Pain, Pain, Go Away—The Personal Side
Many years ago, I lost a dear friend to Lupus. She had been sick since childhood when she first found out she had the autoimmune disorder. In later years she developed lung cancer and ended up losing one of her lungs during her battle. Her doctors contributed her cancer to Lupus and lifelong complications related to her body fighting against itself. For this piece, we will call my friend “Joy” as she truly was a joy to all who knew her.
I first became friends with Joy when I was just about to be a teenager. Since then we have lived many miles apart for most of our lives, but have remained friends throughout life—catching up with each other whenever possible. Over the years, I saw Joy learn to live with chronic pain, various illnesses and a round the clock medication schedule that I could never fully wrap my mind around. Once she was diagnosed with cancer and lost her lung during this battle, her health began declining rapidly and her medication list doubled as she was given anti-rejection meds to encourage her body to keep the lung transplant she was blessed enough to receive from a donor.
I say all of this so that you can hopefully on some level grasp the gravity of Joy’s life and suffering. She went through so much yet all who deeply knew her were amazed at her positive attitude, her kindness, her genuine interest in others and her perseverance. No matter what life handed her, no matter the suffering, Joy worked to maintain a positive mindset and a true zeal for life.
Two things Joy did that I believe kept her going in the face of chronic pain included: 1) continually surrounding herself with positive people, and 2) continually seeking joy every day no matter how mundane the circumstances. Let me expound.
Joy loved people. She was a talker and kept me up talking and laughing until I was bleary-eyed from fatigue more than once. Joy always had people around her. She had deep relationships with her husband and daughter. She also saw a therapist. And, she was part of support groups for those with Lupus and lung transplants. She regularly spent time with people who provided support and encouragement to her and no doubt encouraged those around her with her grace and tenacity.
Second, Joy looked for the beauty and joy in life every. single. day. She loved sharing strong coffee with friends, going out to eat and most recently shopping and walking the strip in Vegas where she lived. Whether she was having coffee on the sofa with a friend, talking on the phone to her brother or out and about in town, she embraced life. When she felt up to these things she “leaned into” the beauty of life, laughed and soaked it all in.
I know there were darker seasons where she struggled to embrace life and let others love on and surround her. She was, after all, human. However, I truly believe having a positive support system and continually training her mind to focus on the positive helped light her journey.
If you are struggling with chronic pain or any other consuming stressor, a trained and seasoned therapist can help you. She can work with you to identify and implement skills and supports that can help you get the most out of life every day. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced psychotherapists.