As someone living with chronic illness who also happens to be a fairly new mother, health and recovery have been a huge focus in my life over the past few years. And as my relationship with God has grown deeper so has my desire to mend the brokenness inside me. Over these few years, God has done some incredible miracles in my life and removed several physical and mental “thorns” from me. However, for whatever infinite reasons He has beyond my own comprehension, He has not removed them all. And that’s okay.
“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.” – Jeremiah 17:14
At this point in my life, I struggle daily with C-PTSD, BPD, Fibromyalgia (including severe chronic pain, brain fog, and fatigue), Tourette’s syndrome, and OCD. But I’ve come to understand that while these thorns are difficult, they are all blessings as well. They cause me to draw closer to God, allow me to connect with people in ways I likely would not be able to without these afflictions, and have forced me to slow down and live more intentionally. All of which have been incredibly good things!
Although I will live with these challenges for the rest of my life, there are aspects of them that are healable. And because of that, the process of recovery still remains in front of me. It’s a daily job, this healing and growing. But it’s been a beautiful journey and one I’m not giving up on!
Here’s four points I’ve been focusing on that given me significant relief on this healing journey:
1. Get your lifestyle in order. In order to survive the process of healing and recovery, whether that means therapy, medication, or any other type of treatment, you have to make some changes for yourself to support whatever treatment you’re going through. This means first and foremost your nutrition. I would not be able to confidently move forward with my current situation with hopefulness and courage if I had not taken the steps I have with fixing the way I eat. Make a conscious effort to rid your diet of toxins from pesticides and chemicals in processed foods by switching to fresh, whole, organic food. Ditch the sugar and simple carbohydrates as much as possible. Reduce or quit caffeine and alcohol consumption. In addition to what you eat, be kind to your body and help it to thrive by adding more physical activity to your life. Get offline, turn off the tv, step out of your cubicle and go outside on your feet and live!
2. Learn to let the small stuff go. All you have is right this moment. The past is finished and you will never be able to change it and the future is never guaranteed. Learning accept life as it comes will help you to ride the waves of emotion that will always be present with life, no matter what diagnosis you’re facing. I used to let anxiety rule my life and create elaborate illusions in my mind about potential catastrophic outcomes. This always turned out to be completely out of touch with reality. I still struggle at times with accidentally jumping to those conclusions in difficult situations or conflicts which has caused me and those I love lots of pain. Each moment is a chance to live right here and now. Take it and let the small stuff go.
3. Accept grace. When you’re frequently experiencing difficulty functioning in relationships and day to day life, it’s easy to internalize everything and start blaming yourself. This can lead to some pretty nasty behaviors. Compassion is a fundamental value that just about everyone is born with with, it’s only through our worldly conditioning that we lose our default nature for compassion. Especially when it comes to ourselves. Showing others kindness and compassion often comes a lot easier than giving it to yourself. But if you want a chance to find balance and make it on your healing journey, that compassion has to begin with yourself! You are human and you make mistakes. There is a whole heap of factors that contribute to the choices you make and the things and feelings you experience. So long as you do your best to take responsibility for your actions and internal condition, give yourself grace in the times when you take a few steps backwards.
4. Get more sleep. Seriously. This one is so important and so often thrown to the wayside. Stop making excuses for why you need to stay up just a little longer. If it’s not a life or death situation, put it aside and come back to whatever it is the next day. You should be aiming for at least seven hours of sleep each night to ensure your brain gets the proper rest it needs to function. If at all possible, try to go to bed at the same time each night and get up the same time each morning. Creating a regular sleep schedule will help your brain and body to get in a better rhythm which will greatly be in your favor as you work toward healing!