It is common for those who are chronically ill to hide many of their troubles. There are problems, worries, fears, needs, obstacles, and the list never ends. Our emotional state may become more fragile and we start to stuff the troubles. It bogs us down, keeping us stuck. Some of those troubles can be released in balloons. Certainly does not fix everything, but it significantly lightens the load of chronic illness.
Dang chronic illness is hard. It gets harder as the months turn into years and the problems and obstacles seem to multiply. The more they multiply, the more we tend to hide some of them, for many reasons.
We may not want to be a burden to others. We may not have anyone who cares to listen or help. We may not be able to come up with the words to express how overwhelming it all is. We start to hide some of the troubles, then it snowballs into despair.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by it all.
Let me say that again because for some reason we seem to think we are superhuman and can push through everything…
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by chronic illness.
You have not lost your mind. It is an incredibly difficult experience.
Since you are not your illness, let’s focus on you, not the illness for a moment.
Your emotional health can easily become wonkie. Life gets turned upside down during chronic illness.
It can feel impossible to sort out the troubles, much less solve them so you can get back to “life.”
Sorting Out the Troubles
This is oversimplifying a very complex issue but by making a list of things you have control over and things you absolutely have no control over can make the difference in emotional wellbeing.
Write it out. Take two pieces of paper; one for things you have control over and the other for things that you have no control of.
I’ve done it many times and it is not as easy as it sounds.
We are in control of our attitude, actions and words that come out of our mouths.
Well… although that is true, what about when we are in chronic pain? Are we going to always say the right things to others? Are we going to have the patience that we “should?”
What about when our needs are not being met? Are we going to maintain that “smile” that supposedly reflects a good attitude at all times? Probably not. We are not always going to have people listening and we have to become more direct, sometimes downright rude to get basic needs met.
What DO we actually have control of with our attitudes? We can choose to consistently do the very best we can. We can accept that when we are in pain or in a state of despair, we may say and do the wrong thing. We can choose to forgive ourselves. We can choose to try again instead of giving up. We can also learn to stand up better for our basic needs; practice, practice, practice.
We are in control of our diet, end of story.
Well… there are a lot of “food deserts” in the chronic illness community.
Beyond geographical food deserts, there are many situations where the chronically ill cannot obtain a real food diet. They don’t have the resources of money or manpower.
If you are so ill that you cannot do your own grocery shopping, then you must rely on others which will create a dependence on their choices. The battle of food is usually explosive.
What DO we actually have control of with our diets? We can stand up for our health and wellbeing by a healthy diet. We can strive to eat a real food diet and encourage those around us to support our choices. Since we cannot change others, we can only do the best we can with the situation at hand. We can be grateful for the food that we do have and view it as substance instead of poison. I know, this is a hard one to accept.
You get the idea. While making your list of what you do and don’t have control over is not as black and white as we think. But the list can help you identify some troubles that you can watch float away in your balloons.
Identify the Floaters
What CAN you let float away?
What are some things that you really have 100% no control over?
Finances can be floaters!!! You have what you have. You don’t have what you don’t have. Within your budget, you can choose to do the best you can with your health needs. You can make your health a financial priority. Let the rest go, watch as that trouble floats away.
Housekeeping makes for an easy floater!!! No matter how important a clean house is, while we are chronically ill, all the housework will not get done. That is beyond our physical capabilities. Watch that one float away.
Relationships can be more floaters!!! There is usually a lot of abandonment with chronic illness. It is heart-wrenching. We have no control over other’s choices. We can let go of their CHOICES, not them. Meaning, we would welcome them back (through forgiveness) but we don’t have to approve of their choices. If they go, we can watch that balloon float away with many tears but that is something far beyond our control.
My heart breaks as I say those words. Not everyone comes back, not everything magically gets fixed as we regain health. I will be watching that balloon float away AGAIN as I release some of my own troubles that I have no control over.
It can take many rounds of this to come to terms with the realities we have faced during and after chronic illness.
To be able to keep moving through the life that we have, we have to find ways to let go of the baggage that holds us down. Balloons are a calm way to visualize the release.
The more we can let go of, watch float away, the more we can move on with the life we have.
To get back on the bike and peddle on with life, we have to let go of some troubles.