I’m worn out from groaning. Every night, I drench my bed with tears; I soak my couch all the way through. My vision fails because of my grief; it’s weak because of all my distress. Psalm 6:6-7 CEB
Sound familiar? Lately it has been my new normal. And all my old ways of living in a reasonably responsible way without acting like a fanatic have failed to provide relief from my suffering. That’s ok for awhile. But when we get stuck in suffering, we can come down with secondary infections of the soul.
Last November I caught a bad cold. No big deal. Doesn’t everyone catch a cold from time-to-time? I wore mine like a badge of honor, assuming I caught it from my grandson. Only a grandmother can smile at how cute a baby looks when he sneezes into your face while you have your mouth open making funny faces. The problem is, the “cold” hung on way past its expiration date of 7 – 10 days – which the internet says is how long colds last. And everyone knows that the internet doesn’t lie. As the cold lingered, I got a bladder infection. Next up a sinus infection. After that, a bad gastro bug. My heart palpitations were going wild and in the midst of all this I had allergic reactions to medication. I was sick and tired. On and on it went until early March, when for whatever reason, my health took a turn for the better. I cannot explain the length of my suffering or my recovery but I am sure there were many factors, including the reality that I did not suffer alone. Many struggled this winter to stay well. Eventually my distress compelled me to change up my responses to anxiety that tagged along with my physical maladies. Unable to exercise at the level I prefer, I went to the bookstore and picked up a couple drawing books. I bought the new canvas Message bible created for coloring and with a space for journal entries/notes. I bought new drawing implements. Fresh pencils. I could not run, but I was able to sit and read, draw, write, rest. Here’s the thing. I didn’t choose ANY of these options until the end of February. November, December, January and more…I just kept banging my head up against a familiar brick wall of resistance to healing, trying to break it down by sheer self-will.
Thing five: As Einstein has said, we don’t solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. My application of that truism includes an awareness (slow to arrive on the scene most days) that sometimes I must try new ways to break through crippling anxiety that has me fighting, fleeing or freezing in response. What can you try to shake up your habitual ways of responding to stress? This necessary self-care will help in times when you need to get rigorously honest.