Posted in Life in general

Losing People


Walter Anderson is quoted as saying, ““Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”

Losing the people we love is a painful and emotional experience.  I used to think that relationship demise or divorce were hard. But death is an experience that changes us to our very core.  And I understand losing the people we love happens to all of us, and it happens more than once in our lives, but it doesn’t mean that it ever gets easier.

We lost Dad when I was 19, my brother when I was about to turn 35 and Mom when I was 40.   The loss of these three very important people in my life threw my world into chaos and pain.  I never thought I could survive the pain, numbness and the aching.  But I did each time.

I have survived many losses in my life – and not just those related to death.  Each loss has made me stronger emotionally and more resilient. Often, when we are hurting, we cannot see past the pain.  It is when we start to heal that we start to understand what God’s doing and we allow ourselves to trust in the journey He’s laid out for us.

I lost someone very special to me this past weekend and while I understand she was suffering due to illness, I didn’t want her to leave us.  She was my mother’s cousin and her best friend.  I called her my aunt, so I am sad.  She fought a one and half year battle with cancer and it was time for her to be with my mother and her family that had passed before.  But I wasn’t ready to let her go. I wanted even just one more day to see her, to talk to her, to get be in her presence.

Losing both my parents and my younger brother (also to cancer), I do know how precious life is.  This loss is yet another reminder that life is too short.  We have to embrace life, live it to its fullest, and make memories with the people we love. And yeah, loss hurts. It is the worst feeling in the world.  You’re angry and you don’t even know who or what you are angry at.  You may feel discouraged, sad, lost and even fearful about the future.

As I work through my own grief, I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  And I am trying to get through that dark tunnel.  It is a slow process, but I will get there.  If you are going through a similar situation, remember to be kind to yourself.  It took for a long time to learn to care for myself, look after myself, and share my pain rather than always trying to be strong.  These are lessons that could have made my past healing experiences so much easier.

None of us like losing people.   As I sit there letting the memories of my mother and my aunt sneak up on me, I remind myself life is an amazing journey.  It is full of both pain and beauty. The pain and the challenges help you get to where you need to go.  Everything in life happens for a reason, and even though we may not know those reasons, it is okay to embrace life, trust in the Almighty and make the most of every moment.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen”. Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Posted in Life in general

Anger and Chronic Pain – Part 2


It has been quite some time (8 years) since I previously wrote on this topic.  I had noticed at the time that these terms were common search terms leading people to my blog.  I didn’t expect the response I got then and continue to get on this post.

It Can Get Better

When I wrote that post, it had been a little over 2 years into my diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and being new to chronic pain, anger seemed to be an appropriate response.  I was angry at the universe for throwing me a curve ball when I was a young mother of only 32 years of age, and two years later, I was still feeling that anger because I was struggling to cope.  I was also in denial that this experience could get better for me.

That is not to say that it gets better for everyone. Everyone feels and experiences pain differently, and for some people chronic illness and pain results in disability, financial struggles, and so much more adversity than what I have faced.  But me, I was blessed and even though initially things went downhill, and they plummeted, they eventually got better with time.

These days, I lay an emphasis on my happiness, but I can tell you it is not easy. The days where my fatigue and pain are in full force are the hardest. Plus, I have joint damage and I suspect there will be surgeries down the road. Moreover, RA has led to inflammation related complications.  I have also suffered from clinical depression, and the thing about depression is that it returns in small bouts, and I always have to be aware of the fact it could return in full force.

I don’t fault anyone for being angry or resentful about living with chronic pain.  But I’ve come to realize that feeling too much anger worsens pain, affects sleep, ruins relationships, makes treatment harder, and results in depression, anxiety and unhealthy habits.

Fight or Flight?

When it comes to anger, the body responds by preparing a “fight or flight” response in the way that it would to perceived threat. The body responds physiologically to anger with:

  • An increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • Increased breathing
  • Adrenaline rushes
  • Muscle tightening
  • Heightened awareness of senses

While there some benefits to feeling this way, long term anger has adverse effects. Positive aspects of anger:

  • Awareness that something is wrong
  • Providing energy to right wrongs
  • May trigger problem solving to threats and issues
  • Energy to fight illness or do what is necessary in a situation
  • Gives courage to change and improve

All great things, but the negatives might overshadow the benefits. Anger:

  • Causes emotional and physical discomfort
  • Could lead to damaging actions
  • Impairs function
  • Compromises health
  • Carries serious and negative outcomes
  • Promotes negative self-image

Feeling angry all the time simply sucks for you and everyone else. And it sucks the joy out of life. Trust me, I know.

Considerations

 Here are some things to think about when it comes to feeling angry.

You have a right to be angry.

Chronic illness and pain suck but you have a choice. You can either work it to your advantage (i.e. finding solutions) or you can let it consume you and take over your life.

Anger is about what you feel.

People and events do not make us angry. The feelings we have about these people and events do.  You help yourself when you stop attaching an emotional response to these things.

Anger sometimes equals frustration.

We are frustrated when our expectations are not met. Maybe you need to rethink expectations.

Anger hurts you.

Feeling angry towards others or about certain situations hurts you more than anyone else.  And often, when it comes to people, they either don’t know or don’t care.  It is your energy being consumed, not anyone else’s.

Anger needs a limit

Anger is necessary for healing.  Even through anger feels like a bottomless pit sometimes, it is okay to feel it.  The more you allow yourself to feel what you need to feel about your illness and pain, the more you will heal.

Anger, sometimes, unfortunately, has no limit and can extend to loved ones, so be careful with those relationships.  Any anger felt later on in your experience with illness and pain will hold you back from enjoying life.  If this sounds like you, I implore you to talk to a professional.  Seeking help for my angry and depressed feelings was the best thing I ever did for myself and my children.

10 Years

It has been almost 10 years since I was diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia and my life hardly looks the same.  Chronic illness and pain have not only changed my life, but they have also changed me.  The people who have followed this blog a long time know this.

I don’t blog as much these days because my plate is full being as a single mother and with my legal career and my freelance writing.  More recently, I started a new job and cut back on my writing although I still do a lot.

I have been trying to take a more relaxed approach to life, particularly cutting down on unhealthy habits (i.e. my former excessive coffee habit), trying to relax more, and keeping people out of my life that in the past made it harder for me to be happy. And as for the latter, I don’t wish anyone any ill will, but I am trying to do what is best for my family and my health and happiness.

How I Respond These Days

Does the pain and sickness make me angry still? Sometimes, it just does.  I respond by praying for better days.  It is how I cope. You are entitled to cope in any healthy way that works for you.

I don’t always pray for a reprieve from the pain.  Sometimes, I pray for the Almighty to watch out for my children especially in the world we are currently living in.  Watching the news these days promotes depressive feelings for me, so I try to keep my media exposure to a minimum. I pray to be a better woman, to find the strength to rise above, to be there for loved ones, to have courage especially when it comes to my heart and to forgive and forget.

I don’t pray as often as I could, and I often pray when things are bad, rarely when they are good.  This is something I need to work on. I am not a religious as I was raised to be, but I try.  I am definitely better than I used to be.

A Long Ways

My life hasn’t been easy, but I have certainly come a long way. Anger, resentment and hurt are things I have let go of, for myself and my children.  But letting go of anger and forgiving doesn’t mean we allow people back in our lives that have hurt us.  We live, learn and let go – that is all any of us can do to make this journey a little bit easier.

I hope your journeys with chronic illness and pain get easier and continue to get easier. I hope that each of you finds strength to keep fighting for happiness and normalcy, but mostly, I wish for your pain (physical and emotional) to be eased.