Hebrews 6:19 – We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.
I’ve been doing well for some time now when dealing with anxiety, but lately, pain plagues me around every corner and out pops the anxiety.
Anxiety and chronic pain create a repeating cycle:
It’s not that you want to pretend to be something you’re not, but that you want to look like you’re doing better for the sake of those who care about you. So, you become anxious about this, too.
But hang in there. There’s hope. Not everyone can handle what you’re going through, but there are those who can.
Build yourself a life raft by placing a few individuals around you who can help encourage you to be who you are. Even if that means you’re in an anxiety free fall down the rapids, your friends will help you. These people will pick up your life raft’s oars and help direct you towards a peaceful inlet.
So how can your friends help you move towards peace of mind when you’re in pain? Awaremeditationapp.com lists specific ways they can help in their article, “How Your Friends Add to Your Peace in Life.” First, friends can make your immune system stronger. But this isn’t talking about your social media circle, but people who you can spend time with in person. Also, friends can help reduce stress, help with depression, and prevent anxiety. They help ease feelings of loneliness which is among the biggest causes of disconnection and anxiety.
Now that you have friends who are helping you build your life raft and directing you towards a peaceful inlet, it’s time to have an anchor ready.
That anchor is our faith and hope in God. Knowing, really knowing, he will keep you from drifting further downstream can begin to finalize breaking free from the cycle of chronic pain and anxiety.
Job 19:14 – My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me.
Many times disbelief and cruel opinions surround us when we have multiple health conditions.
They question us:
Out comes the measuring spoon; no, out comes the ladle as you’re covered with a cloak of shame and guilt. But what these naysayers are missing is that you are doing the best that you can do in the situation that you’re in. Try to find comfort in those few words, “I’m doing the best I can do.”
You are not a failure. You are not faking your pain. You are not just exaggerating. Every day you’re suffering, yet you walk through your day. Every day you fight giving up, but you don’t. And, you’re the only person who has to believe that you’re not just making excuses for yourself.
Having multiple health conditions not only affects the opinions others have of us, but we can also begin to doubt ourselves. Reverehealth.com, in their article, “6 Tips to Self-Manage Multiple Chronic Conditions,” provides ways to help us cope. One of their suggestions is to consider behavioral health counseling. People with chronic conditions are more likely to experience depression, but the opposite is also true: people with depression are more likely to develop chronic conditions. Also, keep track of your symptoms and progress. You may find using a paper journal helpful, but there are also apps that can help such as mymedicalinfoapp.com, medisafeapp.com, and sympleapp.com.
And remember, don’t let others’ disbelief that you battle multiple health conditions cause you to wear a cloak of shame. Job was a man in the Bible who had suffered multiple tragedies in his life including a chronic health condition. He felt abandoned by his relatives and closest friends because they believed it was Job’s fault. It wasn’t. God helped Job see that he would never forsake him, and in the end, his life was blessed. God knows that you’re not “faking” your health conditions. He will walk with you through the chastisement of others and will hold you together.
Isaiah 40:1-2 - Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
It’s another one of those days. You stayed up late working on a project knowing full well that if you did, you’d receive what was coming to you.
The pay you’d receive isn’t something you earn at work like overtime pay. It’s also not the pay you’d receive by way of complements and the words, “job well done.”
The “reward” I’m talking about can’t be taken to the bank to save up to spend on something you really want. The “reward” due to you would be how your body reacts to work those long hours. To be more specific, it would come in the form of a pain flare-up.
A pain flare-up can come in the form of muscle spasms, deep bone pain, loss of strength, inability to function on a daily basis and the guilt that would follow knowing that you had caused harm to your body.
But don’t stay put in guilt mode. Sometimes we have to do what we have to do. Life expects us to sometimes step up to the plate and give it our best shot. Our team is counting on us. All the bases are loaded and we’re up to bat. We can’t just put down the bat and run away. Right?
Not all is lost though. There are things you can do to quench the flames of a pain flare-up before the fire gets out of control when you must push yourself at work or home. Here are a few:
These are are just some of the ways that I use to help me make it through a difficult pain day. Painpathways.org, in their article, “Preventing and Recovering from … Overdoing It!” provides us with several ways to cope with a pain flare-up. One is to, “schedule a rest period mid-morning and mid-afternoon. A half-hour is usually effective, but some people take an hour or longer.” Another way is to, “do light stretching and petting your dog.” Animals can make a big impact on how you feel on the outside as well as the inside.
Though going through a pain flare-up can seem all consuming, with the right knowledge, help from coping skills and the support of others, you can get through the flare-up easier and faster than you may have thought you could.
In addition, take a look at the Bible verse above. Sometimes we may indeed feel guilty that we caused another pain flare-up, but God is ready to comfort you and speak kindly. He knows the price you’ve paid, and will wrap his arms around you, hold you and tell you that you’ll get through the pain together.
2 Corinthians 1:4 – Who Comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
When walking the road of pain, we come upon those we know. We stop and look deeply into their eyes. Just beneath the surface, lays a mix of frustration along with sympathy.
They want to see us:
It’s hard for them when we can’t seem to find relief. So what do we do?
We all carry pain around with us, as we walk down the road of life. Let’s sit down together and share openly what’s going on. Let’s be there for each other and try to understand what we’re each walking through. Because when we help someone else:
Also, our suffering can be used to help others. Here are some ideas from yourfamilyexpert.com in their article, “The Secret Way Suffering Helps Us to Help Others.” One way is when we’ve made a bad choice in the past we can lift a voice of warning against addition, abuse, impulsiveness, crime, and a variety of other choices, speaking from experience and influencing others to avoid our mistakes. Also, our pain helps us to be more compassionate and tenderhearted towards others who suffer, which in turn leads to some of the most joyous and satisfying relationships of our lives.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. In this we see the good that can come from our suffering. For when we receive comfort from God, we can share that comfort with others. We don’t have to reach out to someone empty handed. No matter how much we are hurting, there’s someone who is reaching out their hands with hope of finding someone who will take the time and reach out to them. Let’s take our sorrows and turn them into stepping stones of comfort and renewal.
James 5:12 – Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
When living with chronic pain, at what cost does my saying “yes” bring when being asked to do something?
If you constantly push your needs down inside you where no one can see them, and say, “Yes,” to whatever someone is asking you to do, how does that make you feel?
So you see what happens? When you’re not being honest and say, “Yes,” when you want to say, “No,” you risk a break down. Your body says, “Enough!”
What are some things that you can do to change not only the outcome of a conversation with someone, but help maintain good relationships?
Here’s one idea – There’s strength in the words, “Let me think about it,” and, “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” It doesn’t mean that you’re going to excuse yourself from helping others. It just means that taking a few minutes or hours to sort through their request is okay.
Creakyjoints.org has some other ideas in their article, “Here’s Some Much Needed Advice for Saying No to Plans When You Have a Chronic Illness (Without Feeling Totally Lame). One of their suggestions is to have an elevator speech ready. Don’t be caught off guard when well-meaning friends and family bombard you with questions or try to guilt you to attend a gather. Try a narrative like this, “I know I look fine on the outside but my joints hurt so much I can barely move. Sometimes I feel exhausted. This is a real medical condition, and I need your support.”
When faced with a situation that you know you can’t say, “Yes,” to try to be prepared ahead of time in your mind what you can say to decline when you aren’t able to fulfill someone’s request. Even the Bible verse above says to not try to convince someone why you have to say, “No.” Just let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no. There’s freedom in sticking to your boundaries. Then, when you are having a good day, your friends and family will appreciate your company all the more.
Proverbs 25:16 – If you find honey, eat just enough – too much of it, and you will vomit.
“Pass the sugar,” someone says. The sugar is passed and two teaspoons are slipped into a cup of tea. No problem, for most people. But for those who have diabetes, it can be a dangerous choice.
Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a chronic disease in which your blood sugar levels (glucose) are too high. What you eat provides glucose for your body. Insulin, a hormone, helps glucose filter into your body and provide energy. Sometimes, with diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, and sometimes none at all. This is true of Type 1 diabetes. Whereas, in Type 2 diabetes, the way your body processes glucose fails to do so correctly.
In both types of diabetes, this is why you can’t just slip those two teaspoons of sugar into your tea.
There are other types of diabetes, such as prediabetes where the blood sugar is too high but not to the point of being in the diabetic range, and gestational diabetes which can occur during pregnancy where the mother’s glucose levels are too high.
Depending on the kind of diabetes and the level of severity, it can be treated by diet alone, prescription drugs or shots.
Speaking of diet, so what types of foods are good for a diabetic and which should be avoided? Webmd.com, in their article, “Best and Worst Foods for Diabetes,” gives us some suggestions. Some foods listed are starches which include the best to be whole grains such brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, or amaranth while avoiding processed grains such as white rice and white flour. Raw or steamed vegetables are a good choice such as plain frozen vegetables, kale, spinach, and arugula. Avoid canned vegetables with lots of added sodium, vegetable cooked with lots of butter, cheese or sauce. Read the article to find the complete list of recommended foods.
Understanding diabetes, how it affects your body and how food choices can go a long way in helping stabilize blood glucose levels. Always check with your doctor or a nutritionist before making changes to your diet.
Also, one of the keys to healthy eating is mentioned in the Bible verse above. Even back then, it was recognized that too much sugar, in this case honey, could make you sick. This is important to consider for those who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and for those of us who are trying to prevent it.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.