What happened to my habits, routines, and boring life? I want it back. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, I hit a bump in the road. Ouch, an autoimmune flare up. It shakes me from an idle mental state, but now my mind just feels foggy. I’m now in survival mode. Would I trade this fight or flight mindset for my autopilot life? No, surprisingly, I wouldn’t. I just need to relearn how to navigate it. Life with an autoimmune disease can domino into a list of questions and uncharted territory. Today I would like to advocate for your mental peace of mind despite the turmoil happening inside and outside your body.
Take some time for your mind.
There are many ways to give your mind space to process. Instead of curling up in a corner heaving breaths into a paper bag, I’d rather:
- snuggle up with a snack for a netflix binge
- polish off a container of ice cream for breakfast
- join the gym down the road
- play out back with the kids
- sleep in every day
- nap during a podcast or audiobook
- go to bed early and wake up late
- go to bed late and wake up early
- bake a delicious loaf of cinnamon swirl banana bread
- hire a babysitter even though I’m still home
Reverse the narrative
Go from downcast thinking patterns, to uplifting ones. No matter how I choose to cope during a crisis or work through trauma, negative judgement is not welcome from myself or others. People formulate opinions about everything. I am done perpetuating anything petty. Stand in a superhero power pose and declare what you are! For example, I am a woman, mother, and student.
Each of us go through life with individual experiences. As a whole, we need to reach out and lift one another with encouragement. With my autoimmune diseases, my biggest hesitation is exposure to other possibly ill people. Public places aren’t often my go-to when I feel my autoimmune disease flaring up. It can get lonely, anxious, depressed, or bored. It is just easier to stay home, shut myself in, and catch up on media. But the people who love and support me show up when I reach out– even if I forget to shower, lose my wallet in the couch cushions, or need to move a couch from my 3 story apartment. Give yourself grace with some space and reach out to loved ones when you are ready.
Taking time to cultivate positive mental health is a long term commitment. Sometimes I feel like I ask too much of others, feeling lame that I cannot motivate myself to do much. So whenever I feel up to giving and lending a hand, I do it happily. The way I think of others also affects my mind and relationship with them. Therefore, I choose to see people in a positive light and give them space to be different than me. Sometimes I can feel less successful than others because I didn’t finish my degree before “poppin’ out kids.” This kind of thinking kills my mojo and robs me of my vision of a bright future. So instead of thinking of that way, I just decide to brush it off.
I decided to give people the benefit of the doubt! I love my friends and family who are successful. If anyone wants to toot their own horn, I’ll grab a tuba! Their rejoicing doesn’t downplay or take away from mine. Together, we’ll make a nice marching band. Feeling guilt tripped about these things does not serve anyone. So I’ve decided to love my “boring” little life. Instead of glamor, it has gratitude. Instead of lucre, it has love. Instead of accolades, it has authenticity.
The goal isn’t the end, but what is next.
Gotta love the song, “Life is a highway.” Sometimes it is easy to lose track of the miles as they pass. Zoning out on the road, unconscious to the time and the people passing by. Especially on the familiar roads it is easier to drive on auto pilot – having no remembrance of the turns or stop lights because of the mundaneness–unless someone cuts you off. I invite you to turn off that autopilot. I invite you to notice the ease of traffic and give grace to those who drive a bit recklessly. Find meaning and respect for your beautiful life as it is and what it is becoming.