Navigating the Storms

Thriving in the Midst of Invisible Disabilities

Emotional help

What About Emotions?

Emotions and unseen disabilities! Big deal! Everyone - dweller and observer alike - has to deal with emotions! Right?!

So what makes emotions different for us dwellers?

  • Unending problems can intensify emotions.
  • Others’ reactions to dwellers’ unseen difficulties can augment negative emotions.
  • Intensified and augmented emotions can last longer and be more difficult to deal with.

Think about this, observers. If you're normally healthy and you get the flu or have an operation, you feel rotten. Dealing with pain makes it difficult to cope with others. You may even get a little depressed when you can’t accomplish your duties. But, you know it will end in a few days or weeks or maybe months.

Now, imagine you’re experiencing pain or disabilities that won’t end and others can’t see, what would you do? You may be dealing with the same negative emotions, but, since the cause won’t end, how would you cope?

We’ll explore common emotions that dwellers deal with frequently and then pose some strategies to help counteract them. Remember, not all emotions are negative.

 

WARNING: I am not a medical person. These suggestions are offered out of experiences (mine and others), but they may not be enough for you. Please seek the advice of your physician if you feel you need help coping with your life of if your emotions are out of control. A good doctor can help without stigmatizing you.

All-too-familiar negative emotions

 

Emotions and unseen disabilities

  • Angst
  • Anger    
  • Depression
  • Despair
  • Disappointment
  • Fear of the future
  • Frustration
  • Grief
  • Isolation
  • Sadness
  • Shame (a misplaced emotion: we have no reason to be ashamed)

 

Results of uncontrolled negative emotions

  • Whining
  • Self-centeredness
  • Control issues
  • Identity issues
  • Thoughts of death or suicide*

 

*This may require immediate intervention.

  • Let someone you trust know what you’re thinking.
  • See your doctor.
  • Or call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

 

If you are tempted to speed up your trip to heaven,

read this first.

Fear and anger - deep, difficult to overcome

People with unending physical challenges may have legitimate reasons to fear for their future and may have anger because of their ongoing problems.

A starting place for dealing with them to is to examine the cause(s). Do you have rational reasons for fear and/or anger?

  •  If so, can you change the situation?
    •  If you can’t, can someone help you? Do you need more information? Talking to your doc, or to a pastor, or even to God might bring a measure of peace.
  • If you can’t discern rational reasons, or you know the reasons are irrational, and they don’t respond to any strategies, please seek help from someone.

Personally, I frequently deal with fear of the future based on the facts of the past - a deteriorating body, and I sometimes fear how far it will go. The docs don’t have any answer. What works best for me is Psalm 34:4. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears.” It’s short, to the point, and easily remembered. When the fear comes back, I repeat it, sometimes over and over. And strangely, the fear disappears.

 

 

 

hand putting pen to paper

 

 

yard work

Weeding! Wow!

 

talking on cell

Just calling to say "Hi!"

 

So, what to do**:

  • Re-focus thoughts to something positive.
    • This may take some thinking if your physical life is very bad, but keep at it.
    • Examine your life to find what’s going well.
    • Write these down, so you don’t forget.
    • Then next time - yes, unfortunately, there will be a next time - it will be easier to refocus
  • Dwell on good memories from the past (or anticipate good times in the future).
    • Use a spreadsheet if that works for you.
      • Work on a scrapbook.
      • Make a DVD from your digital pictures, and watch it.
      • Again, write them down.
  • Visualization
    • Similar to re-focusing, this goes a step further.
      • What makes you happy?
      • What would you like to see or do?
      • Beach, mountain, friends, family?
    • Imagine yourself there, but don’t let it become a fantasy.
  • Music
    • Sing or listen to your favorite songs.
  • Reading
    • Good escape, but don’t ignore your family to do it.
    • Local libraries have many books, so you don’t have to buy unless it’s a special book.
  • Visit with friend
    • In person, phone, email, social media - all these can help overcome the negative.
  • Learn something new
    • A foreign language or a new area of interest - can be combined with reading - can occupy your mind and emotions.
  • Add new hobby
    • Learn a new craft
    • Play new games
    • If you’re physically or financially able, the sky’s the limit here.
  • See God Connections for spiritual help

**Sometimes no matter what you do, it may not be enough. It might be time to see a counselor who can offer help tailored to you.

 

 

 

 

Scraps of material

 

 

Francee's piano

Music for comfort and ministry

Accentuate the positive! Eliminate the negative!

Well, we  can't eliminate all the yucky stuff of our lives, but we can seek to find all the positives we can! The biggest area we can work on is re-framing our vocabulary.

Use the word "challenge" instead of "problem." On a really bad day, instead of telling yourself (or friend or family), "I'm having lots of problems today," say, "It's a really challenging day." They're both true, but the second saying adds a constructive element to the day as challenges can be overcome.

Consider, "Put yourself first" and "Take care of yourself first." They can mean the same thing, but the first sounds rather selfish. The second is an absolute necessity because if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of anything or anyone else.

Examine your life. Is there negative self-talk you can re-frame into something positive?  This is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

 

It’s not all bad

Positive emotions and actions can result from our hard times:

  • Peace
  • Concern for othersEmotions and unseen disabilities
  • Empathy
  • Joy in being alive
  • Sympathy
  • Acceptance
  • Increased prayer
  • Re-aligned priorities
  • Realizing there is still good in your life

And then there are the good emotions:

  • Affection
  • Desire
  • ExcitementEmotions and unseen disabilities
  • Fervor
  • Happiness
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Passion
  • Pride

Note: some of these are easier to feel on good days

 

Fantastic positive emotions result from acceptance. Now, if we could just hold on to acceptance! Like when we get another new diagnosis!  And the process starts over again, but maybe we’ll rebound faster this time.

This has been a difficult page for me to write. I found out I’ve not been coping as well emotionally in some areas as I’d thought, and finding strategies wasn’t easy.

I also had trouble finding online research on this topic. The only applicable link I found was this graduate research paper on the stigma and belonging. It’s quite long and I didn’t read it all, but it might be helpful to you.

May God bless you as you navigate your storms.

--Connected Carole

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