Friday, January 1, 2016

What I've Learned..

Happy one year anniversary to my blog!

I keep seeing all of these statuses on facebook about how great 2015 has been, but for me 2015 has a really hard year. Going into it, I thought that 2015 would be the year that I got better and as we all know, that is definitely not the case. And that's okay.

2015 wasn't the year I got better, but it was the year that I got worse. Which sounds like a negative sentence but there were so many things about 2015 that made me into the kind of person that I am now. The kind of person that can handle a life of chronic pain. 

A life with chronic pain is tremendously difficult and isolating. Continuing to write this blog has provided me with a theraputic way to put my feelings into words and to be able to share them with the world. I have seen so much good out of this blog and I am so thankful that I started to write it one year ago today. Although 2015 was in a lot of ways the worst year of my life, it also was the year that I learned the most about who I am and what I've learned through the challenges of the past year.

Here are a few of the things I've learned because of chronic pain:

- I am now a much more understanding and less judgemental person because of chronic pain.

Chronic pain has made me realize that you truly cannot judge a book by it's cover. People say to me all the time "Well, you don't look sick," as if that has anything to do with the fact that my body is being ravaged by disease inside. Just because something appears to be a certain way, doesn't mean it really is that way. I am often judged on the fact that I am 22 and living at home and currently not working but what people don't know when they hear that is that I am in chronic pain and fighting debilitating fatigue. Realizing how hurtful the judgements of other's can be in my personal life, has taught me to withold judgement because you never know what someone is going through and what they are fighting.

- I have learned the importance of taking care of your emotions.

Before this year I was always the person who held her emotions in until one day they bubbled over and I got it all out. But I would hold it in for so long, and it would hurt so deeply. Because I didn't share how I was feeling, I ended up severly stressed, depressed and full of anxiety. This led to panic attacks, breakdowns and really low moments where it felt like I had hit rock bottom. When I learned that I still had a long road ahead of me post-surgery I felt like my whole world had collapsed. When I finally had to quit my job to take care of myself, I felt like a failure. The best decision I made this past year was to start seeing a councellor. Since seeing my councellor I have been able to express my feelings in a more controlled manner and state how I'm feeling, or my fears to others. I have learned that when you're holding back and trying not to breakdown, sometimes the best thing you can do is just let yourself feel. Let yourself breakdown and cry and get it all out because you'll feel better once you do. And then figure out what it was that made you want to let it all out. Writing my blog, as I already mentioned is theraputic for me, and it has been a huge part of my journey in taking care of my emotional well-being. We downplay our emotions all of the time and it sucks because our emotions effect our health more than we could ever imagine. Emotions are important. Don't stifle them.

- I have learned which people in my life actually care about me.

This one in particular has been a hard one. Let me just say this, if you suddenly got sick and found out that you were never getting better, you would be shocked at the amount of friends you would lose. On top of all of your personal losses and struggles, losing the people you thought loved and cared for you is so hard. But I can see now that I am left with the most supportive, caring and loving people that I know. Chronic pain weeded out the half-way friends and the fake-friends and the "friends" that were only looking for personal gain in our friendship; and I am beyond thankful that life has given me that filter for friendship. Someone with chronic pain doesn't have time for fake-friends or part-time friends. I have learned that those who have stood by me and been real with me from the beginning are the ones that I will keep close and cherish for the rest of my life.

- I can now see that God is working in and through me.

This one is something I struggled with a lot over the past couple of years. Personally, my relationship with The Lord felt forced and fake and I couldn't handle pretending anymore. For a while, I drifted away, hoping that soon I could feel the real connection again that I once had with God. That connection felt like it left me for a very long time. Since I had spent the last ten years of my life dedicating it to God, I was so concerned that I would never find my way back. You always hear that if you run to God, he will accept you with open arms. I do believe that, but it isn't always that simple. There were countless times that I prayed and cried and broke down in hopes that God would show me something or do something miraculous and restore our lost connection. But it never amounted to anything until I really hit rock bottom. Now, after a few intense weeks of coming to know God again and his love for me, I can see how much he's worked through my chronic pain. God has been able to use me, even though I'm sick and in pain. He has worked in me to change the lives of others. He has blessed me with the traits of being open and honest, and that has helped me to help so many others. I am continually wondering what God's purpose is for me with the state my life is in, but my faith has been restored because I now know that God can use me in whichever state I am in and I trust in His plan for me.

So, even though 2015 was painful, difficult, challenging and scary it brought about so much personal growth and spiritual growth that I all I can think to do is thank God for what he has taught me. There will always be hardships and tough times, but I'm trying to remember that tough times don't last, tough people do. And I'm learning that I'm tough and I'm strong and even though my pain may never fully go away, there are things that I can do even with this pain. There are people that I can help, even in this state. There are always things to be happy about. God is always on my side, cheering for me. And that means everything.

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