Over the past few years I have learnt so many different coping mechanisms. Some have worked, but some have not. I think that it is so important to find what works for you. It’s important to have something that can help you cope with what is happening, and something that brings you joy, even when you feel like the walls are closing in. Sometimes it’s just really good to have a distraction!
I have taken up playing the banjo. I have loved the sound for a long time but never really took up playing. I have to play a little differently to most banjo players. Instead of the resonator resting in my lap, it has to rest on the thigh of my left leg. The pressure of the banjo even partly resting on the right is not fun. Not fun at all! I am learning with online lessons as I can do them at my own pace. This is also really helpful for dealing with ‘the fog’ . I have to learn things over and over again. I can’t always remember what I played the day before which some days can be extremely frustrating. But i love it.
I always used to draw. It was not uncommon for me to have random pieces of paper floating around the house with sketches. I also loved scrapbooking and making cards. I stopped in the beginning because I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t find the joy in it that I had before and CRPS, depression and anxiety were stealing my days. I was having days where I was awake and kind of aware of what was going on around me, but as for me, I wasn’t there. I was just a hollow shell. I don’t know where I went, and a lot of the time I didn’t realise how long I was gone for. It wasn’t a nice fluffy floaty feeling of daydream, it was a dark, heavy place. Somewhere I don’t want to be.
My pain team actually recommended I start drawing and being creative again. They even put it into my daily physio plan. That way I had to do it! Slowly but surely the passion came back. It’s a good distraction from pain. Adult colouring books are also great for the days where my brain and my body are not cooperating.
Relaxation and mindfulness. I thought that this type of thing was done in a room that was bursting with aromas of burning incense. or with someone dangling a swinging watch in front of you. I had a pretty warped perception, thank you Hollywood! How wrong I was! I now use guided meditation and visualisation a lot. My favorite one still to use is a gently flowing creek in the middle of the bush. The water is moving slowly. The trees are providing cool shade and all I can hear is the water, the birds and the rustling of leaves in the wind. I have to acknowledge what is troubling me. If it is within my control I can work on it. But if it is out of my control I place it on the leaf and let it float down the creek. It is my way of letting go of the need to try and control what I cannot. Controlled and focussed breathing is a great way to bring down the anxiety levels. It has taken a while for me to get used to it, but now I completely understand why people do it.
When I could no longer do my job, I thought that was it for me. But you know what? it’s not. I think that if this hasn’t have happened to me, I wouldn’t have discovered my love of cake decorating. At the moment I do it as a hobby. I am my own boss. I don’t have to explain the need for frequent breaks. If I’m having an off week I don’t have to do it. If I am having a rotten day, I can unleash my frustration on sugar paste and turn the ugly into something beautiful.
These are all the non-medical things I do with my time. They fit in around my daily home physio, my in room physio, doctors appointments and all the medical things I need to do.
We are not all one size fits all, as much as people try to shove us all in the same box. I’m not saying go buy a banjo and start learning, rather find what you love. If there is something you used to love, try it again, modify it if you have to. We are all a little broken and lost. Find what helps you bring back pieces of you.
#complexregionalpainsyndrome #CRPS #mentalhealth #anxiety #depression #breakthestigma #dowhatyoulove