PKD makes us endure so much physically that it can take a toll on us emotionally. Our emotions can keep us stagnant, propel us forward or hold us back. Sometimes we don’t have full control over our health, but we may have some control over our emotional wellbeing.
Our emotions can become our worst enemy or our strength, guidance and tool to a happy and healthy life, regardless of the physical ailments we face. But having a positive mindset takes work. There are definitely good days and bad. Every day is a teachable opportunity where we can learn and grow, if we allow ourselves to. Some days all of this is easier said than done and I remind myself that I need to practice what I preach. Here are a few things, in no particular order, that have helped me along my journey to stay emotionally strong and balanced, which I believe is a huge part of our physical health:
It is hard to hear that others have it far worse than you, and hearing this doesn’t do much good until you see it firsthand. Connect with others enduring the same trials as you. Truly learn firsthand that you’re not alone. Hearing someone else’s story or seeing them in person gives us a different perspective on our own lives. We can learn so much about ourselves when we open up and surround ourselves with other people. People need people.
I believe humor, love and positivity are some of the reasons I’m still alive today. Laugh a lot, be silly and find the humor in things. There is nothing better than a good belly laugh, unless you just had surgery, then grab a pillow, squeeze it and keep laughing.
I tend to be a little stubborn, which to a certain extent can be a good characteristic. However, I’ve learned the importance of letting people help me. People often want to help, but sometimes they just don’t know what to do. Tell them what you need. It will make you feel better and make them feel useful.
When going through hard times, it is easy to become a hermit. No matter what is going on, try your best to stay connected with others. Even if you are too sick or in too much pain to leave the house, try and make sure you are keeping in touch with others. It helps make you feel connected to the outside world and a part of things. A phone call from my mom and dad always makes me feel better.
Not everybody understands or can relate to our health issues and pain. I’ve learned that this is no fault of theirs. You can’t truly get it unless you are living it. One person who really knows what the past three years have been like for me—with my chronic back pain—is my husband, Noah. We can’t expect others to fully understand the complexity of our health issues except those who are in the trenches with us.
No matter how sick I am, I always set goals for the following day and the future. This keeps me feeling “normal.” This can be as simple as taking a shower, running an errand or doing some house cleaning. I always feel great when I set a goal and accomplish it. Having something to look forward to is vital, so I set goals well into the future, as well.
Health issues can be depressing. We may not have the energy to do what we once did or we may not look the same as we used to. Our lives may not mirror others the same age as us because of what we are battling. Don’t lose your zest for life. Try and find something to do every day that you enjoy. As simple as it may be, take time for you and try and do something you love that can help distract you from what you are going through.
I enjoy being productive and active. It is frustrating when I have to limit myself because of my health, however we must listen to our bodies, or we will likely feel worse. Be strong enough to do what is best for your overall health, even if it isn’t what you want to do.
Sometimes life can feel so overwhelming. When it does, take a deep breath. Sometimes this simple act can make us feel more relaxed and less anxious. Enjoy the privilege of being alive and remember how lucky we are to be here.
How do you stay emotionally balanced?