Managing Flares by Listening to My Mind
Last updated: June 2021
What goes on in your head all day? If you’re like me, maybe you have a constant to-do list running in the background, critical of any lazy moment.
As I started paying attention to my thoughts, I realized how negative my thought patterns were. My default had become negative, cynical, and hopeless. I wanted so badly to stop this pattern, but I did not know how.
Implementing practices of listening to my body with myasthenia gravis (MG) and listening to my heart helped me face each day with less stress. The next step was listening to my mind and taking control of my thoughts.
Becoming more grounded in my body and heart helped me identify what was going on in my mind. A million thoughts that would usually race by were slowed down by practicing mindfulness in my physical surroundings and inward feelings. I started to recognize what triggered my anxiety, fear, and anger.
As a wife, a mother of two toddlers, and living with MG, taking care of myself is usually the last thing on the list. Between feeding everyone, cleaning the house, and going through our daily activities, squeezing in some "me" time feels impossible.
However, this was causing a lot of anxiety and stress which led to flares and fatigue. I started thinking about what exactly was causing my stress and caught onto a narrative of lies that was wearing me down.
I believed that in order to be a good wife and mother, I needed to provide for my children and husband's every need without delay. As well as be kind and patient in the process. That is a lot of pressure.
I let my past failures dictate my future and believed I would never be enough. This mindset stole my hope and joy, causing an ever-present undercurrent of worry. The first step is awareness and acceptance. We can then take action and turn it around.
Speaking the truth
Understanding the narratives that were running my anxiety through the roof gave me an opportunity to change them. Instead of trying to be a good wife and mother, I tell myself that I am one. I am doing my best and that is enough.
Milk will spill, children will be upset, and sometimes dinner is microwaved macaroni and cheese. But they are alive and everything will be okay - that is enough.
Even though I made mistakes in the past, they don't define who I am. In fact, they give me strength and experience that build my character. I am worthy, I am loveable, I am valuable.
What are the underlying narratives that may be causing stress in your life? I hope this practice can change the trajectory of your life as it has mine.
Less stress and fewer flareups
I’m learning to live free. Free of other’s opinions of me knowing that my identity is not dependent on them. I’m learning to live grateful for all that I have and embrace that it is enough.
I’m learning to listen, first to myself and then to others so that I can love from a place of being loved. And I can feel it in my body. Less tension, less stress, fewer flareups.
So often we let our physical, emotional, and mental health take the backseat. MG taught me to put it at the forefront, and for that I am grateful. Becoming healthier in all aspects - physically, emotionally, and mentally, has built an inward strength that cannot be taken away.
Though I don't know what symptoms may present each day, I know that a strong heart and mind can get me through.
My most frustrating MG symptom is _____.