Arts and Health, Sisters is devoted to exploring creative problem solving and coping strategies in our world, especially the links between artistic expression and personal and spiritual growth. It is also dedicated to honoring the value and power of women.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Coping :Companionship

Yesterday I spent time with a friend, which felt like college, although college was many years ago for me. It felt like college because our getting together was spontaneous, she was finishing up some work, I was drinking coffee. Later we went for a stroll, going nowhere in particular, talking about whatever came to mind, staying up later than either of us intended. Then we happily went our separate ways with no drama.

To me the ideal companionship is just enough "it's us against the world", with enough, "actually I like the world for the most part" to make plotting for social revolution an unlikely outcome.* It's conversation with enough depth to face the eternal question of "I wonder where I fit in this particular universe" knowing that one's compatriot wishes one well as she too ponders her place in her current life, perhaps the life she never expected. This sort of time together gives me courage and energy to face whatever comes next.

I highly recommend it as a way of coping with chronic illness or just being alive. Oddly enough it can be hard to come by.

*In general I have nothing against social revolutions, I just don't find them helpful in dealing with chronic illness (at least not for me!)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Coping: Distraction

So, now I've had to quit my day job due to poor breathing. Once I clear up the debris from my business, I am hoping to find something else lucrative to do. For the next 2 to 3 months I will be clearing up debris, streamlining my life and expenses, and spending more time blogging.

Today I am going to share some of my methods of coping with being ill. My first go-to is distraction. Sometimes distraction can be very positive as a coping method, sometimes it can be disasterous or at least not vey helpful.

Ways Distraction is Helpful:

- Keeps my mind off physical pain, boredom, loneliness.
- Keeps me calm.
- Reminds me of all the pleasant things in life I can enjoy.
- Brings up positive memories of the things I've enjoyed in the past, whether or not I still enjoy them on this particular day.
- Reminds me that the world doesn't always revolve around me and my "little" problems.
- Reminds me to be grateful.
- Can inspire me by the awesome things other people are doing.

Ways Distraction is Sometimes Harmful

- I ignore my physical symptoms and don't take medicine, eat, sleep, exercise and so forth, sometimes with bad consequences.
- I use a harmful distraction, like alcohol or foods I shouldn't eat (intolerance or allergy).
- I distract myself in ways that make me avoid people when I am well enough (even if just barely) to socialize in some way.
- In distracting myself, I forget to do more productive distractions in favor of less stressful distractions (e.g. solve crosswords rather than pay bills).
- I ignore my symptoms and play super-woman instead of addressing my symptoms. That is I go out, work more than I can tolerate and pay the consequences for several days after.

I'm realizing that this is a sort of trial and error thing. I can't always know how much I need to rest and how much I need to push myself. It's like the what I've read on commentary on the serenity prayer, the wisdom to know whether one can change something or not is partly through trying, but instead of "try, try again" endlessly, I am better off following WC Fields advice: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it." My son who is an admirer of Camus would remind me that there is no shame in acting like Sisyphus, however I would venture to suggest that Camus wouldn't insist that we always have to push the same boulder up the hill over and over again.

I invite you to comment on how distraction affects you... good, bad or as is so often true for me... who knows?