Grief, stress, “life,” and the people around you can definitely have a profound affect on you, as well as affect the overall quality of your life. Until a few years ago, I never could have realized how much of an affect.
Then I got sick. Really, really sick.
At the time, I was used to running 3-5 miles a day, playing disc golf several times a week, practicing tae kwon do daily, and basically doing whatever I wanted physically…because I had the ability to do so.
Then I not only got really sick…I completely lost my health.
It took me almost four years to rebuild my immune system and get my health back…and during that time, I couldn’t hardly do anything but sit. And sometimes, just sitting was painful. Some days were so bad, I couldn’t even get out of bed. My veins throughout my entire body felt as though fire was traveling through them, my hair started falling out, the fatigue and pain were both debilitating, and the weight gain began rapidly even though I was a very health-minded, clean eater.
My doctors explained to me that my illness was created due to prolonged stress…and the illness would be lifelong, attached to me like permanent superglue. They explained the difference between having typical day-to-day stress and being distressed to where the stress becomes toxic.
After I found out my illness could’ve been prevented (had I only simply set boundaries and controlled my surroundings and the people/stress I allowed into my life) I went through many emotions. Sadness because my illness wasn’t curable. Unforgiveness – for a period of time – at certain people or situations that had created extreme stress or hurt. Anger towards myself for not setting better and stronger boundaries. Fear because, at the time, I had no idea how to control my illness or its debilitating symptoms. Grief…because life as I previously knew it was over.
I felt as though I was thrown into oblivion and I had to figure life out all over again….what to eat, so as to not trigger or make my symptoms worse…what to do medically, so I could understand what the best medicines, supplements, and prescriptions were for regaining my health…what work or social events to accept or decline based on my health…which people to be around—or to not be around—so stress wouldn’t trigger symptoms…what to do spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally so I could prepare my heart to fight for my health (talk about self-work!). I was knocked down and wasn’t sure how to get back up.
It was a scary time of completely reevaluating my entire life in every area so I could regain my health…and prevent new and additional illnesses from forming.
This health crisis allowed me to find out something new that I had never realized before: I was so much more in control than what I had previously thought or realized.
I found that if I couldn’t control the actions of others, my circumstances, my grief experiences, or my environment, I COULD at least control the actions, thoughts, as well as the emotional and spiritual health, of myself. I had complete control over me and I had complete control over what I allowed to go on around me and inside my own heart.
As I worked with my specialists to regain my health, I intentionally removed anything and everything toxic in my life: toxic foods, toxic habits, toxic thoughts, toxic emotional baggage, toxic situations, toxic unwise schedules, and toxic people. This was difficult to do, but I wasn’t willing for my health to further deteriorate. Courage became necessary to regain my quality of life, and at the time, courage wasn’t exactly my forte. Having the knowledge my illness was lifelong, I realized this wasn’t going to be a quick fix—anything I did had to be “all-in” and longterm.
As I repaired my health, and my rheumatologist, hematologist, and endocrinologist conveyed the importance of a stress-free lifestyle, I realized just how much power stress has on a person’s wellness. As I took the steps to regain my health, I often wondered if my sister possibly could’ve prevented her illness (or death) had she only had the knowledge about the stress and illness correlation.
Whether it’s an illness, grief, trials, life circumstances…anything…we all are so much more in control than we think. I’ve been surprised by my strength to overcome obstacles in dealing with getting well. I know I never would’ve refined and sifted the contents of my life had I not been forced into doing so due to becoming ill.
Like anything I go through in life, I always try to find something good that can come out of any trial. The good that came out of my illness is I found out so much about life and myself: that health and wellness are absolute gifts that should never be taken for granted…what I’m willing to tolerate or put up with and what I’m not…what I love about life and what I don’t…that God is an incredible Friend and Comforter…that life is a gift to never be wasted…I also learned about setting wise boundaries and priorities…and I learned life doesn’t just have “to happen” and I don’t have to just roll with the punches—I learned that I am so much more in control than I previously thought.
It took me almost 4 years to regain my health, but I’m so glad God allowed healing to take place and allowed me to realize I had a lot of control over my life, illness, and wellness.
The thoughts that ran through my mind while I was at my sickest, I’ll share with you. They tremendously helped me and put my life in perspective. Maybe they’ll help someone else today:
What’s plaguing your heart today? What’s weighing you down? What’s preventing you from living life to the fullest? What past baggage is controlling your present life? What’s keeping you from fully knowing, loving, and enjoying God? What is your life purpose and how do you plan to cooperate with God to fulfill it? What’s keeping you from fully loving and enjoying your family and friends? What changes do you need to make to have better health? What kind of life do you want and what steps can you take to achieve it? What courage and character qualities do you need to develop to see you through? What do you need to do today to make all of this a reality?
Every morning I’d say two things to myself (I still do):
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life…make every ounce of it count”
“If it is to be, it’s up to me”
Consider if you’re truly happy with your wellness and the way life is going…or if you need to change things or tune life up.
You’re in more control than you think!
Gratitude & blessings,
A few inspiring websites* that may be helpful~
(*websites are for encouragement purposes only and are not an endorsement. View websites at own risk.)
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For more encouragement:
Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book): Click here for Kim’s book
Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
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FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: (Coming November 4, 2015)