Friday, June 10, 2016

A Moment's Time

In the world of chronic illness anything can happen in a moment's time. Sure, this is true of life in general. However, living in the regularly unpredictable state that is chronic illness this is all the more true. As the chronically ill, we're more susceptible to change and more well-versed in change. We are pushed to our limits to adapt to an ever changing state.

Our health status ebbs and flows, pulling us into streaks of good health only to plummet us in the depths of ongoing poor health. This can happen from day to day and if we're lucky we'll have years in between the tides of changing health. With such changes in health, we become susceptible to a ripple effect of changes overflowing into the rest of our lives - employment, school, social, romance, etc. We may become unable to continue working or finishing school. We experience impacts on our social lives as we're forced to alter our activities with last minute cancellations, limiting activities, or completely giving up some of our activities. We're often faced with difficult choices as we determine who to share our lives and health with - platonically and romantically. We make ourselves vulnerable to those we care to know better. We face the risk of rejection and discrimination when we open up to others. We may even lose the one we loved if our partner no longer has the fortitude required for partnering with someone with chronic illness. And sometimes change can even mean facing death.

And yet, somehow all these changes and risks can be worth it.

With any change we are provided opportunities for growth. We can embrace our changes difficult as they may be. Achieving the embrace is made sweeter by the height of change. We are pushed and pulled, stretched to our breaking point and by the sheer strength of our tenacity, our own courageous determination we are able to rise above the change and make our own changes within ourselves and our lives. It may not be the change we initially wanted but we can make a change our change. We can own it. By owning change, we no longer let it rule and control us. Instead, we strengthen ourselves to rise above the worst of changes and learn to thrive in the face of adversity.

So how do we rise above and grow from this adversity?

  • Healing and growth begins with acknowledgment
We can't fully process and move forward until we realize what we're feeling. Only then are we able to start processing our feelings about what we're facing. The time required for processing will vary from person to person and situation to situation. Processing can't be rushed, it must be felt and it can take a lot of mental energy. But once we process we will find ourselves on the other side and much healthier mentally and emotionally than where we started. It's usually not an easy process...but the end result is worth the time.

  • Find and use support.
Although there is definite strength in the ability to face adversity and change on our own, it doesn't mean we have to face it alone or that we necessarily should. The need for belonging and social support is ingrained in us psychologically and with good reason. The ability to face difficulty alone is not the same as refusing support. The ability to stand alone is good to have but so is the ability to ask for and accept social support. It's guaranteed that there is someone who is or has gone through a change similar to what any one person is presently or will ever face. And with the advancements of technology and social media that is readily available finding someone who knows what we're going through is easier now than ever. Take advantage of it.

  • Change perspective and goals
There is such a thing as the cognitive triad. It consists of thoughts, behavior, and mood. Each part influences the other and changing one aspect with change all of them. So a great way to adjust to change? Change one of these aspects. And what better way than changing our perspective and our goals. Instead of focusing on the negative, reframe the thoughts to center around what is good about the change, what is still good about the situation, and what good can come from it. Changing goals gives us something to look forward to, something to strive for. Without goals, we're left aimlessly going through life without any real purpose. We need goals for our future.

  • Acceptance is key

Acceptance won't come quickly in most cases. But it needs to be the end result - for one's sanity and well-being. We focus so much on the change itself and what that embodies, what we've lost because of the change. It consumes us and we begin to feel like we'll never escape. But we will...with effort. No matter how hard it becomes, we must strive for acceptance. That doesn't mean we roll over and give up. No, we find happiness in where we are at in our life and enjoy the present moment. Because we never know when that moment will change again. That's the beauty and monstrosity of life - change happens in a moment's time. Finding acceptance is always beautiful though.

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