5 Rules of Wellbeing
This week, I was able to meet a few friends who helped put the Lupus Benefit Event together, here in Portland.
As I mentioned in my previous blog – Gratitude – this concert was an extraordinary time for me as a lupus patient.
It was the first time I dared to show my face to an unknown crowd, and talk openly about the challenges of living with lupus in front of almost 200 people. While I was nervous and anxious about the exposure, this experience was unique and taught me a few things that I believe are great tools to be reused in my future.
Being around people who love and respect me has been the most potent preventive care I could ever take.
Love, respect, laughs, and hugs are like magical vitamins for my soul, and always give me an extra boost of self-confidence, hope, and energy. That’s what I felt at the night of the event. Life can be brighter when we connect with others.
I have been paying more attention every day more to what I do, how I feel, and how things and people around me affect my mood and health. Noticing how hanging out with some folks can make me feel uncomfortable versus happy, I needed to be smarter with my choices.
It was surprising to see how I was able to notice how everything that night had an impact on my mood, emotions, and consequently, my anxiety level.
I now know that strong emotions can lead to body pain increase, but even though I finished the night exhausted, being surrounded by people who cared about making a difference was food for my soul.
Gratitude is a big step to happiness in my view. I know it is hard to be grateful when we are sad, suffering, or in pain. But challenges do make one stronger. The exercise of standing up after each fall makes all of us, lupus warriors, much more resilient and persistency. “The good fight” becomes a way of life.
A test of my ability to be grateful was when I started taking a new medicine for lupus. I was terrified, vulnerable, and lots of questions popped in my head.
This injection is powerful enough to knock me down for a couple of days. A mix of nausea, allergic reactions, and extreme fatigue, come along with the benefits of this drug that claims to control lupus symptoms and flares.
When I started it last year, I wanted to cry every time the D-day arrived. I was afraid of the side effects and also frightened of having to put such a strong chemical inside my body with terrifying side effects.
With gratitude, my perspective has changed. While it’s not fun to take such a potent shot because of a chronic disease that has no cure, I am grateful for being able to have access to it, and a doctor to manage my symptoms.
The perfectionist in me has a hard time accepting flaws and limitations from myself and others.
Having lupus means adjusting my expectations of what I can do and how fast I can do without comparing to what I was capable of just a few years ago.
It also means being more compassionate of others. Because people don’t see the lupus symptoms, it is harder to understand and not underestimate them. In the same way, I can appreciate how hard it is to understand what others go through just as an observer.
I have started doing frequent meditations about forgiveness. I breathe to forgive my mistakes, the ups, and downs of my health and my unpredictable flares.
I also try to forgive others and accept my life as it is today, with all the bundle of positive and negative elements it brings.
Bringing It All Together
One day at a time. That is how I am living today. I don’t want to make plans for a year from now. I don’t want to overthink about what it may happen in the future.
I want to appreciate the present moment and pay attention to all the blessings that are around me.
I invite you to choose today to enjoy what life brings you, and enjoy as many small pleasures you can.