Tag Archive | struggle

Pain & my gratitude list for today

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“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

I am struggling hard with a somewhat severe flare up of my facial pain disorder. It’s not as bad as it tends to get sometimes but it’s bad. I had difficulty sleeping last night because the Throbbing pain kept me awake. My jaw locked shut and I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to even fit my soda bottle into it.  The chronic pain disorder that I have (TMJD) sometimes causes sufferers to experience the locking of their jaw either locked shut or open.  

It’s literally physically locked and can’t be forced open/closed until it decides to on its own. There’s no known cure or definite effective treatment. Most of the best treatments seem to be home remedies such as heating pads and cold packs, facial massages, stretches, avoiding certain things like gum chewing and hard food, avoiding stress because that tends to aggravate it…

My pain disorder is the most physically painful experience of my life. I’m not constantly in severe agony like some people but I am in pain more often than not and it flares up every now and again to severe agony that is debilitating and seemingly unbearable.  

I struggled with this since I was a little girl but I had no idea what it is or that all the symptoms I experience are connected. I thought it was a sinus/ear condition complication since I used to have recurrent ear and sinus infections and my pain disorder affects those parts of the body. I was always afraid to tell my mom about my weird, confusing symptoms.

My left arm goes dead/weak, I experience sudden and temporary deafness, searing pain like a very severe tooth/ear/sinus ache all over my face, jaw, ears, around my eyes, temples, and now my neck, shoulders, head, and down my left arm. It used to only be on the left side of my body, now it’s on my right side as well.

My condition got worse and worse through the years until a couple years ago it became unbearable to me. I would scream out loud for hours through the night into the early morning until my throat was raw and sore and my mouth tasted like blood.   Sometimes I couldn’t even scream or cry, all I could do was squeeze the bars on my bed with one hand and hold my throbbing face in the other and writhe in agony.  

Physical pain frightens me when it reaches a certain point. I begin to panic. I have always been this way and I don’t know why. So when it flares up really bad, I am scared out of my mind. Every year I develop another symptom. When a doctor told me what this condition is I struggle with, it was one of the worst moments of my life. It felt like my life was shattered to pieces. That was around when my depressive disorder was really starting to get better in general. I was happy and hopeful.

Then my mysterious physical disorder flared up. It physically paralyzed me. I stayed wide awake for four days straight. With not a second of sleep. I screamed night after night til I lost my voice. I contemplated suicide.  Not because of depression, for once. I wasn’t depressed.

I thought I would die because of not sleeping day after day.

I thought about buying or stealing drugs to help me stop the pain. Someone gave me prescription pain pills illegally.   I was desperate. I took them. I took one. It wouldn’t work. I took a few more at once. They only took the edge off but I began feeling like myself again and was able to sleep.

When I thought it was a sinus/ear condition I believed that can always clear up but when the doctor told me it’s a chronic and currently incurable pain disorder that really has no professional treatment, I was absolutely devastated. It took everything I had not to crumble right there in her office.

Doctors often don’t like prescribing pain pills for pain disorders because they think people just want drugs and the chronic pain conditions can’t always be seen objectively with tests and sometimes pain pills don’t even work anyway. And I wouldn’t want to live on pain pills in general or take them frequently.

I had no idea what to do or how I would go on living. She gave me suggestions for how to ease the pain and prevent severe flare ups, like facial massages.  I never knew I can touch my face because I thought that would make it worse. Just the mere thought of touching my face horrified me. Many nights before the diagnosis, I would lay in bed and imagine a human hand stroking and massaging my face wishing desperately that someone could do that for me but never knowing it can really be done without exacerbating the pain.

I would imagine the hand in different skin colors and sometimes imagine it invisible.   When the doctor told me it’s not only ok but necessary for me to massage my face I was doubtful and terrified.   That night I kept thinking about it, trying to get the courage up. I would put my hands to my face then lose the courage to touch it. Then one moment I touched my face. Then I pressed on it and massaged it and I couldn’t believe it actually mitigated the pain. It wouldn’t take it away but made it almost bearable.  

The more I massaged it each day, the less my pain would become. Now that’s one of my greatest techniques. 

The thing that helped me cope with my physical pain disorder is my depressive disorder.   Because of years living with a depressive illness and learning ways to cope with it, I was already used to making myself better with personal development techniques and positive/optimistic thinking.  So this prepared me for the worsening and diagnosis of this physical ailment. I knew I am strong enough to handle this.

One of the many great things about struggling with a severe depressive illness for years and working hard to get better is, it can strengthen us beyond belief and prepare us for anything, if we allow it to. I always thought of my depression as a “curse” for the most part, for many years, but it’s actually one of my greatest blessings, as horrific and agonizing as it is.

It made me so much of what I am today.  

Suffering with severe pain of any kind can be excruciatingly lonely. When I’m suffering with a severe flare up of TMJD pain, I see everyone around me going on like usual not even realizing how incredibly blessed they are. So blessed. To be able to go on like nothing ever happened, having fun or not, laughing, eating, planning, talking, sleeping…

Not in severe anguish or despair. It’s like that with depression too.

But depression and physical pain can also open us to realize the simple but profound blessings all around. When I’m in too much pain, either physical or emotional, to do much of anything, I often see things in a way I overlooked before the pain flared up.

I see the moistness on cold soda bottles, the vibrancy of the colors in Nature, the texture of food…and I would do just about anything to go back. Back to where I was before.   When the pain wasn’t so bad.

The good thing is that we can strengthen or develop the habit of seeing the simple greatness surrounding us so even when we aren’t in agony, we can bask in the simple treasures of life. I often do this more now, even when I’m not in pain.  

That’s the good thing about pain. It can teach us so much. But not everyone will experience pain to that degree and depth and I hope they never will.   I want to teach “ordinary” people without pain disorders to be constantly and consciously grateful for not being in pain, for all the simple things, the beauty of life.

Many people will say they’re thankful for everything when the concept arises but I believe we should think about it more often than just occasionally. 

I don’t want tragedy to have to hit to make people awaken to the beauty and gratitude and abundance we are blessed with.

I will admit, sometimes I feel sorry for myself when I’m in too much pain. Especially at night when I’m in my bed or pacing back and forth in my bedroom while all the world around me is asleep and I’m in my own hell suffering beyond belief.   And I believe that’s ok. Ok to feel sorry for myself on seldom occasions.  But I don’t make a habit of it. Instead I make a habit of being strong and thankful and optimistic and positive whether or not I’m in pain.

My heart goes out to all who are suffering or struggling with pain of any kind, physical or emotional, whether it’s chronic or temporary.   When I’m having a severe  flare up, I hurt for myself but all I can mostly think about is the ones who have it worse and my heart breaks for them. There are people living in constant agony and not just occasional flare ups. And some people’s situations makes it harder to handle or live with. Since I myself have pain disorders I thoroughly understand what it’s like. Even if I never experienced chronic pain or severe agony I would be compassionate and understanding for people who do have it but the fact that I have it makes me understand more what it must be like for people always suffering.

Whenever I have a severe flare up, I try to make it a point to list a few things I’m thankful for. I have a choice to either sink into despair and focus on the pain all around or focus on beauty and hope. Today I choose Hope & Beauty.

Here’s my list:

1.) I’m thankful for the books and plays I’m blessed to have come across.

2.) I’m grateful for the songs I’m blessed to know.

3.) I’m thankful for personal development/self-help techniques

4.) for posting here

5.) for the people I have met on and off line

6.) for my body that functions very well

7.) for everything I have learned

8.) for the cold weather

9.) the beauty outside my window

10.) for blogs

11.) for animals

12.) for life

Pain is real. So is hope.

Much love, blessings, & strength to you all.

Xoxo Kim

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Hopelessness – a gift?

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This, here, post is another one about the book I read called “Learning from the Heart” by Dr. Gottlieb, a Temple University graduate of Psychology. He is a psychologist who specializes in family therapy and addiction and was the director of a program in Philadelphia.   His book is a book of lessons learned in his life. 

Dr. Gottlieb was in a tragic accident when he was 33 years old. His life was going very well, he was married with two little girls and a great therapy practice going when one morning he got into his car and saw a black object flying into his windshield.   He later woke up in a hospital to find that he is paralyzed for the rest of his life. He was in that hospital for one year.   He struggles with quadriplegia. People with this condition suffer with recurrent and permanent infections as a result of the paralysis. He is permanently paralyzed at the chest and down.

Dr. Gottlieb, at first, had much difficulty accepting his condition and wanted to die by suicide. 

This experience taught him how to view Hopelessness in a different way than we usually think of “hopelessness.”. What do you think of when you hear the word “hopeless?”. Desperation? Despair? Giving up?, Misery, …

There is another way to look at a “hopeless” situation. As a gift. Hopelessness itself can be a true gift.  It can give us the liberty to move on or move forward with the life we currently have instead of desperately clinging to something we do not currently have and may never have and missing out on right now lusting after or longing for something else.

Shortly after this accident, Dr. Gottlieb made the decision to live for two years and then see if he were able to go on living. He hoped that something would change dramatically.

It may sound good & pleasant that he had hope. But this false hope was actually a hindrance to him. It was imprisoning him,not allowing him to live in the now, in the present moment, it would not allow him to embrace his current life. All he could do was “hope” for things that would never happen, then he would be happy.

He hoped he would walk again.   With quadriplegia that’s not possible, ever. He hoped his infections would cease to exist. With quadriplegia, that’s not possible.

Dr. Gottlieb is Jewish but he seems, by what I read, to be somewhat secular or a free-thinker and doesn’t really have a definite concept of any sort of god. 

He wrote this “At the end of two years, I took myself into the bedroom and I had a deep, reflective conversation with…well, I don’t know.  God?  My god? My own truth? Anyway, the conversation went something like this: ‘Okay, I will live with it if you give me hope that one day I’ll walk.’   And what I heard back was, ‘Nope. No hope. Live or die. Make your choice.’.   So I said, ‘Give me hope that I won’t be so sick.’. (My health was so fragile – I just wanted some assurance that I would feel stronger and be able to fight off infections.). And I got the same answer. ‘Either live with it or don’t.   It’s not going to change.’ For every request, I got the same answer.”

After the two years was up, Dr. Gottlieb had to make a choice. Live or die. He lost hope that he would ever walk again. He lost hope that he would stop getting sick with infections.

And he chose life.

If he kept up the hope that something physical would change, he would have missed out on this life now in hopes of a “better” tomorrow.

But he chose now. Hopelessness gave him the gift of Now.

This is a very different and very beautiful way of looking at hopelessness. When we become hopeless about something we want, we let go. Not let go of life. But let go of lusting after what may or may not come in the future. Embrace now. Cherish now.   Love now.

Dr. Gottlieb still struggles, he writes, but he realizes how beautiful life is now and he loves his beautiful life.

There have been so many days I have lost, hoping for something better, wishing for more in the future and I let now slip away. But when I let go, I make room in my heart for this life I live Now.

Is there anything you are holding onto? A hope for something that you’re clinging to that is not letting you live now?

“I’ll be happy when I lose 5 pounds….”
“I’ll be happy when I find the love of my life…”
“I’ll be happy when I have a better job….”
“I’ll be happy when I become rich….”
“I’ll be happy when I have kids, when I get married, when I don’t have to work anymore, when I graduate college, when…”

Why not be happy now?! You can still work for things but it’s best not to let it destroy your serenity and love right now.

“Normal day, let me be aware
of the treasure that you are.
let me learn from you, love you,
bless you before we depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest
of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
let me hold you while I may,
for it may not be always so. One day
I shall dig my nails into the earth,
or bury my face in the pillow,
or stretch myself tart,
or raise my hands
to the sky and want, more
than all the world, your return.” ~ Mary Jean Irion 

“You know the future’s lookin’ brighter
Every morning’ when i get up
Don’t be thinkin’ ’bout what’s not enough,now baby
Just be thinkin’ ’bout what we got
think of all my love, now
I’m gonna give you all I got” ~ Eddie Money (Baby Hold On)

“It’s not that I don’t want a lot
Or hope for more, or dream of more
But giving thanks for what I’ve got
Makes me so much happier than keeping score

In a world that can bring pain
I will still take each chance
For I believe that whatever the terrain
Our feet can learn to dance
Whatever stone life may sling
We can moan or we can sing

Grateful, grateful
Truly grateful I am
Grateful, grateful
Truly blessed
And duly grateful” ~ John Bucchino. (Grateful)

“So the sidewalk is crowded, the city goes by 
And I rush through another day 
And a world full of strangers turn their eyes to me 
But I just look the other way 

They roll by just like water 
And I guess we never learn 
Go through life parched and empty 
Standing knee deep in a river and dying of thirst” ~ Joe Cocker (and other singers) 

Xoxo Kim

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Every Storm Runs Out of Rain <3

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(old picture of me I recently found taken on December 31, 1991, I was 5 years old

“I will keep a smile on my face and in my heart even when it hurts today.” ~Og Mandino

Two days ago in one of my posts I mentioned that I’m struggling with symptoms of depression.   I can feel an impending episode of severe depression about to hit. It’s starting out like all the others.  Sometimes I can prevent it if I really try hard before it pulls me in to the point of no return for weeks or months.

I can feel suicidal feelings and thoughts about to manifest. I don’t want this to get out of hand so I made a conscious decision yesterday afternoon to do all I can to try to keep it right where it is until it goes or to help lift it.  I am so tempted to give in and cave but I keep going. I feel as if I’m about to crumble but I’m staying strong.   It’s not easy. It’s extremely difficult.  

I can see things all around me that I find immense joy in when I’m not depressed. Crunchy & colorful Fall leaves, the beautiful sky and city lights, animals, people, the sounds all around, pumpkin Spice coffee & hot tea….

I see things I want to want, things I want to be interested in.

But I feel disconnected like I’m not taking full pleasure in it all. I am having memory & concentration problems. Forgetting the simplest things.  When an episode is coming on, my senses often become less sharp, things seem bland like There’s no flavor or rhythm in anything, I get furious off and on (I generally don’t have anger issues), I take every little thing too personally when any other day I wouldn’t even care about it, I have an extreme low feeling beyond a normal low mood, everything looks bleak and gray….stuff like this.

One thing that helps me immensely is quotes & positive writings.   I love, love, love quotes that inspire me and bring me a sense of consolation. I love to read them, meditate upon them, and share them with others.   Sharing is caring.

So I decided to compose a list here of comforting quotes of hope & strength to help me and anyone else who may need little reminders to stay strong & keep going. I also have my positive Playlist of songs I have been listening to.

Maybe I can’t pull myself out of this.  And it does feel like it will never end but I can do things to help myself and keep reminding me that it WILL end no matter how permanent it feels.

I want to give in but I know that’s not good.   It’s my responsibility to care for myself and do what I can to see it through. If I had a physical illness flaring up, I would do what I have to to manage, ease, and eliminate the symptoms and that’s exactly what I must do with this.

But with this it’s hard because depression saps energy, motivation, and kills the will to live while physical illness often strengthens the will to survive and motivates people to do whatever it takes to keep living and get strong and healthy. 

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I have depression as an illness and I just believe I’m just worthless and empty and that’s why I’m so depressed. But I often know now that I have a condition and I remind myself that. Last night it was really taking a whole lot of energy not to become suicidal.  It’s so hard.

As hard as it is though, I know I have the choice. The choice to keep going…

I’m very happy & inspired because I have been receiving sweet messages by people on Facebook and here expressing gratitude to me for sharing all the uplifting pics, quotes, words,& messages I share everyday. That’s so sweet and I’m thrilled to know I am able to touch lives for the better.  Social Media, when used positively, is so amazing for reaching people, even ones we don’t even know, all around the world.  Just one simple picture shared or one quote or word of encouragement can brighten someone’s day immensely.

This is another reason for me to hold on, so I can help others, share my stories/experiences, reach out to people in various ways, and inspire as deeply as I can in any way I can. I am very shy at first and don’t always reach out to people first but I am extremely open, even with strangers, when the opportunity comes up. I don’t mind telling my entire life story, good & bad, to someone I met two seconds ago. And I love to hear/read people’s experiences/stories good & bad. I have always been this way. My mom gets frustrated with me sometimes and yells sarcastically, “That’s it, just tell the world all my business!”. Lol and that’s just what I will do.

To me, there’s no such thing as “Too much info.” and people “airing out dirty laundry” is a good thing! ;-). As long as it’s meant to connect with, share with, express, bring awareness to, help & inspire and not merely meant to be a drama queen! Lol. 

I accept people and their mistakes and “flaws”. I may not agree with a view a person holds or with something someone has done but I will love the person just the same without negative judgment. I am in no position to judge like that. I am no better or worse than anyone, my life is no better or worse, my morals are no better or worse. I live & let live and I know that things people do that to me seem wrong or not good, usually say nothing of the character or goodness of that person.  The best, greatest people can slip, fall, make mistakes.   And all I want to do is provide empathy, unconditional love, compassion, acceptance, understanding, hugs, kindness, friendship, support, & encouragement.   Not destructive criticism, insults, negative judgments, guilt trips, grudges, or whatever.  I was never someone who is outright cold, callous, critical, cruel, and judgmental or a troll. I have always been loving & understanding but now I am even more that way than ever. I have judged people previously when I shouldn’t have, I said/wrote things merely  to annoy or anger when someone would make me angry. I have been arrogant.  I have been rude.  Sometimes I was somewhat vicious but not now. Sometimes I would disagree with someone’s political views and while the disagreement itself wouldn’t irk me, the specific argument would and I would respond unkindly.

 Now I only want to put more love out into the world. Believe what you will. Do what you feel is right for you. Stand up for what you believe in. Advocate.  Maybe I will disagree with you, maybe I will oppose your views and what you advocate for but I will never oppose YOU, the person and I will show respect for your decisions and how you feel whether or not I agree. Maybe it’s me who is wrong and not you, anyway. Maybe your “mistakes ” aren’t even mistakes, just things I disagree with.  I will see you as the whole that you are, the medley, the “miracle”, the beauty. I don’t see mistakes you have made, flaws you may have, things you do or have done or believe that I disagree with. I see you.  

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ~ Ben Franklin 

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Here are some quotes helping me tonight. And I hope they touch you in some way as well.

1.) Choose love. Choose to release all resentments.
Forgive everyone. Choose to release all regrets.
Forgive yourself for all decisions that you have ever made that didn’t work out as you hoped.
Forgive yourself for any financial decisions
that didn’t meet your expectations.
Release your regrets if you choose
the “wrong” spouse or the “wrong” career.
Today, choose love.
Choose to love yourself.
Choose to love your life.
Choose to love all the friends, family, co-workers,
acquaintances, and others who share your life.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

2.) Choose what lies in the shadows to be a matter
for discovery and adventure, rather than fear.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

(This is a great concept. We can look at the unknown as an adventure and learning experience instead of fearing & dreading it and we can see difficulties as challenges to help us grow & strengthen us as opposed to seeing them as horrible afflictions and seeing ourselves as helpless victims)

3.) Choose to be as a young child –
fully awake, eager for the next experience.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

4.) Life is lived in the living.
Set aside convention, caution,
and arbitrary “rules” about how
life is supposed to be lived.
Choose! Explore! Adventure!
Live life to the fullest.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

(yup, follow your own way)

5.) Choose Inner Peace.
Nothing is worth losing your inner peace.
Take action as circumstances require,
but never surrender your inner peace.
Stop. Breathe deeply.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply again.
Then, and only then, take action –
from a peaceful heart.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

6.) Affirmation:
Today I choose the higher road –
the path of charity, acceptance,
love, selflessness, kindness.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

7.) Live life with no regrets and no resentments.
Whatever happened in the past,
forgive yourself and others. Choose love.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

8.) It is nearly a certainty that some
of your expectations will not be met today -choose Joy anyway.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

(beautiful! :-D) 

9.) Much in life can be seen as ugly or beautiful – it’s our choice.
Why would we choose to see any part of life as ugly?
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

(yes, let’s choose to look for beauty everywhere we can)

10.) Choose to Dance Lightly With Life.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

(yeah, don’t be so serious, lighten up.     ;-)) 

11.) “The doors of wisdom are never shut.” ~ Ben Franklin 

(so true, no matter what happened or is happening, there is a glimmer of hope still sparkling and an opportunity to learn & grow)

12.) “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” ~ Ben Franklin

(this reminds me that one little negative thought or action can really take a great toll on me but one little positive thought or action can help me immensely.)

13.) “To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” ~ Ben Franklin

(yes, good things come to those who wait but not to those who wait too late!)

14.) “Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.” ~ Ben Franklin

(love with all you have, take chances when you really, really feel the need….and if it doesn’t work out, don’t regret it because at that moment you felt everything you did/said and also how will you ever know what may happen if you don’t try. if you must regret then do and regret what you did, don’t sit it out and regret not taking action, not loving! <3) 

15.) “Were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to a repetition of the same life from its beginning , only asking the advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults in the first.” ~ Ben Franklin 

(this is beautiful!)

16.) “We must indeed all hang together or, most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” ~ Ben Franklin

(let’s stay together <3)

Today I am making the decision to give more when I feel like giving up and to hold on when my heart has had enough.

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And I hope you, too, will make that decision when you feel broken. <3. Keep making that decision over and over everyday that it hurts.

When I come close to selling out, I will heed LeeAnn Womack’s heartfelt message and reconsider. I will think of that little girl in the picture above. That little girl is me and I came into this world to live and to love and to exist and to be.  To inspire & encourage.

Yesterday I wasn’t so sure but today I feel that I’m doing somewhat of a good job kicking this thing in the ass.

“I came to Win
To Fight
To Conquer
To Thrive,
I came to Win
To Survive
To Prosper
To Rise
To fly”.

 And that I will.

“I saw you standing in the middle of the thunder and lightning
I know you’re feeling like you just can’t win, but you’re trying
It’s hard to keep on keepin’ on, when you’re being pushed around
Don’t even know which way is up, you just keep spinning down, ’round, down…

Every storm runs, runs out of rain
Just like every dark night turns into day
Every heartache will fade away
Just like every storm runs, runs out of rain

So hold your head up and tell yourself that there’s something more
And walk out that door,
Go find a new rose, don’t be afraid of the thorns
‘Cause we all have thorns
Just put your feet up to the edge, put your face in the wind
And when you fall back down, keep on rememberin’

Every storm runs, runs out of rain
Just like every dark night turns into day
Every heartache will fade away
Just like every storm runs, runs out of rain

It’s gonna run out of pain
It’s gonna run out of sting
It’s gonna leave you alone
It’s gonna set you free
Set you free” ~ Gary Allan

“I’ll look back on this and smile because it’s life and I chose to live it.”

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(not my photo but I love it!!)

Xoxo Kim

P.s. Keep on keeping on, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

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(not my picture, I found it on the net)