The end of the week was fast approaching.
Throughout our session with the nurse, we discussed our relationship with pain and how we talk to others about it. We all tend to tell people that we are fine rather than going into the ins and out of how we are feeling, worried that they will not understand.
As many people feel the need to problem solves and give us advice, they are usually unable to comprehend the idea that nothing can be done to help. When you are in pain 100% of the time, you tend to pick up some bad habits. I now find it difficult to feel sympathetic towards people with regular pain and also find it hard to express how I am actually feeling. I have found a way to mask my pain and emotions so that from the outside I look like a normal, healthy human being whereas from the inside it often feels like my body is trying to kill me. As I suffer from an invisible illness it often doesn’t look like there is anything wrong with me and my age seems to also contribute to that idea. People tend to find it easier to understand a condition that is well documented and is widely spoken about making it difficult for myself and others to explain such a complicated illness that has no known cure and is very difficult to treat.
Our physio sessions were a bit different as we were asked to do some exercised but only between 0 –50% of our capability. A lot of us often tend to push throughout pain and do 100% of a task instead of stepping back and looking at what effect doing a smaller amount of something may have. At first, I found it difficult to tell myself to slow it down and not push myself too far but, I eventually began to realise that no step is too small.
During a mindfulness session, we were invited to close our eyes and imagine that we were sitting beside a running lake or stream in the middle of Autumn and to focus on our thoughts. We were then asked to place our individual thoughts on the leaves and put them on the stream and watch them gently float away. The idea was to acknowledge our thoughts and gently let them go, with the knowledge that is it normal for them to creep back up again. I personally found this task made me very agitated as I couldn’t sit still and really struggled to focus and concentrate.
In our next session, we focused on evaluating a situation rather than jumping to conclusions. Our minds can often throw us the worst case scenario and stunt our progress as anxiety takes a hold of us. We spoke about how evaluation is more about the facts with no emotional content whereas judgment can be opinionated.
During our OT session, we looked more into what mindfulness actually is. Mindfulness does not involve clearing your mind or going into an altered state to be in a better place. It does not involve complex meditation routines or having an empty mind suppressing thoughts and feelings. There are 2 different types of mindfulness that I have mentioned before known as:
Formal: Better known as meditation; following established practices; taking time out of your day to be still and silent; to focus on your breath, to be aware of sounds, senses, thoughts and feelings.
Informal: Bringing mindful awareness to everyday life; to daily activities such as eating. walking, driving and housework. Informal mindfulness is also part of your interactions with other people at work, home and within your social life.
Your mind is able to think back and reflect on past events and experiences and can also think about the future and plan ahead. Too often, life is racing by. There is no time to experience what happens now because we’re busy thinking about what needs doing tomorrow or you’re distracted by thoughts about what did or didn’t happen yesterday. All of the time your mind is chattering with commentary and judgment. Mindfulness is meant to help you to experience and appreciate your life in the moment instead of rushing through it, constantly trying to be somewhere else.