Imagine that one day your body stops working as it should. Exhaustion engulfs you in ways it never has before. Your limbs feel like lead, and deep aches roll across your body. One moment, one day, one week, month or year, you feel fine, and the next you are overtaken by an invisible force that stops you in your tracks. Continue reading →
When I think about why I stopped posting for awhile, I know it is because my brain has had space to think about things other than pain.
Pain of any kind can bring on a narrow inward focus. I don’t mean this in a bad way. Yes, this focus can turn into an unhealthy self-pity and selfishness. But more so, this is often a necessary means of coping and getting through the day. Sometimes there’s just not enough mental space to think about anything other than what is absolutely necessary. Continue reading →
Over the years I have had a number of conversations with people about their experiences with counseling. Specifically, individuals with chronic pain have recounted to me the difficulties they faced finding the help they need in this particular setting.
So, I wrote an article directed towards counselors about this very topic. It was published in the Journal of Biblical Counseling, and I hope it provides some direction for counselors as they work with people who experience severe and persistent physical pain.
Here is a link to a preview of the article.
And you can see it listed on the Journal of Biblical Counseling website here. (This link takes you to the front page of the JBC, where the article is currently listed. However, in this future this link won’t direct towards my article as new journals are published.)
I hope you will check it out.
A number of articles have popped up recently that have caused me to consider how I spend my time. I like being efficient and productive. I like producing quality work. I like to look back on my day and feel like I spent it doing something meaningful. This doesn’t always happen.
Often, I find myself pulled into articles online that I don’t really care about. Often, I find myself spending more time than I should on email, responding to text messages, looking at social media, and who knows what else. Sometimes I look back on my day and wonder – what did I actually do all day?
This summer I have been more actively thinking about pain management. I have been thinking about it from the framework of this question: what does it look like to create a life that can be successfully lived around the pain?
I have spent the last five years moving directly through the pain because I had to if I wanted to reach my goal of counseling licensure. It was exhausting. It was emotionally and physically and mentally draining. It was necessary at the time, but in terms of actually managing the pain it wasn’t a good strategy. And honestly, it’s not something I could realistically maintain long-term if living a somewhat balanced and healthy life is at all important to me. Which it is. Continue reading →
July is the month of all the anniversaries.
July 17th, my wedding anniversary – 8 years ago!
July 17th, the anniversary of my first blog post – 3 years ago!
July 12th, the anniversary of my first self-published book – 1 year ago!
This summer turned into an unplanned break from blogging. Its been nice, actually. I have been reading a ton of books, visiting family in Western PA, settling into our new house, and thinking about potential future plans. Much more thinking than doing this month. But, I’m OK with that. For this month, anyway.
I have written quite a few posts on pacing over the years. Pacing is what brought me out of some of my worst pain flares and what keeps me from falling back into that same place. I still regularly have pain flares, but they are nothing like what has happened in the past before I knew how to better balance activity and rest. Continue reading →
Last year I started to think a bit deeper about the topic of psychiatric medication. At the time, I had been working at a specific mental health clinic for a little over six months. About 95% of my clients were taking some form of psychiatric medication, and I was struck by a few stories that highlighted how helpful medication can be for some people and how harmful it can be for others. Continue reading →
Many of you who follow my blog know that I am a counselor and that I have been working towards clinical licensure for quite some time. It has been a long, long process made so much harder by chronic pain. And it’s hard to believe that after so many long years, this process is about to come to an end. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post that discussed how you can get the most out of your counseling sessions. This week, I want to go in a slightly different direction and talk to individuals who are wondering if counseling would be helpful for them or not.
Perhaps you have a chronic illness or chronic pain condition that is having a huge impact on your life. You are completely overwhelmed and wonder if counseling might be the next step. But you’re also not sure if it would be worth the hassle. Would it actually help? And if so, what exactly would it help with? Continue reading →
Awhile back, I wrote this post for The Mighty about how I changed my thinking when I am in the midst of a flare.
Today I thought back to the night I started doing this. I was lying in bed, my body in a flare, typing some thoughts into my phone in the form of text messages to myself: Continue reading →
As a counselor, I am always interested to hear people talk about their experiences with other counselors – their perceptions of the process, the fears they bring into the counseling room, and the frustrations that arise over the course of treatment.
I see how frustrating it can be. You pay a large co-pay or session fee, sit down for forty minutes to an hour, and don’t get what you want. The better the counselor, the less frustration you run into. But, at the same time, no counselor is good enough to always do everything perfectly.
This got me thinking about the things people could do to get the most out of their counseling sessions. If you are going to counseling, I hope these thoughts can be of some use to you. Continue reading →
Hi friends, today’s article is another repost, originally posted on Life in Slow Motion back in 2014. Over the next few months, I plan to do reposts about once a month, bringing back some of my favorite articles that were written when I had much fewer readers. I hope you enjoy them!
Many communication barriers exist when it comes to describing chronic pain to family, friends, and other interested and uninterested parties. It has been said time and time again – something about chronic pain defies description. And if you are like me, you begin to dread those instances when you are faced with explaining your situation to healthy individuals who inevitably won’t truly understand.
In the midst of chronic pain, few things are more frustrating than taking precious time and energy to go into the details of your pain, only to be met with unsolicited advice, vaguely related stories, and various other responses that miss the mark of what you just so honestly and personally shared. Continue reading →
Do you ever feel like your whole world becomes wrapped up in a tunnel vision of pain?
It’s easy for this to happen. Sometimes it’s inevitable. Sometimes the pain takes such a hold that life is consumed by pain whether you want it to be or not.
In those seasons, I don’t want my suffering to become my identity, but it is so much a part of who I am that it can start to take over.
Or let me put it this way…
My pain isn’t who I am, but it controls what I can do, and in this world, what you can do is a huge measure of who you are. Continue reading →
Sometimes short-term crisis feels easier than chronic trials.
Perhaps, it has something to do with how we have all been taught about seasons of suffering, but no one really talks about those kinds of trials that don’t go away in this lifetime. Continue reading →
I am not an expert when it comes to managing employment in the midst of chronic pain or navigating work when you have a disability. This is a complex topic that plays out in different ways depending on the individual and the situation.
At the same time, I have some personal experience in this area. I can think of times in the past when going to work was exceedingly difficult and other times when work felt downright impossible because of the extent and persistency of my pain. Continue reading →
This post was originally published on Life in Slow Motion on February 16, 2015. I’m reposting it today because (1) I really like this post and (2) I’m feeling tired today so a new post is not going to happen (and I’ve decided to not feel guilty about that ;). Besides, I think we all need ongoing reminders of this!
The weight of guilt and shame lies heavily on many individuals with chronic pain, illness, and disability. While I have long been aware of this common burden in the lives of many with physical limitations, I was recently forced to pause and truly recognize the extent to which these feelings can take hold. A somewhat offhand comment on one of my posts stopped me in my tracks and caused me to think through this issue more seriously.
I’m not sure where you live, but here in Maryland it feels like full on spring weather. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, my feet aren’t purple from the cold, and I feel a strong impulse to go outside and stand in the warm air.
I have seen a line of thinking in some Christians circles that sees coping skills as dangerous because they are just a means of avoiding the real or underlying issues.
“Distracting yourself is dangerous, because you will never deal with what is actually going on in your heart.”
“Why would you use relaxation techniques when you could just pray?”
“The only coping skills I need are reading my Bible and being with God.”
I think I can pull some truth out of each of these statements, but they are also missing a few essential things. Continue reading →
When it comes to maintaining healthy habits, I have felt stuck in a rut lately. I think it comes down to burnout. I’m tired of doing the same things over and over again without improvement. It’s demoralizing to do the same things day after day and never see progress that lasts.
After years of not getting better, not seeing improvement, perhaps even regressing, do you still pray for physical healing?
In some ways its a simple question. A yes or no question. But just thinking about it invokes so many conflicting emotions, thoughts, and additional questions. Continue reading →
Last week I had a dentist appointment, and it was not good news. My gums are significantly receding in what seems to be the worst possible place – right smack dab in the center of my two front teeth.
My husband who is the opposite of an alarmist looked at it and said, “Oh, wow, that does not look good.” Typically, he tries to convince me that everything is just fine when my body does something strange, so these were not comforting words. Continue reading →
When I first started to experience chronic pain, I googled “chronic pain blogs,” looking for websites that might give me encouragement and answers.
My random searches came up with…just about nothing. Continue reading →
We are just over one week into 2017, and I am excited to see what this year brings for Life in Slow Motion and life in general.
Would you do me a favor to help me make this blog the best it can possibly be for all my readers?
I have put together a brief 10 question survey to assess the needs and wants of everyone who stops by Life in Slow Motion. I will show my thanks to each person who fills out the survey by providing a free copy of the audio version of one of my books. I have 20 copies available of my first book and 50 copies available of my second book, so act quickly to get your choice! Continue reading →
At some point, I want to broaden my writing. I am contemplating starting an additional blog that will function as more of a professional website where I will write more generally and more broadly about various counseling and mental health issues. Awhile back, I considered turning this blog into my professional blog since I already have a number of followers, but as I considered this, I realized how important it is to me that I keep this blog on a specific focus.
Here is my newest post that can be found on The Mighty.
Pain flares tend to send me into fairly predictable downward spirals when it comes to my thinking. My mind begins to race, anxiety sets in, and my thoughts go in unhelpful directions, as I consider how the additional pain is going to affect my schedule over the next week.
Often, behind my anxiety and thoughts, I find a lot of questions. Questions such as…
“Will I make it through X responsibility tomorrow?”
“How bad is the pain going to be this weekend when I have to do Y?”
“How many days will the pain get progressively worse before it plateaus or feels better?”
“Is this flare going to be like the epic one I had last year?”
Typically, these questions head in two different directions.
I love the fresh start of a new year. I love planning and preparing, as I consider what I want the next year to look like. The habits and goals that I want to carry forward, the ones I want to leave behind, and the new ways of doing things I want to consider.
This week I have used some specific tools to help me in this process, and I thought I would share them with you in case you might find them helpful as well.Continue reading →
It’s exciting to have another year of blogging under my belt. This year I wrote a number of posts about managing pain through visualization and harnessing the brain’s neuroplasticity. I did a lot more reading, which led to some book recommendations and reviews. And throughout were updates on my life, thoughts on faith and chronic pain, and all sorts of musings!
My biggest goal for this year on the blog was to take the book that I spent 2015 writing and figure out what I was going to do with it. And I did! Out of that book came two small booklets that I self-published, and I feel so good about that decision.
I have a lot of ideas for 2017 that I am looking forward to and can’t wait to announce. For now, here are my top ten posts of 2016 in case you missed any.
Enjoy! Continue reading →
This year, I got back into reading after so many years of putting it to the side. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of reading 60 books, and I am excited that I will surpass this by four or five books by the end of December.
I started reading more after I realized that my library offers an app that allows me to borrow ebooks without leaving my home. Hurray! So exciting. I highly recommend checking if your library offers this.
Here are my favorite fiction and nonfiction books I read this year. I think they would make great Christmas presents, or great options to put on your reading list. Continue reading →
Is it just me, or is the thought of creating Christmas traditions terribly exhausting and overwhelming when you constantly feel unwell?
Yesterday someone asked me if we have any Christmas traditions in my family, and it was the first time I have thought through the fact that, actually, we have exactly zero Christmas traditions.
And, honestly, this made me a bit sad.
It felt hard to explain at the time, but there are reasons we haven’t created any Christmas traditions. Continue reading →
When I first started to blog, I had no idea the immense amount of healing it would bring into my life. I can’t really remember what prompted me to begin posting online. All I remember is sitting down one day and writing about telling our chronic pain stories and my personal description of chronic pain. It felt amazing to get those words on paper, and on a whim, I decided to start a blog. Continue reading →
Pause for a moment and consider all that you have lost to your chronic illness or pain.
Perhaps you lost a job or thriving career.
Maybe friends or family members left when they realized your suffering wasn’t going away.
Perhaps you lost your financial stability, emotional calm, or even your faith.
Perhaps all of your dreams and plans for life were ripped out of your hands. Good things that you used to be able to do are no longer possible.
Perhaps…perhaps…you have lost so much to your illness and pain you do not even recognize yourself anymore.
What in the world are we supposed to do when everything has been taken away?
I believe the answer to this question lies in learning how to mourn all that cannot be fixed and all that will never be returned in this lifetime.
“There is no way not to experience the pain, and so in grief, we dive in headfirst, experiencing the pain to the fullest extent, that we might know it, understand it, and move through it, believing God is with us every step of the way.”
In this book, I hope you will join me in grabbing hold of grief instead of pushing it away. I hope you will join me in processing grief, feeling sorrow, and allowing tears. I hope you will use this book to create grieving rituals, engage with the journaling questions, and find the courage to approach God with your questions. I hope you will find small pieces of healing, even as your pain doesn’t go away.
Will you consider spreading the news about my book to your friends and Facebook groups and social media followers and spoonie communities? I would be beyond honored if you would share what I have written around the web!
When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away is available on Amazon.com in kindle and paperback formats.
It is an undeniable fact that individuals with chronic pain have a higher prevalence rate of suicide than the general population.
Tang and Crane (2006) summarized the results of 12 articles examining correlations between suicide and chronic pain, concluding that individuals with chronic pain are twice as likely to die by suicide than the general population. More specifically, approximately 5-14% of individuals with chronic pain attempt suicide, and about 20% report some level of suicidal ideation. Continue reading →
I have something a little different for you today. I want to share a practical tool I use with some of my clients to help them manage their anxiety.
I know from personal experience that chronic pain and anxiety can come hand in hand. When things are constantly going wrong, it can become easy to get in a mindset of dreading the next day or simply feeling panicky in the moment because the pain is burgeoning out of control.
What I am going to share with you today is an extremely simple coping skill that I has helped many of my clients get through moments of intense anxiety. Continue reading →
Because my upcoming book is about grieving the losses of chronic illness and pain, I have been thinking a lot about grief lately. I pieced together some of my favorite passages of Scripture that talk about grief and sorrow. I love how Scripture deals with grief so honestly, leading us towards healing, and then allowing us to cycle back towards grief as new losses arise. I hope these words of Scripture bring encouragement to you as you walk through your loss and grief. Continue reading →
David Furman is a pastor who has disabling nerve pain in both of his arms. Through his personal experience of physical suffering, he writes a manual for those who care for others.
I appreciate the topic of this book. When you are constantly struggling with pain and difficult symptoms, life can easily become self-focused. When pain flares and new symptoms surface, it is difficult to focus on anything other than personal needs, wants, and comforts. Continue reading →
Sometimes an irksome feeling of guilt creeps in. It’s not the kind of guilt that tells me I should be doing more chores around the house or putting in more hours at work. No, this is the guilt that tells me it’s my fault I am not getting better. I must be doing something wrong that is preventing healing.Continue reading →
“I’m done.” The thought began last week when I realized I might lose some of my client hours from my first internship. I called and emailed my former supervisor to ask her to sign the form verifying my hours, and her email had been deleted. Her phone number now went to another business. Continue reading →
Someone once told me that I can’t make decisions in the present based on how my body might feel in the future.
I can’t make decisions assuming I will get worse. I can’t make decisions assuming I will get better. I can only make decisions based on the information I have right here and right now. And whatever happens in the future, I can adjust my plans accordingly.
So that is what I am doing. Continue reading →
September is Chronic Pain Awareness Month. There was a time when I didn’t fully understand the purpose of awareness months. Sometimes I would look at the runs for such and such a condition, the ribbons and the bracelets, the signs and the events and wonder what that was all about.
Now I get it. Now that I have chronic pain, I realize why awareness is important, and I want to share a few of those reasons with you. Continue reading →
I’m not sure what happened this month, because I read about twice as many books as I typically read in that amount of time. I think it was a combination of reading a few shorter ones, and the fact that a few this month were ones that I couldn’t put down.
I think I have some good suggestions for you in both fiction and nonfiction categories if you are on the lookout. Continue reading →
I have been thinking recently about the pressure we put on people to get better from conditions that aren’t going to get better. Continue reading →
The only way I have ever made progress with my chronic pain is one microstep at a time.
I have talked about microsteps before. Microsteps are those small changes we make to our routines and daily lives that seem so insignificant at first, but over time accumulate into small and then big improvements.Continue reading →
I think we all have that “worst moment” ingrained in our minds. That moment we will never forget when someone said something shocking and awful about our pain that we will never forget. Continue reading →
You know how doctors always use the word “discomfort” to describe our pain? Instead of recognizing that we are in agony, instead of calling our pain what it is…pain…they do whatever than can to downplay the language they use to describe the severity of what we are feeling. Continue reading →
I sprayed the lemony-scented cleaning spray onto the wooden piano and smiled in contentment as the cloth pushed away layers of dust.
When was the last time I dusted the piano? I wondered. Have I ever dusted this piano? Yikes. No wonder the dust seems to lie too much of an inch thick.
It feels incredible to have the extra energy, the extra movement ability to complete the chores that usually get left behind.
When did dusting the piano ever feel so darn good? Continue reading →
Last month I decided something needed to be done about my book buying habit. Although most of my fiction books come from the library, the nonfiction books I am interested in reading are not typically available through the ebook app my library offers.Continue reading →
I occasionally hear people refer to chronic pain, in and of itself, as a blessing from God, but I do not believe this to be true.Continue reading →
I’ve decided to try something new and keep you up to date on my reading list at the end of each month. I’m always interested in what other people are reading, so perhaps you are curious what types of books I tend towards!