You can choose your attitude, but only you can do it, no one else has the power except you.
As most know, I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, when I was 25 years old. I have had 56 surgeries correcting what my body does naturally. In the beginning pre-diagnosis, I was having the bulk of my surgeries and each doctor’s visit was a new diagnosis and a new struggle I knew I would have once they put it out there, that I had something new another label. I am a firm believer that once you believe something to be true, it does become a truth. I try not to allow someone else to “label” me, that is my job and God’s job.
Between the doctors visits and medications they throw at you, I know better than anyone it is hard to shut your mind off from your illness and the constant reminders that you are ill. I was in that spot once too. I thought about my illness every waking moment. I would start conversations about it with random people at the grocery store, just to talk about it once more. I was a walking pity party! No one wanted to be around me because I was so negative and unhappy. I would tell friends I couldn’t do something even without knowing if that was true. I tricked myself into thinking my bed and tv was the extent of activity I could subject my body to. But, in reality, it wasn’t my body struggling with what was happening to it, it was my mind.
I literally stayed in my bed for over 7 years, having surgery after surgery, being on the highest pain medications they could give me, and taking them around the clock. My life was revolved around my illness and the pain I felt. I was consumed with my surgeries and why they weren’t working. Had I stopped and looked at the past surgeries objectively, I would have realized a lot sooner that the surgeries were hurting me, more than helping. I lost my friends, I was on disability from my job more often than not. I had no love prospects and I didn’t even think I could find someone who could handle my depressing life. I mean I wouldn’t have even dated me had I been the guy. I was completely depressed and consumed with all things pain and surgery. I didn’t go outside unless I had a doctor appointment. And I definitely didn’t socialize with anyone but my doctors. I was literally just existing and that isn’t the life I was supposed to live or anyone for that matter.
It’s now 2016, I see 2 doctors, versus the 14 I saw for 10 plus years. I am active everyday. I walk on the treadmill every day and I am dating and enjoying what my life consists of and the pain, fatigue and dislocations that I still suffer from are such a small part of it. Those things are going to happen whether I am happy or depressed, but I would rather face these obstacles with a happy heart than a depressed one. It takes work on your part and it won’t change overnight, but if you retrain your mind you will be able to have your life back, just like I was able to.
I started thinking about the things I did before I had any of the surgeries. I always loved to read, but I never actually sat down and wrote anything outside of a paper for a class. Writing and the treadmill have become my happy place and my complete release from the stress and the constant pain. It is true what they say, that working out boosts your endorphins and releases serotonin in the brain which is just like taking an anti depressant, but through a natural way versus adding another medication. I am still in pain, but I force my mind to think of other things. If I am having a bad day and I lay down in my bed, the pain intensifies because your mind is 100% focused on the pain and your mind can trick you to make it appear worse than it actually is.
Refocusing my mind and writing down my goals and my desires for my life have been a God-send. Yes, I still have depressing thoughts sometimes, this technique isn’t a cure-all, but it will help immensely once you start writing it down every single day in a journal. Write down who you wanted to be when you were dreaming and imagining as a child. What were your goals? What did you want to be before society pressures changed it? Live the life you always wanted to and obtain the life you wanted before the societal pressures, family pressures, illness and pain came into your life. You can obtain that life, it will take a lot of work, but it will always be worth it. Choose to be happy and yes it is a choice!