dragged by my car (many blogs ago I described this event). I did not get proper physio for it, I had surgery to get all the gravel out of it but still it causes me pain and I have been in considerable pain for about 36 hours. SO what am I thankful for? Today I got free treatment from my brother-in-law = part genius and part chiropractor. Physio hasn’t been able to help me but my brother-in-law is quite advanced in how skilled he is with chiropracting. After seeing him (on his day off) today I have some relief and have Kinesiology tape on my knee – which I am told does magic. I have had some relief in this.
  2. My son wrote me a note today – there are no words… only this: note
    How blessed am I? I mean really? A 9 year old still trying to do what he can to make me smile. (P.S. The answer is “Good Job, Now Reward” and the Reward was a lolly/candy on top of kisses and hugs). Now I’m hoping that if I don’t get an assignment in tomorrow (yes I went back to school), then maybe I can submit this picture as proof that I was busy? – one can hope.
    Hope you are having a blessed Wednesday…
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Celebrate the small successes!

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This week I am celebrating wearing shorts! Why? Well, it’s been almost 18 months since the accident of my car losing my brakes which caused it to drag me down a hill. I had terrible gravel rash. It healed incredibly quickly (within 4 weeks) except for one trouble spot that took over a year to heal. It took so long because my knee still had gravel in it. It was pretty gross to look at and even my 4-year-old niece would ask me when swimming in the family pool “What’s wrong with your knee Aunty Jenny?”
Her sweet little mind was very concerned about the “rock inside Aunty Jenny’s knee” and talked about the subject with quite a few people.

Continue reading “Celebrate the small successes!”

Shame and Pain

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I had a revelation this week that was quite confronting and not pretty.
I had brought up to someone how I haven’t been able to handle that they told me that my life was pathetic a year ago. They’re response was “I only had said that out of anger, that says more about me than it does about you… why have you held on to this so long?”
After a discussion the person apologized, but I didn’t feel better. I knew it was said to me out of anger – and that doesn’t make it okay – but it stayed with me. At my worst of times, while struggling with health or sleep or difficulties this year I said “Maybe your life is pathetic”.
Why did I allow something that was obviously untrue to creep into my mind?

My parents said to me when I was much younger that I appeared confident. I seemed like I had more confidence than the world and I was always trying to make people laugh.
As a result my parents believed that this is why some people thought it was okay to say things to me that they wouldn’t to anyone else… to “put me in my place”. The thing is, I was always trying to make people laugh because I was really sad, and depressed – and I didn’t want anyone to feel as sad as I did inside.  Continue reading “Shame and Pain”

What I can control…

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Well, I have hit reality today that I am suffering from my yearly struggle with the weather (here in Australia) turning from Spring into Summer. To be honest I REALLY don’t do well with the weather change. I’ll be fine when the heat evens out but right now it goes from rain to hot as hell and then cold rain again. My body just doesn’t adjust to such inconsistency.

However I am on a “getting fit” kick and I was frustrated with my health setback. I remembered that even though I was in extreme pain, that my doctor told me that for Continue reading “What I can control…”

To the chronically Ill:

 

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Being chronically Ill is something I don’t talk about much anymore, for many reasons.

Some of those reasons is that this subject tends to be the only one that people know how to talk to me about, I want people to see me other than “the sick girl”. It is shocking but I do have thoughts and opinions on many other things. I have also decided that being ill doesn’t define my personality.

On the other hand, my mind is managing my symptoms and working extra hard to ignore this part of me (which does take up a lot of thoughts and mental energy) that I just can’t take the idea of talking about it anymore…  at the same time there are moments where I need someone that truly understands and to talk to about it.

I need to know that that one person I talk to about it, isn’t burdened any further by all the issues and pain and symptoms I have going on because I already feel like a burden.

BUT I WRITE THIS – because I believe it’s helpful to those that are struggling:

In the period of time where you are still trying to figure out what chronic illness you have that you will want to give up. You are guaranteed to have at least one doctor tell you it’s all in your head to make up for the fact that they don’t know how to investigate your symptoms properly. I want to say sorry for that. It has only been after a lifetime of health issues that I can look back and say that those doctors get away with it because they have education certificates that tell people they are qualified, but they are obviously lacking in what they should know. They should know that you either need help from a different specialist or the tests they should be running to discover the truth. It’s not you, it’s them. I can tell you a list of the insanely stupid things that doctors have said to me because THEY were incompetent, but ultimately – if they can’t work out the puzzle of your symptoms – it’s somehow your fault. Wrong. I’m sorry if you have experienced this – please don’t let it stop you from going to doctors – there are truly some great ones out there. Don’t let the ones who have to big of an ego to admit that they don’t know something affect you (easier said than done I know).

There are times you will wonder what you contribute to others, why you are here when you are in pain and feel like you have nothing to give. You do. Even if it’s just empathy for others, or writing a card to someone who’s ill, or sending a caring text. You have a gift, even if it’s hard for you to see at the moment because you are overwhelmed with pain, discomfort, and exhaustion.

I want to express encouragement for you to keep going. Whether you know what is wrong or not, my doctors are always telling me of a new technologies everyday that can help people who could not be helped before. I have had challenges with my health since I can remember, with so many different health systems. I really could fill up my Facebook friends with my specialists (I see them more often than my actual friends). I have to constantly see them, and have check ups and have them keep an eye on things until my next surgery. There was a period of time though where I was told I didn’t fit in “any category” of illness. Some doctors (the bad ones) told me it was in my head. Some doctors (the good ones) knew it was “something” but an awesome doctor will admit it is beyond them. The good doctors would say “I feel like you have something, that will be discovered soon, and we can all figure out what this is. I didn’t realize that at that exact moment was when my illness was being discovered – but had yet to be widely recognized or published until 3 years later.

I have things that did not show up on one type of scan but showed up on another…. There have been mistakes but ultimately there have been wins. I have an amazing support team of doctors. I have had such rare conditions that I know I’ve been written up somewhere in some medical journal. So I’ve had my fair share of doctors who shrugged their shoulders. This is discouraging but I will say I would much rather a doctor say “I believe you but I don’t know what it is” than a doctor who would like to pretend I’m imagining symptoms (even with abnormal test results).

I also look back and realized I tried some kooky things all because I had hope that I could get fixed and I had no answers. I get frustrated with people who offer crazy things, they are scam artists at best, and they feed on people who are desperate for help. Someday you may shake your head or laugh at how silly it all was.

I am sorry for all the ‘friends’ in your life who don’t understand and make stupid and judgmental comments. These people will either no longer be in your life or you will learn to ignore them. I have found that the majority will finally understand (after going through their own health trial) how much they were ignorant about. That’s when you can turn around and be the friend to them that they never were to you. It happens…

Hang in there. You are not alone. There is much I don’t like about social media but a beautiful thing about it is that there is easier access to support groups for people who can’t get out of bed that day (that week, month or year). There are many blogs I have found on chronic illness… (if you are reading this and you blog about having a chronic illness, please place a link in the comments section) that I find to be comforting on those difficult days.

My life is better in the sense that I now have more good days than bad (that’s how I measure it), and hence why I don’t discuss it as much but I know quite a few people going through their own health struggles lately so I felt like it was time for me to write this and just say sorry. It isn’t fair, I know that if you were well you would be seizing the day and doing amazing things. Sometimes the endurance you have to keep going is what inspires others – and if you don’t even feel strong enough to put on a brave face, and all you can do is feel miserable, I hope you have some company to feel miserable with, a person or a pet, or just to vent in a chronic illness group.
Keep going.
Jen

 

Why I’m not going to treat you like a victim…

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So I’m sure you know from experience by now that life isn’t easy. The Scottish author Ian Maclaren (aka Rev John Watson), is known for his words “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.

Some of us have been through difficult trauma and life-altering circumstances. We need to own these feelings that are a result of that trauma. We need to express them somehow. Holding it in makes it worse. As Maya Angelou says “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”. We sometimes are under the impression we must convey that we are “fine” all the time. Why? Because not being fine makes others uncomfortable and how dare we make others feel comfortable with our truth, and our feelings right? So we bottle in those emotions and feelings in. Not to be extreme but harboring those emotions can lead to an early death.

If you have trouble opening up… writing your feelings in a journal helps to process them. Either way, in order get through the effects of trauma – we HAVE TO, we MUST talk about our feelings and own them and not feel guilty about them.

The problem is, I’ve seen people respond to these situations by treating the victim, like a victim for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. Treating people (or even yourself) as a victim robs people of the feeling of having control over their lives. Yes, something out of your control happened to you, but you actually have a choice to not let this moment of trauma define and control you. However I want to be clear, people cannot get through trauma until they are at a point where they have owned their feelings about it first. Otherwise it never goes away.

Being a victim should be temporary. The state of having a victim mentality can last forever. The victim becomes prisoner to a traumatic event and victim mentality leads to worse situations down the road which cause a greater ripple effect of others getting hurt.

If you are a parent – it is VITAL that you empathize with your child over something that is unfair, or painful that has happened to them, but it is NECESSARY to give them tools to help work through those emotions, and help them be free of the pain by encouraging resilience. If this means that you too need to learn how to get out of your own victimhood, then getting help for yourself first may be the first step in being a better parent. If you yourself do not have the tools to work through your own emotions and demonstrate resilience – there is no way you can help your own children in this area.

There is a lot more to this, more than can be written in a blog but a lot of hurt that is being done in the world are people who not only have been victims, but have been encouraged to see themselves as victims or have not received the support needed to show them that they can learn to move on and be resilient.

Hope your week has been amazing!

For more resources on this subject click here.

 

The story isn’t over

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This is one of my favorite sayings to keep me going in a time of stress: “The Story isn’t over”. A lot of stress that we give ourselves or feel during difficult times is because we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. All we can see is the hard lemons that life is throwing at your face and there is not enough sugar in the world to make it sweet enough for lemonade.

There are times in our lives when stress piles on, or as the saying goes “when it rains, it pours”. There are too many things to process, too much pain to deal with or just a constant battle that we don’t remember being without.

One of my “raining and pouring” is that I was born with internal health issues that should have been fixed with one surgery here. Well, one surgery turns into more and then more and well… you get it. I have been advised that as much as I thought “okay, this is the last ‘big health’ thing I need to deal with my doctor explained that there will probably be more in the future. I am gearing up mentally for having procedures for the rest of my life in order to be here.

This is just one of many difficulties that affect my life. I know people who go through much more or just different challenges –  but sometimes it makes it difficult to see how you are ever going to get through the tunnel.

This is where it’s a good time to look back (not something that is usually recommended) and think about something difficult, and how it felt overwhelming at the time but you got through it. Had we known that there was light at the end of that tunnel maybe it wouldn’t have been so weighty at the time.

Sometimes the pain is so great in that moment and all you can say is “I survived that” but the point is: YOU SURVIVED.  Sometimes our burdens seem so overwhelming but the story doesn’t end there and it is good to remember that in a few weeks, months, years from now you can look back and say “I survived that”.

Whatever challenges, pain, grief, or difficulty you are going through – it’s survivable by you and/or others. The story isn’t over yet…

Keep going…

Jen.