Fibromyalgia’s Ugly Step-Sisters

In case you haven’t met them yet, or you have and didn’t know they were part of the family; I thought I’d take a moment to introduce you.

1.  Foggy Fran

–          She’s the one that interrupts you’re thoughts.  When you’re in mid-sentence she’s going to slide into the conversation and make you draw a blank.  While focused on a task she’s Foggy Frangoing to jump in and grab your train of thought and run away with it.  We aren’t positive where she comes from.  She may be a result of the pain – you know, it’s hard to focus on a conversation if someone is stabbing you in the thigh with a knife.  Or maybe she comes around after a few of the other girls (depression and fatigue) have been visiting for a while.

2.  Fiona Fatigue

–          Oh Fiona.  I think I dislike her most of all.  Before getting out of bed in the morning she’s there; grabbing your energy supply and running off like a toddler.   She jumps up for a piggy-back ride so as you walk through the day you’re carrying her weight as well.  Each step twice as difficult as when you were healthy.  By lunch time the added weight has you feeling like quite a zombie, dragging along as you walk.  Sometimes she ties anchors to your arms and legs and leaves you immobile.  Then the catch 22 begins; too tired to move = not being able to move = stopping you from exercising your muscles which would give you more energy.  She often leaves you with a sore throat, headache or other illness that comes back time and again.  Horrible child that Fiona is!

3.  Isabelle Insomnia

–          As a child we were scared of the boogie man living under our bed.  Well, Isabelle stays there.  She runs in and hides before you get under the covers with the shear goal of keeping you awake all night.   She’s very aware of your sleep cycle; all 5 stages and the 90 minutes it takes to run through its course to get you to a restful, restorative sleep.  While you’re in stage one your muscles and brain are still active.  In stage two your muscles are supposed to relax and only your brain keeps going.  That’s when she lets all the bed bugs loose to crawl up and down your legs so that you can’t stay still.  Once stage three hits, you should be experiencing gentle waves taking you deeper into sleep.  But she’s there.  Whispering in your ear to keep your mind active and tapping on your arms and legs to keep your muscles alert.  If you even make it to the restorative stage five where you can dream, your body can repair tissue and illness damage, and your body releases serotonin to decrease pain; she won’t let you linger there long.  She gets vicious and starts to punch you in the arm and talk out loud until she has you fully awake.  She’s pure meanness.

4.  IBS Iris

–          She’s the potty talker of the group.  Test after test will prove there is nothing wrong with your intestinal tract.  She, however, she sits with her voodoo doll of you and squeezes your stomach to cause you pain.  She will constipate you one day and make you run like the wind to the bathroom the next.  She keeps you bloated and irritated.  You don’t tend to talk about her much; we like to keep her hidden from everyone we know.

5.  Tonya TMD

–          She has a vice grip, this one.  Tightens the joints of your jaw, neck and facial muscles.  She is so frustrating.  The thought of her makes you grind your teeth.  She doesn’t do much else; but she’s competent at her job!

6.  Paula Painful Bladder

–          Iris’ twin.   Potty talker.  She’s the one that makes you feel like you have to pee even though you just did, and causes pain and irritation in your plumbing.  She usually wakes you during the night, stepping in on Isabelle’s territory.

7.  Dana Depression

–           She’s always there.  Sometimes in the background.  Sometimes making a grand appearance.  She gets in your head to remind you of the life you once lived and all the things you’re missing out on.  Her happiest days are when she can get you to stay in bed and talk about all things gloom and doom.  If you try to tell her of all the things you can still do to have a happy, productive life, she goes nuts screaming at the top of her lungs.  Reminding you of all the would have/could have/should haves of a healthy life gone sour.

There you have it.  There are a few other cousins in the bunch; but these seven tend to stand out above the rest.  The hardest job you’ll ever have is keeping them in control!  Praying you have the strength to contain them!

Stay Well ~ Live Joyfully!

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Reporting On My Last Session For The Clinical Study On Fibromyalgia

It’s damp and chilly here in the Midwest.  That means I feel the pain in my bones today and the heating blanket will be my best friend.  My grandson is down for his nap so I thought I’d fill you in on what happened Wednesday at U of M where I’m taking part in a clinic study on Fibromyalgia.

The group I was put in is basically informational; talking about studies and answering questions about our personal problems with fibro.  This stuff is pretty clinical, so hang on.  Here’s a run down from this week’s group discussion…….

Genetically speaking they have found that first degree relatives (you, parents, children, siblings) have an 8 times greater chance of being diagnosed with FM/CFS.  They have found out several genes that influence stress and pain are more prevalent in FM/CFS patients than in those without.  An example is Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) which is an enzyme involved in how we perceive pain.  FM patients have a 25% increase compared to those without FM.  These genetic studies can be quite complicated since there are 18,000 genes in the body.  It’s kinda hard to know what ones are affected by what; it’s a lot of stuff to rule out.  If the gene damaged or is the brain not reading the genes code properly.  These medical journal publications tend to print the new and exciting finds, but unless those studies can be replicated repeatedly and consistently you can’t be 100% positive.  What happens then is that if another study is performed and they get different results you may never read about that in a journal because it isn’t new and exciting.

Environmental causes are also being investigated and have been found to play a consistent roll.  Over 50% of people with FM can tie the diagnosis back to an accident, illness, injury or extreme stress.  Even more; 20% of people who have a severe neck or back injury will later be diagnosed with FM.  So did these environmental things actually cause fibro or are we genetically predisposed to the condition and these environmental occurrence just bring out the illness to a full blown state?  They jury is out on this one still!

Testing for peripheral causes such as muscle damage, inflammation or damage in nerve tissues have been ruled out.  They have, however, seen a decrease in oxygen in the tissues but it’s hard to determine if that’s a cause or a symptom.  Does that cause the tired feeling in the muscles or is it caused by lack of exercise which patients tend to back away from because of the pain it will cause?  It can be quite a difficult call to make.

When you think of the two nervous systems in the body you can put them into two categories.  The peripheral system which is how the nerves transport pain signals outside of the brain and spinal cord and the central nervous system which is contained in the brain and the spinal column.  Evidence shows that the central nervous system responds differently in patients with FM.  Through functioning MRI’s they have found that when a FM patient is presented with pain a different part of their brain reacts than a patient without FM.  (I’m really glad I wasn’t part of that study and I’d like to know just how they caused pain in the patient!  I can imagine it was not a fun day for them!)  But this is one of the first actual diagnostic tests that is proving a difference in the brain functioning of a Fibro patient.

There are certain “gates” throughout the spinal cord.  This is where the pain signal is received at the spinal cord from, let’s say, your finger getting hurt.  The signal that pain is going on in the finger is sent up the spinal cord to the brain and the brain then send a signal back down the spinal cord to the “gate” and tells the gate to close or how open it should stay.  So if you just poked yourself a little, the brain tells the gate to go ahead and close because that little poke was no big deal.  Well, in fibro patients they are finding that those “gates” remain open; all the way.  This is making the central nervous system work overtime because the signals keep being sent up and down the spinal cord.  Eventually it becomes hard wired.

It has long been thought that FM patients had a lower level of endorphins in the system than a healthy patient.  You know, those are the little guys that are the feel good chemicals in your body.  Surprisingly, it’s the opposite.  They have found significantly higher levels of endorphins in FM patients.  Which means the brain is releasing the endorphins to counter act the pain, however the central nervous system isn’t reading the levels properly and allowing the endorphins to do their job.

Another thing I found interesting this week is that we have an ability in our bodies called DNIC.  Diffuse Noxious Inhibitory Control.  This is the pain pathway that tells what level a certain pain is in our body and can allow sensations at other parts of our body to diffuse the initial pain area.  Um, let me word this so it makes sense – a runner after a marathon will have pain in their legs, they have learned that you can pinch your upper lip so hard it hurts and the new pain in the upper lip helps to diffuse the pain in your legs.  Kinda spreads it around.  Well I bet you can’t see this next line coming – that system is not working efficiently or at all in patients with FM.  So don’t bother even trying next time your legs hurt – if you pinch your upper lip you’re just going to have another pain all together and your legs will still hurt just as much.

Have you ever heard of something called a pain wind-up?  Well if you’re a fibro patient you have problems with this too.  They took lab rats (real rodents, not the human kind of lab rat) and they repeatedly scratched at their tails.  Well what is supposed to happen is that their little rat brains are supposed to send a signal down to the tail and tell it, ok, this is gonna keep going so go ahead and shut the gates a little and ignore that scratch as a little irritation.  Well in fibro patients that scratch just continues to increase in the amount of pain perceived.  It keeps winding up.  Along with this is something called Substance P.  It works as a neurotransmitter in the brain and keeps the pain responses going.  Fibro patients are found to have 3 times as much as a healthy patient.

So let’s just sum up everything I heard Wednesday; in practical terms.  We all have a volume control in our little brains.  Our brain and spinal cord work to turn the volume up or down throughout our day.  Guess what!  If you’re a fibro patient your volume control is all the way up.  Some days it’s turned so far up that certain things that don’t cause pain in healthy people will cause pain in you; like lights, loud noise, smells, clothes touching the skin; anything that is a stimulus.

So after all that depressing news I left feeling pretty good.  I mean, there are still people out there that don’t believe FM is a real illness, disease or whatever you wanna call it – and they think it’s all in our heads – well, they’re right.  It is all in our heads; our brain and our spinal column.  All in all these findings are good.  It’s showing actual physical proof that can be detected through testing which is bringing us closer and closer to finding treatments that work.  And I find that an encouraging thing!

Stay Well! ~ Live Joyfully!

Reflection on 31 Days of Good News

I thought I’d take this 31 Day blog challenge as a way to develop a habit of blogging more often.  Once I decided I’d commit to the challenge I had to pick a topic.  It sure didn’t take me long to figure out what I wanted to write about.  I wanted good news; almost to the point of a need!  I was tired of politics, national debt, news stories of murder, kidnapping, corruption; it can really be enough to drive a person into depression.

As someone who lives with chronic pain that lends itself well to depression and a feeling of just being “down” I was able to truly see the value in searching for the good in the world each day.  You can spend an evening watching the local news, CNN or FOX NEWS and it can really bring an already rough day down a few notches.  I needed to turn up my faith in humanity!

I really didn’t expect the impact it would have on me.  For each of the 30 stories I wrote about there were probably another four that I came across each day.  Some of the stories made me tear up, some of the stories inspired me.  But most importantly it gave me the job of looking at the good still in the world.  I wish our news broadcasts told more of the positive.  I think it could honestly rub off on people and inspire them to great deeds of kindness as well.

Thanks for following along this month  – stay tuned, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the good news stories!

Stay Well ~ Live joyfully!

9 Tips That Help Me Through Fibro Foggy Days

Well it’s Friday and around here I like to take a little time to write about my daily struggles with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

How do I say this?  I CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT THIS WEEK.  Ok, I guess I came up with those words pretty easy but if I wanted to speak past a 6th grade grammar level this week I would have needed a thesaurus.

Researchers are studying more and more on the topic of “fibro fog”.  At it’s very worst it can cause a disorienting affect that can leave a person not knowing where they are or where they were headed for 30-90 seconds or more.  I have  personally been fortunate to not have experienced things that bad.  My main problems are losing my train of thought sometimes mid-sentence, comprehending what I’m reading and having trouble following conversations.  Sometimes it can feel like a bunch of static in my head and I wish I could just tune in to whatever channel is my focus for that moment.  Sometimes I’ll have to ask people to repeat what they just said because it feels like it literally goes in one ear and out the other.

There are a few little tricks I’ve been keeping up my sleeves for days like this.  I thought I’d share a few of my personal dos and don’ts with you.

  1.  Don’t trust your brain.  Even though you think of yourself as a normally intelligent person who’s really focused; just face it.  For certain periods of time, possibly every day for some, you won’t be able to trust the little grey matter computer in your skull.  Don’t stress about it or feel less of a person – just work with it.  Determine that you’ll change how you do certain things so you can manage at your very best!
  2. Don’t panic – you’re not losing your mind.  I have a book by Dr. Teitelbaum called From Fatigued to Fantastic; a guide for Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue (I recommend this book!  Great for someone newly diagnosed or who’s been navigating the fibro waters for a while), he says that some patients will get really nervous that they could be losing their mind or developing Alzheimer’s.  He states how the two aren’t related and the one doesn’t turn into the other.  For example, with fibro fog I might forget what you just told me, but with Alzheimer’s I may forget who you are.
  3. Make lists!  And use them!  Use a planner too!  I am getting better at this all the time.  For example, I developed a grocery list that breaks down into 14 sections according to the 14 isles in my local grocery store.  This really helps me to stay on track and focused.  I don’t have to keep scanning through a list to be sure I grabbed it all; I just start at isle one and I’m all set.  I’ve made multiple copies of the list and I have them on a clip board hung on the inside of my pantry door.
  4. Sleep.  Please don’t throw something at the computer screen.  I won’t feel the hit anyway and you’ll have to fix your computer.  The problems with fibro fog will just be magnetized the more tired and wore out you are.  I understand insomnia can come with the territory too; try your best to do what you can to wind down at night and possibly talk to your dr to see what can be done to help.  Insomnia is horrible and can highlight the fatigue, fog, and pain.
  5. Talk to your doctor about possibly adding some supplements to your mix.  I discovered a supplement called ribose from reading that book I mentioned by Dr. Teitelbaum.  It’s a simple, natural sugar that your body uses in the energy molecules and can help the body process other nutrients as well; such as the B vitamins.  As part of my treatment my doctor has me taking B vitamins 3x’s a day; mainly for the fatigue because my body isn’t retaining B or D nutrients.  However, I have noticed a drastic difference with my fibro fog on days I don’t take them.  But like I said, check with your doctor first!
  6. Get oxygen moving in your blood!  Again, if you’re going to throw something at your screen right now, do yourself a favor and make it a cotton ball or something.  Exercise increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain and it does help with the fog.  I understand there are days we can barely shower let alone get out for a walk; for those days, I’ve even noticed sitting on my porch or even in the house in a quiet room for a bit and breathing deeply helps calm down my mind when it’s racing or foggy and it allows me to focus better.
  7. Cut back on the sensory overload.  I grew up in a house where the tv was on almost constantly.  Sad to say it’s on way too much in my own home most days.  To top it off I have my cell phone, my ipod, my computer, my husband, my kids and my grandson all contributing to the amount of input my brain is trying to process at any given moment.  On days I’m at my foggiest I find taking some time away from all the media noise helps!  I can’t turn off the people in the home, I’ve tried ;).  But I can limit what I can control!
  8. Uni Task.  Yep, did I just coin a new phrase?!  I don’t know who decided multi-tasking was the benchmark for productive women but they certainly didn’t have fibro.  I’m not militant about this, yes, I’ll do other things while I have a load of laundry in the washer but trying to do too much just adds to the already confused state of our minds.  Focus on one thing at a time and don’t allow yourself to be distracted with trying to do multiple things at once.
  9. Avoid caffine.  Trust me, a Coke is usually the first thing I want to grab when I need to focus but it only means you’re going to crash later on; trust me.  Also because it’s a stimulant it can make all those jumbled thoughts floating around in there move faster and making things worse!

Stay well – Live Joyfully!

I DO WISH THIS ON MY WORST ENEMY – I EVEN WISH THIS ON YOU!

Call me evil – that’s ok because I DO wish this on my worst enemy and I even wish this on those I love the most – I wish it for you and I don’t even know you!

I dare you to read past what you’ll feel is a self-pity trip, through the depressing impressions and read this whole post to figure out just what it has to do with joy.

Sorry if it offends you but sometimes I do.  Sometimes I do wish that the people that say Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue are not real illnesses can live a few days in my body.  I even wish my wonderfully loving husband and kids would spend a few hours in this skin.  At some point and time I’ve wished this on everyone except my beautiful 14 month old grandson…. So far.

I wish you could wake up with your legs and back so stiff that it is agonizing at times to get out of bed.  I wish you could feel the humiliation of having to yell out to your 19 year old son because you need help walking to the bathroom.  I wish your thoughts would be so clouded and jumbled that you can’t understand the words spoken to you or the words you want to speak.  I wish you could sit perfectly still while stabbing pain rages randomly throughout your body like exploding fireworks, each blast in a different place.

I wish you could walk your sweet baby through the mall and have people laugh or point and comment because he was born without eyes or a sealed palate.  I wish you could sit in your high school English class while the other students make fun of you, slap you, or call you embarrassing names until you slump into total humiliation.  I wish you could sit in your closet, door closed tight, while you listen to your dad scream at your mom in a drunken rage and all the while praying he doesn’t come through your door again.  I wish you could drive your minivan to a grocery store fifteen miles away so your kids aren’t embarrassed as you hand the cashier food stamps.

I wish you could look at that filthy glass of dirty water that you have no choice but to give your child to drink, knowing full well it might kill them.  I wish you could pack your kids up and what few belongings you can carry and walk miles on end in search of safety and freedom that you’ll take, even though it means living under a single tarp held up with four poles.  I wish you could gather with others in a dark basement with only a few cherished pages left of your bible and quietly pray and worship for fear you’ll be caught and beat and imprisoned.

I wish you could live under any circumstance that you’ve failed to open your eyes and see.  Put your feet in the shoes of another who can’t even lift their face up because life has smacked it one too many times.

Why?  Because there is always someone worse than you.  Run with me on this thought for a second – there has to be that one person on this earth who is actually worse off than any other human.  Isn’t that true?  It has to be.  There is one meager soul who sits at the bottom.  But guess what; it ain’t you!  I know that for a fact because you’re reading this, you’ve been blessed with the ability to read and understand print.  In one way or another you have access to the internet when some haven’t even had the fortune to hit the power button on a computer.  Yep, it ain’t you!

I think a lot of people are running pretty low on the compassion meter in general.  Go ahead and say you’re not like the others.  But you are.  At times.  We all are.  Me included, among the worst offenders at times.

I’m on a year long study of joy right now and I’ve come to realize that joy increases right alongside with your increase in compassion.  Compassion isn’t pity; it isn’t feeling sorry for someone and offering a smile as you walk by.  Compassion is acknowledging someone else’s difficult or even horrific situation, and seeing if you can help even if the help comes in the form of your heartfelt prayers.

Compassion is a forerunner of gratitude.  How can you not be thankful after seeing the plight of the less fortunate?  Gratitude leading right to joy.

Step one in living a life of joy; live gratitude.  This may seem too trivial and you may be thinking I’m nuts by now; but if you can’t see the many things in your life that are gifts, blessings, treasures around you, I don’t see how you can live out a joy-filled life.  If your eyes are closed to the apparent good a deep-seated joy can’t begin to grow.  Going further; if you think about it, there should also be gratitude in our hearts because of things we don’t have or haven’t experienced.  I haven’t had to experience the loss of a child or our home burning down – I personally know others that have – I am grateful for those that I haven’t had as well.

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal

If you need a little help getting started as you search for bits of your day for which to be grateful I had previous mentioned author by Ann Voskamp; on her web site she offers pages you can print with daily prompts of things to look for and see the little things you normally might miss in your busy life; things that are worth a moment of heartfelt gratitude.

So go ahead and enjoy your day – search for the things you are truly grateful for – and enJOY your day!

Creating Chronic Pain Awareness (You Can Help!)

This original post was written by Tracy on her blog titled “Oh What A Pain In The….” which can be found here.  I encourage you to visit her blog!  I wanted to join her in her effort to bring some awareness to individuals with Chronic Pain.  I know most of us don’t want sympathy or pity, just to have someone try to understand what we go through at times.  She has a list a questions at the bottom of this post where you will see I have inserted my own personal answers.  Please take a moment to read in honor of someone you might know that lives with chronic pain.

September is Chronic Pain Awareness Month! As a therapist/social worker, and a someone who lives with chronic pain, September is my new favorite month. Some of us (and/or our loved ones) are dealing with Chronic Pain and/or disability on a daily basis. Sadly, our pain does not end come October 1.chronic pain awareness

I had an idea to get the readers and other bloggers involved to create awareness. I would like other readers and bloggers to share this post (if you don’t mind) and, if you would like your story included, please copy and paste the questions below and then answer them in the comments section. Please, if you do share this, try to get everyone to come back to this page so all the comments will be here.  My idea is to make this into one HUGE comments section on what we LIVE WITH on a daily basis, how we cope and what makes us special! Also, please feel free to include this Chronic Pain Awareness logo on your blog, Facebook page, etc., to let others know that you support Chronic Pain Awareness.

My hope is that by sharing our personal stories, we can create awareness of what it is actually like to live with Chronic Pain and share with each other how best to cope with it!  I did this last year on my personal blog and it worked out pretty well because it helped others learn more about each other, their conditions and how they coped.  It also helps people who do not live with chronic pain have a better understanding of what we do go through.

Please answer any of the following questions that you would like to share with the Chronic Pain Community:

  1. What condition(s) do you have that have led you to living with chronic pain? How long have you been living with this condition(s)?  I have fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue.  I was finally diagnosed in 2010 after about 3 years of doctor visits.
  2. What do you want others to know about what it’s like to live with chronic pain? (i.e.- what is it that no one is saying about life with chronic pain? )  It’s a very “out of control” feeling.  I can go to bed feeling ok and wake the next day having to cancel plans that the pain prevents me from keeping.  I think most people don’t understand the sadness and frustration from the way it affects even the little things like doing dishes or going for a walk.  Simple things a lot of people are fortunate enough to take for granted.
  3. Which philosophy do you ascribe to: Keep hoping that the pain will get better or learn to adapt to life with chronic pain?  Well, I guess I ride the fence here.  I do have hope that the medical community will find meds, food, supplement and lifestyle changes that will help us relieve some of the pain we live with; but I’m also trying very hard to adapt.  In my own opinion, it takes away from a joy-filled life I want to be living if all I do is hope for a cure.  I do hope a cure comes some day, however, in the meantime I need to work on living the best life I possibly can which means making some adaptations to my previous life.
  4. What do you miss the most that you feel you gave up/lost as a result of chronic pain? What do you do now to fill that void?  I miss the simple things, like being able to do the laundry whenever I want to; just regular life.  I’m learning to allow the time I’m captive by the pain spur me to do other things – read, pray, enjoy a movie, sit on my porch.  Quiet things that our busy lives don’t usually allow.  Even nap!
  5. What words of encouragement (or on the contrary what negative comments) have you heard from others that made you keep going despite the pain?  Life may be different now, different than I planned or would like it to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad life.  It can be a great life if you let go of the script you had in your mind for the life you wanted and roll with the life you have.  Focusing on others and not my own pain sometimes helps too!
  6. Do you feel that people view/treat you differently? How so?   Yep.  I’ve run across some that seem to think it’s a complete mental illness and tend to treat me like I must be a nut; which then trickles into them not giving credit to much of what I have to say in any area.  Most of the people closest to me have been very understanding, helpful and loving; some that go to the other extreme at having pity (which I don’t need).  I’m very fortunate to have a husband and kids that are very supportive. 
  7. What coping mechanisms have you tried that worked for you? Which ones did not work for you? (Traditional and Non-traditional)  I’ve tried stretching, deep breathing, yoga, etc.  I don’t tend to stick with them very long before I move on to the next thing.  I guess I hope the next thing will work better.  I have found that deep breathing, stretching and just sitting still in the quiet can be helpful to calm the over  increased sensitization that we suffer from.  And bubble baths!  Hot, relaxing, soaking, bubble baths.

LIFE IN THE BOXING RING – THINK ON THESE THINGS

I haven’t written a lot lately.  Thought I’d give it a go tonight before I forget how to type.

I’ve had a lot going on.

First – last year on July 4th my new grandson was born!  Our Independence Day Baby!  Needless to say there’s been more mess, more toys, more diapers, more laundry and less sleep around our house.  I can’t even describe the joy he’s brought to my life and our family!

Second- I’ve been sick.  Again.  Always.  Having more tests and trying to figure out why my body keeps being sick.  To call it annoying would be a major understatement.

Third-We’ve had some very hurtful people saying and doing the things hurtful people do.

Fourth- I guess I’ve become a little down and very reclusive due to the second and third items.   It’s hard to leave the house when I don’t know when I’m going to be sick and it’s hard being round people that are hurtful when I’m wore out and not feeling well.   People who have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue tend to battle with depression off and on.  I’m no exception!

I’m sure I’m the only one that’s ever had life get you down.  Right?  😉  Also, I’m sure some of you are reading this and are saying, “You think you’ve got problems honey, wanna read my list?”

When so many discouraging things continue to slap you in the face, it gets hard to focus on the good that’s happening; the blessings.  At least for me it can be.  I’ll wake up ready to conquer the world, full of hope and faith and then here it comes; the right hook to the jaw.  That shot below the belt that you weren’t expecting.  They aren’t coming from a sparring partner or the opponent as a literal hit; no, nowadays they come in more cerebral and emotional forms.  They come as the news clip of innocent children being hurt, the facebook post that makes someone else’s life look perfect and point you at the imperfections in your own, the hurtful word or action by another – some intentional, some not; the list goes on.

I think the first thing to remember here is that our battle isn’t really with people.  Flesh and blood.  God’s word tells us that; there is a spiritual warfare affecting us.  Satan is ready to do anything he can to bring us down and keep us from living a joyfilled life where we can be of service to the Lord.

A verse keeps coming to my mind this the last few days;  Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Paul really wanted the church in Philippi to stay consistent in their life.  In verses 4-7 he tells the people to always rejoice, don’t worry about your life, take your needs to the Lord in prayer, and remain consistent in your faith.  Then comes verse 8 where he goes even further and tells them what to focus their thoughts on.  He doesn’t mean to walk around oblivious to our situations and circumstances, he said to take those difficult things to the Lord in prayer.  But the things we should keep returning to in our mind to keep us consistent are the good things from God.  Truth.  Noble acts.  The right things in our life.  Purity.  All things lovely.  Things you can admire.

As someone who battles depression in the course of my illness I know this can be almost impossible some days.  As the boxing match I live in goes round after round there are days you just want to keep your back to the mat and let the ref count to ten.  But God promises strength for each new day.  We aren’t given just a set supply of strength at the beginning of our lives to get through our days.  I don’t have the strength today that I’ll need three weeks from now.  We are given it in doses; equal to what’s needed for that day/battle/circumstance/situation/interaction.  It’s renewable.

Focusing of the positives listed in Philippians 4:8 is one way we can add a dose of strength back into our lives.  I wrote this verse on a few 3×5 cards and placed one next to my bed, one next to the mirror in the bathroom, and one in the kitchen window above the sink; a reminder to myself of where my mind needs to keep returning to throughout my day.  Why don’t you give it a try today – give a tough situation over to the Lord – leave it there at His feet – and place your focus on those positives.