I won’t be causing anyone to faint in shock when I say this: Life has become very complicated. This is especially true for those of us with chronic, painful diseases. There is so much information out there- everywhere you turn, you will bump into an advertisement, blog, facebook post, website, or person with the next big treatment for your disease. Most of the time, along with the offer of a cure is a dire warning about what will happen if you don’t jump on board. This is not a recipe for strong mental health. How does one decide what to do and what to avoid? Living with chronic disease comes with an overwhelming enough to-do list without added fear and pressure.
I once heard a question from one of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Pema Chodron. She asked, “Where do you go in your head when you feel overwhelmed?” When I answered the question for myself I realized that I have the tendency to look outward for answers, from experts on health and rheumatoid arthritis, and to push blame onto myself when things get challenging.
I don’t think that I am particularly unique in this tendency, but I do know that it rarely works. Over the forty plus years I’ve lived with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis the times that have been the most healing are the times when I trusted myself, and looked inward for answers rather than outward. The answers I receive when I do this aren’t tinged with fear; instead they fill me with purpose. They help me to figure out how to help myself live well with pain and disease.
The truth is that I really appreciate all the information offered to me, but I don’t always appreciate when information is offered as a black and white solution to my very complicated predicament.
So I can say with certainty, through my own experience, that as much as I like the flavor of cherry juice, it is not a cure for my disease.
I urge you to say out loud what you know to be true for yourself. Keep track of the wisdom and information you have accumulated through paying attention to your body and your life. Ask yourself Pema’s question, and when you answer it let it teach you what you may need to adjust in your own life.
Complicated, yes, but never boring!!
Let me know what you come up with……