I have had many labels over the years – clinical depression, bipolar, fibromyalgia, OCD, disabled, physically and mentally challenged, osteorarthritis and the list goes on. There was a time when I let these labels define me. However, eventually I didn’t want to be thought of by an illness. So, I came up with my own definition – “differently abled”.
To me this means I may not be able to do many normal tasks or activities, but I have adapted myself to do things differently or devised my own way of tackling the matter.
For instance, a couple of years ago I went to a chronic pain clinic for three months. One of the first things they said to us was “We can not and will not take away your pain, because if that was possible, you wouldn’t be here. Instead we will show you how to work with and through your pain to live as normal a life as possible. One tool was “pacing”. This essentially means taking chunks of time, figuring out what you can accomplish in that time and when the time is up either rest or go on to a different timed task that uses different skill sets than the previous one.
Cleaning is a really good example of pacing. It can take me all day to clean the kitchen because I will do it in stages. Bending to empty the dishwasher can be hard on my back so if my hubby can’t do it before work, I will do the bottom, then do something I can do without bending, then do the top, clean another counter or put some things away, then start to load the dishwasher. I take a break before doing any hand washing of pans or other tasks. For bathrooms I do the toilets one day, counters another and each of the two tubs on separate days.
If I have an event I want to go to, I rest up the day before and day of, and try not to plan anything major for the next two days after. This is because with my chronic pain I tire very easily. I have not been able to go to church much in the last three years because it is early in the morning and after a restless night I am just too tired. By the time I get ready, I need to go back to bed. But I surround myself with Christian music, talk programs and devotions. I have become a prayer warrior and I have several young women whom I have a mentoring relationship with. Even if we can’t get together, we are in constant contact through phone and internet.
Another area where I have found compromise is asking for help. This used to be a closed subject as far as I was concerned because I wanted to be super-independent. I had many things controlling my life and I wanted to keep hold of what I can. The amazing thing about asking for and accepting help is that you are actually doing the other person a favour instead of seeming weak! People WANT to help, they WANT the opportunity to be part of your support team. Once I realized this I didn’t feel so alone and I was actually empowered. Imagine my surprise!
What about you? Have you wanted to crawl out from under a label? Is there an area of your life that could use some renovation? I’d love to hear about it!