Being human is quite a rollercoaster ride: we have lots of ups and lots of downs. The difficulty with a chronic illness is it seems as though there are more downs than ups and that most likely is reality. To face a difficult challenge every day requires a great deal of emotional and physical energy, which is probably in short supply. When you think you are about as low as you can go, you discover that "pit" you're sinking into is bottomless. Being highly sensitive sure doesn't help. You are not only dealing with your own realities, but you are receiving signals from others which tend to zap your emotional energy. So what is a "Fibromite" to do when that rollercoaster seems to be going in only one direction: down?
Barbara Keddy, a Women and Fibromyalgia blogger (see my blog list), recently wrote about self-acceptance and avoiding self-criticism. Barbara's introspective blog encourages people with chronic illness to avoid negative self-talk that only serves to put one's self down. The messages that we receive from people around us, including medical professionals, can be negative messages that we may be tempted to personalize, which may then lead to negative self-talk. The messages we receive from others actually tell us who those people are and their messages are not about us at all. That can be a difficult concept since as humans (extra sensitive humans!) we most likely will have an emotional response to the messages we receive. That's just about being human. But we are also intellectual beings too and that gives us the opportunity to decide how we will use that message and our emotional response to that message. It is the decision you make about the message and your response that will determine whether you have closure or if you sink further into that "pit". For example, if a health professional doesn't give you a supportive message you may feel anger, frustration, sadness and a myriad of other emotions. That's just about being human. If we seek out a more supportive health professional, that's a positive action. Ultimately that's how we get what we need for ourselves and find closure at the same time
We have a tendency to label our human experience as either good or bad, but in reality there is no such thing. Our human experience is what it is and it is a wonderful thing to go along for that ride. Our human experience should be a full experience that includes the entire continuum without being censored. Our emotional reaction to our experience should be embraced and our intellectual understanding of that experience is just that -- understanding. Isn't that what we all seek? Understanding. Understanding must first come from ourselves, which requires complete self-acceptance. I become frustrated with others that don't understand, but my chronic illness is my experience and not theirs. Other people don't have the frame of reference to really understand. So I seek my own understanding and the understanding from others that share my experience. I also extend understanding to others that can't quite understand my experience. How could they understand? This is a difficult concept for highly sensitive people since you more readily have true empathy and compassion for others, but not everyone has this ability. The other day a person very close to me stated that "I need to just get over it". That initially made me feel angry, frustrated and sad. What I realized is this person doesn't have the capacity to really understand my experience and I must let it go.
My experience belongs to me and my response to that experience belongs to me. There is no right or no wrong; it's about being human. It is unfair for us to compare our response to the response others have, because our experience is unique to us. When my day appears bleak it's a signal that I need to care for myself and that my needs must be my first priority. Grief and loss are to be expected so honor those feelings and take care of you. Be kind and gentle to yourself first and then you will be able to extend that to others. Your experience comes first. Feelings of anxiety, emotional pain and other uncomfortable emotions are not a sign of weakness. We are emotional beings because we are human. The more we embrace these emotions the better understanding we have of ourselves, and our ability to resolve uncomfortable feelings comes more easily.
When you look to others for inspiration and hope, avoid putting yourself down in the process. Those people have down days and tough days too; you are not alone. It's just part of being human and that's a good thing. Blessings to you as you courageously meet the challenges of every day!