Times of Stress Demand that I Create Space to Heal

Times of Stress Demand that I Create Space to Heal

Scleroderma and the Ordinary Girl

These last few weeks have been some of the worst I can remember. Not only have I been trying to process the terror attack in my hometown, but also we had to say farewell to our beautiful old ginger tabby cat Otis, who we were lucky to have had for almost 20 years.  

Everything has been extremely overwhelming, and my poor old scleroderma body has been thrown into disarray, producing clusters of flare-up symptoms ranging from painful joints and achy muscles and tendons to extreme fatigue and increased breathing issues.  

These types of acute flare-ups are common for me, particularly when I am under an unusual amount of stress. Over the past few years, I have worked hard at finding ways to get through these rough periods. Consequently, I have now collected a number of strategies that can work for me (although often very slowly). These include meditation, paying special attention to a healthy diet, short naps during the day, and listening to helpful music, among others.

However, although I have been able to make a collection of ideas to help myself, I am dismayed to have realized that this is only half the job.

This assemblage of helpful strategies has no value unless I have the correct conditions to actually practice them. The practical problem that has thwarted my entire operation is that I have not been ensuring that I have the imperative space required to actually execute the techniques that help me to heal. I have found anything I am able to achieve is reduced in terms of effectiveness, and progress is slow.  

So what does “space to heal” actually refer to? For me, it is a combination of the availability of copious amounts of time coupled with peace and quiet without the distractions that can use up any small amount of energy that I may have available. Having scleroderma means any energy I do have available is few and far between.

The biggest issue has been my naivete about unhelpful things that have made their way into my life over time, seemingly harmless matters that I have normalized. However, these things have crowded my life and robbed me of the space I need to practice my healing techniques. They include constant “mind noise” and anxiety-producing stimulation, such as unnecessarily graphic news reports, many types of movies, toxic conversations with angry people, and social media.  

In particular, I have realized that social media is quite an illusion. I used to sit in the lounge with my computer, browsing various social media platforms, which gave me the impression I was spending peaceful time on my own. However, the constant streams of loud opinions, graphic material, and stimulating visuals are almost like having a group of people having a party in my lounge all the time!

Recently, one of the most helpful things I have done to help create some space for healing has been to shut down my social media accounts. (If any of my readers has noticed my absence online, please do not take this personally — you are very welcome to connect with me through my email.) It has helped a great deal to quiet the time I have available.

In terms of creating more time to practice my healing techniques, it has also been very important to reduce my social calendar (despite it being pretty limited to begin with). Those who truly value my friendship have been completely understanding. Those who aren’t bothered by my absence were probably not that thrilled with my presence in the first place anyway.  

Creating my space has meant I have had to make difficult decisions and reduce my life of some things, which has felt temporarily uncomfortable. However, my inner peace has increased, and without doubt, my healing strategies are working much more effectively.

Everyone will differ in what is present in their life that interferes with healing space, but whatever those things are, I highly recommend attending to them. Creating those important spaces results in clarity, peace, quiet, and time to heal — just what the doctor ordered!

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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.

Kim Tocker Author
I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.
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Kim Tocker Author
I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.

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