A Few Ways to Cope with Chronic Illness

Remember my brainstorm of things I might share with my friend? Here are a few more.

Have you ever deliberately turned to face the Lord? Once on retreat I determined to hold His hand and stay with Him. It was my practice for a few hours and changed me forever. We are invited by His Spirit to do these things every day.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Isaiah 41:13 NIV

Turn to face the Lord. Determine to stay with Him. Hold His hand.

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, photo by r m dutina

Do you remember recently when I quoted Rick Hansen, PhD, from his book “Just One Thing”? The post is here https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/7643

One of his ways of bringing us back to the present moment is in Chapter 42, page 173. “Notice You’re All Right Right Now.” My summary along with other methods I have learned follows. Look at this present moment. Notice you have been breathing through all these health changes. Breathe now. Intentionally. Breathe again, here in this moment. Keep breathing. Are you still there, present in this moment? If you drifted away come back. Kindly be right here, now. This is a practice that can increase your capacity for mindfulness. There have been many, many studies that prove the health benefits of learning mindfulness.

I wrote a poem once about my experience when I was diagnosed with chronic illness. The refrain is, “Pray that I don’t panic. Pray I can be still. Pray that I can find God in the midst of being ill.” It is extremely difficult to focus on ANYTHING when we do not feel good. Mindfulness practice can help us. Brother Lawrence taught we are to speak to God all day long about everything. That is easier to accomplish if you are not panicked, distracted, racing about with catastrophizing, etc. (“Catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion that prompts people to jump to the worst possible conclusion, usually with very limited information or objective reason to despair.”)

In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl wrote,”Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Frankl suffered with many others in a Nazi prison camp. The man knows suffering. We get to choose our attitudes towards what is going on with our health, or any other situation.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

I cannot change the multiple diagnoses of chronic health conditions that I have. I can however determine to challenge myself to find ways to cope and reasons to live on, preferably with joy and gladness.

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