Monday, September 10, 2012

Hope through Coping

Today starts the Invisible Illness week! The theme is Visible Hope-finding hope in the midst of pain. For me I've found that having coping mechanisms is crucial in getting through a pain-filled night, or during the wonderful but stressful holidays, or the days anxiety & depression seem impossible to escape. One major thing that brought me out of the dark, lonely space that is housebound living caused by fibromyalgia & friends is photography. After a life of living, working, & traveling overseas & documenting everything in pictures...going from being out in the big wide world to inside a house 24/7 was so difficult-but a year after becoming housebound I started taking pictures with a cheap, non-smartphone. It was so liberating to see the face of pain staring back at see this invisible pain visible. Now I take pics of everything in my small world & I'm always stunned to find how many things I find just in the small 4 walls around me. An example? Chai bunny in bed with me after she patrolled the bed, making sure I was ok.

Having been an art student I hadn't been able to paint, draw, or much of anything artistic until I found the many art apps. I can now draw, paint, sculpt, etc. on my iPad. There are great apps covering every medium-watercolors, oils, etc. in every price range-I got most of mine on sale for 99 cents or less. After getting an iPad a few years ago from family opened up the world to me. I've discovered my love of art again through the mentioned apps as well as art history-I can tour museums & see artwork from my favorite artist who had severe chronic pain most of her life-Frida Kahlo. Her paintings showing her pain in vivid detail are so inspiring to me. This painting is a little drawing I did earlier...with fibro awareness color purples of course!

I miss star gazing & seeing my moon most nights-I can't always make it to the door to look up into space, so I use the amazing Star Walk app. I can hold the tablet over my head & see what is all around me in the real time feature-& watching meteor showers without being outside is almost as good. Finding ways to see/do things I love is crucial to my survival-if not I think I would wither up & disappear. Some nights I'm not able to pick up the iPad above my head yet I can still explore the sky using these apps.

Many people are playing games on Facebook-I haven't gotten into that but I do play words with friends, or my favorite zen-like game called Kometen-comet in Swedish I believe. This little comet is in my care, & I orbit him around planets to eat space junk, teach him how to make loops, & send him zooming around through the stars. That game can calm me down & have me & my comet playing forever-I get lost in the game & it really focuses my mind off the pain & panic attacks.

I have rediscovered reading-it became harder & harder to hold books open...that seems so ridiculous but I've heard many others having the same problem. I got the free Amazon kindle app on my laptop, & they have tons of free books you can keep, or now most libraries have ebooks you can borrow, & you can check them out without having to leave home. That opened up a lost love-I used to read 2-3 books a week at times, & then went 4 years without reading anything. If you have a cheap computer you can get all that for free-I know most invisible illness patients have money issues as medications, doctor visits, procedures, etc. cost so much & so many things aren't covered by insurance. Even me on disability-you can't imagine how many things still aren't covered. Finding things like this are fantastic!

Of course Netflix tv & movies are a mainstay-when the morphine isn't touching the pain getting lost in a film doesn't take pain away but can get me so immersed in the story that I somewhat forget the pain for a short while. Also listening to Internet radio & free podcasts of a million different topics-including my love of space-are so easily found now. Technology has opened up the world for us all-& for invisible illnesses it gives us friends through Facebook, twitter, etc. who understand & identify, & is a valuable resource for so many things.

Finding things you love & ways to incorporate them into your life is crucial to have a more meaningful life-having outlets to help you grieve, laugh, forget, learn, & get lost in was something that honestly saved my life & my sanity. Finding hope in a dark place is possible-not easy, but possible.

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