I’ve had this headache for a long time, and yet I’m still making changes to my life, still adapting to the limitations dealing with chronic pain has given me. And, yes, still fighting against those seeming limitations.
Something I have to be on constant lookout for is depression. It can really sneak up on you. I recently made a lifestyle change that left me feeling depressed. I’ve homeschooled most of my children their entire school careers. One decided on public school after we had her try it out last year, and one just went on to college. That left a high schooler and an elementary schooler at home. Looking back at how this past school year has progressed, I really was not happy with the results. My kids are smart, not geniuses or anything, but capable. I really felt they weren’t getting the opportunity from me to challenge themselves. The younger one started school a month ago and is adapting well. The older one will start in the fall.
Not homeschooling may not sound like a big deal, but this has been my identity for a long time. I stopped working almost two years ago. The homeschooling community has been my only source of social activity outside of my house. Although they still value my input, I now feel detached.
I am not the same person I was just days before. Suddenly I feel alone.
This identity crisis and the disappointment I felt from not being able to do for my children something I had promised myself led to some serious insecurity and low self-esteem.
So here’s my advice to myself, and to anyone who suffers from depression due to chronic pain:
- Practice mindfulness This link is to the Zen Habits website. He gives a great plan of 9 mindful things you can easily do each day.
- Daily write three things you are grateful for. Or more if you choose. Happiness can be cultivated. When we are in pain, it is easy to forget the good things in our lives. By writing them down, you remind yourself to be happy.
- Hug someone, or pet a dog or cat. Don’t forget you need physical contact even when all you want to do is stay in bed in your dark quiet room.
- Play a game. You may not be into board games, but I am a total game geek. Even if I really don’t think I want to play, playing a game with my family makes me feel better. It helps me reconnect and feel like I am a part of things.
- Last, and possibly hardest; Get some exercise. It may hurt, but your body needs it more than ever. If you have to schedule a nap afterwards, do it. If you can only manage a few minutes, do it. It may take time to work into it, but your body will thank you.