My body and mind have not been doing so well lately. Too many issues have been going on all at once, and I’ve been feeling torn while trying to figure out which to deal with first. I do believe that being overstimulated and overwhelmed is a common experience for the chronically unwell.
A number of things are always going wrong with my body at the same time, together with pain. I need to take multiple medications throughout the day while also scheduling and attending different appointments with various specialists. Most of the time, I feel bombarded by all the complications that systemic scleroderma brings. In fact, lately, I am finding I experience very little inner peace at all.
It hasn’t only been the medical issues, there has hardly been any time or energy available to keep our house as tidy as we prefer it to be. Recently, my husband Max and I decided to do something that we hoped might help me to feel more in control.
With much enthusiasm, we took to spring cleaning our pantry. I sat on a comfortable seat nearby and sorted through plastic containers from the comfort of my chair. Some of the “best before” dates we encountered left us feeling rather ashamed (especially the tin of mustard powder from 1999).
However, once the job was completed, I gazed in wonder at the neatly labeled containers and impeccably organized spice shelf and felt an unfamiliar feeling.
The clean, clear simplicity of our newly organized pantry was giving me a calm feeling of inner peace! None of my senses were being overstimulated trying to make sense of an unorganized mess of masses of plastic takeaway containers and almost empty spice jars.
I believe very few people cope well with being overstimulated and, consequently, overwhelmed. For the average person, the world is full of situations that contribute to this. We deal with crowded shopping malls, loud noises, bright lights, and technology, and this is without the additional and extensive complications that chronic disease brings.
I think simplicity and order are the antidotes.
I have been trying to understand how on earth I can introduce simplicity and order into a disease that is unpredictable, complicated, and rare.
It has been tricky, but once I understood what made the pantry’s cleanup a success, it has become easier. Max juggled with the shelves and created a much more appropriate structure to put things onto. We got rid of outdated things and we created order. So, with this in mind, I applied these three principles to my life with scleroderma.
Adding a clear structure to my daily living gets me off to a good start. Making sure I achieve a few tasks consistently creates a sound, familiar framework for each day. For me, this means making sure I shower, put on clean clothes (or pajamas), and have an attempt at getting dinner cooked.
I’ve discovered that I still hold many outdated beliefs about the expectations of what I think I should be able to achieve. Many of those applied to the healthy person I was before I got scleroderma. These concepts are archaic and now obsolete. They are cluttering up my mind and making me question myself. Out they go!
Creating order with scleroderma means introducing simple practices — things such as making sure my medications are sorted fortnightly into my pill containers and ensuring extra warm clothes are in the car at all times. I keep my medical appointments in an online diary, so I am always clear what’s on and when. I also keep all my medical notes updated in an online document. These are simple things that make tasks hassle-free and less overwhelming.
So far, I’m noticing I’m feeling calmer and far less swamped. My Zen feelings are increasing. My body feels better when my mind isn’t cluttered with overstimulation.
Who would have thought a clean, well-organized pantry would have brought about such a welcome change in terms of managing my life with scleroderma?
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.