I set out to write my thoughts down this morning, because my circumstances are getting the better of me again. I didn’t intend to craft this into a post, but that’s what happened. My words are honest. Maybe my honesty can help you deal with whatever difficult circumstances you might be facing. We all long for peace in the midst of life’s storms. I feel like I am trapped in a continual squall. Read on to hear how I cope.
I fell down again, carrying dishes from the dining table to the kitchen. Thankfully, I slid along the counter first before I twisted and fell, so it wasn’t an all out “Timber!” Every day I teeter from object to object in my home. I feel more stable if I hold on to something before I move. Counter to buffet—to metal plant stand—to dining chair—to bookshelf—to sliding door—to my chair. That’s the pattern I follow from the kitchen to the living room. The doctor calls this cruising, which sounds like more fun than it actually is.
As I write this, my head ticks on my left side like I’m being mildly shocked with electric current. I hate this sensation because it has always preceded something worse. What’s around the corner with my disease? I don’t exactly know, but I do know my MS has progressed. My doctor says that I am in the second phase, which I picture is like a sled ride down a gradual slope with a crash landing at the end.
I can still manage my personal care but just. After I shower, dress, and get ready for the day, I’m ready to rest in my chair for a good hour before I can do anythings else. Tasks takes twice as long, and I exude twice the effort to complete them. I’m tired all the time. My energy comes in small spurts like the rev of an engine. I feel like I’m in my late eighties instead of forties.
The function of my limbs is unpredictable and often painful, accompanied by strange sensations. I move as if I am the tin man from The Wizard of Oz: clumsy, slow, and creaky. I fill my days with frequent stretching and various therapies—medicinal, natural, and stimulating devices—to try to relax my muscles. Still I wonder how far away I am from being in a wheelchair or bed 24/7. Probably not far. The thought depresses me.
My Coping Methods:
Limited Focus: I pare back my imagination and focus on the now and what I need to do next. Sometimes that’s just breathing, bringing myself back to a simple necessity of life, filling my lungs with conscious action. I set down the binoculars of far-off vision and keep my sight in the present. It’s really all that I have.
Finding Joy: I often search too hard for this state of being. It’s usually found in the simple things of life: spending time with loved ones or doing a hobby. At times, visuals like sunsets, sunrises, or the way the leaves dance atop the water in the wind at my favorite fishing hole speaks joy to my heart. The smile of my grandson brings particular joy to my heart.
I find myself smiling and losing myself in the moment when I: write, spend time with family, read, quilt, tend my potted plants and gaze at my orchid blooms. The company of my little dog, Ruby, comforts me as well. Peace settles on me when I pet her silky hair. I smile when she tilts her petite head back and looks at me with her big brown eyes, boarded at the corners with a fringe of curled lashes. Sitting in the sunshine near my bay window, which is filled with plants, brings me peace and joy. Life stills in this location, and I can simply be. I think this is when I have the most joy—when I pin myself to a moment and I am. I exist. I live.
Prayer and Meditations: Lately, I’ve gotten out of the practice of reserving a daily time for this, and I can feel it. I feel less settled. Grounded. I used to pray while I walked, but I can no longer go for a walk. The activity of moving helped me stay focused, and I miss it. Using prayer beads helps me keep my thoughts on track. I created a system of my own and made several sets, which I have conveniently located by my chairs.
Also, I used to keep a prayer journey, which I wrote in frequently. It helped me feel more connected to God and assisted me in emptying myself of the things which weighed me down. I want to start that again, although it will have to be a digital journal this time.
Every once in a while I try to do a focused muscle relaxing and meditative process. This helps me feel more calm and at peace, but again this has fallen by the wayside. I want to change that and make it a daily event once more.
Remember What it’s All About: I must remember that my life it’s so much about what I can or cannot do or produce, but about how well I love and connect with people. My physical social circle is small; I don’t go out much. Online social activities have filled a void for me. I gain encouragement from interacting online with people from around the world, and It’s also a way for me to encourage others. It brings some purpose to my life. However, I know that no matter how much I scroll through and comment on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, that I still need those core contacts, whom I know will assist me and be there when life gets more difficult than usual and vice versa.
My recommendation for when you feel overwhelmed:
- Limit your focus. Focus on the now and don’t try to see too far down the road. We weren’t meant to see miles clearly. What we see clearly and can enjoy is around us. Live in that space.
- Find what brings you joy. Find the peaceful places which bring you back to simply being. Spending time in those locations, figuratively or literally, will help you keep going on whatever path your feet are on.
- Spend time in prayer or focused relaxation. Your spirit and body with thank you for doing so.
- Remember what it’s all about—relationships. People. This may be easier or more difficult for you depending on your personality. But whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you still need people in your life, and they need you. Take the time to cherish the relationships you have and work on making some new ones. Like much of life, it’s more about quality than quantity.
Blessings to you, my friends,