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The Emotional Side of Living With A Chronic & Painful Illness

[ Roxy lives with osteoarthritis and leans on the Lord through her struggles ]

As I prepare to enter month 3 of living with the aftermath of Shingles and Asthma flares, I want to talk about the other side; living with new feelings and how managing those feelings can be a large part of the healing process. Whenever a major life change occurs we need to shift emotionally to tackle our 'new normal' albeit temporary or permanent.

In my case, up until recently ( the past two weeks or so ) I remained pretty upbeat in mood and spirit handling this double layered healing balancing act of making sure I can breathe and managing the (PIN) Postherpetic Neuralgia. You can learn more about shingles and the complications that can follow under Healthy Living on this blog, titled: Shingles A New Meaning For The Word Pain & Living With Shingles Pt 2. However, recently I've found myself growing more frustrated with the juggling of issues of pain management and after effects from pain meds coupled with my asthma meds bringing to life the shingles pain! I just have to laugh thinking about it because it's a bit crazy :()

As I've stated many times, I lean heavily on my faith in the Lord for strength, he's usually the only one who can snap me out of my feeling sorry for self funk LOL! He reminds me of his Grace extended and just when I feel like I want to wring someone's neck from the pain ( ok, not really...but really! :{} ) I remember the blessings I'm afforded from the Lord, I remember how he refines through fire, I remember how the storms equip us to walk others through their storms. It humbles me when I put my focus on this, and that's what God desires, our humility, ( But just a little more help God please!! LOL )

[ Dealing with changing feelings is all a part of the healing process ]

In lieu of changes in my health I've been struggling to fit my responsibilities into the new perimeters of my life. We all want to get up and be functional and succeed in whatever we need and want to do. When major road blocks appear, it's easy to fall into feeling like a failure for being unable to take care of your responsibilities, family, work, etc... Comparing yourself to yourself and what you Used to be able to do can keep us locked down.

[ It's easy to become an 'angry bird', but we don't have to if we take the steps to care for ourselves and get the support that we need! ]

[ Wait!!! It's Groot :[] He's here to tell us to keep fighting through, and embrace your life with all it's complexities! ]

Reconciling with current reality, realizing that I'm not in complete control here has been the key to being ok with having to fall back and regroup. I keep remembering that if I'm learning to live a righteous life; then pleasing God is a responsibility through any and all circumstances, and those responsibilities extend far beyond any of our day to day dealings. What we do doesn't define us, careers and outward achievements are things that you DO, not what you are. How we act as children of God is the real mirror image of who we are.

In this time of healing, and recovering it becomes all important to nourish ourselves, to be kind and understanding. Learning to release those negative feelings of self blame and anger (at the particular disease/illness) and replace them with self supporting ones. 'Mountaintops are for the views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys." - Billy Graham I like this quote because it hit me hard and it's now imprinted into my brain!! By nature we all want to remain on the mountaintops where life is good, we can breath easier, where the views are desirable to to infinity... But if God allowed us to remain there we'd never grow. It's in the valleys where Jesus's disciples became the men they were. It's in the valleys the greatest inventions were created out of necessity. It's in these valleys where we will stay planted and grow all while God's plans await for us. ;()

[ Is there anything better than being out in nature?! We were designed to be, so if it's possible take a page out of Violet's book and soak up some sun! ]

[ Heather is now able to take time to do some binge watching of her fave shows! ]

I take small steps to participate in life activities that I can handle, and that includes spending time with love ones and doing things I enjoy and that take my mind away from my current circumstances. It's important to be able to adapt and discover alternate or modified ways to do things that you enjoy. It doesn't have to be on a grand scale (If you're in pain and on rest don't make plans to go skiing! LOL), but some of the smallest things can provide a mental boost, even sitting out in the sun (Vitamin D is healing and refreshing!), gazing out a window, watching and listening to birds sing (I personally love listening to birds, they're a reminder how great our God and his creativity really are!

[ Roxy loves art but due to her osteoarthritis she rarely paints, but she still enjoys going out to view art in and around her town! A relaxing lunch with a friend is just the ticket to get one's mind off of it's current situation! ]

Supporting yourself with gentle care and sometimes giving yourself a much needed kick in the butt for motivation moves you along the new paths to be traveled! :[]

[ Kodiak's getting in some movement for to keep her muscles toned to support her life! ]

[ Lemon (the red head) and some pals are having a spa day! ]

Self care is important and it's easy to forego this when you're in pain or tired. When we make time to nurture our body even in small ways it benefits our healing process. Eating whole real foods that provide the body with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs is a big part of that, even if all you can get down is a power packed veggie loaded smoothie, it will fill and nurture your cells.

Remembering to move even if it's just a little will help you and your muscles and joints to feel better. There are numerous ways to get moving on the mend, I've included a couple of videos to try and get those muscles stretched and the mind freed! :) Remember movement releases endorphins in the brain the chemical that help reduce pain perception (I know this first hand with managing my shingles pain) and makes us happy!!

[ Hanging out with friends engaging in good conversation delights the mood and the brain. These LivingThruGrace Crew gals are taking time to enjoy one another with great tea & pizza! ]

[ I love me some puzzle action! Oh, and oolong tea too! :) ]

[ Creative activities stimulate the mind and the soul!! ]

Keep that brain fit and functioning too! Participating in enjoyable activities and new experiences that engage the brain can counteract the pain chronic pain sensors and also aids in reducing mental decline, a double dose of healing goodness!! Reading (break out that kindle or an actual book (say whaat?!! :[] ), tackle the New York Times crossword puzzles, still have that Wii Fit?, get playing golf (my fave!) or bowling! :) I love to draw, color, creating interactive scenes with my LivingThruGrace Crew dolls; and yep, that means I get to play with those dolls Whoo Hoo! After all they have to keep up their appearance so be camera ready! :[] I've rediscovered my own kindle and my long held love of video games (proud gamer geek!), reading (audio books rock too, thanks audible!). My point is, most of have something that we enjoy, if not this is a perfect time to discover something that floats your boat. (maybe you'll become a rock star photographer, or writer!)

Finally turning to family and friends for support makes this journey bearable. Support groups are also available both online and in your city. If you are suffering with a deeper depression there's help available, talk with your health care provider who can steer you in the direction of a professional. Gathering with others who are experiencing the same thing your going through is cathartic, and provides a level of understanding that others can't give. Remember we are all exactly where the Lord wants us to be at any point in our lives. He understands our struggles and our pain. There's never a time when he isn't with us, though you may feel abandoned at times. God's word provides us with the ultimate comfort and understanding of our journey here on this earth. He has our back regardless of how dire the circumstance. Keep the faith, and keep moving through your difficulties with the same patience and grace that God affords us.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD you God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~Psalms 3:33

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

~Isaiah 41:10

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