I have created this blog to attempt to help those with chronic pain and depression. Sisyphus was a mythological figure sentenced to roll a stone uphill for eternity. In this way, I intend to approach chronic pain and depression as constant foes that must be your constant focus. Photo courtesy http://akrockefeller.com/blog/tibetan-autonomy-a-futile-odyssey/

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Focus on the things you can do, not what you cannot do

At my lowest, I found it was hardest to motivate myself to do anything.  In fact, I felt as though it was just punishment for me, for the mistakes I had made, for who I had become, to sit and do nothing. Add nothing to myself.

This is vicious cycle that can happen with chronic pain and depression.  You ache, so you self-lament.  You self-lament, which makes the aching worse.  You sit in a pool of despair,  not wishing to get out.  

I say this only to say, I understand.  I understand how revolting it is to hear someone tell you to do something, because every instinct in you wants to lash out and tell that person that they don't or couldn't understand what you are going through.

So what I want to offer are suggestions for how to keep moving.  It is so important to keep moving.  For many of my friends, moving physically is either very difficult or not possible.  So in the absence of that, what you can move is your mind.

Knit.  Carve.  Write.  Make a home-made card or gift for a friend who needs support.  Get a puzzle off the shelf.  

Idle hands (and an idle mind) are the devil's tool.  It leaves you reaching out and projecting your pain on those around you, which only drags them down and hurts you and your relationship with them.  

I have found that social media can be a great tool to connect with and support others.  It also has the effect of exacerbating symptoms of depression, when you focus on others' thoughts about religion, politics, etc.  It is OK to ACCEPT people for who they are, or to simply accept that they exist and may not be on your wavelength. But you don't have to ABSORB THEIR CONSCIOUSNESS.  

In the following video, Chris Dugan, a former NFL player who has had at least 28 brain surgeries for an illness known as Chiari Malformation (as of this video), talks about how important it is to approach life with a proper attitude.  That we have a choice everyday of one of two attitudes: a positive one or a negative one.  That we cannot change the way others act towards us, but we can change our perception of their actions, and our own interactions.  To focus on the things you CAN DO, not the things you CAN'T DO.  

We compare ourselves to an impossible idealistic standard.  All of us, everyday.  What we were capable of at 18.  How we look compared to airbrushed images of people we see.  To elite athletes.  To successful business-people.  

What you must do in order to be successful yourself, is first to accept yourself, and work with who you are.  This last point is a huge struggle for me, and one that I have come nowhere near accomplishing.  But I will continue to roll the stone, to carry forth who I am and try to make that the best version of me that I can. 

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