The Joy and Danger of Taking a Stroll Down Memory Lane
When I am in pain, a stroll down memory lane can be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s great when I am able to focus on the good and humorous aspects of my life. However, the trip can quickly turn into the city of fear and downtown depression if my focus shifts to the not so pleasant memories.
Taking a walk down memory lane can often be a fun and joyful experience. We remember the multiple hijinks we pulled as kids and laughing at how much harder we would have punished our kids had they done the same. Then there are memories of meeting loved ones. When meeting my now-husband, I asked him out, he turned me down, and then I preceded to ignore him until friends fixed us up four years later. And of course, there are memories of celebratory events like weddings, births of children, family vacations, and celebrations that are guaranteed to always bring a smile.
Looking back on all those memories is a good thing. It’s just not always easy to remember the good times when chronic pain from psoriatic arthritis is flaring piled on with additional discomfort from other chronic illnesses and injuries.
When focused on childhood trauma, feelings of helplessness and fear overwhelm my mind. If not careful, those feelings can seep into the present. It doesn’t matter how strong I have been or how much I have overcome in both my emotional and physical battles. When those traumatic feelings leave the past and enter the present, they take over my mind and life.
Instead of remembering the strength and determination at my sickest, I am consumed with how helpless I felt in those moments. That helplessness precedes to take over my present-day life and without realizing it I resume self-sabotaging behaviors.
Memories before psoriatic arthritis
Another way that traveling to the past hurts me is when I think about my life before psoriatic arthritis. Instead of resenting my body, I have to remind myself to be thankful for the years that chronic pain was not a part of my life. I have to pull deep into my memory bank to remember that there are good times amid my pain-filled days.
Sometimes I look back and become angry with myself for not making changes to my lifestyle and how I should have treated my chronic illnesses sooner. If that emotion isn’t replaced with joy for eventually making those changes, it turns everything I do to make my life less painful into a dreaded chore.
Finding acceptance through memories
Every day I remind myself that although the past cannot be changed, I can learn from both my failures and successes. Most importantly, to live my best today. I accept and acknowledge that my body isn’t able to do what it did 20 years ago. That every day with this disease will be different and every effort I make to improve my health is important even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment.
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