Autoimmune Disease Support Group

Our  Mascots are Marlie and Wilson!  

Wellness Tripod: Spiritual-Mental-Physical

More and more I am hearing about how our whole being is tied to our general health:  our physical wellness is inter-dependent upon our spiritual and mental health.  There is plenty of good information out there that links all three and shows that when each of these areas is attended to, our best health is free to emerge.

So it stands to reason, that the body we are currently walking around in is a product of wellness of our physical body + our emotional well being + our spiritual well being.  Ignoring any one of the three legs of this tripod, well, the body just cannot "stand"!

We all know that when we suffer unrelenting chronic pain, the first thing to go is joy!  Gone are the wonderful past-times we used to enjoy!  We find ourselves unable to ride a bike, take a hike, sit out in the sunshine, dance or sing, go shopping in the mall with our friends...  joy is a piece of our lives that feeds our spiritual side, and it also balances out our mental health.  If we have been forced to abandon all forms of joy (many of us can no longer even read this blog, never mind a good book, due to horrible brain fog!  We can't keep track of the characters or the plot from one night to the next!!!  (very sad!)  But if we have been forced to abandon all forms of joy, it makes sense that depression creeps in! 

Now depression and chronic illness go hand-in-hand.  It cracks me up when a doctor makes the astute observation that we are dealing with depression!  Who WOULDN'T BE!!!  But what do they want to do?  Throw another pill at us???  And you, my friends with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/CFIDS/ME) quite often are extremely sensitive to taking medications!  To the point of not only not tolerating the medicaiton, but having the trial of a new medication actually make you WORSE until the medication completely leaves your system!!!

But what can we do to boost each of these other two areas of health (mental and spiritual) so that the third area (physical) can potentially gain some improvements?  In other words, shore up the two sides of the tripod that have gone unattended?

Well, there is the obvious of seeking therapy.  But many of you can no longer drive (that's how friggin serious your illness is!!!)   You might be surprised to know that the internet offers several new options for receiving therapy! Is a very intriguing article (click link) that describes the new options.  The most obvious is to Skype with your therapist in "real time" where you can see each other, or you can do a Phone Session which is also not that new.  But there are more non-traditional ways of getting therapy now which include e-mailing back and forth as well as texting!  Texting is a nice option because you can receive a "start of the day" text from him/her, and then you can text many small snippets of how you are doing, what you are thinking or feeling, and then an "Ending of the day" text back from your therapist as they process your comments from the day and then guide you!  This is not only easy to manage, it's CHEAP in comparrison to other more traditional therapy sessions! 

This article I found not only compelling, but in my case, accurate! "Taking two fundamental factors of mind-body medicine, childhood trauma and chronic disease, two physicians, Vincent Felitti, MD along with Robert Anda, MD designed a study based on a clincial hunch.  Noticing that so many of their patients presented with symptoms of chronic disease, they also observed that these same patients were very often survivors of... childhood trauma."  They list 9 traumatic events including physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect, as well as one or no parents, substance abuse problems, incarceration of parent...   (copied from this article on May 13, 2016).

It seems clear that if you suffered trauma of any kind as a child, your mind stores the experience and then, if not dealt with through therapy, it can bubble out through your body in the form of somatic symptoms!  Now I'm not saying that the symptoms are not real.  On the contrary!  These symptoms can be seen and felt!  They can even be x-rayed! 

What I can share with you, and have, is that once I confronted things from my childhood in therapy, I eventually felt emotional relief (in full disclosure, I did get more depressed initially because I had to deal with the event as if it had just happened!  And that totally sucked!  But I was determined not to let the bastard take ONE MORE DAY FROM ME!  And in feeling better emotionally, I began to feel better physically! 

Taking care of your mental health will help you in ways you didn't know existed!  You will learn ways to interact with others that give you a VOICE!  You will be able to speak UP FOR YOURSELF!  In small ways, like "Where would you like to order dinner from? How about pizza?"  and you will learn to say things like, "Well, I love pizza too, but we ordered pizza the last two Fridays. I could really go for Chinese!"  or to protect your already fatigues self:  "All of the moms are baking home made cookies for the bake sale!  How many batches can I put you down for?"  but you can learn to say, "That doesn't work for me, but I'd be happy to purchase a few dozen from the store and send them in with Johnny on the bus that day."

You will learn coping skills that work for you, like managing your calendar better, and by having a "go to" phrase, "I don't have my calendar in front of me right now.  Let me take a look and I will get back to you!"  (this has saved me so much! The people who are pressuring you to answer them immediately don't care if you are over-committing because you didn't think it through all the way!  They just need what they need and they don't care how they get it!)

And don't forget to find time for meditation!  Our spiritual side doesn't need "beliefs" or "religions" it just needs us to HOLD STILL and BREATHE!  Just CONNECT with the deepest part of yourself, whatever you call it!  Your soul, your spirit, your God... it is so powerful and so perfect and BEYOND NAMES ANYWAY!  And each one of us can connect to that perfection.  Tapping into that perfection will help you attain a better level of wellness!!!  Such a simple thing, and yet so difficult to make the time to just sit in silence!  You DO NOT need to sit cross legged on the floor!  Just be comfortable and close your eyes!  That's it!  Start with two minutes.  If your mind wanders, don't pay it any attention!  Just watch those pesky thoughts fly by but ignore them!  Soon you will have quieted and stilled your mind!  The rest is AMAZING!  But I will leave that for you to discover!

And add some joy!  Even if it is just watching The Office from the very first episode on Netflix!  I watched it through from beginning to end at least twice and probably 4 times when I saw epidoses on TV over and over!  I think Dwight single-handedly gave me some of my life back!!!

Or put on YouTube and type in your favorite songs from whatever era that might be!  Look for the ones that have the lyrics and sing along!  Make one-on-one time for a "love-fest" with your dog or cat!  They need a love-fest every day!  And so do you!!!  Your heart will SOAR!

Color in a coloring book!  They make them for adults now!  With 50 different colored pencils instead of crayons!  Kind of takes it to the "next level"!  Remember, our health is really made up of legs like a tripod.  You won't be able to stand if one of your legs isn't right!!!

I'm excited to hear Julie Shanebrook come to speak to us about Cryo Therapy for pain management!  Hope to see you there!