The Secret to Dealing With Chronic Pain and Related Depression - Part 1
The Secret to Dealing With Chronic Pain and Related Depression – Part 1
By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
The Sh’ma: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27 NIV
“I know you are in pain but this depression has gone on long enough. I’ve never seen a time when you had so much to be happy about. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. It is time to start enjoying your life again.”
Did I really just say that aloud? For weeks, I’d been kind, nurturing, encouraging, and patient. As soon as I said the words, I wanted to grab them back but if I’m nothing else in my relationships, I’m honest about how I feel. I love my friend and don’t want her unhappy.
The night before, I’d laid in the bathtub praying for my friend. As I prayed, I thought about the chronic pain I’d lived with for years. I haven’t always been as kind to my body as I am now and my aging body suffers as a result. I don’t often talk about my pain but it is there.
Accidents have weakened three places in my body and they become easily sore. I have what the doctors label as Fibromyalgia, which means I have unspecific pain throughout my body. Thirty years ago, I was grossly obese and the damage from that is also apparent. I have a sensitive stomach that screams if I eat the wrong thing. At one time, I spent my days in bed from pain, illness, and pain related depression. My pain level hovered between a 6-8 out of a 10 point scale. I felt old, used up, and useless. My aching body overshadowed everything good in my life. I lived on medicine that only treated the symptoms and added to my lethargy. I was a mess.
Now, twenty something years later, I’m almost completely medicine free, my pain level hovers between a 2-3, I hike trails all over the country, snow ski, and can’t remember the last time I spent a day in bed. What happened? The Sh’ma is what happened.
“What do I do?” my beloved friend cried. “I know you are right. I’ve told myself the same thing. I have everything to be grateful for but I can’t seem to get beyond the pain. I’ve felt good my entire life. I don’t know how to deal with this.”
“Thank God you’ve always felt good. I haven’t been pain free in years,” I said. “Until I started thinking about it, I hadn’t realized all of the things I do to help with my pain and related depression.”
As I started to share my pain secrets, my friend said, “I’m writing as fast as I can but I can’t keep it up. You need to write about this.”
“Good idea,” I said. “I think I will.” I began praying about and reviewing what I do to function through chronic pain and like everything else in my life, the treatment is mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. When I focus all of my energy on loving God with my entire mind, heart, soul, and strength, the result is the healthiest body I’m capable of having. My body is a frail earthen vessel and while I’m on earth, it will be human but at least I can treat it like the Holy Temple it is. When I do that, it gives me the best performance it can give. I can live with that and fulfill God’s call in my life. When I love God completely, my body allows me to serve my neighbors.
This is part one of a six part series. For the next five articles, I’m going to write about applying the Sh’ma to chronic pain and related depression. Each article will focus on one of the parts of the Sh’ma, and I’ll offer some practical tips I’ve discovered about using the Sh’ma to live with and improve chronic pain.
Until the next article, I want to offer some easy things everyone can do:
• Mind – Focus on the parts of your body that don't hurt and thank God for that.
• Heart – Just for today, choose to be happy.
• Soul – Spend thirty minutes in meditation, prayer, and Bible Study.
• Strength – Spend five minutes a day gently stretching.
• Neighbor – Do a simple secret service for someone every day. If someone finds out about it, it won’t count.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Gail Golden at 904 316-5462.
This ministry exists because people like you are called to help fund the work of the kingdom. To help keep the Cheryle M. Touchton and Belle the Missionary Dog on the missionary road, send your tax deductible contribution to Pocket Full of Change Ministries, POB 51205, Jacksonville Beach, Florida 32240 or go to the donate button on the home page of this website.
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