I have to admit that I'm a glass-half-empty kind of person, and I also tend to see things in black and white, blind to all those shades of gray in the middle. Especially when I get overwhelmed.
As you can imagine, or already know, it can be easy to spiral into a dark depression when one has a chronic illness. My most pervasive symptoms -- an intense fatigue and joint pain -- can push me right over the edge. And maybe if I were doing all this on my own, without my unbelievably fabulous husband and my six-and-five-sixths-year-old daughter (she insists on including detailed fractions! :), I would just wallow in a permanent self-pity party. I can see how easy that could happen.
But although I can't do as much as I'd like for my family, I can try to limit the wallowing. Sometimes I need a little inspiration to help pull myself out of that dark hole. I find it in so many places when I remember to keep myself open to it.
In fact, it was reading a post by Leslie Rott of Getting Closer To Myself that prompted me to ask other bloggers about how they do it. (Although I don't think I actually mentioned that to her, and she didn't submit the link I included above. But I don't think she'll mind. Right, Leslie? :) Leslie inspires me with her courage in writing such personal details and emotions, and the fact that even when she takes a major hit, she gets back off her couch and puts herself out there again and again. She just rocks!
I don't know why, but I also find inspiration in books and other personal tales from people whose lives have taken the kind of twist mine has. It's not that they miraculously get cured; it's the combination of knowing my situation isn't unique and seeing how other people find meaning in their lives after being hit with a debilitating chronic illness. Some of my favorite books that left me feeling inspired are:
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Tova Bailey made me both appreciate that my life hasn't had to shrink as far as hers did and also that living more slowly and intentionally has its own benefits (even if neither she nor I would choose chronic illness over good health).
- The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing and the Science of Suffering by Melanie Thernstrom is a book I've mentioned here many times and highly recommend.
- How To Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers by Toni Bernhard. I'm still fairly early on in this book, but I've been following Toni on Twitter (which actually is how I heard about her book) and she blogs at Psychology Today. So far, at least, the book really resonates for me. While I'm not sure I could adopt a Buddhist view of life, her book is helping me see my life from a slightly different angle
Kelly from Fly With Hope uses some of my standbys when I need something to make me smile -- feel good TV shows and movies are great for helping lift a dark cloud. Read her other favorites in her post Coping With The Funk.
Jamie at Chronic Migraine Warrior fights one of the same impulses I do when she hits a funk: Pushing friends/family away and isolating herself. Like me, she luckily has a supportive husband who helps her find some perspective. In her post, Keep On Keepin' On, she writes about having a circle of friends and family, as well as her faith, that she can depend on when she's feeling at her worst.
Meanwhile, Mo from Day By Day With The Addison Girl wrote a post that many in the chronic illness community have found inspiring. If Someone You Love ... was Mo's response to a skeptical relative who accused her of exaggerating her symptoms to receive sympathy. That's something way too many people with chronic illnesses face, and it's a link to consider sending to any Doubting Thomases.
Thanks, everybody, for participating and/or reading.The next edition of PFAM will be hosted at FibroDAZE on Nov. 23. Go check out Kathy's blog and keep an eye out there for her topic and request for submissions.