Saturday, November 28, 2009
Overcoming Chronic Pain
Here is the text from my crazysexylife.com guest blogger post. I highly suggest joining this healing playground!!!!
Overcoming Chronic Pain
"Hello, Happy Healers! My name is Maria Mooney, and I am a proud, mostly raw, vegan graduate student munching and working my way toward a clinical M.S.W. in mental health therapy. Did I mention I also have a rare, progressive neurological disease, which has no known current cause or cure? It’s true! I have been blessed and cursed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a progressive neurological disease with the main symptom being chronic, burning, stinging, shooting neurological pain. Lucky me, all four limbs happen to be affected, with the most disabling pain in my lower legs and feet, and I daringly fight each day for my mobility. While many people diagnosed with RSD/CRPS are forced to use wheel chairs, crutches, or other mobility enhancing devices, I have evaded the aforementioned and even obtained a 4.0 GPA in my first year of graduate school with Kris Carr’s raw, vegan diet, strong opiate medications (a.k.a. “leg juice”), a strong support system, and an even stronger desire to live a joyful, fulfilling life.
I picked up Kris’ documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, during my first hospital stay two years ago, and quickly followed suite reaping the benefits of a diet high in anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies and low in inflammation causing animal products and processed foods. This is of infinite importance for an illness where incredible swelling, which I have little to none of, is a major symptom and mobility/spirit stealer. It also provided me with a sense of empowerment that I could make a significant and strategic difference in my health, despite the grim prognosis. I could beat the odds!!!! Not to mention, it has kept my weight low and healthy, which plays a vital role in allowing me to, well, stand at all! Think about it, the more weight a set of painful legs and feet has to bear, the worse the pain will be.
Rewind to several years ago when the first signs and symptoms of RSD/CRPS developed, I was running 40+ miles a week for a division one university and was perpetually in motion. You couldn’t catch me in one place for very long, and if you did, you better have been able to keep up with me as I moved onto the next location. As the symptoms progressed, the amount of time I could stand lessened until it became a few excruciatingly painful minutes, and not long after, I fell into a deep, reactive depression. A depression I now know is very common and quite normal for those experiencing chronic pain, but the stigma around mental illness affects a suffering individual’s access to care and, ultimately, his/her right to happiness. Chronic pain has the ability to wipe out any sense of self you possessed before and replaces it with a never-ending black hole of self-loathing and a clear disdain for life as you now know it. This is when we must enlist the help of a knowledgeable professional to bring us back to center and point us in the right direction of health and happiness.
Two years of intensive mental health therapy later, I possessed the proper and effective coping tools to deal with my altered existence, but it wasn’t until I freed myself of the notion that life is supposed to be “perfect,” without pain and suffering, that I began to really live. Once I embraced pain in my life, I could sit with it, feel it, be it for some time, ultimately, let it go, but most importantly, LEARN from it. The pain no longer had the power to ruin my days and make my decisions for me, and with that, I closed out fear and opened myself up to the healing powers of love in all of its splendid forms. Most importantly, I opened myself up to a love and acceptance for my unique, empowered self as I am in this moment, and I saw my disease as a vehicle for my personal growth and development. I discovered I have something to offer this world.
A friend once told me I was a special and unique individual, a single unicorn among many horses, and cleverly used what I have now termed the “unicorn analogy.” The unicorn analogy celebrates our individual uniqueness and our ability to understand that we are special, no matter what illness or burden we carry, no matter what size or color we are, and what infectious power comes with this realization. Each one of us is one of a kind, an alluringly beautiful creature, strong, wild, fierce, and impossible to tame with exceptional endurance, perseverance, and wisdom, might I add? A symbol of hope, love, and faith with an unconquerable nature! Did I mention beauty?! Inside and out. With a sharp wit that only a lucky few possess, my friend once uttered with the best of intentions, “Feel lucky you are a unicorn. They put down horses with bad legs.” And, to that, I say, “AMEN!” Embrace the uniqueness in you and share it with the world as part of your healing journey, your illness evolution, and you will touch the lives of others while self-actualizing, personally developing, and healing yourself, mind, body, and spirit. I can guarantee it. And, isn’t that the purpose of it all?
Happy Healing, Unicorns!