3 Steps for Coping with Chronic Illness

When I used to take dance lessons, I remember seeing that there were about 10 other girls with me and the teacher wouldn’t always be able to give me personalized constructive feedback. So I took it upon myself to look in the mirror. When we would go across the floor doing split leaps, for example, I would watch myself in the mirror rather than just look at the corner I was travelling to. I’d see how high I jumped, did I point my toes, were my shoulders relaxed? I figured that these were little things that I could evaluate to help myself get better. 

This started to translate into other parts of my life… did I really understand the concept from my physics class? Maybe I should explain it to someone to make sure. When I was upset about the grocery store clerk being rude, I tried to think about if they had a bad personal situation going on. If I hit every red light and was stressed driving, I wondered if God had changed my path to avoid a car accident.  

I basically practiced removing myself from the situation a little bit so that I could separate what was going on from how I reacted to what was going on. 

One thing that helps me to cope with the daily grind of chronic illness is to take a moment to view my situation from an objective standpoint; to practice insight. Someone wise once gave these steps to help how we react to situations out of our control:

    1) Recognize the facts of the situation.

    2) What do you think about it? 
    
    3) How do you feel about it?

So, the other day I took a moment to write down some things in my life that were stressing me out - one on each page of my journal. Then under each stressor, I wrote out the facts of the situation, what I thought about it, and how it was making me feel.

Many times, people lump all 3 of these together in their reaction to a situation. But by separating the facts from thoughts and feelings, we can re-evaluate expectations that aren’t being met in the situation and let go of the things that are beyond our control.

Stressor: Current Lupus Flare

Facts: Being rear-ended in a car accident is beyond my control. Physical stress is a cause of lupus flares. 

Thoughts: I think that people don’t understand the severity that physical and emotional stress has on my health.

Feelings: It’s frustrating to be in too much physical pain to hold my new baby. I feel guilty that Zach has to pick up the slack for the household chores I can’t do. I’m disappointed that I’ve not even been able to attend church since this flare started. I'm thankful to supportive friends and family for meals, texts, and visits.

 

And I always start or finish journaling by writing out scripture. When I was thinking about these stressful situations, Matthew 11:28-30 was where I found myself:

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30
 

Our pursuits to cope will continue to leave us with emptiness in our hearts if we don't recognize that God is the one who grants comfort, peace, and joy. Draw near to Jesus and he will draw near to you!