Thursday, September 22, 2016

Standing Together

Today was a physically taxing day. I woke up not feeling my best and it worsened as the day drew on. I ended leaving work early due to stomach pain and bloating. As soon as I returned home, I crawled into bed to rest. I was worried about feeling better in a few hours. After all, I had to prepare for an evening interview with Lee Silverstein, The Colon Cancer Podcast.

It's amazing how much rest the body can gain from simply lying in bed for a couple of hours. My body knows that once it's lying down that it doesn't have to work hard or stress. My mind can relax with my body and together they can begin to mend themselves. And it worked; although I don't feel like completing projects this evening, I am left feeling energized with adrenaline and hope for the future.

I must give credit for the rejuvenating energy to my conversation with Lee though. Sometimes it's hard for me to speak with others. I often find myself emotionally drained after visiting with others. Perhaps that is more to do with my line of work as a medical social worker. Sometimes talking is the last thing I want to do after a long work day of focusing on and assisting others with their life issues. But after conversations such as tonight's conversation with Lee, I'm reminded just how much we need others in our lives. Support, whether it is online or in person, is an integral part to life and for our well-being.

The internet has become alive with multiple support resources for every issue imaginable. I'm amazed by how tangible support is now than what it was even just 10 years ago. With a rare disease, I didn't know anyone outside of my family for years with Familial Polyposis. And now there are social media groups and websites solely devoted to Familial Polyposis. And the case is the same for countless other rare diseases.

As wonderful as these online support resources are, we mustn't forget how important in person support remains. It's easy to take the easy way of communicating digitally with others through text and online messaging services but there still remains nothing quite like in person visitation. In person visitation forces us to reduce our isolation that we often succumb to with chronic illness due to how debilitating our health symptoms can become. In person we can give and receive physical support - hugs, shared tears, even household assistance.

In person visitation can be physically stressful as it forces activity upon us yet I'm always glad I forced myself to leave the house or prepare for a visitor afterwards. It reminds me of the importance of friendships. Not everyone we talk to has to have chronic illness so let us not abandon our other friends.

If you're isolating yourself because of your health, you can break through the isolation. Remember, isolation can lead us to depression and can worsen already existing depression. Depression will tell us not to interact with others and by engaging in activity we loosen the bonds of depression. However, I understand how daunting activity and socialization can be, especially under the stress of depression. Because of this, I start with a small, achievable goal as this reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed and with each small step, the next becomes easier.

We all need support, no matter who we are or what we're facing. Reach out when in need and reach out to another during their difficult times. Socialization is a wonderfully rewarding gift we can give each other.