Why You Need To Write a Letter To Your Pain

Why You Need To Write a Letter To Your Pain

It's time to stop self-censoring.
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I don't really know what prompted me to write this letter or when I first felt like it might be helpful. The idea would flash through my mind, and I'd shove it down and say, "not right now." But the other night, I was wide awake and starting to spiral into a panic attack, and I knew what I had to do. I grabbed a journal, and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I can't tell you that I felt amazing afterwards. I can't tell you that all of a sudden, I knew things would be okay. But I can tell you that I felt a little release. I let myself say things I had refused to admit before, and it was healing. I addressed the hidden feelings straight-on, because I'm finding that's the only way to work through them sometimes.

So, maybe this is what you need to do. Maybe you're hiding emotions in the depths of your heart, pushing away how you feel in order to express how you think you should be. And maybe it's not working anymore. That's okay.

For a little bit of time, let all your walls down, and just write. It might be easier than you anticipate. Just start, and let what you need to come out flow out of you. Be honest. Take your time. Don't censor your words. Write your dark truths.

Write what you need to write to find some release and some healing. Write what you need to write to get you through tonight. Write what you need to write to keep going a little longer.

Write the pain. Write the hurt. Write the anger. Write the hope.

Some of my letter is immensely personal, so I'm not including all of it, but I do want to share parts of it to remind you that you're not alone. You're not the only one feeling the way you do. And it's okay to let it out sometimes.

Dear Chronic Pain,

I'm really tired of you. All I want is to get away from you, but I never know how. Every morning, I wake up, and you hit me. All throughout the day, you steal my air and my energy and my ability. Every night, you torment me, tease me with your never-ending presence, taunting me with your forever-ness.

You have taken so much, and try as I might to not, I do hold that against you. I miss my friends. I miss handling loads of schoolwork. I miss having a job. I miss exercising. I miss standing strong. It's like every day, you just keep taking. You are never satisfied, are you? When will you stop? When I can't walk anymore? When I am so debilitated I can't get out of bed to use the bathroom? Or when I simply can't breathe anymore?

You know, I used to have big dreams. And yeah, I still have them, but it's a lot harder to dream with you around. How am I supposed to set goals for tomorrow when I can't find the strength to do anything today? How am I supposed to get excited for the future when I know that you could follow me there?

...

It's 2 a.m., and I'm crying and panicking, because you are this dark shadow hanging over me, closing in and suffocating me. And you're a poison on the inside, seeping into my bones and coursing through my blood stream.

I'm tired of all of this. I'm tired of being sick, of being tired, of having you around. You are limiting and awful and hard to handle in every way. I try and I try and I try to handle you well, and it's like every time I finally feel like I'm getting there, you throw another curve ball at me, and everything spins into a life-tornado again.

You have robbed me of so much, and I hate that I cannot take anything back from you.

But you know what else? Chronic pain, you can't have me. You, illness, are not going to destroy me. You're trying, and most days, I feel defeated, but deep down, I still feel a few ounces of hope that one day I will rise up again and defeat you.

I want to be mad at you - and some days, like tonight, I am. I hate you, and I'm fighting against you as hard as my frail body and heart can fight. But I also stand on the promise that the God I serve is bigger than you, and I don't have to be afraid.

See, you do not control my life - He does. And right now, He's letting you in and maybe giving you some space for a while. Maybe one day He'll reign you back in and send you away, and I'll be able to truly live the way I want to again. But I guess the bigger truth is you have tried to steal my life, and I don't think you're going to stop trying. But you can't have it. It's mine, and I'm going to keep showing up for it, no matter what you say.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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8 Struggles Of Being 21 And Looking 12

The struggle is real, my friends.
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“You'll appreciate it when you're older." Do you know how many times my mom has told me this? Too many to count. Every time I complain about looking young that is the response I get. I know she's right, I will love looking young when I'm in my 40s. However, looking young is a real struggle in your 20s. Here's what we have to deal with:

1. Everyone thinks your younger sister or brother is the older one.

True story: someone actually thought my younger sister was my mom once. I've really gotten used to this but it still sucks.

2. You ALWAYS get carded.

Every. Single. Time. Since I know I look young, I never even bothered with a fake ID my first couple of years of college because I knew it would never work. If I'm being completely honest, I was nervous when I turned 21 that the bartender would think my real driver's license was a fake.

3. People look at your driver's license for an awkward amount of time.

So no one has actually thought my real driver's license is fake but that doesn't stop them from doing a double take and giving me *that look.* The look that says, “Wow, you don't look that old." And sometimes people will just flat out say that. The best part is this doesn't just happen when you're purchasing alcohol. This has happened to me at the movie theater.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things People Who Look 12 Hate Hearing

4. People will give you *that look* when they see you drinking alcohol.

You just want to turn around and scream “I'M 21, IT'S LEGAL. STOP JUDGING ME."

5. People are shocked to find out you're in college.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had a shocked expression on their face after I told them I'm a junior in college I could pay off all of my student loan debt. It's funny because when random people ask me how school is going, I pretty much assume they think I'm in high school and the shocked look on their face when I start to talk about my college classes confirms I'm right.

6. For some reason wearing your hair in a ponytail makes you look younger.

I don't understand this one but it's true. Especially if I don't have any makeup on I could honestly pass for a child.

7. Meeting an actual 12-year-old who looks older than you.

We all know one. That random 12-year-old who looks extremely mature for her age and you get angry because life isn't fair.

8. Being handed a kids' menu.

This is my personal favorite. It happens more often than it should. The best part of this is it's your turn to give someone a look. The look that says, "You've got to be kidding me".

Looking young is a real struggle and I don't think everyone realizes it. However, with all the struggles that come with looking young, we still take advantage of it. Have you ever gone to a museum or event where if you're under a certain age you get in for a discounted price? Yeah? Well, that's when I bet you wish you were us. And kids' meals are way cheaper than regular meals so there have definitely been a couple times when I've kept that kids' menu.

So, all in all, it's not the worst thing in the world but it's definitely a struggle.

Cover Image Credit: Jenna Collins

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Stop Saying, 'I Don’t Want To Get Diabetes,’ It's Rude And Ignorant To Those Who Are Type 1 Diabetic

Nobody wants to "get" diabetes, but some of us have no choice.

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This statement implies that is is a choice to be diagnosed with diabetes as if it is some very controllable condition where I have the ability to decide whether it affects me or not. This is not true.

When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes also known as juvenile diabetes because it typically, but is not limited to, beginning in adolescence. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where my pancreas no longer produces insulin. This is caused by my immune system attacking the pancreas, ultimately destroying the cells that create insulin. As of right now, there is no explanation known for what ultimately makes the immune system do this, and there is no cure for the autoimmune condition.

Thus, as a type 1 diabetic, I have no choice but to be entirely insulin dependent. Whenever I consume carbohydrates, I must administer insulin to my bloodstream just like how non-diabetic people having a fully functioning pancreas that releases the same hormone whenever they introduce carbohydrates to their digestive systems. The amount of insulin that I administer is based on the number of carbs that I consume; the carbs per insulin unit ratio varies based on the individual and also has the potential to change just as how the pancreas secrets insulin within an individual's body at rates that are unknown. Therefore, finding ways to treat diabetes can be difficult for there lacks a "one size fits all" template for what works best for each diabetic. (This is important to keep in mind for all health conditions: what works well for one person does not necessarily mean that it will work well for a different person.)

There are a lot of other factors that are imperative for my mindful attention in order to stay healthy with this chronic condition. Monitoring blood sugar levels, counting carbohydrates, gaining a true sense of body awareness, and attending doctors appointments are some examples of these other factors that are necessary to keep on top of while living with type 1 diabetes. As you can tell, this chronic condition can easily become overwhelming.

Did I want to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? No.

Did I have a choice as to whether I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? No.

Do you have the ability to control what statements you make when speaking in public? Yes, you most certainly do.

I urge people to resist from saying the phrase, "I don't want to get diabetes" when offered dessert or saying something similar when asked why they are cutting back on how much sugar they include in their diet. Perhaps these comments are in reference to "getting" type 2 diabetes also known as adult-onset diabetes. This condition is different from type 1 diabetes in the sense that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body has developed a resistance to the insulin that is produced; the body does not use insulin efficiently. Another difference is that type 2 diabetes can be influenced by the risk factors of obesity and family history. Finally, type 2 diabetes can also be reversed; this means that through lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, the effects of type 2 diabetes can be alleviated because the pancreas still does make insulin for type 2 diabetics. This is not the case for type 1 diabetes, thus, these are two different conditions.

So let's say that the ignorant comment of "I don't want to get diabetes" is made in reference to type 2 diabetes. This is still an awful thing to say. Of course, nobody "wants to get" diabetes; why would they? However, even in cases of type 2 diabetes, there are factors that are still beyond the individual's personal control, and even after the diagnosis occurs, as I stated earlier, there are differences in how each individual responds to treatment options. What works for one may not work for another.

Unfortunately, I have been in the presence of people who have made comments within this subject matter. Being a type 1 diabetic myself, the situation is incredibly awkward. Whether the person who made the statement knows that there is a diabetic present in the room or not, they should not be speaking like this. Making this comment implies that there is a concrete choice as to whether an individual is diagnosed with diabetes, of any type, or not. Making this comment implies that you, the commentator, is above those of us who are already diabetic; you are looking down on us in a way because your comment insinuates that you would never want to endure the lifestyle of a diabetic. Making this comment implies that you, the commenter, have no idea what the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes are, or that there even are different types of diabetes and how to distinguish between the complications of each. Making this comment implies that you, the commenter, are extremely, unmistakenly, ignorant.

In the instances that I have heard this quick comment be made, some people present in the room knew that I was type 1 diabetic and some people did not. Nobody pointed me out or made sideways glances at me to notice my facial expression. I was not offended by the comment, nor was I embarrassed that I am type 1 diabetic while there is this person saying that they "don't want" what I have. I was, however, extremely disappointed in the comment. I was partly disappointed in the commenter for making such an ignorant statement (that I am sure was probably not meant to be harmful at all), but I was also majorly disappointed in society as a whole. Instances like this have made me realize that, collectively, society is also ignorant of the differences between types of diabetes. Generalizing this condition can result in the cultivation of uncomfortable situations and an inability to understand the complications of each type of this condition.

Finally, and most importantly, whenever I endure experiences such as the one described, I am refreshed of just how utterly important it is for all of us to choose our words wisely and precisely. Even if we do not intend to cause harm by our words, the possibility of that happening is always present. When people say "I don't want to get diabetes," I am not sure they realize just how terrible this statement sounds leaving their lips. In my mind, my first reaction is that I would never say anything like this, but then again, I have this reaction because I am type 1 diabetic. Similarly, would you ever make the statement "I don't want to get cancer" when offered a free session in a tanning bed or "I don't want to get liver damage" when offered a beer? No, because there are so many genetic and epigenetic factors that can contribute to cancer diagnoses and the same goes for liver failure.

It sounds absurd to even read those two examples. How can somebody solely correlate tanning beds with "getting" cancer and beer with "getting" liver damage when there is an abundance of other contributing factors as well as different types of levels of severity regarding these health issues? Well, I ask myself the same question regarding the statement of "I don't want to get diabetes" when somebody is offered something sweet. How can somebody solely correlate sugar with "getting" diabetes when there are so many other factors that are potentially involved? While it is possible that these pairs are related in terms of causation to some extent (tanning beds/cancer, beer/liver damage, sugar/diabetes) there are so many things that we do not know exactly and making generalized statements like my examples above prove to be inappropriate.

It sounds absurd because it is absurd.

Thus, let's all strive to create an environment where we do not make people feel ashamed or uncomfortable based on ignorant statements regarding health conditions that we may or may not know anything about. You never know what people are going through or how a genetic condition, health issue, or disease affects them. Furthermore, you never know what health experiences you will one day be exposed to, whether that condition will affect you personally or if it will affect a close family member or friend. Either way, it will change your perspective immensely.

I vow to always choose my words carefully and thoughtfully to ensure that I can clearly articulate a point with consideration for whoever is present in my audience; you should too.

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