Learning to Embrace Life Changes With Scleroderma
“I use to …” I found myself saying that more and more as the years went on, despite my best efforts to maintain normalcy more than 20 years after being diagnosed with scleroderma.
After that diagnosis in 2001, I began to see myself changing: The things I had once enjoyed were now hard to accomplish.
As a child, I loved to dance. This continued into my adolescent years, when I took lessons in tap, jazz, and ballet. Dancing was my first hobby as a child, and I grew to enjoy it immensely. I could close my eyes, let go, and my body would speak for me. I discovered a feeling of freedom that I couldn’t find anywhere else in my life.
Now in my 40s, I look back and realize I am still chasing that feeling.
After my diagnosis, my body simply wouldn’t move the way I needed it to. One by one, all of my hobbies began to shift from the “passion pile” to the “I used to enjoy doing this” pile. Having to let go of activities that made me feel happy and alive did something to my soul. The spaces these moments once held were now void of happiness. I found myself chasing feelings of freedom.
But how could I replace that freedom? I began to dive deeply into any and every activity I could find. I joined a book club, took baking classes, and even attempted fly-fishing. Unfortunately, nothing I tried could replicate the feeling that dancing had given me.
Then, one day while on an island vacation, I finally found my mojo again. It happened while riding a motorized scooter and wearing a tropical sarong and a pair of flip-flops.
I discovered that riding that scooter was a way to take my mind off life, illness, and pain. I decided to do some “shopping therapy,” and 10 stores, $200, and an hour later, I found myself enjoying the ride more than the shopping itself. Thus began my love affair with island scooter rides.
I would silently meditate as I journeyed down random streets and along trails. In those moments, I’d contemplate the things that “used to be,” and I’d wonder how my life got to this place of unhappiness.
Learning to let go of things is extremely difficult. Anytime we experience life-changing events, a mourning period follows, and we can feel the weight of our emotions piling on.
I didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, I simply focused on finding grace and joy again, because without it, my life felt considerably less inspiring. In the end, I learned to let go and embrace new things. I allowed myself the grace to mourn my old life and what used to matter most.
Ultimately, I found happiness in new adventures. I have embraced my newfound activities, and in doing so, I’ve discovered exciting things I never would have tried had it not been for 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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.