The Way out of Stress-Related RA

The wish is the father to the thought – My steps towards self-healing.

Now I was alone. Just me, myself and RA I had to overcome. I was on my own and willing to make the most out of my situation. An abundant amount of goodwill was present. Anyway about my body, especially about everything that lies so soft and slimy under my skin, I had previously thought no more than necessary.

What should I do? Pain, a lot of pain, forced me to think. With the words: “Where the pain lies, is the way!”, Fritz Perls had previously described the function of pain as a guide to its causes and their resolution.

The aggressive rheumatoid arthritis resulted in me forcefully becoming aware of the existence of different regions of my body I never thought existed. And this wasn‘t the only change.

I experienced how the disease, this unknown „something,“ that tormented me with pain, swellings and permanent restrictions, without being restrained from any medication felt like.

From the slight tingling and dull throbbing to the sharp tearing, burning and unbearable-seeming stabbing pain I soon knew more, but still had only an inaccurate picture of my physical interiority life.

Rheumatoid arthritis seemed to me as something independent of me that came and went as it wished, that would move “fluently” throughout my entire body.

As if something unknown, which could not be influenced by me, had a life of its inside of me.

Pain and inflammation scared me, made me feel insecure. Before rheumatoid arthritis occurred physical abnormalities were, as it seemed to me, always occurring in clearly defined “normal” situations in which the cause was obvious and remedy within reach.

Additionally, I wasn‘t used to feeling my body so continuous and intense at all.

My pain and physical decline made me very sad. My condition gave me anxiety and worry; I felt shame and anger. And this mental effort also physically invalidated me. Mostly I was tired and exhausted, freezing hard. From this cold, the goosebumps on my arms, the chill witch rushed through my entire diseased body, I first noticed how what I felt emotionally could be found as a physical expression in my muscles, my nerves, my skin.

My sadness sat like a pillow-sized, oppressive drop on my chest, hung heavily on my head and shoulders and pulled them down. My head was sore with worry and started to ache; fear cut my breath short laced my chest.

My illness and its consequences triggered emotions so that I could directly observe:

My physical sensations are reflecting on my soul!

And vice versa:

My emotions find their expression in my physical sensations!

My body and soul are inseparable!

Through this recognition, I learned to conclude my physical condition “rheumatoid arthritis” on my mental health. Whenever I found emotions that were previously encoded in rheumatic pain, I could learn to deal with them differently than before: consciously.

My handling with fear may serve as an example here: Just the confession to myself that and when I felt fear and accepting (even enduring) such fears as an expression of my being, as important and correct, prevents their morbid expression in the physical area. I managed to give my fear a voice so it could “come up” and “tell” me what I was afraid of and why. A lot of things that once would scare me got solved or reduced this way. In my memory, for example, I am now able to once again bring up, work with, and end the rage, grief, and oppressiveness I might unconsciously have carried with me. Sometimes I am quick at solving a mental problem sometimes I take more time, different attempts and different opportunities. Rarely do I find only one answer. In different forms, my fear simply tells me of my human being.

Throughout my pain-filled nocturnal waking hours, I used to read a book written by Anne-Marie Tausch about her life with cancer. She described that she‘d first imagine the diseased regions of her own body, the processes in it and then the successful fight against cancer cells intensively pictorial. This way she aimed to stimulate her body to heal.

I liked the idea of recovering from the imagination of a healthy body, even though my problem was unveiled not through cancer but by rheumatoid arthritis. In any case, I wanted to do something for myself, even though I wasn‘t a doctor.

I deliberately set loving, friendly and caring thoughts on myself, creating pleasant and comforting images. Often, because of the pressure sensitivity of my body, I couldn‘t stand warming blankets or thicker clothes and froze violently.

So as a first and favorite imagination, I put a warm and feathery, fluffy soft blanket around my body as an imaginary protective cover. That gave me what the goal of this pictorial idea was: the feeling of protection and comfort. I started to relax, which affected real warmth filling my body!

So I learned:

Pictorial ideas make you aware of sensations!

Sensations are a mental and physical reality!

Conscious pictorial ideas of health should now help me to find healthy physical realities!

Seeking clear, distinct goals for my conscious pictorial ideas, I began by imagining my body with healthy joints and muscles.

For this purpose, I studied the anatomy of the human body, read and looked at a lot of pictures of bones, joints and everything that is related to them: tendons, muscles, connective tissue, nerve cells …

I soon noticed that graphics were usually more pleasant to me than photographs. In particular, I chose pictures which best fit my imagination and well-being and gave me a good overview of my body.

Dealing with the anatomy and physiology of my body shed light on my situation. I got a more concrete idea of what exactly the areas where I felt the inflammatory pain looked like. With time, I was able to a better understanding of the processes in my body, collecting details about how it worked.

Over and over again, I recalled the previously viewed images of healthy and strong hands, arms, elbows, etc., until they were completely familiar to me.

When I visualized pictures which would represent relaxation and health to me, I was able to feel into them.

I remembered, for example, how my body felt when I was relaxed.

For my body and therefore also for my movements, I found out that clear pictures of health can activate memories of healthy body sensations!

This trained my awareness, helped to improve my attention internally and externally. My exercises changed me, made me more attentive.

My increased mindfulness signaled to me what I had done wrong, what overwhelmed me.

I dismantled such habits as I found out. For example, by no longer using my body as a shock and impact tool or a beast of burden.

As I kept refining my exercises, and my painful life offered me a sheer amount of food for thought…

Next post: If I Can Turn Against Myself Then I Can Also Stop It and Get Well!

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