Friday, September 4, 2015

Weathering the Relapses

It's not a topic we like to talk about, but it's going to happen.  Sooner or later we're going to have a relapse.  Knowing this, it feels like something we should discuss.

So, you're going along, making progress, and you almost start to think that you're not really as sick as you thought you were.  Maybe the doctor was wrong.  Maybe things will get back to normal soon.  Then it hits.  You wake up one day and you can't get your legs out of bed.  Your head is pounding.  Crud, you've relapsed.  You drag yourself around and start thinking angry thoughts about the doctor and the medications and feel frustrated that the hope you just felt is pulled out of reach again. 

It's hard to finally feel a little bit of hope that things might eventually get better, and then almost feel punished by your body for feeling hopeful.  You might go through this cycle a few times and start to wonder if you should just avoid feeling that hope to avoid the disappointment that follows it.  But we can't just give up on hope.  It's not wrong to let yourself hope that things are going to get better, but I understand that it's hard to go through these cycles.  So we know we don't want to give up on hope, but we also know that relapses are going to happen.  Here are a few thoughts on how to handle the relapses we know are going to come.

  1. Keep your head in the moment.  While it's easy to let hope get you daydreaming about the future, don't get bogged down in where you might be a few years from now.  You are going to have ups and downs, but focusing on them from a long way off won't help you get through them.  Focus on where you are right now, and let the future be what it's going to be.
  2. Keep the goal in mind. Though you don't want to let your heart sink in the bog of future possibilities, it is important to keep in mind the ultimate purpose in dealing with your daily pain and fatigue.  You aren't here in life to just make the best of a bad deal.  God's put you in the middle of these struggles to show His glory in your life and to make you more like Jesus.  
  3. Discuss it with someone.  When you're alone with this cycle of destructive and depressing thoughts, it's easy to start making bad decisions and doubt what you know is true.  It's important to discuss it with someone you know will remind you of the truth rather than listening to the lies that your pain tells you. 
  4. Take it easy on yourself.  When you're in a relapse, it can make you feel like a failure.  Try to take it easier when you're struggling physically.  You're already in pain, it will only make it worse if you beat yourself up for all the things you can't get done because you're sick.
  5. The relapse won't last forever.  Don't give up.  The struggle with pain and fatigue might be a lifelong fight, but the intense struggle you're facing right now isn't the level it will stay at forever.  You will level out again.  There will be more ups with the downs.
These are only a few thoughts on how to deal with relapses as they come.   There is no easy quick fix for the slumps.  Sometimes the only thing you can do is hold on to what you know and wait out the storm.  The storm may get rough through the night, but the morning will come.  The morning will come.

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