I was supposed to be in Cancun right now at the international conference of the Academy of Eating Disorders. I had two small presentations—but had been working with others on them for much of this year. Of course, our work was hardly comparable to the Board members who organized the conference. They had put in scores of hours and much energy to bring everything together and suddenly it all had to be canceled because of the Swine Flu Pandemic. They, clearly, have made the right decision.
So consider that—sometimes right decisions are extremely hard to make. Sometimes right decisions lead to disappointments. Sometimes with right decisions one thing is lost, but something else is gained.
What’s gained for the organization? One thing is comfort knowing that we didn’t add to the potential spread of the flu to all parts of the world. The second is watching the pulling together of the membership to look at ways to help our organization recover from a financially devastating decision. Support has been offered, ideas generated, clear camaraderie evident in all of the e-mails.
How does this relate to the blog and your recovery?
Well, first this blog allows me to touch on challenges in my life. I can write through my disappointment at not being able to go. I can reflect on the importance of my family who were initially working to make sure if I went I didn’t sick and who helped hug and support me and tell me they were glad I was safe when I had to stay home. Second is a moment to write and think about those who are struggling with the flu and send some positive energy their way. My husband told me about a study in which patients who had been prayed for improved whether they knew someone was praying for them or not. Consider that—if we send positive energy and prayers out into the world, we could affect substantial changes. Third, is to have you stop and reflect about this event and relate it to your own recovery.
Life has a way of throwing us curve balls—each and everyone one of us. The challenge is how we face them. Do we rally our supports and work to soldier on? Do we work to discover whatever silver lining we can, even if it’s small? Or do we fall back on destructive coping styles and end up making the obstacle worse? Consider how you face challenges—do you face them and grow or turn away from them and use symptoms?
Sometimes we do need a short break—a time to curl up and push the problem away. But during this time, it’s important to harness energy to then move ahead. We need to seek our supports, brainstorm what to do next, and look for that silver lining. I’m not in Mexico, but I’m part of an exceptional group of professionals and family. And I suddenly have five unscheduled days that I can use to get all sorts of things done!
Journal about challenges you have faced or are facing. Can you discover supports to help you through? Can you brainstorm options—if you can’t go over it, can you go around, under? Can you find any silver lining?
If you need a break—take a short one, discover what healthy coping skills can help you relax, rejuvenate and reinvigorate. Curling up and watching a mind-numbing movie, doing a crossword so you don’t have to think, petting your dog, sipping a cup of chamomile tea—I used to give that to my son to help his colic. But this is a healthy coping skill break. Sit and take some deep breaths, do some simple stretching exercises, settle a heating pad around your shoulders to ease tense muscles. Journal now so you have a list of helpful techniques when you need them.
We talked about the healing power of positive energy and prayer. Write a prayer for yourself—what you need help with and a plea for peace and strength, a thanking for what you have and for the beauty in the world. Prayers can help us gather strength at difficult times, but can also help us be grateful for what we already have.
And go Write On!
Martha Peaslee Levine, M.D.