So I’ve been meaning to start this blog for a while. I kept thinking, “when I’m more in a place like…..” or “when I’m feeling more adventurous”. I guess I’ve realized that that time and headspace isn’t going to magically materialize on its own without a little prodding. So here we are.
Let me tell you a little bit about me and what I hope for this blog. I’m a woman in her 30’s who has been living with a chronic pain condition for the last 13 or 14 years. Now, don’t stop reading! This is a cheerful blog and is not about negativity in any way. In the early days I didn’t understand what was happening, and I assumed that as soon as the doctors found the cause they’d fix me and I’d go back to normal. Ahhhh the naiveté! Instead what happened was they found multiple physical consequences of the pain and no specific cause. It was all going to come down to managing it. Now, that’s a lot to take in for a gal in her early twenties, and I moped around and allowed the pain to dictate the things that I would do day to day. It took a good while before I realized that just because I was in pain, it didn’t mean the world would never be the same for me again. It didn’t mean my world had to become small and unadventurous. Prior to all this happening I’d been a carefree spontaneous young woman who loved travelling, meeting new people and trying anything new. I didn’t want to lose her to the pain and so I had a choice to make. While the doctors could help me with the physical elements, and counsellors and psychologists with the mental elements, nobody but me could decide what attitude I’d take towards it. As Viktor Frankl once said “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedom—-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 86). So I had a choice, to sink or to swim. I could allow the pain some control, or I could learn to adapt to it (not fight it) and learn ways to manage it best so that I could still live the life I wanted. To me the answer was clear. I had to live with the pain regardless, but I could choose to live with it happily and in a fulfilling way, or I could let myself drift along. I was going to swim. Now don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t something I could immediately put into place. With the help of doctors I learnt what did and didn’t work for me, and I began to be mindful of what helped, and hindered, the pain on a day to day basis. I learnt what I could do to make it easier, what to avoid altogether, and what I needed to do if I wanted to push the boundaries a bit. I had to reevaluate what I was going to do. While I may work full time in years to come, if my pain decreases or if a new management treatment becomes an option, I had to admit that I would be more likely to only be able to work part time in the foreseeable future. So it was with a giddy heart that I returned to university to finish off the studies I had always returned to after travelling but never finished. With a degree, and a career path, I would hopefully bring in a higher part time wage, making life that little bit easier. I found studying blissful. I had a purpose again after years of trying to work full time and failing. And I was good at it. It was a strong reminder that with a little adapting, life could still be fulfilling. I was on the right track.
Fast forward a little while and I find myself here, writing this blog. In an effort to create the fulfilling life I’d had pre-pain, I found I was pushing myself to try new things and see new places. They weren’t necessarily in the same vein as they used to be, but they were just as exciting, just different. I was adapting. What I found that followed was surprising. I don’t have a lot of friends who are ill or in pain, and I am surrounded by healthy friends and family who are able to do all the things they would like to. What became evident though, was that even those healthy friends weren’t trying new things or ensuring their life was fulfilling. They started to comment that I was inspiring them to try new things and to push the boundaries. I made an effort to do at least one brave thing each day, no matter how small. To try something new each day. To push myself out of my comfort zone.
And so here we are. This blog is born to document at least one brave thing I do each week, and to hopefully inspire people to do the same. Both those whose lives are challenged by health, and those who are fit and healthy. The world is an amazing, exciting place, and it’s as big or as small as you want it to be.
So please, try it. Go forth and be brave, no matter how small. And please don’t forget to let us know about it!