Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My 3C's

When I first became diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, it took me a long time to learn how to accept my ‘new normal’. Realizing that what my life once was – would not be any longer.  This took years for me to accept and in fact – if I am honest with myself … there are days when I forget.  When I still feel as though I can jump up and go – like I use to when I was younger … when I was healthy. 

When you are first given the news that your life is going to be forever changed by an illness … your mind scrambles to find out everything you can about the disease.  And if you are like me – the first thing you do is jump on Google and read everything you can get your hands on!  The problem is that an autoimmune disease is not as cut and dry as say a broken leg.  You cannot just slap a cast on it – wait six weeks and you’re good to go.  With autoimmune illnesses, you can have 100 people who live with these challenges, each in their own way.  Each affected differently.  This is true whether we are speaking of Fibromyalgia, or Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus … even Cancers will affect each person differently.

From my years spent in support groups and forums, listening and learning from the experiences of others, the one thing I did come to realize is that stress is a huge factor in the triggering of flares.  A flare is the term commonly used among the communities to describe … well … the flare-up of symptoms, thus causing great pain and at times rendering you immobile.  I can’t tell you how many times when I am in a flare – I have found myself literally riding the walls to simply get from one room to another.

Once I discovered the root trigger of the flares … knowing that there is no cure for the illness … but there are ways to work around the effects of them.  Learning that when we becomes stressed, our muscles tighten, and when the muscular system is already struggling with dis-ease - indeed the central nervous system is under attack, the tightening of the muscles will induce pain - aka - the flare.
The next step was to try and eliminate stress from my life.  How exactly can we do this?  How exactly do we avoid stress?  The reality is that we cannot avoid stress but we can have a say in the way in which we deal with it.

This is when I created my ‘3C’s’ philosophy.  Understanding that we cannot completely remove stressful situations from our lives, but we can indeed have a say in how we respond to those stresses. 

3C’s is actually pretty simple.  It stands for Calmly Choose Control.

Sounds simple right?  Let’s examine…

The first C is Calmly … when a situation arises, it does not help to fly off the handle … in fact it often times will make things much worse.  When we are Calm - we are rational and therefore are better able to assess and respond to any given situation. At all cost we must remain CALM.

The second C is Choose … in life we will be thrown into many different situations … some will be earth shattering and some will be simple annoyances, which can spiral if we allow them to do so.  Simply put – don’t sweat the small stuff.  Aka – CHOOSE your battles.

The third C is Control … and I cannot stress this enough… you must remain in control at all times.  Respond to situations rather than reacting to them.  Now – let me say that even though I have created this system – and I have been working on it for nearly two decades now … I am human … and therefore I am not perfect.  And sometimes people and events can just piss us off – can’t they?  And sometimes we react to them and then check ourselves afterwards by saying ‘I shouldn’t have done/said that.’  Hindsight is 20/20. With that said, self-CONTROL is not the easiest attribute to master.  But one we must indeed achieve. 

Whether you are living with health challenges, work challenges or just life’s challenges, implementing the 3C’s can only aide in providing balance to your world.  And in my case; the 3C’s enable me to live with fewer flares, which further enables me to find joy amidst my new normal.