It’s Important to Focus on Ourselves Sometimes

I’ve not been blogging much lately. In fact, it’s over two months since I last published a post and I have been somewhat absent on social media and on my trigeminal neuralgia support group too. In the past, that would have driven me nuts. But this time it hasn’t. In fact, I have felt quite laid back about it. Sometimes, we need to stop what we’re doing and just take a break. It’s important to focus, really focus, on ourselves at times. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

Chronic Illness Bloggers Often Forget to Focus on Themselves

Sometimes I wonder if all chronic illness bloggers reach a point when they either crash or realise that they need to take a break. I hope it’s the latter.

Living with chronic pain or a chronic illness is difficult. We all know that but writing about it is also difficult. In actual fact, it can sometimes be draining. Perhaps even depressing and overwhelming. I often doubt myself and wonder if what I am doing is worthwhile. Then I get stressed about it which is absolutely ridiculous.

I Strive to Help People

As you know, I try to write about the reality of living with pain and how much it affects people both physically and emotionally. I try to share coping strategies in the hope that I might help some of my readers. And, very often, I write to create much-needed awareness. When I’m writing, I also research the subject so that I give accurate facts or advice.

Alongside my blog, I have tried to be active on social media doing more of the same…

I’m sure blogging about food or luxury travel destinations must be nicer and much more fascinating than writing about pain.

I Am Not My Pain…Or Am I?

I’ve said in the past that pain is part of me but it’s not all of me. I am not my pain.

However, sometimes I wonder if that really is the case. I live with pain, write about pain and try to help other people in my support group who live with pain. Perhaps I was in danger of letting pain play too big a role in my life.

That’s why it has been important to take some time out to focus on myself. I need to find ‘me’ again.

When We Focus on Ourselves, We Can Learn More About Ourselves

During July, I attended an online pain management course run by the Pain Association Scotland. It had been arranged a while ago and I had actually forgotten about it until two minutes before the first meeting. Thank goodness it was online! I quickly pulled on a hoodie and tried to look at least half awake.

The course couldn’t have come at a better time.

Pain management isn’t just about taking medication for pain. I need the medication and I know that won’t change. But the course was discussing self-help techniques, similar to some of the techniques I have written about here on my blog. The thing is, I often forget to take my own advice. So it was good for me to hear it coming from someone else.

Thanks to the course, I focused a little bit more on myself and, in doing so, I learned a few things about myself. Mainly that even though on the surface I cope reasonably well, I live with fear of my pain. Fear that the pain becomes worse. Fear that I won’t be able to cope with the pain. And ultimately, that fear holds me back from other things.

The group leader suggested some techniques to try to help with those emotions which I have found really helpful. He has also shared several meditation recordings. One of them in particular has really helped me.

I Found Time for Myself

So what else have I been up to on this self-imposed blogging break? I have reminded myself that I need to rest at times. That sounds crazy, as I really had no problem resting previously. However, my idea of resting was to pick up my laptop to work on blog posts or check social media posts.

As well as that, I was active on a chronic illness blogger group where we try to support each other by commenting and sharing blog posts on social media. For the last few weeks, I cut much of that out. (I am sorry to all chronic illness bloggers for my lack of support lately but I will be back…refreshed hopefully.)

It's important to focus on ourselves. The image has a pale green background with a small photo of a yellow rose which I drew.

Art

I have finally managed to get back to art!! For so long (years!), I have said that I wanted to start painting again. I’m sure that people stopped believing me when I said that because it just never happened. But it has now.

I finally picked up paintbrushes and renewed my love of art. However, I soon realised that painting was going to be a struggle. My back didn’t like it at all. I had to keep taking so many breaks and when I went back to my easel, my paint had dried up and it was difficult to find an exact colour match to start again. So, it was back to the drawing board…literally. Drawing. I am now drawing with coloured pencils.

When I say coloured pencils, some people automatically think of children’s pencils. They’re not. They are artists’ pencils with an artist’s price tag to go with them unfortunately. But I am absolutely loving them. I am having to learn new techniques and have actually enrolled in an online class with an amazing artist.

Pace Yourself, Liz. Pace Yourself

I tell other people to pace themselves all the time but I need my husband to remind me! I get so engrossed in what I’m doing that I push my limits and then suffer. So I need to follow some very strict pacing rules and take regular breaks

But, since I am now working with pencils, that just means laying down a pencil and picking it back up when I’m ready. It’s also a more portable way to create art. If I’m not having a good enough day to get into my art room, I’ll be able to draw from the comfort of my armchair or even my bed. On a really bad day, I might only manage a few minutes at a time but that will be better than doing nothing.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing lately. Drawing, drawing, drawing. And when I’m not drawing, I am watching art videos, looking at art websites and reading discussions in online art groups. I feel as though I have discovered a new enthusiasm for an old hobby.

My husband might get sick of hearing me talk about it! Actually, I know he won’t. There’s nobody in the world who is more supportive of me getting back to art than my hubby.

Do You Need to Focus on Yourself More?

I’m not about to stop writing my blog or being on support groups completely but I guess it’s a little bit like pacing. I have learned that sometimes I need to take a break to focus on myself. I have a very limited amount of energy so I need to reserve some for myself.

If you’re in a similar situation, try to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. We all need to focus on ourselves at times.



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1 thoughts on “It’s Important to Focus on Ourselves Sometimes

  1. It can really feel like an uphill struggle sometimes, can’t it? I feel like I never ending broken record with how I’m always behind, and it only makes it worse to keep pushing, keep playing into the pain and fatigue cycle, keep stressing about everything as a result. You need to know when to stop and take a step back – and to do so without guilt (I’ve not figured that part out yet but I’m really hoping you have!).

    I know it’s about how you feel so me saying this likely won’t make any difference, but please hear me when I say that what you’re doing is important, it makes a difference. Far more than you may ever realise. When your self-doubt creeps up, tell it to sod off!

    You make a good point with not being our pain or our condition(s). It’s a tricky one. I guess it’s hard for it to not change us and be a huge part of our lives, but at the same time we need to keep a hold of the person we are underneath that and outside of that. I imagine a lot of us have lost ourselves along the way at one point or another, if not several, which seems unavoidable when health problems change what we can do and how we live. They change our whole life, but surely we still deserve something else in our lives too that isn’t GP visits, managing pain and trying to get from one day to the next.

    I’m glad you’re getting to do the course. Hold onto that feeling of wanting to focus on yourself more, because it’s so important. Don’t put any extra pressure on yourself either. Whenever you’re ready to come back to the blog and social media stuff, resist getting back into stress and pressure and needing to do it all. I’m such a flaming hypocrite but I’d really, really like for you to have a better balance and go easier on yourself because you’re doing amazingly well.

    Take good care of yourself right now, Liz. No guilt, just rest and recuperation and art and other small joys as you reconnect with who you are outside of your pain. Sending lots of love your way 💜

    Caz xxxxxxx

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