We’ve all heard, or said, the phrase “I’m so sick and tired of being sick and tired!” and there are a plethora of situations that may have rightfully triggered that statement. It could be because we’ve had the stomach flu for 2 days, bronchitis for 2 weeks or a chronic illness for 2 years. Whatever the reason, it’s a genuine predicament we often find ourselves in. So, what’s the secret formula to counteract it? I have created an acrostic for the word HEALING to give us 7 guidelines to follow on how best to overcome this mindset. But, before you get started, if you haven’t had a chance to read my last post entitled “My history is His-story” you can read that here.
H- HONESTY. So, in the spirit of honesty, and I guess I have to be honest and say that I am guilty of not always being entirely honest when it comes to how I feel- about how I feel! (See what I did there?) I’m more of the peace-maker, anti-confrontational, make everything a non-issue type of person; so, my immediate response is to curl up in a little ball in the back of the closet alone, cry for a few minutes, wipe my tears (and my nose) and then emerge back into real life to face the problem head on- all while pretending that I’m okay even if I’m really not. It might seem like the easy approach at first, but believe me when I tell you that it all surfaces eventually. And, when it does it will resemble something like that of a nuclear explosion that of course isn’t optimal for you or those around you! There’s a song I love by Dara Maclean that’s called “Suitcases”. The lyrics written below speak of how you can’t run when you’re holding suitcases, or baggage. This may be an illness, depression, pain, hurt, betrayal etc. We have to recognize these objects we carry and be honest enough to identify them as baggage and then strong enough to put them down.
Can you imagine what it’s like to be free, oh, oh, oh?
Well, send those bags packing, they are not what you need, oh
Abandon your troubles by the side of the street
Just let them go now, believe me
You can’t run when you’re holding suitcases
Yes, it’s a new day, throw away your mistakes
And open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don’t have to be afraid
Just breathe, your load can be lifted
There’s a better way when you know you’re forgiven
Open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don’t have to be afraid
I’m blessed enough to have a husband and family that care enough about me that they truly desire the honest communication about how I am feeling. I am aware that some of you reading this today may not have that privilege here on earth, but rest assured that your Heavenly Father does care and delights in your honesty and vulnerability. He tells us in His word that we can “cast our anxiety on Him because He cares for us!” That’s how we can run the race before us emotionally, mentally and spiritually even if we can’t physically walk even ½ a mile.
E- ENCOURAGEMENT. Nobody likes to be around negative, grouchy people; but inevitably we will rub shoulders with people of that mindset. We have to make a conscious effort to surround ourselves with positive uplifting people more often than the others.
There is a song by Francesca Battistelli called “Angel By Your Side” that fully describes the type of person we need in our lives.
I can’t say that everything’s okay
‘Cause I can see the tears you’re crying
And I can’t promise to take the pain away
But you can know I won’t stop trying
I’ll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I’ll be the strength you can’t provide on your own
‘Cause when you’re down and out of time
And you think you’ve lost the fight
Let me be the angel, the angel by your side
My dad has always been my best friend and the angel by my side. He was the one that would drive me to my doctor’s appointments, be my voice when I couldn’t speak for myself or stay awake with me when the hallucinations or pain were in full swing. Many a late nights and early mornings were spent in our “cracker cave”. I’m sure you’re not aware of what the “cracker cave” is, so let me enlighten you. This is a place where I felt safe amidst the fear and frustration. My dad and I had it in our minds that crackers fixed everything—until I went on my diet and realized that they most certainly don’t fix anything! But either way, we’d crawl under the covers, tuck the sheet behind our heads to form a tent and flip on a flashlight and eat crackers- in the middle of the night! It was calming, it was fun and it helped me way more than I could ever put into words! My sweet husband has since taken that role over now, and though we’ve never gone into the cracker cave, he is the love, encouragement and support that I need. Whether it be in a parent, a sibling, a friend or a spouse, there is someone prepared to join you on your journey. So I urge you, just as I did, to find your “Angel By Your Side”.
A- ABILITIES. This is a tool that can help you right here, right now. Wherever you are, focus on the things that you CAN do instead of what you can’t. Maybe like mine,the years usually spent “discovering yourself” has instead been spent battling disease and illness. I have expressed on many occasions that I’m not even sure what I like to do for “fun” and I haven’t gotten to experience “real life”. Although that may be the truth, it shouldn’t dominate our lives. At times it has dominated my mind and actions, and I’m not in the least bit proud of those moments.
So, how do you focus on what you can do when there’s more that you can’t do? Here’s what works best for me. Lists, lists, lists and more lists!!! If you know me at all you know how much I love creating my infamous lists. They keep me grounded and focused so when my Fibro fog sets in and I can’t remember anything to save my life, it’s a visual reminder of what needs to be remembered or accomplished. In an effort to change my thinking, I made a list of things that I like to do. Not only the things I know I can do, but what I really enjoy. After I wrote it all down, there were things that I knew physically would not be an option; however, I did find that there are many activities that I would be able to accomplish on my better days. If we’re honest (which we already said we are going to be!) then we can all admit that occasionally we need a reality check to keep in perspective and at the forefront of our minds that we are, in fact, able to do what we enjoy! So, go make a list!….after you finish the article of course! 😉
L- LAUGHTER- “If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry!” That short statement holds so much truth, and I’m pretty positive that it’s physiologically impossible to be upset and laugh at the same time! Remember the cracker cave I told you about earlier? That was during a time that I could have cried all night, but instead my dad and I raided the kitchen cabinet, grabbed a flash light, told jokes and relived happy memories. You have an option when the storm is raging around you to either choose joy or choose sorrow. The Bible says in Proverbs17:22 that “ A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” I dare you, next time you feel upset, watch a funny video or read a funny story and witness how quickly your attitude changes!
I- INSPIRATION- Where do you find your inspiration? Is it through art, reading, photography, music or journaling? None of these things are bad in and of themselves; however, when we’re in a state of frustration and at our wits end, we need to learn to sift through the “noise” and determine what is helpful and what is hurtful. One of the complications of Secondary Addison’s is when you’re cortisol levels are depleted you have a hard time processing anything. In turn you become emotional and overwhelmed. For me, when my levels drop, I can’t process things as simple as the kitchen timer going off and someone talking all at the same time, much less the gravity of being sick in general. I can usually take an extra stress dose of cortisol and it will kick my brain back into its proper functions and I can pull myself together. When it’s not a drop in cortisol and it’s strictly frustration causing my emotional pain, I find that music and journaling are two things that inspire me. When I turn on worship music, I can literally feel weight being lifted off my shoulders and a calm sweeping over my spirit. In future posts I will share some of these songs along with scriptures that I wrote in my journal over the years praying they will inspire you the way they did me!
N- NO NEGATIVITY. Speaking from a chronically ill perspective there are times that I can’t help but realize just how long it’s been and that I’m just so over it. It’s when I allow myself to adopt that mentality, that slowly but surely the negativity creeps in. I’m sure you’ve been there too, but let me ask you a question. Will that mindset change the fact that you’re chronically ill, or that you have the stomach flu, or a pulled muscle? Does it take the disease and pain away? Nope. That’s a big fat NOPE. So, let’s look at negativity differently for a moment. Think about negatives (those from a camera). They are developed in the dark through a long and slow process. They begin as something that looks useless and are turned into beautiful memories. I know it’s impossible to remove the negative situations completely but we do have the power to alter the way we view them by the promise that they will become beautiful memories!
G- GOD. He is the foundation we must build our lives on and the most important guideline of all. (It’s only listed last in this article because that’s how the acrostic goes; but I guess we saved the best for last!). Sometimes life gets hard and the situations that we face can bring us down. The bright side of it all can be summed up by the message in Casting Crown’s song “Just Be Held”. The lyrics serve as a reminder that when we don’t have it all together and we feel like we have hit our all time low, we can let go, let God and “Just Be Held”.
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
If you haven’t listened to any other song that I’ve referenced in this article; please listen to this one! Close your eyes, shut out the distractions, and let your self be held by the loving hands of your Savior and experience the healing that begins inside of your mind, heart and soul.
I can’t promise that this will take away the pain or the disease in your body, but I do believe that it can alter your prospective of the storm you face. Please know you’re not alone and don’t give up just before the miracle!