This year, as a result of my health issues I needed to let go of a job I loved. My physical limitations made it difficult for me to continue in that role. I have to say it was incredibly hard to let go. I had invested a large part of my time and energy in being successful in my job and a large part of my identity was wrapped in that success and position. I felt devastated. I’ve dealt with painful and damaging things in my life, much more than just changing jobs, but so much about this change made me feel helpless. I was sad. I was disappointed. I felt very sorry for myself.
It sucked. My therapist agreed. “It does suck, what should we do about it?”
I replied “I don’t think there is anything to do about. I just have to accept it”
“Are you ready to accept it? Is that something you can do?”
But I wasn’t ready. I wanted to and felt I should think positively about the change, that perhaps there would be new opportunities, new people to meet. Maybe even my health would improve in a less stressful role. But I couldn’t get there in my thinking.
“Maybe, what you need to do Jen, is sit in it for a while. Let yourself be sad. Let yourself be disappointed. Those are very real and human emotions. It’s OK to feel that way.” My therapist then shared a brilliant idea. I would throw myself a pity party.
She asked the following questions:
“Who will attend?” -Just me
“Where will it happen” -at my house-in my bedroom so I can be alone
“When?” – Next Friday
“What will you bring? What will you do?” – Hot bath, wine, ice cream (lots of ice cream) kleenex, and sad sad movies.
“How long will the party last?” -Until I fall asleep
“What will be the plan for the next day? How do you ensure the “pity party” ends, and that the next day has you with a better outlook?” – The next morning I will write down 3 positive things about changing roles and look at them throughout the day… in others words-I’ll work towards a solution and feeling better.
After I finished answering her questions, she handed me a white piece of paper with all the info we had discussed written out like a party invite. That was my homework-to throw a Pity Party. And that’s exactly what I did!
I purchased a bottle of my favourite wine:
I picked up the ingredients for a kick-ass ice cream sundae:
And I borrowed two of the saddest movies I’ve ever watched:
I ate, I drank, I soaked in the bathtub. I cried and fell asleep. When I got up in the morning I felt better. Not perfect. Not happy. But better. I wrote down three positive things about my job change. I made a cup of tea. I took a deep breath and I “Put My Big Girl Pants On”.
It really was what I needed. I definitely recommend it …but just for a night.
What would you include for your own Pity Party?
Printable: Pity Party Invitations
(I love this Acronym for HOPE.)
It’s been a while since I felt as bad as I do today. It’s hard too move, to walk, to stand without help. When I have days like this, fear starts to take over. I’m afraid of the pain. I know how bad it can get, I’ve lived through it many times and I do not want to experience it again.
I guess the key here, is that the fact that “I’ve lived through it”. I’ve survived before. The pain was awful, unmanageable but over time it did get better. I found a way to cope. I found a way to hold on to the hope of better things ahead.
I’m also learning to switch into self-care mode when this happens, and do the things that have helped me get through in the past.
1. Eat- when I’m in pain I lose my appetite, but pain meds on an empty stomach = nausea.
2. Rest but move- it would be easy for me to lay in bed the whole time, but that leads to stiffness… Rest is ok but I’ve resolved to make myself get up and move even if it’s slowly.
3. Ask for help- I can convince myself that I’m a burden and feel guilty for bothering people, or I can acknowledge that everyone needs help sometimes, and right now I do.
4. Distract, Distract, Distract- watch TV shows that make me laugh, or my favourite movies, talk with friends, spend time on Facebook, or Pinterest.
5. Let go of the guilt. I have trouble with this one… Especially when it comes to missing work or not being able to spend time with my son the way I want to, but guilt only adds stress and stress makes everything worse.
7. Meditate & Relaxation- Deep Breathing, calming music, and positive visualization. Mantras like….”I am safe, this will pass. My body is strong”
8. Go see my physiotherapist, or massage therapist.
9. Write. Write. Write. -a wonderful outlet for me.
10. Remember that I have survived. I have conquered it before and I will again.
What’s in your self care toolbox? Anything you could recommend to me?
I’ve been in pain for years. Some days its manageable, some days its not. I’ve experienced a number of different therapies with the hopes of getting better and at the very least -help me cope.
Physiotherapy has been the “main course” of treatments. I’ve had a few different physiotherapists over the years; all doing their best in their own way. They often had conflicting advice to give… “only use ice” and “never use ice, only use heat”, “only lay on your back” and “never lay on your back”. After 10 years of weekly physiotherapy, I was not any better. I’d have moments of relief but nothing would last.
About a year and a half ago, the naturopath I was seeing recommended a new physiotherapist. (Julie) who specializes in pelvic pain/ disorder but knew quite a bit about persistent/chronic pain, and the way the nervous system responds to pain over a long time. Meeting this new physiotherapist changed the way I thought about my condition, pain and the way my body responds. I had no idea that over time my nervous system had become hyper-sensitive to the pain response. Almost expecting pain to happen with slight movement, slight pressure, bending, twisting, my brain perceives “danger” and “threats” around the most innocent of activities (a.k.a Central Sensitisation Syndrome). There is a lot of research coming from Australia (Canada is starting to get there) on this topic, I’ve included a few of their videos on the Watch page but you can also learn more at Chronic Pain Australia.
Since meeting Julie, I have been working on calming my nervous system. I can tell you that it is a slow slow process. But it’s been completely worth it as I have seen progress in the last year, more than ever before. My treatments became “me centred” and were no longer focused on passively treating the “sick me” but focused on practical ways for me to be feel better. This included a big educational component. Julie has become much more than a Physiotherapist to me. She has become a teacher, a coach, a cheerleader, an advocate, a confidante and a sidekick in my battle for health and well being. I have learned so much from her. She truly gets it.
Has there been someone in the medical/treatment field who you’ve felt has been in your corner?
I have been thinking about starting this blog for a long time. I struggled with the thought of how many blogs are out there. Will this one even be read? But a friend pointed out that perhaps I just need did to do this for me; and that if someone else reads it, and it happens to help them, it would be the icing on the cake.
Chronic Pain or Persistent Pain is defined as pain that lasts for longer than 6 months. It’s reported that 1 in 5 Canadians suffer with Chronic Pain and yet little is done in the way of research in Canada and it is often met with apathy by doctors who expect their patients to grin and bear it.
I have been dealing with Chronic Pain for the past 10 years. What began as sciatica, and disc herniation in my lower back has progressed to years of inflammation, muscle spasms, pain, and treatment after treatment after treatment. I’ve had MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, been hospitalized, seen Neurologists and have had countless trips to the emergency room. My original family physician felt there was nothing he could do aside from send me for physiotherapy and prescribe heavy narcotics.
I’ve seen Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, Physiotherapists, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths, and Osteopaths. I’ve had Reiki Treatments, Bowen Therapy, Reflexology, Healing Touch Therapy, Body Talk Therapy. I’ve worn magnets. I’ve prayed, been prayed over, I’ve wanted to die, I’ve begged for relief.
Pain is debilitating. It affects your whole being; Body, Mind and Soul. It affects your job, your friends, your home, your finances, those who you love and those who love you. For years I felt helpless. My quality of life was the pits and I knew something had to change; and as it turns out what needed to change was me.
My hope for this blog is to share what is working for me. My journey to taking my life back, and living the best I can despite my pain scale for the day.