Anger

February 25, 2019

I have been feeling a lot of anger coming up lately.  I am feeling increasingly frustrated by the things in my life which I have no control.  I want things to be a certain way, and don’t understand the unfairness, insensitivity and unawareness of other people.

I think this has intensified since my concussion a few years ago.  Having chronic pain and fatigue have been tremendously difficult, but the rawness of my emotions is a whole new challenge that I can’t quite navigate.  I can feel this anger rise so quickly, and though I might be able to control it at times, I feel it in my body.  I feel it eating at my soul.

I have so many issues with the brokenness of systems.  Systems meant to help us, but often it becomes a means of following the rules that don’t always help the individual.  I tend to be mission oriented, and most missions are about the people.  Sometimes it is hard to find this when the staff is overworked, and the resources are just not available.

So how do I know to deal with my anger.  It helps to recognize this, and just say “I am feeling angry”.  I have started to meditate again and this is extremely helpful as I can see the level of anger I am feeling.  Writing helps me go into my thoughts and feelings.  I may need outside help – support groups, therapy, meditation group or other connection point.  I can’t magically change who I am.  I wish it were simple.  For now, I will have compassion on the broken parts of myself that come out when I am trying to find safety, love and a sense of security.  This is really only something I can give myself, or find in something spiritual.  As long as I keep expecting it from others, I will be dissatisfied.  I can try to communicate my needs, but beyond that is something I have to let go of.  I always have choices, and maybe the choice is to change my surroundings, or learn to find peace in this moment.


Perceived Failure

May 24, 2016

Summer 09 100Today I am feeling anxious, as I wait for an appointment with a new supervisor.  I feel shame and inadequate and emotional as I plan out different dialogues in my mind.  It is hard to be different, and to feel less than, and to have a brain and body that don’t work how I wish them to be.  I have fibromyalgia and post concussion syndrome, these effect my memory, my emotions, my ability to process and hold a  lot of information in my head, my energy level, and I have chronic pain.

I often have felt like a failure in the workplace, as I have worked at many different places over the years.  In the earlier days, I believe part of it was because I was restless, and my goal was focused on navigating college and what would help me get there.  I also struggled at times with coworkers or bosses, and processing through the criticisms that could often arise in the work environment.  Without a real sense of my own value, it was easy to feel shattered or angry when others seemed to be against me.  After having children, and becoming effected by fibromyalgia, work took on additional challenges.  Having little energy seemed to aggravate my weaknesses for lack of detail, and focus, and sometimes had less tolerance for rude behaviors.  Adding a mild traumatic brain injury to the mix, increases these difficulties even more as my brain struggles with memory, processing, and focusing.  In many ways these has brought more tolerance for others, yet it can be more difficult to hide my emotions.

As I write about my perceived failures, it brings a sense of sadness to my suffering. Regardless of the circumstances, or my part in it, the pain of these experiences caused me to doubt myself as a person, and doubt my self worth.  Regardless of where my next job leads me, this part isn’t true.  My value and my success aren’t dependent upon outside circumstances, but of who I am as a person.

I pray that when I go into my meeting today, that I remember the strengths that have been brought to me through my processes.  I have a variety of skills in the jobs I have done, as well as some attributes that have come out of my illnesses.  I am more creative in finding what works, and much more present in my body and spirit.  My acceptance, understanding and kindness towards others grows, as I find a small level of this towards myself.  I know what it is like to feel overwhelmed, helpless and without hope, yet also know what it is like to see and feel love, to find support that empowers, and to believe in taking the next step towards my dreams.  We are all on a journey, and I am grateful that each day brings me the opportunity to grow and be more of the person I desire to be.


Today’s Gratitude – The little moments

November 5, 2013

Often the best things in life happen in the everyday moments. My favorite of yesterday was my daughter, Lindsey, laying at my feet by the kitchen table talking about how nice it is to lay on the floor.  About five minutes later I decided to join her and we cuddled underneath our kitchen table for a while.  It reminded me of something we would do as children, the simplicity of life in hiding.  We tried to recruit my other daughter, who decided this was a little too much.

I find that a lot of the best times in life, are taking the time to capture a moment.  Fortunately this is something that can work with whatever challenges we have in life.  I find that having fibromyalgia has made me more aware of my surroundings as I am moving at a slower pace.  There is more time for the cuddles, the conversations, and to watch for clues that something might be off-balance.

May we take the time to grasp the moments.


Health updates and daily life with chronic pain

May 3, 2013

I have been doing a lot of writing today.  It is feeling therapeutic as I take some time to reflect and surrender.  I have been battling several colds and injuries that have kept me less mobile, so writing is a better use of my time then all the computer games I have been playing.

I have written over the past 6 months in my blog about various changes I have made to my life to improve my health.  I have been more careful about my food about 70% of the time.  This means that I aim to eat really healthy most of the time, but still have my treats.  I have been eating various foods from the Medifast program, as well as taking the Raw Meal Powder to make shakes for my morning meals.  I find that a Raw Meal Shake is a great way to start the day (adding fruit and yogurt), and the Medifast desserts are a great way to end my day.  In the morning, I have about 5 cups by my computer – 2 shakes (can’t ever make it small enough), water, coffee, and sometimes airborne and/or tea.  Let’s say, I clear the system early with all the trips to the bathroom. In the afternoon/evening I tend to go for some protein (fish, veggie burgers, occasional red meat/chicken).  I use cottage cheese and salsa on a lot of things.  Those veggies are still hard to get in – need to add some to my shakes.  I feel better with a lower fat diet and with a moderate amount of carbs.  I would probably do even better if I could avoid the chips I had today.  I am brainstorming on how to pack my weird foods to work next week.  Maybe if I bring the salad, I will be forced to eat my veggies.

Exercise has slowed recently because of illness and injury.  I joined a soccer team to work on my personal soccer skills, but have missed a few weeks.  I also play racquetball, but this may not work anymore with my work schedule and other issues that have come up.  I love this type of activity because I feel more like playing than working out.  I enjoy the P90X weight routines, because they start out simple and progress.  When I am sick, I can go to an easier plan.  When I am able to keep a regular routine I can add time and intensity.

My pain has felt much better lately.  I had some work done on my back that has helped tremendously in working through the knots and tension.  Though I still ache, much of the time it is mild.  Once or twice a week the pain will affect my sleep.  The other times my sleep is effected is usually my own stress, or the cats sleeping at my feet.

I have been struggling more with the emotional and mental challenges.  I can’t always cope well with the stress around me, and can find myself discouraged and slightly depressed when I am sick for days on end.  I am doing more reading and have rejoined a support type of group which will be helpful.  I will however lose some of my other support when I return to work.  In many ways, I believe work will give me some time not to over focus on things, at the same time it could wear me down.  Keeping myself spiritually and value focused will be important so I don’t self defeat.

I am enjoying the warmer weather and more time outdoors.  Oregon is beautiful this time of year, and energizes me.  We have a few weeks of down time before my commitments pick up, so hopefully grace will follow me into the busy time of the year.

Blessings.  ET


The Dark Hour poem

May 3, 2013

My soul aches, My heart cries;

When will, this pain die?

I watch and wait, for the morning sun;

When everything glows, and the children run.

Conflicts and confusion, trials and scares;

Broken dreams and promises, mistakes and failures.

Each day a struggle, for some air;

More cancer and death, that doesn’t seem fair/

Where is the wisdom? Where is my God?

It doesn’t make sense, in the gloomy fog.

I feel alone, though many are near;

Get me out, ignore the tears.

Just a little hope, or a little light;

help me see, a new sight.

Show me the praise, of a new day;

How to mend, what was frayed.

Show me the love, that I hear about;

Help me receive, the kindness of heart.

Help me hear, the wisdom up high;

To bring discernment, from the lies.

Bring me comfort, to ease the pain;

An inner peace, that forever reins.

I will open my eyes, and clear my ears;

Ready to see, ready to hear.

I will prepare my heart, and my mind;

to be ready, for a new time.

May the grace come, and fill me up;

forever hope, forever love.

Elissa 5/1/13


The Next Adventure – I got the job!

April 29, 2013

I can’t believe it – I am almost officially employed.  I received a call a few days ago that I was selected for a part-time job as a legal assistant.  I am looking forward to returning to work, challenging my mind, and meeting new people.  Everything seems like a good fit for me during this time in my life.

Having chronic pain does bring some unique concerns that I would prefer not to have.  I have to consider the office environment, my ability to focus, and whether I should disclose about potential limitations, and ways I may need to adapt.  Unfortunately every job is different, so what worked and didn’t work in my last job may not apply.  Fortunately I am healthier than I have been for years, and am no longer on any medication.  This should make a difference in my stamina.  Hopefully eating right, taking breaks, and drinking some good coffee will help me in the initial intense learning days.

Regardless of my concerns, I can’t help but be excited.  I will hold on to the energy I feel from being with the people I will be working with, and my own interest in the law.  I love learning about the law, and doing research on topics that interest me.  I will keep my support group strong, let go of some of my commitments and forge ahead to this new path.  May the spirit guide me in each step, and help me deal with whatever comes my way.

 


How serious is my chronic illness?

February 25, 2013

This past week, I have learned that several people I know have cancer. Cancer is a horrible disease that most of us have witnessed in some capacity. It can be painful, deliberating, expensive, draining (emotionally and physically) and potentially deadly. We wish and pray that this disease finds a cure.

While learning of the cancer diagnosis for people I care about, it has brought about a lot of personal emotions for me to process. Having any chronic illness and going through the process of discovery of what it is, the prognosis, and treatments is difficult. At times we have hope for what the future can bring through this new illness, and at other times the future looks bleak. Having people around for support and love can make all the difference. It gives us a degree of connection, though we might still feel alone in the journey.

When I first began having fibromyalgia symptoms, I blew it off as an extension of an illness. I thought eventually I would regain my strength, and the tingling sensations were just a weird manifestation of an infection of some sort. Emotionally I was dealing with some personal issues, that seemed to be leading me into a dark place. I wondered if the stress was taking its toll upon my body.

After several months, and having pain that was moving into the 6-7 pain scale, it was time to see a doctor. I could no longer ignore what was going on, and the constant lying around was becoming problematic. Summer ended, and laying on the couch wasn’t as fun as laying in a baby pool with my kids.

Those early days of diagnostic testing and medication experiments were tiresome. I can remember the fear I felt as I went through the process of searching out potential diseases I could have. Each test brought different possibilities. At the beginning, I can remember hearing and dreading the word fibromyalgia. I hated this word, because it seemed to imply more mental issues and unclarity than other diseases, especially since it appeared to be more of a “we don’t know” diagnosis. As I had more tests, and realized the possibility of something deadly, I began to care less. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office having an echogram (I think that’s the name) where they were searching for a heart infection, and the technician was explaining that if they found an infection, it would need to be treated right away, or I could die. I felt relieved later, to discover that I had no infection in my heart, and became more open to any possibility, even if it was more in my head.

I can understand more clearly how fibromyalgia is an invisible disease. Though I have received great support over the years, especially in the early stages, in general this has subsided. I know people care, yet few people understand. I feel a battle inside of finding the balance of keeping it alive (this is what Fibro looks like), and living my life in my own personal fibro bubble. Because I look and act “normal”, even the people closest to me forget my pain and fatigue. Occasionally someone will add a reflection that shows an understanding of my illness to the situation at hand. I feel blessed and loved when those connections are made.

I cannot imagine fully the impact of having cancer. I live with a chronic illness, and have watched my mother die from tongue cancer and my sister-in-law survive cancer but have not experienced it myself. No matter how difficult my days are, I realize that this disease will not take me away from my loved ones. I may have to watch for other symptoms (such as depression) that could shorten my life, yet the core symptoms of fibromyalgia won’t do this. Cancer doesn’t necessarily mean a death sentence. Most people with cancer, actually live a long life. However, the fear of death is greater because the potential is there.

I hope and pray that I can be a support to others in their experience with a chronic illness and/or disease. I admit, at times it is hard for me, because I can long for the support and love that can come from people with a more serious illness. As with any difficult challenge, it is important that I recognize how people care, even when it may not be so evident in the way I desire. I still have people ask me how I am, years later – the love is there. May I be able to offer the best of what was given to me.

None of us know what it is that lies ahead for us. Our life is filled with both amazing blessings, and horrific challenges. The medical world can try to simplify and provide better treatment through diagnosis and statistics. However, regardless of what it might appear to be, the mystery remains. May I find a way to love and be loved in the mystery.


living life as a coach with fibromyalgia

February 18, 2013

The winter months have been busy with coaching activities. I am an assistant coach with 3 teams, 2 soccer and 1 basketball. It sounds a bit crazier than it really is. Most days it is helping navigate young female sport players around the field or court. I enjoy the physical activity and interacting with players and coaches in a healthy atmosphere. There are usually several girls who enjoy having a female coach around (most of the other coaches are male), though I tend to be structured and disciplined, I also connect on the emotional level. My favorite thing about being a coach is connecting with the players and building them up. My second favorite is the team dynamic, and strategizing on how to create a stronger team by building on the strengths and working through the challenges of the individuals.

My biggest challenge tends to be dealing with the mental processing and dealing with conflicts that arise. Since I don’t know the game of basketball real well, it takes a lot out of me to learn the fundamentals and think about what I can do to help. Though overall the conflicts with players and coaches are pretty mild, issues still arise. As a coach, I want to make an impact on the individuals, and when I say something I wish I hadn’t said, or missed an opportunity to build a player up, I feel disappointed in myself. With about 15 coaches in the 3 teams, it is a lot of personalities to deal with, especially when I prefer to please. There is some simplicity with men, in they appear to be more direct and move on, I also realize we can be a different species, and find myself longing for a girls’ night out. Any stress (whether real or perceived) or mental challenges can zap my limited energy, and increase my pain level.

I have also been trying to build a health coaching business. I absolutely love coaching people, but don’t care for the networking aspect. I am constantly battling inner conflicts of my own values and insecurities. I believe in the food program/healthy living that is the core of the business I am trying to establish, but also realize it isn’t for everyone trying to lose weight/become healthy. I personally have felt better as I am trying to change my eating habits, and am able to do things like coach 3 teams. I love being fit and healthy. Because I am uncomfortable promoting to people, I feel like a failure because I don’t know where to find people who would be interested in such a program, and don’t want to overemphasize weight loss because it can imply that I am criticizing people. I find myself completely shutting down, and realize this has little to do with my current reality. I will keep attempting to deal with the inner conflicts so I can see more clearly what direction to move here.

I am grateful to be so involved with my family. Did I mention my husband is a coach on two of the teams? It really is a family affair in the coaching world. I think back to 7 years ago when I spent a great deal of time on the couch resting from the daily activities and energizing myself so I can connect with those around me. Though I was still involved with my family, it was much more difficult to engage in the outside world. There is no magical cure, and it takes a great deal of soul-searching each day to determine where to invest my energy. Some days it seems to work, other days, not so sure. I will keep trying, keep searching, keep praying, to find the balance and build those relationships.  In the meantime I will keep making those memories on the field and on the court.


Surrender my chronic pain to something greater

January 8, 2013

Summer 09 352It can be hard to surrender my chronic pain to a higher power.  It is easier for me to seek answers in others to bring wholeness to fill the void in my life.  I often feel shame because it makes me feel weak and needy, feelings I seek to avoid at much cost. I can see that alone I am lacking, and I long for something greater to fill the voids and bring healing. 

I see that my way of controlling life and finding meaning does not work. It leaves me emptier than I was before, and separates me from the One that can bring my life back. In the moment it has brought me to see the longings that I have tried to deny, and to also see that I really don’t always believe the Spirit can meet these needs in me. I can see myself as bad and being punished by God.  I wonder if the Spirit has abandoned me when I hear nothing, and my symptoms don’t change.  When I take the time to connect, generally I can feel the peace. Often this is done through prayer and music.

When I come to the Spirit in my greatest place of need, and in my weaknesses, struggles and failures, and find love, than I become more trusting. I can become more honest and vulnerable allowing room to reveal the brokenness, and bring healing to my life. I don’t have to fear this part of myself anymore, and am willing to look at it without shame. I find that as I accept my life as it is, that I am much more humble and graceful to others. I can see the heart of the Spirit in a way I never have before. Compassionate, yet willing to guide me out of the traps I set myself in. I have many obstacles to really trusting and believing in a Spirit. Many of which for now, I just have to acknowledge and be open about. I see the distortions in my head, and it will take longer for it to sink in my heart. This is where real transformation takes place.

I believe that I live a spiritual life and in many ways feel deeply connected to the Spirit. I want to follow and surrender to something greater. Yet I still struggle to give up my desire for what I want-complete healing and to rearrange the dreams I had for myself. I still have much to understand about the bad things in life, including my illness/pain, and I know this hinders my ability to trust. I have to remember that religious people, are not the same as the Spirit. And that spiritual leaders may be godly in some areas, while being destructive in others.  I will be open with what I don’t get, and listen to what I am to do with that.

I love connecting with the Spirit in nature, and am finding this extremely valuable. Walks with the Spirit have been a source of clarity for me, as I hear a voice in the wind and trees. The majesty of spiritual things reminds me of who is in control, and that a power is greater than any problem I ever have or will face. He also is a Spirit of beauty, and wants to bless me. So much has been given, that I have not received.

I have been given so many people for the journey, lots of support and spiritual guides. I have learned so much from the people who are in my path. People who have shown me grace and love. Not all understand chronic pain or me for that matter, but I do know many love and care for me. I am grateful to have my heart open up more to all kinds of people and situations and to realize that things aren’t always as they seem. Can’t be too quick to make assessments about people and situations I do not understand. I gain much wisdom as I am able to ask with a heart for the person, and a desire to learn about their unique experiences. My life is truly about relationships, and if I didn’t have much time on this earth, this would still be where I would devote my time.

2.       Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could bring us peace and sanity.

3.       Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

 


Dreams, Goals, Adaptations and Plan 15M

January 7, 2013

Picture 033I absolutely love making goals and creating plans.  It inspires me to dream and make positive changes to my life.  I can take time to reflect on what in my life is or isn’t working, and look at ways to move in the direction I want for my life.   

I find that making goals in life works best when it starts with listing out my own values.  This gives me a framework for deciding where to invest my time, and when it might be best to change a course.  Because my values are also about relationships, this helps me to include people in my goals, not just concrete goals around accomplishments.  I include values of self improvement and character traits I aspire to.  Though these may not be as measurable, my personal integrity is more important than the accomplishments I make.   

I have a list of seventeen top values that I have revamped over the years.  My overall mission statement is:  I will strive for growth, healing and deeper spirituality, where I can truly love others, giving joy, grace, and peace to those I meet.  Some of my values include building strong relationships with family, friends and neighbors.  Others are about personal traits such as saying I am sorry, being forgiving, having fun and living a life of integrity.  I also include fitness and health, making a difference, being financially secure and helping people in need.   

Next I start with a free write of goals and hopes of what I would like to accomplish.  This might be short term or long term ideas, as well as self improvement type of goals.  I try to avoid thinking too rationally when writing out my dreams, as this is something I will do later.  For some this might be better done by writing in paragraph form visualizing the life they wish to have, others prefer lists.  It can sometimes help to look around at people you admire, and what are the traits and actions that draw you to them.   

Once I have a list of goals and dreams, I begin to group them into categories and time lines for further evaluation.  I will group together health goals, relationship goals, spiritual, personal trait goals, finances, etc.   With each group I will think about what I can do in the next year to make progress in this area.  For relationship goals it might be scheduling dates with my husband, planning some vacations and/or having a game night.  For health goals it could be losing weight, going to a new doctor, trying a new exercise  and/or meditating self compassion.   

One thing to remember with goals is that it is about progress not perfection.  In 2012, I had a list of about 40 goals and I accomplished about 60% of them.  Some of these goals were minor, such as putting pictures in frames and going through donations.  Other goals were more significant like starting my blog and going back to yoga class.  I never did finish doing touch up painting around the house, but I am ok with putting this off another year.  I wish I had found the time to create goals with my children, as this is a worthwhile project.  Even though I didn’t finish everything on my list, I can see that the year 2012 was filled with some new adventures and progress in areas that matter to me.  The other goals I didn’t finish I can evaluate whether this is something I want to reconsider in the next year.  Fortunately, 2013 brings new opportunities.   

I am excited for what 2013 can bring and my personal goal of implementing the 15M plan.  For 2013 I am going to focus more on making life style changes in increments.  The 15M plan allows me to make progress even in the more difficult health days, as I focus on spending 15 minutes on the desired activity each day.  Often when I am tired or feeling a great deal of pain, I lay on the couch a good part of the day and isolate.  If I can focus first on 15 minutes of some type of exercise, it is a goal I should be able to attain most days, resulting in less discouragement and better health.  When I am feeling good, I will most likely do more, but on a bad day this can help me shift gears.   I will add other areas that I want to progress in such as writing, family time, cooking and doing chores.     

Life many of us I have goals for improving my health in 2013.  I plan to do some experiments with the types of food I eat to see if they may be adding to my symptoms.  I also will be doing health coaching for other people who want to improve their health.  I hope to be able to make an impact on people struggling with chronic health problems and to give hope.  I want to strive for more consistency in my life, and learn to work around the tough days.   

Making goals can be a simple process or something you spend weeks processing and planning.  The most important thing is to make some progress.  Taking 15 minutes to write down 10 goals is a great beginning.  For the artist among us, one can draw or clip out pictures from a magazine instead.  You can post the list on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.  Others may prefer to spend some time evaluating last year, writing out values, and creating a detailed plan for 2013 like I have done.  Finding a buddy to share it with might help keep you motivated and encourage a friend at the same time. 

May 2013 bring you some great learning experiences and opportunities.  May you see an impact towards the values you hold dear and be an encouragement to those in your path.   

Elissa

 (also posted at fibromodem.wordpress.com/2012/12/ and in December issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA)

 


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