I attended a lunchtime seminar this week, in which I learned about how to remain resilient when life throws its sh*t storms at you. And what happens if you are pessimistic about everything that comes your way.
Have you ever heard of the three P’s? I hadn’t. When something goes wrong, our brain can immediately do three things, if we don’t catch it fast enough.
Lets say, you break your arm in a game of netball.
First it gets personal. Our brain tells us, that “it’s all my fault. If I hadn’t done X, Y or Z, this wouldn’t have happened”. A person with resilience, and a few extra calming seconds might think: “This was beyond my control. I am not wholly responsible.”
Secondly, our brain decides that its permanent. “It’s never going to heal, and it’s never going to get better. I’ll never play netball again!”. If we are more resilient, apparently we can trick or convince our brains to think “this too shall pass” or remember that “it’s just a broken arm, not a broken neck”.
Thirdly, when we are still freshly processing the bad thing that has happened, our brain can then decide that the event is pervasive, meaning it has “ruined my whole life for eternity and nothing can fix it”, or that “it’s always happening to me and nobody else- WHY ME!”. Yep. You got hit by a feisty Goal Keeper, and you slammed into the post and broke your arm. It happens to lots of people, and they have survived. You will survive too.
So, according to this seminar, if we let these three things take hold of us on the regular, when things go to sh*t, we develop “learned helplessness” and pessimism. Now, I don’t know about you, but if you have Endo, you’ll know that life sure throws its sh*t balls at you, directly to your face, when you are least expecting it, and trying to be an optimist in these times can be hard. Challenging. Feels near on impossible.
So, what are we supposed to do?
When you get told that you are going to be in chronic pain for the rest of the foreseeable future? How do you find a positive spin on it?
When you are told your chances of having children are slim to none without the supports of IVF etc- how can there be light at the end of that tunnel?
When you wake up in pain, day after day, how can you tell yourself that it’s not permanent, and isn’t ruining your life forever?
When your relationships fail; friendships end; work stops; finances increase; mental health issues develop; physical health deteriorates; your body changes; your life changes – what can be done to remain a ray of sunshine?
One thing I have been learning, is to own these big feelings. I think it’s so important to remember the positives, but it’s also equally OK to feel those deep, hurting, heartbreaking feelings. What I am really trying, is to not automatically put on rose coloured glasses, because I think that just ends up leaving you in the shit when reality strikes (again). It’s important to remain as logical as possible, and to take your time feeling the feels, and thinking through processes and outcomes. This then helps lead you to some more positive outlooks. And positivity, has to be the key.
“Accumulating research suggests that the positive emotions (happiness, contentment, joy, etc.) are associated with healthy immune system functioning. Conversely, the negative emotions are associated with weaker immune function, greater production of stress hormones such as Cortisol, and greater incidence of illnesses.”
Because what do we know about Endo? It’s triggered by inflammation. And what triggers inflammation? Stress (among other things). And what is stress? A negative feeling that can be triggered by negative emotions.
According to Science Daily: “Stress wreaks havoc on the mind and body. Until now, it has not been clear exactly how stress influences disease and health. Now researchers have found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. The research shows for the first time that the effects of psychological stress on the body’s ability to regulate inflammation can promote the development and progression of disease.”
When it comes to Endo, I am learning to tell myself the following things, in order to minimize this “learned helplessness” and stops me wallowing in self pity and negativity:
- I am not alone in this. I am supported.
- I have besties and family members who get what is going on.
- I am connected to so many people on social media platforms who have been through what I am going through.
- I am not being punished. This isn’t karma. It’s just what it is.
- I am lucky to live in Australia, where health care is amazing.
- A nice Voltaren suppository will fix my pain if all else fails. (Gross, but true.)
- I am loved and cared for.
- I have time.
- I am not dying. (Drastic, but also true).
- I am so lucky to be able to connect, learn and investigate alternative therapies and options.
- There is this spectacular invention called Champagne. not great for bloating, but sharing a glass of this with a sister can heal many wounds.
- I have come this far, and I can keep going.
I know, I know. *insert motivational poster here*.
I guess at the end of the day, I am still learning. But if a little bit of optimism helps, I am willing to do whatever it takes to regroup, and come back to that place.
Feel free to get in touch if you need a little bit of optimism, or, you can google, “people who are having a way worse day than you“. It always helps to put things in perspective.