More and more I find myself saying things out loud that I know you’re thinking to yourself. In fact I know it’s the things most people are thinking quietly to themselves in the confusion, possibly despair of an illness diagnosis. The thought today is, “Can’t I just forget that I’m sick for 1 day”. The truth is you can forget everyday, but it won’t serve you. You don’t ever have to acknowledge that you have a health challenge, but then it’s kind of hard for the doctors to get involved and engage you in treatment. When I hear that question I know you’re not looking to have every cell in your body disengage from the healing process, but I am hearing that you’d love to develop amnesia for a short period of time.
When I worked with clients who were HIV+ I would hear the doctors discuss the patient take a drug holiday. This was usually at the point that the treatment stopped working and they were changing medication plans. During that time the patient could fantasize that they weren’t facing a health challenge, but the truth is how can it ever be a far away thought. The body will keep trying to remind you.
It’s kind of funny because those of us who support those facing a health challenge are often waiting for you to get that whack in the head setting you in motion to tackle the health challenge. On the other hand, many develop amensia by a whack to the head and your hope is that you’ll forget about the health challenge. Do you see the irony in all of this? You would think that amnesia would provide a safe haven for your emotions because you don’t have to feel what you don’t remember. The problem is that how can you heal what you can’t feel?
There is a difference between acknowledging your health challenge and dwelling on it. There is no manual that requires your 24hour devotion to remembering and languishing in the shadow of the diagnosis. The diagnosis is there, and for those who have a chronic illness it’s a new relationship, one that most likely won’t ever go away so finding a way to co-habitate is the goal.
Amnesia would be nice but when you returned you probably wouldn’t remember anything during that lapse in memory…can you really live with that? Wouldn’t you rather make a conscious choice to live today to the best of your ability and create a memory you’d never want to leave behind? There are ways to alter your state of consciousness such as meditation and yoga. These altered states allow you to drift to distanct
The alarm clock goes off and if you’re like me you try and figure out how many times you can hit the snooze button before you actually need to get out of bed. There are many things that people do the moment they wake up; some pray, some write down the dreams they had throughout the night and some face the day and the reality of their health challenge. No matter what we do; escaping the reality of the illness, unless we’re in denial, is virtually impossible.
This is the thing that those who don’t have a health challenge don’t understand, every day starts with a reminder of compromised health. This is one of those life experiences that gets lost in translation. It’s difficult for those not health challenge to understand what the big deal is about taking medication every day. Obviously it’s not a challenge they’ve experienced and it’s a judgment that creates a chasm between those who are healthy and those with a health challenge.
It’s not just a physical experience; it’s an emotional and spiritual experience. The idea that the physical body has betrayed you in some way can be disconcerting. The truth is that it wasn’ t intentional. Your body didn’t declare war on you as a means of punishing you…it just happens. The question is “Just because the physical body has a challenge, does your emotional and spiritual being need to be challenged?” This is a huge question because splitting the physical experience of the illness from the other aspects of the self can instill hope.
I don’t want to deny the fact that there will be a learning curve adjusting to new daily regimens. How will you create a helpful perspective about the daily reminder of your health challenge? Can you reframe it as empowering yourself to aid in your own health and healing? It provides you with a sense of control over your own life. You get to decide how you’ll experience the challenge and if you’re being active in the healing process you’ll be turning up the volume on your healing process.
You have a choice to make every time you open your eyes in the morning. You can either wake up and say to yourself, “I’ve got another day of battle”, or you can wake up and say to yourself, “I have one more day to work toward my own wellness and see what new treatments are coming down the pipeline”. This isn’t about freezing yourself till the day when the medical community comes up with a cure; it’s about creating a safe space for you to acknowledge the daily reminder and move on and find a way to have as many positive experiences as possible. It may take some practice, but hang in there…you’ll get it!