Almost three months ago, I wrote an article entitled: Chronic Medical Conditions and a Shift in Perspective (Part 1). The original thought upon writing the article was that I would be able to use my own experience with a chronic medical condition to write a short series of articles that could potentially provide people with some guidelines and suggestions towards finding effective solutions to dealing with the challenges that life can sometimes throw our way. This article represents Part 2 of that series and a return from a medical leave of absence from Brink of Freedom.
I am hoping that sharing my experience, strength, and hope through this medium will assist people with overcoming any adversity that they deal with. It is my opinion that, whether or not we deal with chronic medical conditions, we all have to deal with adversity. We all have issues that we deal with. We all have baggage from our past. What defines us is the manner in which we deal with that baggage. More often than not, a simple shift in perspective is what can allow that to happen. With that said, I decided to rename this series of articles “*Life* and a Shift in Perspective.”
Part 1 of this series touched on several key points. The most important point is what I like to call “deliberate living.” Living deliberately is a concept I have written about at great lengths elsewhere – but for the sake of the article, we can simply say that “deliberate living” can be defined as living on purpose and with purpose. In Part 1, we read that “deliberate living” can help us regain control in our lives.
When we regain control of our lives, we feel empowered. Often times, we feel as though we’ve lost control. Regardless of the circumstances behind the apparent loss of control, the feeling accompanying it is awful. If we are not careful, those feelings can become overwhelming. Sometimes, the overwhelming feelings that can accompany the adversity that life can present us with can be too much, unless we are work towards equipping ourselves with the tools and skills necessary to deal with that adversity accordingly. Learning this is one more part towards regaining control.
We also discussed the concept of “making your mess your message” in Part 1. Personally, I believe that this is important to remember because, when we turn our challenges into our message and communicate that message to others, we frequently learn that our challenges are often miniscule compared to the challenges that others around us deal with regularly. For example, for the month following Part 1 of the article, I spent a considerable amount of time reading about Epilepsy. I shared much of what I learned in an effort to raise awareness about the condition. My involvement in several forums gave me an opportunity to share my own life experiences with people who were just beginning to experience similar things for themselves.
Some of the people I encountered suffered from epilepsy differently than I did. Their seizures were of a different type or their seizures were more or less frequent. The differences between our chronic conditions were less relevant than the commonalities we shared. The bottom line is that the conditions caused adversity in our lives. By “making our mess our message” and communicating among ourselves about our conditions – we were all able to discuss the individual things that we do to deal with all of this in a healthy, positive, and beneficial manner.
We also discussed the benefits of a healthy and balanced lifestyle in Part 1. Over the past few months, I found that it can be very challenging to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle during times of adversity and stress. While I didn’t touch on the specifics of what I was dealing with in the last article, it is important to provide a little back story. In late September 2013, I went on a 5 day camping trip in the Utah backcountry with one of my best friends.
Upon our return to civilization, I suffered from some “breakthrough” seizures and was taken to the emergency room at a Denver hospital. The seizures were intense enough that I entered into a life-threatening condition called status epilepticus , in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure. I was sedated, placed on a ventilator and subsequently admitted into the hospital. I spent several days in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit.
My life was immediately turned upside down because of the series of events that took place late last year. The healthy and balanced lifestyle that I was living was put on hold for a few months as I took the time to recover. Moreover, I had to make arraignments to reclaim my possessions that were scattered throughout three different states. Ultimately, I ended up losing my job on account of the disability that I suffered from. Compound all of the stress along with the holidays and the food – drifting away from “healthy and balanced” can take place in a short amount of time. The important thing is recognizing and accepting this.
When we have accepted that we have gone “off course” – we are better able to put together and ultimately execute an action plan to get back on the right track. Acceptance of what is taking place is the fifth stage of grief in the Kübler-Ross model that we also discussed in Part 1. We also discussed the culture of debt and consumerism in the first part of the series…initially as a coping mechanism – but it’s possibly worth mentioning again in Part 2 due to the expenses and bills incurred as part of the recent hospitalization. What’s the best way to deal with all of this?
Ultimately, Part 1 of the series of articles focused on gaining control in one’s life and experiencing freedom. It becomes easier to do this when we maintain the right perspective. More often than not –this requires a shift in perspective. Another prime example of a shift in perspective is this…during the past few months of trying to sort out my own life issues and challenges; I reconnected with an old college friend.
Unfortunately, our reconnection was due to the fact that his wife was dying. She was a beautiful woman. She had been battling cancer for several years. Her family spent the holiday season preparing for her death. Just a couple days after Christmas, she passed away at 34 years old. She left her 36 year old husband and 6 year old son. Witnessing this, I realized that, regardless of our own individual hardships, there is always someone else out there that is experiencing something a little bit more challenging and difficult than we are. This is not meant to discount our own experiences…but the ability to recognize this is critical in order to be able to have the shift in perspective that was discussed in Part 1.
To recap, “living deliberately,” making our mess our message, and striving towards a healthy and balanced lifestyle can ultimately help us gain control in our own life. Gaining control helps us experience the freedom that so many of us long for. More often than not, when we feel as though we are on the “Brink of Freedom” – it doesn’t take much to get us over the edge. Sometimes, a simple shift in perspective is all we need to get us there.